Man, remember when Ava DuVernay stormed Hollywood with Selma, signaling an intention to tell different kinds of stories for under-served audiences? Well, the Tracking Board has confirmed that she just signed on to direct the comic book adaptation THE NEW GODS for Warner Bros. and DC, and forgive my skepticism, but this isn’t where I saw her career going after that excellent MLK movie and her Oscar-nominated documentary 13th. This seems like the kind of superhero movie that could be made by anyone, not material that’s crying out to be turned into an Ava DuVernay movie — whatever that means, these days.
The New Gods is based on the comic book series by Jack Kirby that was part of his Fourth World Saga, a series of four interconnected comic book series that mixed social commentary with mythology-rich science fiction in the early 1970s. The story concerns a war between two alien planets that arrives on Earth, where humans hold the key to ending the conflict, for better or worse.
I suppose that offers DuVernay a rich tapestry to work with, but so did A Wrinkle in Time, and that film drew mixed reviews, opening below expectations with $33 million. Yes, it could prove to have legs at the box office, where there isn’t a whole lot of family-friendly product in the marketplace, but it also put a target on DuVernay’s back going forward as a filmmaker. After all, it marked the first time that a black woman had a $100 million-plus budget to work with, and The New Gods will call for similar studio resources.
DuVernay is the second female filmmaker to be welcomed into the DC fold, following Wonder Woman‘s Patty Jenkins. The New Gods is not expected to have any connection to other DC-branded films, though DuVernay’s hiring is in keeping with the company’s filmmaker-driven approach. DC execs will work with DuVernay to hire a writer who will tailor the project to her vision.
DuVernay is a longtime fan of the property, having taken to social media late last year to reveal that her favorite superhero is Big Barda, for “many reasons.” Big Barda is one of the New Gods, so perhaps that personal connection is what forced DuVernay to consider this opportunity a bit more seriously. While I personally would like to see her tackle more dramas, and leave the superhero movies to filmmakers who don’t have as much to offer as she does, I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt with regards to this decision. Let’s hope, now that she has more tentpole experience, that the second time’s the charm.
DuVernay is repped by CAA, and the news was first reported by Deadline.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief