Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have their first certified hit in their still very young “Justice League” era of movies, as “Wonder Woman” is finally the mainstream critically acclaimed film they’ve craved to go along with the major money they’re used to making.
The question that remains is: When will we see a “Wonder Woman” effect in future DC movies?
Patty Jenkins’s film offered a crash course in taking DC Comics movies back to the basics, feeling more like the original “Superman” and “Batman” movies of the 1970s and ’80s than recent movie battles separated by a v instead of a vs. Heart. Fun. Romance. Laughs. A splash of darkness, but not too over-brooding (that only works for Batman). It wouldn’t be surprising if the secret for future cinematic success from WB/DC was in a vial hidden on Theymiscira.
But before you throw your exploding batarang in the sky to celebrate the dawn of consistent, rich storytelling from DC movies, let us not forget that “Justice League” looms this November.
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is about to boomerang back to director Zack Snyder. Snyder’s DC movies (“Watchmen,” “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”) have all been lauded for being visually stunning and capturing the essence of the comic book panels from which they take inspiration. But these films — especially “B v S,” which some feel suffered in plot and dialogue, perhaps a result of having to rush and build toward “Justice League” — haven’t received the praise of “Wonder Woman.” And if you’ve watched the rock-fused trailers for “Justice League” so far, you can see the film will have more of a feel of his previous works than of “Wonder Woman” — even with Joss Whedon filming a few extra scenes and adding some meat to the dialogue while Snyder takes time off to deal with a family tragedy.
Is that similarity a bad thing? Not necessarily. The loyal Snyder fans (and there are many out there) will come. And Snyder and WB/DC have taken their lumps from the critical response to “Man of Steel,” “B v S” and David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad” and have made adjustments to their approach going forward. “Justice League” won’t be as dark as “Batman v Superman” and will lean on a young Flash (Ezra Miller) to provide some laughs, while Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman being involved in the movie, after her hit solo debut, is now a major plus.
If you’re looking for a “Wonder Woman” effect, you’ll have to wait until after “Justice League.”
The DC movies that can more easily learn from “Wonder Woman” are “Aquaman” (directed by James Wan and due in theaters in 2018), the next solo Batman movie (directed by Matt Reeves) and the currently director-less “Flash” movie. (After two good “Avengers” films, we can assume Whedon will be just fine on his own with “Batgirl.”) While the group “Justice League” movies might provide bigger hauls at the box office, the solo movies have less “event” pressure and more creative freedom to reach for critical acclaim.
“Wonder Woman’s” influence on these films will shine brightest in three ways. One, showing how refreshing it is to have new directors who bring new approaches to these characters. Two, a chance to keep the romantic vibes going. Aquaman/Jason Momoa will have Mera/Amber Heard, Batman could have a new Catwoman depending on the casting of “Gotham City Sirens” and Miller’s Flash has Kiersey Clemons as Iris West. Three, showing that it is okay to singularly focus on one hero in a movie without having to be bogged down by the fact that the hero is connected to a larger universe.
If these solo films don’t feel like commercials for future “Justice League” movies, we’ll have “Wonder Woman” to thank for that.