Whether or not Nicole Perlman received the right amount of recognition for having written the script that brought Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to production before the project was handed off to director James Gunn, she’s claiming space in an industry that desperately needs it.
In the worst time for female-authored spec scripts in the last two decades, Perlman is making a name for herself in screenwriting and scifi, two of the tightest boys’ clubs in writing. Perlman first attracted attention to her talent in 2006 with her screenplay “Challenger,” about Richard Feynman’s work with the Challenger disaster, which went on to win her the Tribeca Film Festival’s Sloan Grant for Science in film and wide recognition as an up-and-coming screenwriter, but was ultimately not produced.
A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Perlman stayed in the genre, writing for a slew of the biggest companies in film and eventually for the now-shut down Marvel Writing Program. She served as a script doctor for the film “Thor”, and with this successful, if not extraordinary career path, she’s also piqued the curiosity of those not expecting women in scifi. Perlman is, as the Hollywood Reporter labeled her, a “geek girl,” a term that’s supposed to give context to her unusual success in spite of her noticeable lack of Joss Whedon-esque facial hair or the reassuringly baritone voice of Jon Favreau.
Perlman’s selection of Guardians as her subject while at Marvel, the relatively obscure comic she chose from the list of properties Marvel was considering producing, makes sense in the context of her field; where the quippy, “good eventually prevails” comic-to-film movies (considered to be the opposite of the quippy, “love eventually prevails” chick-flicks) are made by guys, Perlman was able to break through, at least enough to be the first woman with a writing credit on a Marvel movie, by finding a smaller piece that had a different feel than the more famous blockbusters Marvel is known for, writing a script that, in an interview with Time.com, she says focused on characters that drew their powers from their unique histories instead of freak circumstances.
Like Perlman, women are finding their way into this mostly-male scene by maneuvering around the typical comic-turned-movie. Black Widow, the Avenger’s main female character played by a redheaded Scarlett Johansson kicking people in the face amongst a sea of men, has received highly vocal enthusiasm by fans to be the first female-led Marvel movie. Perlman is confident that it will get made, and confirmed on her twitter that she wrote a script treatment for it in 2010/2011, but clarified that she is not currently working on it and did not known how long until a Black Widow movie would be made. Whether it will be written or directed by a woman and will bring more women into the credits of some of the most popular movies in America, is unclear, but probably predictable and disappointing. We can, though, take stock in the momentum that Perlman and others are generating towards closing the vast, gender disparity in film, or, at least, take refuge in the fact that Perlman may have brought us closer to seeing Scarlett Johansson kicking more people in the face.