Writing is a funny thing. The two men (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) behind some of the most critically praised MCU movies, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, also led one of the most panned installments: Thor: The Dark World. Another fun example of this would be Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ring's Dave Callaham.
The writer was involved with one of the best-received entries in Marvel Studios' Phase 4, yet, somehow he also played a role in a recent DCEU installment—one that is far from beloved: Wonder Woman 1984.
This goes to show that it's hard to truly judge a writer's body of work at times. Situations vary, and there are endless factors regarding how a project will turn out.
Now, Callaham spoke about his time on Gal Gadot's second solo outing and what exactly his role with the script was.
Shang-Chi Writer Speaks About Wonder Woman 1984
In an interview with the Austin Film Festival, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Wonder Woman 1984 writer Dave Callaham talked about his time on Patty Jenkin's most recent superhero film starring Gal Gadot.
When asked about his involvement with the creative process for WW84, Callaham made it very clear that the movie "was never [his] and it never [would be]:"
“Wonder Woman  was never mine and it never will be mine… And none of these things are mine. But it was never my story to tell. I was just helping Patty out. Shang-Chi… it’s not mine, but I do feel a sense of ownership’s not the right word but i’m very connected to that movie because of what it is, and what it represents for me, and what it represents for my family members, and what it represents for the culture. And so when Black Widow was released on day and date in theaters and on Disney+, I got really nervous and we had already shifted release dates a number of times.”
He then began to jokingly tell the story of how Patty Jenkins pulled up in a "golden private jet" in order to recruit him to help her write the ideas they already had chosen for the direction of the sequel:
“Truth is, the original Wonder Woman, I was not involved in, but I had a relationship with Patty. I had written a smaller movie that she was attached to direct. We had a great relationship working on it and then she got offered Wonder Woman and she bounced, which was the correct move, it turned out, for her. And then you know years went by, and we all did our stuff, and then as I like to tell it… it’s like a golden private jet pulled up outside of my house one day, and my old friend Patty opened the door, and was like, ‘Okay Dave, I’m back. Come with me.’ That’s what it was like."
Callaham shared how Jenkins noted that they already knew what the story was, but the team just "need[ed] help writing" WW84:
"She just invited me along and she said, ‘We already know what the story is. I know what I want to do. I just need help writing it. And I trust you and I like you. Will you do it?’ It’s like, yeah, that sounds awesome. Patty knew that she wanted to make a movie that was much more colorful and vibrant than the first movie. I think she’s very proud of the first movie, but World War 1 is not the most fun time in human history."
He noted that the director "wanted to do something a little poppier" and made it clear that his experience on the DCEU entry was "simple fun" and "really collaborative:"
"So she wanted to do something a little poppier. She wanted to make a movie that she described to me as being more in line with the first Superman movie that Richard Donner made. Just something more fun. I said, ‘Whatever you want.’ And so, I was coming at a bit of a deficit, because both Patty and Geoff [Johns] had worked on the first movie, so I had to watch the first movie and understand the character as best I could and then we all just wrote it together. It was really simple fun and like no ego really collaborative. It was great. It was wonderful.”
Differences Between MCU and DCU Writing for Callaham
Dave Callaham's comments certainly do feel like he's washing his hands of the project, or, at least, he's trying to note that he came in later in the process. Not to mention he wasn't involved in the first movie, which, as he put it, placed him "at a bit of a deficit."
Either way, it's clear the writer is talented at his craft. Even though Wonder Woman 1984 is sitting at 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, his following work on Shang-Chi ranks at an impressive 91%.
So anytime one might decide to judge an upcoming project based on the writers and potentially a past of spotty quality, remember this situation—and that of Endgame.
As for when audiences worldwide will see more of Dave Callaham, his upcoming work includes both Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Beyond the Spider-Verse, which can both be seen on June 2, 2023 and March 29, 2024, respectively. As for if he's involved in a Shang-Chi sequel, that movie hasn't even been announced yet, so it remains a mystery.
Wonder Woman 1984 is available to stream on HBO Max, and Shang-Chi can be viewed on Disney+.