BIG Franchises That Have/Haven’t Hired Women

If you are a geek like myself then you will be also be lamenting the fact that many of our beloved franchises are coming to conclusion this year. The Avengers, Game of Thrones and Star Wars are all reaching their momentous conclusions in 2019. For studios, franchises equal one thing and one thing only. MONEY. But you can only drag something out for so long and eventually all good things must come to an end.

2 days ago it was May 4th, also known as Star Wars day, which prompted me to want to examine some of our most loved franchises for whether or not they ever hired female directors as part of the crew that brought them to life. Perhaps unsurprisingly by now, not very many have, but let’s take a look anyway.

Star Wars is massive having grossed approximately $7 billion at the box office worldwide from all the various films making it the second highest grossing franchise of all time[1] right behind The Avengers. Yet they never hired a female director on any of the 12 films. Whilst it would seem that Star Wars has exclusively been a boys club behind the scenes, the now president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy has been producing some of the worlds biggest films since the 80’s. Here’s hoping she can provide some influence so that future projects from Lucasfilm take women on board to direct.

The Avengers is the worlds biggest franchise and yet for most of their years of filmmaking there was not a woman to be seen in the directors chair. Only recently with Captain Marvel has a woman managed to join the ranks, and there is talks of a female director taking on the standalone Black Widow film, which I’m very curious to see. It’s unfortunate that for the developing years of such a big franchise we didn’t get a female voice, but it’s nice to see Marvel taking note of the climate of the times and evolving. Even in the female characters of the universe we are beginning to see more depth, which is a good step in the right direction from such an influential company.

Winter has come and so have the white walkers but where are the women? For a show with some of the most interesting female characters seen on television, they are directed by a lot of men. In fact out of the 73 episodes a grand total of 4 are directed by a woman. That woman is Michelle MacLaren. Credited with 2 episodes in seasons 3 and 4 she is the only woman to call the shots behind the camera on the series. Previously she has directed episodes of Breaking Bad and Westworld and has been quoted saying “I don’t see myself as a female director, I see myself as a director who happens to be a woman[2].” It seems a shame that with so many episodes we only got about 5% of the show with a female helm though.

Other big franchises that never hired women include Harry Potter, James Bond, The Lord of The Rings, and X-Men. The DC Universe, similarly to Marvel, scrape in there with Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman but a majority of their intellectual property has been directed by men.

It would seem that if there is a big franchise with the aim of bringing in cash for the production company you are less likely to see a female director. The responsibility of having a large budget production has been often withheld from women directors due to a very sexist attitude present within the film industry. This is a shame because big franchises are often plastered everywhere around the world and are a big part of our pop culture. They set examples and create images that feed into how we interact with each other and even ourselves. Here’s hoping the positive box office success of female directed and led films like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel [3] will pave the way for more women in the directors chair on some of our bigger franchises.


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