In late November when Warner Bros. hired Michelle MacLaren for its Wonder Woman movie, it became the first studio to tap a female director for a major superhero project. The news brought me back to the 1970s, when my sisters, mom and I would convene in front of the television to watch Wonder Woman fighting for our rights in her satin tights, as the goofy theme song put it. I don’t remember much about the show, but I do know that the vision of this strong woman triumphing with flowing hair and bulletproof bracelets delighted us. I’m looking forward to the movie, though as someone who watches films for a living, I would be happier if Warner Bros. hired a lot more women to direct its other titles.
The news of Ms. MacLaren’s hiring was big because, after years of young men in baseball caps being plucked from obscurity to direct blockbusters like “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Godzilla,” a woman was getting her shot. In indie arenas like the Sundance Film Festival, female directors have inched closer to gender parity, and in 2013, half the movies in the American dramatic competition were directed by women. But even in the hothouse world of Sundance equality isn’t a sure thing, and when the next festival starts in January, women will have about a third of the titles in the American dramatic competition. That’s not great, but by the end of this year, the six major studios (not including their art-house divisions) will have released three movies directed by women. It’s a number that should be a call to action.