Red Sonja director Jill Soloway has some big ideas in mind for the reimagined heroine.
“I can really have so much fun with Red Sonja. I see her a little bit more like the first kind of bad girl superhero,” Soloway told Deadline during the Television Critics Association on Saturday. “Sort of like the Batman of The Dark Knight or Deadpool, you know?”
Both films were critically lauded for their edgy, psychologically complex dives into their titular protagonists. Deadpool, especially, won fans as it subverted superhero film tropes by breaking the fourth wall and using dark humor. It seems Soloway is similarly looking to challenge the traditions of the genre.
“The world is changing so much right now for superheroes, that I just really look forward to not only going to the edge of what I’ve ever written and directed before, but to the edge of the genre as well,” they said.
Red Sonja is based on the 1970s comic book spin-off to Conan the Barbarian, and follows the swords-and-sorcery heroine who was given powers by a goddess. A film adaption featuring Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger was released in 1985.
Soloway also compared their Red Sonja to their other creation, Transparent. The series, which is set to end Sept. 27 with a musical finale, focuses on a family’s journey as their patriarch comes out as a transgender woman.
Although they acknowledged the comparison may be surprising, Soloway said their new project “feels just really very much like it’s coming from the same place” in its exploration of the divided feminine.
The idea, which can be seen in works from Charlie’s Angels to Sex and the City, asserts that women get “chopped up into” archetypes like the wife, bad girl, or good girl, Soloway said. Whereas their work, like the 2013 film Afternoon Delight and Transparent, has been about challenging that incomplete notion.
“If you look at Transparent, it’s really about a lot of women becoming whole. It’s Sarah becoming whole. It’s Maura becoming whole,” Soloway said. “All my work is really about humans searching for some divine feminine, asking these questions about God and looking for meaning. So, for me to transfer that into the world of Red Sonja felt incredibly natural, because Red Sonja is a very different kind of superhero. She’s not really typical.”
In July, it was announced that Soloway was replacing Bryan Singer as director of Red Sonja. The news came after The Atlantic’s lengthy report on the long history of accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against the filmmaker. Soloway will also write and produce the remake.
In both the source material and its 1985 film adaptation with Brigitte Nielsen, the characters’ back story begins with her being raped and left for dead. She is also famous for her bikini armor, although in certain issues she dressed more conservatively. With Soloway’s track record of making progressive content, it’s likely that the reimagined Red Sonja would feature a less sexualized version of the character onscreen.