In Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell brought a type of female superhero to life — one who teaches men important lessons about consent.
Now, the Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated writer and director has been tapped to bring a more traditional superhero to life with a big-screen adaptation of DC Comics heroine Zatanna.
The news comes off the back of Fennell’s Best Director nominations at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, solidifying her place in a history-making category that saw a record number of women up for the prestigious nods. Fennell is also the first British woman to be nominated by the Academy for directing. Promising Young Woman also earned Oscar nominations for best picture and screenplay.
In the film’s Blu-Ray version, Fennell explains her motivation for writing the controversial film, saying, “I really wanted to write a film about how an ordinary woman might take revenge in the real world. That’s very rarely reaching for a gun. It’s more twisted than that, looking at my own life, thinking how are we all part of this awful knot we need to unpick.”
Fennell’s previous credits include serving as showrunner on season two of Killing Eve, as well as acting in films such as Anna Karenina, The Danish Girl, Call the Midwife. Most recently, she appeared on Netflix’s The Crown, as Camilla Bowles.
Despite being associated with the Justice League, Zatanna has never appeared in a DC film, so Fennell will face the task of essentially introducing her to the movie franchise. On the small screen, the character was portrayed by Serinda Swan on the CW show Smallville but has not yet been cast for Fennell’s project.
Considered one of the most powerful sorcerers in the DC universe, Zatanna is a magician with genetic abilities inherited by her dad, Giovanni Zatara, who was also an alchemist. She also casts spells by speaking backwards, just as her father did.
The decision to give the sorceress a standalone movie hopefully signals a positive shift in the DC Films universe. Outside of Wonder Woman and its sequel Wonder Woman 1984, the Zatanna movie would mark only the second female DC hero to headline one of the franchise’s films.
In a year where women are making history — both by being recognised for their contributions to the entertainment industry and for speaking out about sexual and domestic violence in staggering numbers — it seems only fitting that we might finally get to see ourselves more frequently portrayed on-screen as the superheroes we truly are.