Did you hear that collective “whew”?
That was Warner Bros. and the folks behind the DC Comics cinematic universe taking a huge sigh of relief with the phenomenal success of “Wonder Woman.”
It’s an undeniable commercial hit, besting all expectations by taking in $100.5 million domestically in its debut and an additional $122 million overseas, for a worldwide haul of $223 million. It’s the sixth-best domestic opening for a June release. Not bad for a 76-year-old superhero (she first appeared on the cover of Sensation Comics in 1941).
But “Wonder Woman” is also a critical success, with a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the best-reviewed DC superhero film since “The Dark Knight.” DC Comics absolutely needed this success to salvage its grim-looking cinematic universe after the “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” fiasco, in preparation for its upcoming “Justice League” films that will tie multiple superhero stories together.
Turns out DC didn’t need a Superman. Just a Wonder Woman. Here are five ways she has saved the DC Comics Extended Universe (DCEU).
Giving DC the upper hand
Until now, Marvel and Fox (with their X-Men films) have been at the forefront critically and commercially with their superhero films, while DC got critically pummeled with “Batman v. Superman” and “Suicide Squad,” even though they made money.
But now DC has finally risen to the top with “Wonder Woman” by beating Marvel and Fox to the punch with the first female-driven (by Gal Gadot) superhero movie and first female-directed (by Patty Jenkins) big-budget success.
Taking the spotlight
Even though Wonder Woman had a tiny part in “Batman v. Superman,” she stole the show. And with the “death” of Supes and Batman showing up in “Suicide Squad,” it looked like DC was positioning Batman to be the main character in the DCEU. But now, with Wonder Woman’s success, she could become the glue that ties everything together, kind of like Iron Man in the Marvel films.
We already know Wonder Woman will be in the “Justice League” films, we just don’t know to what extent.
Finding a tone that works
Gone is the dour, overly brooding tone of director Zach Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” “Batman v. Superman” and David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad.” They just weren’t very fun. But thanks to Jenkins and her straightforward, confident approach, “Wonder Woman” is a joy to watch, propelled by the winning chemistry between Gadot and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. “Wonder Woman” is also funny and exciting.
But we shouldn’t expect the upcoming “Justice League” films to be swayed too much in tone; they will still very much be Snyder-directed films (even if Joss Whedon is taking over while Snyder deals with a family tragedy). But perhaps they just won’t be so dark, moody and dutiful. Make them a good time, for goodness’ sake.
Having an actual story
There were many problems with “Batman v. Superman,” most of them story-related, with a dense, murky plot. It was kind of the opposite with “Suicide Squad,” though, which kind of needed more plot and seemed to try to make up for it by being overly darkly violent.
But “Wonder Woman” has a clear origin storyline, thanks to the sparkling script by Allan Heinberg. “Justice League” will need to be handled like an origin story, too, introducing Aquaman and the Flash into the mix. Hopefully it will keep things simple yet engaging.
Being a hero to root for
The DCEU gave us a Superman riddled with self-doubt and a Batman so jaded he seemed entirely motivated by hate – he spends almost all of “Batman v. Superman” plotting how he will take out Supes. What’s worse? Neither of them were very likeable.
But Wonder Woman is a true superhero. She makes us feel elated, and that’s because of her undying belief in good in the world – and in people. And that’s something we can all get behind. Hopefully her optimism and faith will go forward in the DCEU. That would indeed be a wonder.