Why the DC Extended Universe Needs ‘Wonder Woman’
There’s no doubting that DC stumbled out of the gates last year when they launched the first true phase of their new Extended Universe of movies. Both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad didn’t quite measure up to expectations. Despite relatively hefty box office takes, behind the scenes, we saw a studio in chaos, encountering frequent roadblocks along the way.
Enter Wonder Woman, set to hit theaters on June 2, 2017. The film will star Gal Gadot as the titular hero, and all indications have pointed toward a promising effort for director Patty Jenkins. The same could have been said for Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad in their own respective run-ups though, making it that much more important to have Wonder Woman deliver on its promise. There’s a whole lot riding on its successful release, and DC couldn’t have picked a better hero to put all their chips on. Here’s why.
1. It’s the first female-led superhero movie of the modern era
To clarify, yes, we know that the Catwoman and Elektra movies from the early 2000s exist. But if we’re talking about the modern superhero era that began with 2008’s Iron Man, then Wonder Woman holds the distinct honor of being the first female-led film, and it’s a big deal for a handful of reasons.
For some context: Marvel won’t be debuting their own female-led movie until 2019’s Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson. That makes DC the standard-bearer in the superhero movie genre for once, giving them a unique opportunity to prove their creative mettle.
2. This is an important proving ground for the genre as a whole
The early to mid-’00s was an interesting time for the superhero genre. Sony’s Spider-Man saga was the dominant franchise, followed closely by 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movies. Meanwhile, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was barely a gleam in the eye of Kevin Feige. It was also a time when standalone releases like Catwoman and Elektra were the cautionary tales for female-led comic book movies.
It was the failure of those two films that led to many studios viewing the female-led superhero film as a losing cause to support, with the proof being that it took over a decade before anyone took a chance on one again.
That’s where Wonder Woman comes in. If it flops, then you can bet people will once again jump to the unfortunate (and patently false) conclusion that women can’t lead their own comic book films. If it succeeds though, it could prove to be the catalyst for a new commitment toward gender equality within the genre.
3. The DCEU really needs a win right now
While the poor reception of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad are the most obvious problems at DC right now, the troubles Warner is having right now run far deeper than that.
For Suicide Squad, we saw a studio that meddled in the creative process at every step, leading to a final cut that was put together by a company that specializes entirely in trailers (read: not feature-length movies). In the ensuing months, DC’s Flash movie lost not one, but two directors, delaying its release indefinitely, and leading to a full-on page one rewrite. All that’s without even diving into the mess that is Ben Affleck’s Batman movie, a project that Affleck was originally slated to direct, before stepping down to focus on his starring role.
Suffice it to say, a smooth release for Wonder Woman wouldn’t just be welcomed with open arms; it’s a downright necessity.
4. The DCEU could use a healthy dose of focus
Of all the various flaws of BvS and Suicide Squad, perhaps the most egregious of both was the way in which neither film gave us a chance to really get to know any single character. For the former, we drifted back and forth between our two titular heroes, one of whom carried a lengthy backstory that was never introduced (looking at you, Batfleck). Then along came Suicide Squad, barely sparing enough time to properly introduce its long list of brand new characters.
Mercifully, Wonder Woman will focus on just one hero, giving fans a chance to really get a sense for who she is, what her motivations are, and most importantly, why she became a superhero in the first place.
5. It’s time to move past Batman and Superman
For almost its entire history, DC’s movies have revolved solely around their two most iconic characters: Batman and Superman. Even Suicide Squad shoehorned in a pair of Batman cameos, showing the studio’s clear commitment toward capitalizing on their most valuable properties.
It’s time that DC took a step away though, and Wonder Woman is the perfect chance to do just that. It’s a strategy that’s played out insanely well for The CW with Arrow and The Flash. Now, DC’s movies will finally follow suit.
6. Wonder Woman was easily the best part of Batman v Superman
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman may not have been the focus of BvS, but there’s little denying she had the standout performance of the whole film. Everything from her Led Zeppelin-esque theme song to her appearance in the climactic final battle, painted a picture of a hero who’s more than ready to lead her own standalone movie.
It’s just up to DC to deliver on the massive potential hinted at in Batman v Superman.
7. Wonder Woman is a little known quantity in the mainstream, and it’s time that changed
One of the byproducts of DC focusing their movie-verse almost exclusively on Batman and Superman is that casual fans know precious little about the rest of the various Justice League heroes. That it turn, makes Wonder Woman something of an unknown commodity, despite her considerable presence in DC’s comics. Getting the rest of the world familiar with a hero who more than deserves her turn in the spotlight will represent a long-awaited victory both for Wonder Woman, and the DC fandom as a whole.
8. This could be a turning point for the entire DCEU
As we mentioned before, there’s a lot riding on the success of Wonder Woman. So what happens if it truly stands tall as both a critical and box office hit? Suddenly, the whole “DC can’t compete with Marvel” narrative starts to shift in the other direction. “Maybe BvS and Suicide Squad were just flukes,” people might begin to think, leading to a whole new outlook for the DCEU as a whole.
A summer release makes Wonder Woman about as high-profile as it gets too, putting it right at the forefront of our collective consciousness.
9. Early returns are already positive
Awhile back, DC flew out a handful of critics to their post-production studio in London, unveiling approximately 16 minutes of Wonder Woman footage. Based on what they saw, there was an across the board consensus that the movie looks nothing short of incredible.
“It looks like exactly the kind of movie that the DC Expanded Universe needs right now,” said Slashfilm’s Ethan Anderton, later citing how “the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine is undeniable, and the humor from their interaction comes about so naturally that it doesn’t feel like it’s being shoehorned into a grimdark franchise.”
All in all, it’s a promising early approval of DC’s most important movie yet.
Wonder Woman hits theaters on June 2, 2017.
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