By Brent Ramirez
Blog Content Contributor
The film industry has gone leaps and bounds when it comes to adapting comic book properties into live action films in the past few decades. The combination of new film technology and the incorporation of big Hollywood stars has made the comic book film genre the goliath it is today. Despite everything the genre has accomplished, it has truly lacked in one area: female-led superhero movies. Fortunately, DC has the solution in their next film, Wonder Woman.
Many people have long anticipated for a film to bring the superheroine to the big screen properly and DC did just that in their titan-on-titan film in last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. While the film itself has been extremely divisive among critics and fans alike, most people have agreed that one of the best things it has going for it is the inclusion of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The missing piece to DC’s trinity, Wonder Woman has always been a fan-favorite of many and now that DC is beginning to really expand and delve into their own cinematic universe, the upcoming film featuring the warrior princess is set to really make waves. The film itself is still a few months out, but there’s no reason you can’t be excited now. Here are just a few reasons why you should be excited for DC’s Wonder Woman.
The Female Hero We Need
In the past few years, comic book movies have featured most of their largest properties: Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Iron Man. There’s been a serious lack of female representation in terms of headlining these films, even though Marvel and DC do not have a shortage of female heroes. Marvel has Black Widow, a character who fans have strongly advocated to have a solo film for. Instead she’s been relegated to a lower tier of heroes that serves to fill the spot of sidekick, alongside a slew of other revolving door characters that Marvel has. We’ll be getting an Ant-Man and the Wasp film starring Evangeline Lilly as Hope Pym (The Wasp) and eventually a Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson in the title role, but not until 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Lucky for us, DC will be bringing their Amazonian princess to the big screen in less than two months. Wonder Woman will be the first female-led superhero film since 2005’s Elektra and 2004’s Catwoman, both of which left a bad taste in the public’s mouth. So far, things have been looking great for Wonder Woman. Her presence in BvS elevated the film and was easily one of my personal favorite things about it, and the trailers for Wonder Woman have left me nothing short of excited.
Gal Gadot has played Diana Prince with strength and elegance, giving her portrayal the regalness that the character is known for in the comics. What Gadot has done well so far is in how she carries herself: like a true warrior able to stand alongside other DC titans like Superman and Batman. There is still that deadly sexuality to her Prince, but it doesn’t overshadow her character. That’s what’s great about Gadot’s portrayal, it’s not centered around sexualizing her character, but rather empowering her. Hopefully, the Wonder Woman film will be no exception and will give young women today another role model that empowers them.
A Jump Start for the DCEU
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has been playing catch-up with Marvel for the past few years and they have been struggling to do so. After the failed attempt at Green Lantern in 2011 and the completion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy in 2012, DC and Warner Bros. began their venture into shared universe territory by rebooting Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel, which is currently the highest rated DCEU film (according to Rotten Tomatoes) at a mere 55%. The next film in chronology is Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) which sits at a sad 27%, followed by their last film Suicide Squad with an even sadder 25%.
As someone who loves anything and everything comic book related, it’s hard to see Marvel and DC stand stand on unequal ground. I feel like the parent of two fraternal twins, one of which who is liked and respected by most of his peers, while the other has the same potential but rather sits in the corner because the only friends he has are the ones that actually take the time to talk to him while encouraging him to get out more. Fortunately, I’m looking up because I believe Wonder Woman has the potential to really get the DCEU’s legs on the ground and running. She was easily one of the best parts of BvS and based on the footage in the currently released trailers, Wonder Woman shows promise of having a tight and cohesive story while maintaining DC’s signature spectacular visuals, something BvS and Suicide Squad were both struggled with.
Not only is the DC universe looking to Wonder Woman for some much needed umph, but so is Hollywood. The film has the chance to really give women the representation they need in the film industry. There are some pretty cool females in film, badasses like Ripley from Alien, Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series and more recently Imperator Furiosa from 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, but there is definitely room for more. In an industry known for its abundance of strapping male heroes and its reliance on sexualizing women, Wonder Woman can be the proof that female-led films can be just as good, if not better.
Wonder Woman also brings a good amount of attention to director Patty Jenkins, the first female director to helm a Marvel/DC film since 2008’s Punisher: War Zone (directed by Lexi Alexander). To some, it may not seem like a big deal, but with women directing only 15% of Hollywood films (as of 2014), heading a tentpole film like this is quite the opportunity, even for the best of female directors. It’s a shame that it’s taken so long, even in Jenkins’ case. Despite her 2003 Oscar-winner Monster, her work up until today has mostly been in television. If clear talent isn’t reason enough to give more of these big-budget blockbusters to female directors, then I don’t know what is. Wonder Woman is Jenkins’ first feature length film in 14 years.
It’s Not All Gloom and Doom
One look at the trailers for Wonder Woman show something the previous DCEU films have seriously lacked in: color and vibrance. While the DCEU has predominantly relied on bleak and gloomy color palettes to really emphasize the darker and grittier tone, the bright and colorful shots of Wonder Woman’s home of Themyscira offer something warm and welcoming. Yes, a majority of the film will probably be spent in grey WWI-riddled Europe, but it’s aesthetically pleasing to contrast it with the beauty of Themyscira.
Not only does Wonder Woman look visually brighter, but the trailers seem to suggest a tone that’s a bit lighter and uplifting, compared to Warner Bros. and DC’s previous films. Both Chris Pine’s character Steve Trevor and Lucy Davis’s Etta Candy have shown some quippiness and quirkiness in the trailers. Overall, there’s still that darkness and grittiness that DC’s known for, but if the footage we’ve seen so far is any indication, then Wonder Woman promises to also have some of that levity and lightness just like its Marvel cousins.
There’s a lot riding on the film, mainly the DCEU’s future and the public’s mindset going forward into Justice League. I have no doubt that Wonder Woman will be a success financially. It’s the critical response that’s up in the air. Hopefully the film can be the catalyst that sets the DCEU in motion and propels the rest of the film slate to produce films of the higher caliber.
Aside from the future of Warner Bros.’ and DC’s films, Wonder Woman is the movie that will set the tone for female-led superhero films going forward. For the sake of all female-led superhero flicks to come, let’s hope this film is everything and more. Be prepared with your Lasso of Truth and gauntlets, as Wonder Woman is scheduled to set that standard on June 2.
Featured illustration by Joseph Bonney.