WonderCon: 'Hanna' Director Joe Wright Slams 'Sucker Punch' for 'Bull----' Female Empowerment

Wright says Saoirse Ronan's character in "Hanna" is a better role model than the female protagonists in Zack Snyder's latest film.
Wright says Saoirse Ronan's character in "Hanna" is a better role model than the female protagonists in Zack Snyder's latest film.

Hanna director Joe Wright took on Sucker Punch and director Zack Snyder on Saturday at a sneak screening of his movie at San Francisco's WonderCon, indirectly calling out the film for its "bullshit" female empowerment.

Wright and Saoirse Ronan, the star of the action spy thriller from Focus Features, were speaking of the topic of role models and how Hanna, a teen trained to kill, slowly learns about herself, could be seen as someone girls could seek to emulate.

What the two liked about the character, they said, is that she doesn’t use her sexuality, instead relying on a hunter's instinct, "in this age of gross sexualization of young people," Wright said.

Then, while not naming names, he attacked a recent movie with young female characters in crop tops and short skirts, scoffing that the movie's makers were "calling it 'female empowerment.'"

Sucker Punch, Snyder's latest film for Warner Bros., features five young female protagonists who escape their brutal existence in a mental institution by slipping into a fantasy world where a brothel and dancing for men are key components. The film did stir up some talk about its depictions of young women and sex, with Snyder and the producers calling it female empowerment, noting sex is a weapon in the characters' arsenal and that the scenes were not shot in a titillating way.

"I think that's bullshit," Wright said.

Hanna is the first attempt at an action movie from Wright, best known for period romantic dramas such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. The movie features a large number of one-take sequences, a deliberate attempt by Wright to veer away from the fast-cut action scenes made popular by movies such as Paul Greengrass’ Bourne films. Wright acknowledged the Bourne movies made it possible to make action movies that question morality and ethics, but said he "wanted to avoid those comparisons" in the fight sequences.

Wright said shooting one long take was more efficient than a multi-take scene, noting it would have taken him three days to shoot action sequences that only took one. The scenes required seven to eight hours of rehearsals before jumping into it, with luck being as much of a factor as preparation. It helped that he hired the masterful SteadiCam operator that worked on Aleksandr Sokurov’s Russian Ark, a 96-minute film that was done in one long take.

"I enjoy the thrill" of getting it all done in one take, Wright said. "I'm not a gambling addict in any other way but I am in that respect."

Hanna is arty and intellectual yet grounded in realism. As the character moves around the European continent and its edges, you can see Wright attempting to reveal a history of civilization, of sorts. How many action movies try to do that?

"I'm not sure I achieved it," he said.

Wright and Ronan admitted they've talked about a sequel, although they are stumped about where the story would go. And. of course, there's the fact the movie has yet to open, so the audience has yet to vote.

Wright noted that while the night's screening was at capacity with 300 people, 450 had to be turned away.

"So that's a good sign," he said. "I love Hanna and I'd like to see what becomes of her."