Last week, the latest break in a literally neverending slew of superhero movie rumors and announcements focused on two women. One of them was Wonder Woman, the DC Comics superheroine who’s at long last getting the franchise reboot she deserves. And if the rumor mill is to be believed, an equally amazing woman is on tap to spearhead it. That’s right, guys, Michelle Freaking MacLaren [Ed. note: That's probably not her real middle name.] is about to direct an action blockbuster. Try to maintain your excitement. We’re currently failing.
In the event that you’re slacking on a pop culture geek’s knowledge of TV show crew members, maybe you don’t know why we’re jumping for joy and why you should join along. If that's the case, allow us to catch you up before you’re the last person alive who knows her name.
The TV nerd community has been patiently waiting for Hollywood to reward Michelle MacLaren with the reigns to a big-budget blockbuster for one simple reason: She already has a wealth of small-screen classics on her resumé. The Canadian-born director made her stateside debut on a late-series episode of The X-Files, but her best work is, hands down, on the all-time great show that X-Files writer Vince Gilligan would go on to create. It goes by the name of Breaking Bad—maybe you've heard of it? It was MacLaren’s eye that helped Breaking Bad establish the reputation it holds for having some of the most beautiful and technically adventurous cinematography across all of golden age TV. MacLaren’s directing credits are synonymous with the show’s greatest hits.
Think back to the ways she captured the Albuquerque desert’s gorgeous landscape in Walt and Jesse’s weekend-long cooking session during “4 Days Out,” or Walt’s day-long treasure dig in “Buried.” But we’re here to talk about why the action game needs her, specifically. Across all five seasons, two of BB’s most infamous, suspenseful, and visually breathtaking shootouts bear MM’s stamp on their bullets: Hank versus the Cousins in the pulse-pounding “One Minute,” and the even more nerve-wracking de facto sequel that closes “To’hajiiilee.” The technical execution of those scenes, specifically the latter, is rarely, if ever, seen on television, even in this age of small-scale entertainment rapidly catching up to the big screen's quality. Compare the edits and sense of space in that simple, five-minute TV scene to the choppy, poorly staged and choreographed trash action movies that have been forced through Hollywood.
In the wake of Breaking Bad’s conclusion, MacLaren has kept busy with bangers for The Walking Dead—she's responsible for the throat-ripping season four finale “A”—as well as a handful of Game of Thrones episodes (Brienne vs. the Bear is a highlight). It’s clear, though, that she has the potential and the skills to go bigger. And Wonder Woman would be the perfect opportunity.
Even the casual fan knows that DC Comics is severely slacking in the superhero movie arms race. Their new battle plan to combat Marvel Studios hinges on 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which will introduce, among 37 other DC heroes, the Amazonian princess Wonder Woman. Yup, the same Wonder Woman who hasn't had a live-action look since Lynda Carter hung up her tiara in 1979, and whose franchise has been plagued with false starts and stillborn revivals, most recently a TV series starring Adrianne Palicki that only made it to pilot, an episode over which those who've seen it still cringe.
If DC is going to make a real stake in the game, it needs to match, or best, Marvel in attaching unique talent to helm the interconnecting cogs of its machine. The Marvel team managed to assimilate talent like James Gunn (an indie genre film veteran), Joss Whedon (cult TV showrunner extraordinaire) and the Russo brothers (of... You, Me and Dupree fame?) into in-house auteurs—it's a dream team of behind-the-camera talent any other studio would be hard-pressed to match. With MacLaren, though, DC will change the game. She'll add some much-needed gender variety to Hollywood's forthcoming superhero slate—the last woman to oversee a superhero feature was Lexi Alexander, who directed the immediately forgettable Punisher: War Zone (2008). Who better to rectify that than the woman who's helped make cable TV a blockbuster experience?
Frazier Tharpe is a staff writer at Complex who fell off of his couch the first time he watched "One Minute." He tweets here.