The psychopath’s horrific howls fill the midnight air with a supernatural current, causing a blood-curdling chill to run the full length of her spine. If it wasn’t already for the East River’s breeze, she is certain that the madman’s beast-like guffaws would have caused her arm hair to fearfully salute a distant Lady Liberty.
With a vulture’s intensity, the monster encircles his prey on a mechanical levitation device as she dangles a hundred feet above frigid waters. Her stomach twists into a sheet knot as she locks eyes with her captor. The sense of euphoric joy in his eyes nearly causes her to empty the contents of her stomach. Perhaps a gift from higher powers, the frigid breeze above the East River grants her a brief reprieve as it puffs her vibrant red hair across her eyes, creating a shield from the villain’s twisted gaze.
As her natural veil is stripped away by the lull in the breeze, her eyes focus on a calming visage: The Hero. As if she had been holding her breath for every moment of her life, she exhales. Relief washes over her tortured psyche as she watches the red and blue clad cavalry charge into the fray. With a vindicated sense of justice, she is certain how the rest of the story will end.
Traditionally, women in superhero comic books and films have been abducted, ransomed, leveraged, murdered and refrigerated in order to advance the story-telling arc of male characters. In recent years, the dire plight of women in comic books has even earned the trendy name, “Women in Refrigerators,” from comic book writer, Gail Simone. However, the world-famous poet laureate, Beyonce, once posed the insightful, rhetorical question with subsequent answer, “Who ‘run’ the world? Girls.”
Although the problem still exists within this story-telling medium and its related film franchises, comic book companies have seemingly accepted this truth as they seek to remedy this problem with the introduction of more powerful, inspiring, and well-rounded female lead characters and superheroes.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe enters its tenth year of life and the DC Extended Universe enters into its fourth year of life, it is unfortunate that more superhero films have yet to explore solo films which embrace these characters. Certainly, there are strong, deep female characters within many of the film franchises. However, aside from several failed attempts from each company, no female led superhero film has been launched into a successful franchise.
This year, DC Comics and Warner Brothers seek to remedy these failures with the introduction of a solo Wonder Woman film in their Extended Universe. As the male superheroes of both cinematic universes have spent the entirety of the last year embroiled in a massive penis-measuring conflict, in which everyone already knew that the Hulk “is the girth-iest there is,” Wonder Woman is set to inspire hope to a new generation.
This film will be the true litmus test for all future female-led superhero films. As more female superheroes are potentially incorporated into their respected cinematic universes, the success of the superhero film genre will ultimately rely on the success of Wonder Woman. Here are 3 reasons why Wonder Woman’s success is essential to the future of Superhero Films.
3) Wonder Woman’s Financial Success Will Potentially Lead to more Female-Led Superhero Films
Up until this year, female-led superhero films have been something of a novelty. In the past, many film companies have attempted to kick off female-led superhero film franchises involving Supergirl, Tank Girl, Barb Wire, Elektra and Catwoman to varying degrees of failure. After the catastrophic failures of Catwoman in 2004 and Elektra in 2005, no movie studio has come close to touching a female-led superhero movie.
It seems that until recently, studios would not touch this concept with a ten-foot pole. However, should Wonder Woman succeed, movie studios may embrace a superhero film renaissance in which female-led superhero films become a new normal for society.
Traditionally, companies have thought of comic books, movies, and memorabilia as something that only holds the interest of boys. This is due to a lack of sales involving the female demographic. As with many cases, money speaks louder than words. In essence, if merchandise doesn’t perform well among certain group demographics then it must certainly be a failure and the toy line or television series must be cancelled. However, this is not always the truth in reality.
In an interview with Screen Rant, Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman has said, “the ‘real challenge’ of making a Wonder Woman movie was challenging the belief that women’s stories are only relatable for women, while men’s stories are universal.” Even as strong female lead characters are introduced within comic books, we as a society still struggle with the notion that a women’s story is only relatable for women.
