Wonder Woman is an unprecedented success for DC Films and Warner Bros. - but also for fans and those in the movie industry who have long been hoping for a changes to the status quo.
As of writing this, Wonder Woman has shattered many records, from opening weekend gross, to the earnings by a female-led and female-directed bockbuster movie. Even within the superhero movie genre, Wonder Woman has proven to have more holding power at the box office (due to outstanding word-of-mouth) than any other comic cook movie in 15 years - including Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight.
At this point, it's undeniable that Wonder Woman is an runaway success story, and a culmination of 75 years of work to propel the DC Comics heroine to the heights of pop-culture popularity she is now enjoying. Now that we've reached this point, however, it's time to look back at the rocky, winding, road it took to get here, to help us all, collectively, observe and acknowledge the lessons learned, which we can carry into the future.
Here's What We Should All Learn From Wonder Woman's Epic Success!
Like so many casting announcements from DC Films (Ben Affleck Batman; Jesse Eisenberg Lex Luthor) when it was announced that Fast & Furious star Gal Gadot would be playing Wonder Woman, the Internet went wild.
Many, many (so-called) DC Comics fans went ballistic over the idea that the Israeli-born Gadot would be playing one of the most iconic figures in American comic book history; things turned even darker when some people started in with vitriolic body-shaming campaigns, ripping Gadot to shreds for everything from how thin or not she was, to the size of her bust.
It should be made clear: none of this "controversy" over the Wonder Woman casting really cleared up until the film was in theaters and Gadot was earning rave reviews for her performance. Even after her debut in Batman v Superman won some viewers over in terms of her action prowess, there was still a lot of expressed doubt about her ability to carry an entire movie, and convey the necessary comedic/dramatic performance that Wonder Woman required.
What We Learned: Now that Gal Gadot is a bonafide international movie star, icon, and all-around beloved badass, it's clear that comic book fans and all their casting opinions belong on a much lower tier of importance. As a select few pointed out early on (this writer included): having a former military athletic trainer / supermodel playing Wonder Woman wasn't a bad idea, at all. Thanks Zack Snyder!
Ever since DC Comics and Marvel have made concentrated efforts to diversify their respective superhero universes on both the comic book page and screen, there has been a certain sector of the fanbase who have been complaining (ad nauseam) that this push for diversity is nothing but cheap gimmick of political correctness.
It's not hard to find comments like "don't change the existing heroes - make new ones!" or "what if they made Black Panther a white guy?" littering every chat thread that has to do with a change to a comic book character's race, gender, or sexuality - and with Wonder Woman we saw particular backlash to any ideas of feminism or female-only discussion surrounding the film.
What We Learned: at this point, the success of Wonder Woman goes way beyond anything that could be labeled a gimmick. The record-setting earnings and box office holdover the film has shown proves that this female-led, and female-directed film is something fans new that fans may not have even known they were hungry for - something of true novelty. The cultural impact is still being mapped out in full, but needless to say, for women of all ages, this has been a significant milestone worth engaging with. It goes to show: different groups of people like to see themselves represented onscreen in noble, heroic ways. And if you don't think a single case like Wonder Woman proves that, just look to the records already being set by Marvel's Black Panther promotional campaign for further evidence.
Big blockbuster movies have fallen into a trend of front-loading for the all-important opening weekend box office rush, which (rightfully or not) has becoming the biggest measuring stick for whether or not a movie is a success or failure. This is especially true for the superhero movies that studios like DC, Marvel, and Fox put out.
However, as superhero movies have become more and more prevalent in the market (read: overcrowded), there's less and less initial excitement for each new release; more and more, a lot of people rely on things like positive word of mouth to be a determining factor of whether yet another superhero movie release is worth that trip to the theater.
What We Learned: Wonder Woman has set a record for having the best box office staying power of any superhero movies in the last fifteen years. That says a great deal about what the new emerging standard for superhero movies may be: it's not just about the initial rush out of the gate - it's about long marathon to box office and branding success. As the genre is forced evolve, offering fans newer and more unique versions of comic book movies, it may take the larger pool of viewers a long time (and validation from trusted sources - like friends) to give those films a go. Deadpool, Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy, Wonder Woman - all of these films represent great "marathon" superhero movie releases that overcame skepticism to become great successes.
One of the more absurdly specious "issues" about Wonder Woman that was raised as the film neared was release was the idea that it was a big "risk" because it was coming with an "untested" director like Patty Jenkins, and "untested" leading lady in Gal Gadot.
As with so many other discussions surrounding the film, there was a slightly insidious (sexist?) undertone to the questions or doubts being raised. After all, Jenkins was a director who had made her way to the Oscars with her first full-length feature (the 2003 serial killer biopic Monster) and was set to helm Marvel's second Thor movie until creative differences led to a split. Gadot had helped revitalize the stalled Fast & Furious franchise, leading to those films now grossing over a billion dollars with each new installment.
What We Learned: We could debate what the term "untested" truly means in the movie business, but even if a lot of people had never heard of Jenkins and Gadot before Wonder Woman, being new to challenge of launching and carrying a major blockbuster movie in no way made them unworthy of achieving great things (as the box office receipts keep rolling in...). This is important to remember as the next crop of superhero stars and breakout directors come down the pipeline. If they are being handed the keys to such big films, then they must have impressed someone who knows what greatness in the genre looks like.
(See Also: Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts and star Tom Holland.)
Ever DC Films and Warner Bros. have struggled to get the DC Extended Universe off the ground with divisive films like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad, there's been a big stigma surrounding the DC Comics movie universe: That it will never be a real competitor for Marvel Studios' unstoppable run of hit films.
DC Comics fans (and those who genuinely love the DCEU) have been passionately defending the DC movies through their troubled times, but it has been a discussion bolstered by silver-lining point of views, against-the-grain explanations, and desperate hope for future.... until now.
What We Learned: At the risk (and expectation) of starting a flame-war, Wonder Woman is proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that (done the right way), DC Films can set milestones, break records, and earn bank just as well as Marvel Studios can. In fact since Wonder Woman has best every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie terms of box office holding power, it seems that the globally iconic heroes of the DCEU may even have further reach and impact than their Marvel competitors.
You can next see Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman in Justice League, in theaters on November 17, 2017.
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In Justice League, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes -- Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash -- it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder, from a screenplay by Chris Terrio, based on a story by Snyder and Terrio, Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Ciarán Hinds, Amy Adams, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons.
Justice League currently has a 4.16 out of 5 ComicBook.com User Anticipation rating making it the third most anticipated upcoming comic book movie among ComicBook.com readers. Let us know how excited you are for Justice League by giving the movie your own personal ComicBook.com User Anticipation Rating below.
Justice League opens in theaters no November 17, 2017.