The upcoming Red Sonja film has been steeped in controversy from the outset. The character, who first appeared in Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comics before headlining her own series, is already a hard one to pin down, with different origins across her different series that mostly hinge on sexual assault and revenge. There’s certainly an empowering story to be found in that, but the studio behind the cinematic adaptation, Millennium Films, have thus far seemed ill-equipped to tell it. First, they hired alleged sex abuser Bryan Singer to direct, and later doubled down by defending the choice—despite a detailed account of his supposed violence against children in The Atlantic.
But it looks like the studio is trying to atone, because according to The Hollywood Reporter, they’ve tapped Transparent creator Jill Soloway to replace Singer as director. Soloway, who is non-binary, will also write the new version of Red Sonja, possibly their next major project after Transparent wraps with a musical finale later this year.
This certainly seems like an upgrade, although Soloway comes with their own set of controversies. In their memoir, She Wants It, Soloway wrote about Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor’s own assault allegations, and how they preferred to handle the issues internally instead of taking it public; a confession that angered many fans at the time.
Additionally, Millennium Films CEO Ari Lerner very recently called The Atlantic‘s piece about Singer “fake news” and said he intended to let Singer keep the job. The question remains, then, if the decision to replace him with Soloway was in good faith, or if it was an attempt to cover the production mess with a bow.
That remains to be seen. Transparent is a beloved show that tackles heavy issues with a knowing hand, and Soloway has used the time after her book to speak out against sexual assault in the industry. It’s possible everyone involved is willing to learn from past mistakes and create an empowered female character for the big screen. We’ll have our eye on more Red Sonja updates as they develop.
Images: Carlos E. Gomez/D.E. Comics