We were surprised when Monster director Patty Jenkins vacated the directorial chair for Marvel Studios’ Thor 2. Her hire was unexpected in the first place, as women are rarely given the chance to direct studio event pictures, and Marvel Studios hasn’t directly hired a woman to direct one of its superhero features. (Punisher: War Zone was directed by Lexi Alexander, but wasn’t directly a Marvel Studios movie.)

When Jenkins left the film the report was that she had moved on thanks to ‘creative differences’ and that the split between her and Marvel was amicable. Now there is contrary word saying that Jenkins was fired, perhaps summarily, and that Thor co-star Natalie Portman, who campaigned for Jenkins to be hired, is furious over the situation.

THR has a report that relies on info from a few unnamed sources, and the roots of Jenkins’ dismissal are explained in slightly contradictory statements. The end result seems to be that she was “fired without warning,” however

One report says that Jenkins displayed “a lack of overall clarity in her choices,” which, even without a final script in place, was troublesome to the studio. Would the movie make its late 2013 release date? That script, by the way, was not Jenkins’ lookout, and having a final draft would greatly enable directorial decision-making.

Another quoted source says there was a perception that “there were constraints on what she could do creatively,” and that while Natalie Portman’s support of the director helped her get the job, execs cooled once she was on board.

The report also says that Natalie Portman had been thinking about walking away from acting entirely for a while to care for her newborn son. She is contractually obligated to do Thor 2, however, and Jenkins’ hire is said to have boosted her enthusiasm for the project. With Jenkins gone, Marvel is still looking for a new director (Daniel Minahan and Alan Taylor are said to be the top choices) but THR says that to mollify Portman, she is being included in consultations about the new hire.

I’m not inclined to take everything here at face value, but I’m not surprised by any of it, either. Marvel has quickly earned a reputation for being cheap when it comes to talent, and seems prepared to do anything in order to preserve its properties, and what the company sees as the proper way to approach them.

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