In addition to having professionally acted for almost a decade and a half, Emerald Fennell has also been making a splash for her behind-the-scenes work in recent years, most recently with directing, writing and producing Promising Young Woman. The Carey Mulligan-led movie has been met with a lot of positive reception and will soon compete in five categories at the Academy Awards, but Fennell has already set her sights on a new project. She’s been tapped to bring DC Comics fan-favorite character Zatanna to the big screen.
Emerald Fennell will write a Zatanna movie, which will be a product of Warner Bros’ and DC Film’s partnership with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot banner. Variety doesn’t mention if Fennell will also direct Zatanna, and the role of the eponymous magician hasn’t been cast yet. Zatanna marks the DCEU’s fourth female-led property, with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, in addition to her ensemble appearances, having already starred in two adventures (with both a third movie and a spinoff on the way) and Harley Quinn, Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya having come together last year in Birds of Prey.
Debuting in 1964’s Hawkman #4, Zatanna Zatara is the daughter of John Zatara, who first popped up in 1938’s Action Comics #1, the same issue that introduced Superman to the world. Like her father, Zatanna is a stage magician who practices actual magic, with her spells traditionally being cast by saying the words in her incantations backwards. She is often considered to be one of the DC universe’s most powerful magic users alongside folks like John Constantine (with whom she’s been romantically involved) and Doctor Fate. Zatanna has also served on the Justice League at various periods, although over the last decade, she’s been primarily affiliated with the Justice League Dark.
Although her upcoming movie will mark Zatanna’s theatrical debut, she already played around in live-action a little bit, with Serida Swan recurring as her in Smallville’s final three seasons. The character also has an extensive history in animation, from Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited to Young Justice and Justice League Action. There had been attempts to get a Zatanna movie off the ground in the mid-2000s, and back when the Justice League Dark movie was still in development, Zatanna was expected to be one of the main characters.
Zatanna is the third DC project that J.J. Abrams is currently working on, with a Justice League Dark series for HBO Max and a Superman movie being written by Ta-Nehisi Coates also on the way. Given that Zatanna is having the cinematic spotlight pointed on her, it’s unclear if this means she won’t take part in the Justice League Dark show, whether it’s the same version audiences see on the big screen or a complete different version. In any case, fresh off Promising Young Woman success, Emerald Fennell (whose other notable credits include acting in Call the Midwife and The Crown, as well as showrunning Killing Eve Season 2) now has the opportunity to leave a distinctive stamp on one of DC’s most famous superheroines.
While we wait for more news concerning Zatanna, find out what other DCEU offerings are coming down the creative pipeline with our upcoming DC movies guide. As for Promising Young Woman, it will compete for the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing Oscars when the 93rd Academy Awards air on ABC April 25.