Were we ever so young as when we thought that Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach secretly having a baby together was a surprise? Now, three months later, a much more shocking development about the cinematic power couple has come to light: Their next long-awaited collaboration, which comes on the heels of fan favorites Mistress America and Frances Ha, will be none other than Warner Bros.'s upcoming film adaptation of Barbie, starring Margot Robbie.
It almost goes without saying, but Barbie is quite the departure from the pair's usual projects (aka small-scale, indie-esque films that are invariably described as "quirky"). As with Frances Ha, Gerwig and Baumbach are set to cowrite the script. Gerwig, who was nominated in the Best Director catagory at the Oscars for 2017's Lady Bird and is currently working on an adaptation of Little Women, is also rumored to direct. And Twitter users are set to continue having a field day; "Barbie Ha," "Lady 'Barbara' Bird," and "Even Littler Women," are just several of the title suggestions for "mumblecore Barbie" that have poured in so far.
Production may not have even started, but the Barbie film already has quite the long history, which began in April of 2014 when Sony announced that it had approached Mattel with the intentions to make a live-action barbie movie—and, according to a source, an "unexpected, clever, and truly funny" one at that. With Amy Schumer and Diablo Cody confirmed to star in and write the film, respectively, that seemed not only doable, but promising. Or at least it did, until Schumer dropped out from the film in 2017, and Cody followed just over a year later, at which point the film was pushed back until 2020. As it turned out, Cody was never as attached to the film as initially thought. As she put it in April of 2018, almost exactly four years after the film was announced: "Dude, I never even produced an initial draft. I failed so hard at that project. I was literally incapable of writing a Barbie script. God knows I tried."
So, are Gerwig and Baumbach now also doomed with an impossible task? It's not as bad as Cody makes it sound. Let's step back a few decades, back to when Barbie was still in her (late) twenties; in 1987, the then 26-year-old director Todd Haynes made cinematic history with his short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. The biopic documents the last 17 years of the titular singer's life until her untimely death of anorexia nervosa—a premise that's straightforward enough, except that it stars Barbies instead of human beings. (Carpenter's family successfully banned it in 1990, though it still went on to become a cult classic, which still racks up views on YouTube.)
Even today, buzzy, up-and-coming directors are still turning to Barbie. Earlier this year, Olivia Wilde made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed film Booksmart, which primarily stars real-life actors Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. In one scene, however, their bodies are replaced: It's only after they've transformed into Barbie-like versions of a farmer and an orthodontist that their characters realize they accidentally ingested ayahuasca. "These proportions are insane! Where is my chub?," Molly (Feldstein) asks, horrified. Amy (Dever), on the other hand, surprises herself by taking a liking to her newfound "perfect, round, huge mounds."
Whether or not Gerwig and Baumbach decide to go the animated route, there's at least one place where their storyline might find success: the subculture haven that is Tumblr, where devotees to the Netflix's Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, a series about Barbie's life trapped in an "artificially intelligent closet," have found a thriving home.