While initial reports suggested Patty Jenkins' sudden departure last week from "Thor 2" was amicable -- even she said "we parted on very good terms" -- a new account contends star Natalie Portman is "deeply upset" with Marvel Studios for showing the director the door less than two months after hiring her.
Unnamed sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Jenkins, best known as the writer/director of the 2003 drama "Monster," was fired without warning after studio executives became concerned she wasn't moving decisively enough and could lead the sequel to miss its Nov. 15, 2013 release date. However, as the trade paper points out, it's unclear just how decisive the director could be when there's no script (Marvel was already looking for a rewrite of Don Payne's draft when Jenkins was hired in October).
In the three years since the release of "Iron Man," Marvel Studios has become well known for keeping a tight rein on its films, and an even tighter grip on its purse strings, insisting on multi-picture contracts from some actors while lowballing others. It also has, in the trade paper's words, "a reputation for calling its own shots," replacing Oscar nominee Terrence Howard in "Iron Man 2" following a salary impasse, and parting company with franchise director Jon Favreau some two years later. "There's a real arrogance," an anonymous agent tells the paper. "But in this environment where everybody's struggling to stay employed, their behavior is amplified."
Portman, who received an Academy Award this year for "Black Swan," is credited with playing a key role in the unlikely selection of Jenkins, who has no experience with big special effects. The director herself seemed surprised by the studio's interest, saying in late September, "I think Marvel is really ballsy to think outside the box." However, a source described as "an insider in Jenkins' camp" speculates to The Hollywood Reporter that executives initially swayed by Portman's enthusiasm for the director "may have decided they really weren't comfortable" with her once they began interviewing writers for the rewrite.
Although Portman, who stars as Jane Foster opposite Chris Hemsworth's Thor, is contractually obligated to appear in the sequel, no matter who the director is, Marvel is said to be "working overtime" to make things right with the actress by including her in discussions about Jenkins' replacement. Television veterans Alan Taylor and Daniel Minahan, both of whom recently directed episodes of HBO's acclaimed fantasy drama "Game of Thrones," are the lead contenders for the job.
Jenkins, who would've been the studio's first female director -- and only the second woman to direct a major superhero movie, after "Punisher: War Zone's" Lexi Alexander -- is believed to be under consideration for another Marvel project, though likely not a sequel. "I have had a great time working at Marvel," Jenkins said last week in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "We parted on very good terms, and I look forward to working with them again."