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Diablo Cody Now Understands Why Her 'Girl-Boss' Barbie Movie Never Came Together

Given the fever pitch of anticipation for the upcoming "Barbie" movie starring Margot Robbie, it seems like, for whatever reason, now is the perfect time to release a live-action comedy based on the iconic children's toy. So some fans may be surprised to learn that the film has been in various stages of development for years now, and came close to happening almost a decade ago with a very different creative approach.

A GQ article on the "Barbie" movie that wasn't reveals that Diablo Cody was one of the writers hired to try and put a unique spin on the material. And according to Cody herself, the zeitgeist just wasn't where it needed to be for such a movie to happen back in 2014. "When I was first hired for this, I don't think the culture had not embraced the femme or the bimbo as valid feminist archetypes yet," Cody said. "If you look up 'Barbie' on TikTok you'll find this wonderful subculture that celebrates the feminine, but in 2014, taking this skinny blonde white doll and making her into a heroine was a tall order."

A subversive take on "Barbie" from the writer of "Juno" and "Jennifer's Body" might seem like a great idea on paper, but according to Cody, it just wasn't compatible with the spirit of the toys.

Cody's Barbie would have been too 'anti-Barbie' to do the property justice

Not surprisingly, Diablo Cody felt a lot of pressure to do right by the "Barbie" franchise when she was brought on to shape it into a feature film. "There was a lot of pressure to not write the dramatic equivalent of 'math is hard,'" she recalled.

In those days, it was Sony rather than Warner Bros. that held the feature film rights to "Barbie," and the idea was to cast (per GQ) "an unconventional leading actress" in the role, with Amy Schumer, who had her own reasons for departing the "Barbie" movie, being particularly sought after.

But in Cody's view, Sony's idea for an "anti-Barbie" movie was at odds with her basic affection for the toys themselves. "I grew up playing with Barbies," she says, "and those were sort of the first movies that I ever cast. A lot of people learn to tell stories by playing with dolls," the writer said, mirroring comments that "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig has also made in discussing the movie. "I didn't really have the freedom then to write something that was faithful to the iconography; they wanted a girl-boss feminist twist on Barbie, and I couldn't figure it out because that's not what Barbie is," Cody said.

With a satirical yet affectionate take on "Barbie" hitting theaters on July 21, it's fascinating to reflect on what Cody's version of the movie might have been like. But it seems like the time just wasn't yet right for the material to make it to the big screen.