The lack of female representation in comic book movies isn’t only a problem in front of the camera. It’s an issue behind it, as well. The bias that makes it difficult for female directors has been something that Lexi Alexander has been fighting against for years. The only woman to ever direct a comic book adaptation (to date) says that female directors have to prove that they can produce masculine films, while male filmmakers are simply assumed to be capable even if they have no experience.
In an interview with Vulture, Alexander says different criteria are used when considering female directors for superhero projects.
I think in industries riddled with bias, you tend to hire women only if their previous work is very masculine, which is hilarious given that this is not how male directors are chosen. … Women have to be ‘one of the boys’ to get in on the superhero business, whereas male directors don’t have to have any proof on their résumé that they can deliver hardcore action.
Lexi Alexander broke a glass ceiling when she directed 2008’s Punisher: War Zone though she says the only reason she got that project was because she had previously already directed an R rated violent movie, 2005’s Green Street Hooligans. She likely has a point as she also got the call to direct this week’s episode of Arrow because showrunner Andrew Kreisberg was a fan of her work from War Zone. As an example of her point, Alexander mentions Kenneth Branagh, who directed the first Thor movie even though the majority of his experience directing to that point had been Shakespeare. Nobody looked at him as an "action director," simply a director who could do the job. On the other side there is an assumption that women can’t do action unless they’ve proven otherwise.
Unless something changes, Lexi Alexander will soon finally have company in the female superhero director club, as Patty Jenkins is currently on tap to direct the Wonder Woman solo vehicle. While Jenkins does not have much action on her resume, she has apparently proven herself previously, as she was originally going to direct Thor: The Dark World before she ended up leaving the project.
Alexander has been an outspoken advocate for female directors for some time. They make up an embarrassingly small portion of the industry, especially at the feature-film level. Everybody has to have their first time doing something new and it should never be assumed that anybody can’t do something simply because they haven't before. Women can do great things on all sides of the camera, and more of them should have a chance to prove it.