Despite a searing expose detailing a litany of allegations against him, it seemed that director Bryan Singer would, ultimately, be just fine. Sure, his participation in Bohemian Rhapsody was a total sh-tshow, but the movie made nine hundred million dollars and won Oscars. And he already had another high-profile directing gig lined up, with Red Sonja, the sword-and-sorcery comic book movie for which he was to receive a staggering ten million dollars. Even when The Atlantic’s expose came out, Singer’s gig was not immediately jeopardized. Avi Lerner, the producer of Red Sonja, spoke out in defense of Singer, basically chalking the expose up to “fake news”. That was just this past January. But then, a month later, Red Sonja was said to be “on the backburner”, and though Singer remained officially on the job, it suddenly didn’t seem so certain. Now, it has been announced that Transparent creator Joey Soloway is taking over to write and direct Red Sonja.
This is a MASSIVE one-eighty turn for Millennium, Avi Lerner’s company and the cinematic home of Red Sonja. In a matter of months, they went from Lerner publicly defending Bryan Singer to choosing a replacement that is about as far away from Singer’s reputation and style as you can get. Joey Soloway is an incredible choice for a company that has never distinguished itself with progressive storytelling. It’s also a big leap for Soloway, it’s their first feature film since 2013, and Red Sonja is not your average comic book character. She comes loaded with a fraught backstory and massive fan expectations. There is a lot to shoulder here, even by giant comic book movie standards.
Red Sonja is something of a minefield thanks to an exploitative costume and a backstory that includes sexual assault. There is a way to approach it that could be less awful, by making her the comic book Boudica, but I think most people would be relieved to see Gail Simone’s version, in which Sonja is basically a gladiator, come to the big screen. With Soloway in charge, there is now a realistic chance of that happening. And Soloway is not alone, they are joined by their producing partner, Andrea Sperling, who is set to produce. Maybe that means Avi Lerner is not going to be a driving force on Red Sonja any longer, but that Soloway and Sperling are being entrusted fully with the story. That is a much better look for Millennium. It’s almost like someone at the company realized how straight-up AWFUL Lerner was making them look and did something to lessen his presence on the film before he completely ruined their chances of making money.
With Soloway taking over, Red Sonja goes back to the drawing board, which means it won’t make its projected 2020 release date. That’s fine, I’d rather wait another year and get a good movie. And it means we have plenty of time to speculate who should play Sonja. Megan Fox was once attached to the role, and Brigitte Nielsen played her in a truly awful 1985 movie. Fan-favorite casting includes Alexandra Daddario and Sophie Turner. Basically, if any actress is either a famous redhead or has famously big boobs, she’s on the list. I don’t have a horse in this race, I’ve always been too afraid of the parade of gross dudes who wanted to make this movie—Robert Rodriguez previously tried to get it off the ground—to let myself think too hard about it. But now, with Soloway in charge of what will hopefully be a less exploitative, more empowered take on Sonja, I can let myself hope, so I will hope for Kathryn Winnick, because she should really be a superhero. And now, let this be the last time we ever mention Bryan Singer.