When Kathleen Kennedy was asked why no female directors had been hired to helm a Star Wars film, she responded that the lack of them working at the blockbuster level was a huge problem. By men hiring men to direct large-scale blockbusters, women had effectively been frozen out of the top tier. But there's good news. There will be four superhero movies in 2020 directed by women, pushing the numbers in the direction of a more gender-balanced future for the first time.
In fact, five blockbuster films of 2020 will be headed up by women: Birds of Prey, Mulan, Black Widow, Wonder Woman, and The Eternals. Mulan is not a superhero movie, but it is one of Disney's biggest 2020 titles. A reimagining of the 1998 cartoon princess classic, it's based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, like the original cartoon was. But as directed by Niki Caro, from a script written by Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin, and Rick Jaffa, it's billed as a "historical war drama film," and many of the comedic elements (like Mushu) have been eliminated.
Mulan arrives on Mar. 27, just one of the women-directed films front-loaded into the first half of the year.
1. 'Birds Of Prey'
The actual title of this Harley Quinn-centered follow-up to Suicide Squad is Birds Of Prey & The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn.
Directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, Quinn (Margot Robbie) joins with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from Gotham City crime lord Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).
Birds Of Prey premieres on Feb. 7, 2020.
2. 'Black Widow'
Cate Shortland will direct the first of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films in Phase 4. She is the first standalone woman director to helm an MCU film in the franchise's 12-year history. (Anna Boden co-directed Captain Marvel, but with Ryan Fleck.)
This is only the second film after Captain Marvel to feature a female superhero in the leading role. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, and Rachel Weisz, it will be set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
Black Widow arrives on May 1, 2020.
3. 'Wonder Woman 1984'
Perhaps the most anticipated superhero film of 2020, the sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins, from a script she wrote along with collaborators Geoff Johns and David Callaham.
Gal Gadot will return as the titular superhero, now living in Washington DC in the mid-1980s. The film also stars Kristen Wiig as her comic book adversary, Cheetah.
Wonder Woman 1984 premieres on June 5, 2020.
4. 'The Eternals'
Marvel is making up for a decade of male directors, with both 2020 offerings helmed by women: Chloé Zhao directs The Eternals. (Notably, unlike the DC films, both the Marvel films will still be written by men.)
Unlike the others, The Eternals does not focus on a single female superhero, but rather an ensemble of men and women. There's Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Lauren Ridloff, and Lia McHugh. And there's Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, and Kit Harington. It's a step in the right direction towards the next frontier: Having a female director take on a superhero movie starring men.
The Eternals arrives on Nov. 6, 2020.