“Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.” – Queen Hippolyte.
The comic book industry is changing. The past year has seen a rise in demand to see more diversity within comics and their movie adaptations. Due to this demand, there has been a high amount of hype surrounding the DC Extended Universe, especially when the company announced not just one, but two female lead standalone movies; ‘Wonder Woman’ and the just recently announced ‘Gotham City Sirens’.
Unlike their comic counterpart Marvel, DC have responded to fan demand to see more female lead standalone films, however after the critical failure of both ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of justice’ and ‘Suicide Squad’, there is a lot of pressure on DC to produce a movie that will be of better quality as well as meeting fan demand.
The upcoming ‘Wonder Woman’ movie, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot as the title character, is incredibly important for the DC Extended Universe, not just because of the negative reception of it’s predecessors, but because it will be the first ever solo feature for one of the most popular and longest running female superheroes.
Created in 1942, Wonder Woman has become one of the most popular female superhero and feminist icon that has stood the test of time. Not to mention that the character is just as popular as her male DC counterparts of Batman and Superman. In an industry that is is largely dominated by male characters usually taking the lead, alongside the need to reestablish DC/Warner brothers reputation, ‘Wonder Woman’ doesn’t just need to good; It needs to be great.
Along with the pressures of needing to rescue the DCEU, ‘Wonder Woman’ is also one of the most recognizable faces within pop culture; more than any other female superhero. Even Harley Quinn, who is notably one of DC’s finest female super-villains, hasn’t matched the popularity and longevity of Wonder Woman. This makes the character an incredibly important symbol and product of Nerd Culture, and after certain portrayals of DC’s female characters in previous films, there are many that are hoping to see the Wonder Woman they have seen within the comics. Not since Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has there been this much pressure on a major blockbuster.
One of the major areas for ‘Wonder Woman’ to improve upon, will be that of character building. It’s already known that the film will be a period piece, and whilst this revelation has been the subject of debate and criticism from many comic book fans, this historical setting may allow for the film to fully develop Wonder Woman as a character. It’s well known that one of the DCEU’s biggest flaw is that of character building.
Much of the negative reception surrounding DC’s previous movies, ‘Man of Steel’, BvS’ and in particular the latest release ‘Suicide Squad’, is that of the lack of character development. During each of these movies, you come out of the cinema not really knowing who these characters are and what are their ambitions. Suicide Squad was 2 hours of trying to understand the backstory and motivations of 11 different characters. All of whom were thinly developed, along with a weak script that offered no insight into much of the characters, apart from Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Will Smith’s Deadshot. Even then, it’s difficult to connect to these two characters, much like the rest of the cast. Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn does however come close to being one of the most faithful portrayals within DCEU, as well as being one of the best on screen female super-villain. Despite this, much of Harley Quinn’s incredibly important and tragic backstory and highly abusive and manipulative relationship with the Joker is left out of the movie. Instead fans were delivered a movie that often romanticized the relationship between Harley and the Joker.
With ‘Wonder Woman’, the decision to set the movie in a period setting may just allow for audiences to get to know just who Wonder Woman is. As one of the oldest superhero’s, this setting will allow for extra character building and will maybe show audiences that the DCEU can create a universe that isn’t a mash up of fun, but underdeveloped characters.
As a comic book fan, particularly a female comic book fan, ‘Wonder Woman’ will hopefully reignite interest in the DCEU. While it would be unfair to compare the DC Extended Universe to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, there is no denying that the latter has generally fulfilled most nerd fantasies, except for one, which would be the announcement of a female stand alone film. This is where DC could regain their reputation, as ‘Wonder Woman’ will be one of the first female led superhero films in at least a decade. This a groundbreaking, but long overdue announcement, as modern day superhero films are making a fortune, yet female characters are usually forced into a supporting role. You only have to watch Marvels movies to realise that the main characters are male, such as Iron Man and Captain America. Even official Marvel merchandise usually excludes Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Maria Hill and Agent 13/Sharon Carter.
There is no denying that female led films, particularly female led superhero films, have been a difficult subject for Hollywood. This could be because, despite fan demand, they haven’t generally been very good. Comic fans and audiences need only to think back to ‘Catwoman’ and ‘Elektra’, both of which were negatively received by audiences and critics alike. Since then, it can be said that these films have made film companies wary of producing female superhero movies. Female led films are generally perceived as being ‘risky’, and there is the long held notion that producing one will lead to the alienation of the audiences demographic.
Despite this idea, there is no denying that female led films can be a massive success. We only have to take a look at some of our modern day action hero’s such as Furiosa in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, Katniss Everdeen in ‘The Hunger Games’ Franchise, as well as Rey in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ to realise that it is possible to produce a well developed female led film. Nevertheless, the listed films are action movies and therefore ‘Wonder Woman’ will need to establish that a female led superhero film can be good in the eyes of both critics and comic fans. As a much loved female comic book character, a faithful adaption could allow for further female led superhero films to be released, thus dismantling the notion that female superhero’s are only good as a supporting character.
If everyone involved with the making of ‘Wonder Woman’, DC could produce what may be their best installment in their cinematic franchise, along with given DC the chance to showcase one of the most influential and long running superhero of all time. For the DCEU the release of ‘Wonder Woman’ marks a groundbreaking event, a female superhero solo movie, that could drastically increase the franchise’s quality as well as reigniting interest in their future films.
Wonder Woman will be released on June the 2nd 2017 .