Zatanna Emerald Fennell

Zatanna: Emerald Fennell Speaks on ‘Reasonably Demented’ Script for Defunct DC Movie

Emerald Fennell says her script for Zatanna, a now-defunct project originally intended to be part of the DCEU, was “reasonably demented.”

In 2021, Warner Bros. announced that a Zatanna project was in development for HBO Max. Promising Young Woman and Saltburn’s Fennell was tapped to write the screenplay, while J.J. Abrams was hired to produce the movie. Speaking with Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Fennell confirmed that Warner Bros. Discovery’s Zatanna movie is no longer happening.

“I don’t know a huge amount about the superhero genre,” Fennell said. “It’s not a genre that I naturally gravitate towards. I was like, ‘How do I make a movie like that for people like me, who maybe don’t know so much and wouldn’t necessarily buy a ticket the first time around?’ It was sort of that kind of thing and I was like, ‘Okay, this is interesting.’ Zatanna is just a really, really cool character.

“I think, just like everything — I did write it. It was complicated. It’s the classic studio stuff, classic studio stuff. J.J. is incredible, his team is incredible. I wrote, in the end, a script that I think is reasonably demented. In a good way, I think. In the end, I think the whole universe was changed.”

Who is Zatanna?

Created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, Zatanna first appeared in 1964’s Hackman #4. The daughter of the magician Zatara, Zatanna is gifted with unique magical abilities and is known for casting spells by speaking backward. While she’s been a member of the Justice League, she’s often associated with the Justice League Dark, a superhero team that specifically deals with supernatural threats.

Zatanna has yet to appear in a live-action movie from DC Studios, though she has shown up in a number of animated series throughout the years. Serinda Swan also played the character in the Smallville television show.