Profile of Lexi Alexander: director, martial arts champ, and the first (only) woman to direct a Marvel movie

Lexi Alexander is the German-Palestinian world kickboxing champ who moved to the US when Chuck Norris helped her get a Green Card; after helping the US Army develop its unarmed combat training program and working as a stuntwoman, she became a virtuoso action-film director, starting with indie movies and working her way up to directing Punisher: War Zone, making her the first — and, as of now, only — woman to direct a Marvel adaptation.

In a long and fascinating Wired profile, we get a sense of Alexander's amazing range, wit, and vision. She is a tireless campaigner for better representation and opportunities for women in the film industry, as well as being a copyright reformer, an anti-Islamophobia campaigner, and a superb twitterer (I'm also proud to say that she's a friend of mine).

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when Lexi Alexander, struggling filmmaker, became @Lexialex, accidental empowerment enabler, but it likely began in early 2014. At the time, Alexander was being approached by journalists about Hollywood's lack of female directors, and she responded with a pointed essay for her personal blog. "There is no lack of female directors," she wrote. "But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities. I swear, if anyone near me even so much as whispers the sentence 'Women probably don't want to direct,' my fist will fly as a reflex action." She added: "By letter of the law, all female directors must fall in one of two categories: Difficult or Indecisive. Bitch or Ditz. Hello, my name is Lexi Alexander, Difficult Bitch. Nice to meet you!"

Conversations about unfair hiring practices began radiating across Alexander's Twitter feed, and she started tweeting stories about the maddening hurdles of being a female filmmaker—like the driver who declined to take her to the set of her own movie because he was "waiting for the director"—while also calling out the whitewashed casting of movies like Gods of Egypt and Ghost in the Shell. Hers are the sort of direct, casually unruly observations that you rarely hear aired publicly in the entertainment world.

"In Hollywood, like in comics, you get the idea that there are certain things you shouldn't talk about in a certain way if you want to get more gigs," says G. Willow Wilson, the Eisner-­nominated writer of Marvel's hit Ms. Marvel. "But Lexi's willing to go to the mat for what she believes in rather than staying quiet in hopes of currying favor."

[Brian Raferty/Wired]

(Image: @lexialex)