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DC Films Taps ‘Promising Young Woman’ Director Emerald Fennell to Write Zatanna Superhero Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

Emerald Fennell Zatanna
Fennell: Zoe McConnell for Variety; Zatanna: Courtesy of DC Comics

Emerald Fennell, the Oscar-nominated director of “Promising Young Woman,” is taking on a different kind of vigilante. She has been tapped to write “Zatanna,” a big-screen adaptation of the DC Comics heroine.

The movie, from Warner Bros.’ DC Films, is set to be released theatrically. J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot is producing through his overall deal with WarnerMedia.

Fennell’s hiring comes as her feature directorial debut “Promising Young Woman” has been the toast of awards season. Along with five Oscar nods, including best picture, screenplay and actress for Carey Mulligan, the movie has garnered attention from the Golden Globes, BAFTA, Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild.

The upcoming DC Extended Universe installment will be Zatanna’s first franchise appearance. She is known for her involvement with the Justice League, though the character has never appeared in a DC movie. Serinda Swan previously portrayed Zatanna, marking the superhero’s live-action debut, on later seasons of The CW show “Smallville.” The role of Zatanna has not been cast yet.

Zatanna, created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, is a magician and considered one of the most powerful sorcerers in the DC universe. Her magical abilities are genetic, as her dad Giovanni Zatara was also an alchemist.

Following “Wonder Woman” and its sequel “Wonder Woman 1984,” the Zatanna movie would mark only the second female DC hero to headline a DC Films entry. The studio recently cast “The Young and the Restless” star Sasha Calle to play Supergirl ahead of her debut in “The Flash,” but has not set a standalone movie.

Fennell was also a showrunner on Season 2 of “Killing Eve,” a British spy thriller starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. Her acting credits include “Anna Karenina,” “The Danish Girl,” “Call the Midwife” and most recently on Netflix’s royal drama “The Crown,” in which she portrayed Camilla Bowles.