However, it is possible to begin changing this worldview through finely tuned film narratives that illustrate a character’s relatability among varying demographics and compel movie-goers to buy tickets. Initial positive reviews seem to indicate that this new sense of normal may be made entirely plausible with this film.
As movie-goers continue to show support through spending their money on movie tickets and positive word of mouth spreads like wildfire regarding the film’s narrative, audience members and Hollywood ‘Big-Wigs’ hesitant to embrace female-led superhero films will eventually turncoat.
Die-Hard fans will need to support films by speaking to film making companies with their wallet. Money is a language that every large film-production company speaks. A movie may be a critical darling, but if film making companies no longer see the financial benefit of crafting female-led superhero films, then they will begin to cease production.
2) Wonder Woman Will Not Suffer from Contrived Eleventh-Hour Salvation from Supporting Characters and Hopefully Other Films Will Follow Suit
An Extremis-fueled, regenerative orange glow races through The Mandarin’s body as he stands triumphant above Tony Stark. Without the use of his suits, Stark needs no complex calculations to be certain of his fate. In true Ark of the Covenant fashion, his face will be melted by the hands of this madman. Enter: Extremis-powered, thought-dead Pepper Potts who dispatches of the hero’s longtime nemesis in a matter of seconds, thus making the entire third act conflict entirely superfluous.
One of the longest running issues that plagues superhero films is the contrived eleventh-hour salvation from supporting characters. Whether it be the hero’s side-kick, or the hero’s love interest, in many cases the circumstances of this “win” are too contrived to be accepted by one’s suspension of disbelief.
Although this is often done to remediate the societal stigma involving the perception that women always need to be saved by men, when handled poorly, it can lessen the impact of the hero’s abilities and eliminate the senses of drama and desperation associated with a film’s climax.
One can be certain that this will not be within the realm of possibility regarding Wonder Woman. There is no quicker way to fire up the entirety of the internet than to imply that Wonder Woman, one of the most powerful females in comics, will need the assistance of Steve Trevor in defeating the villain.
Internet activists and digital crusaders armed with digital pitchforks and torches would lay waste to everything in their gaze and then loot the charred, pixel remains. Although he will certainly play a role in some part of the battle, it is a narrative impossibility for him to deal the killing blow. This would be such a misstep from which there would be no recovery.
Additionally, if Patty Jenkins illustrates that this is a narrative possibility within Wonder Woman, there is hope that other film-makers will follow suit. Instead of rendering the hero inept at the eleventh hour, and enabling implausible resolutions, perhaps viewers will be allowed to witness creative problem solving on behalf of the hero. This would ultimately give the hero or heroine some credit regarding the nature of their abilities and create more dramatic situations for the audience to enjoy.
1) The DCEU Needs a Critically Successful Film
One of the best adjectives that anyone can use to describe the DC Extended Universe is every writer’s new favorite buzzword: “divisive.” Ultimately, this is a backhanded compliment to describe the fact that the films have gained a certain amount of popularity and praise among die-hard fans while being eviscerated and hung by their entrails at the proverbial gates as a warning from critics. In essence, there is little-to-no middle-ground when it comes to audience reception of these films.
After three attempts at jumpstarting a shared movie universe among DC-owned intellectual properties, it is certainly disheartening to witness the public execution of films based on popular superheroes. Moreover, each passing day reveals a plethora of discouraging news regarding the upcoming Batman and Flash solo films.
From a revolving door of new directors to the loss of screenplay writers, it is difficult to find hope in a shared film universe that seemingly sends creative talent fleeing in fear. With lavish amounts of negative think-pieces regarding these films, it is impossible to not be devoured by the pessimistic outlook on these films.
It would be an egregious form of hyperbole to state that the DC Extended Universe will not survive without the critical success of Wonder Woman. As long as fans continue to support superhero films with their hard-earned dollars, film studios will continue to milk these cash cows until their metaphorical udders fire out flags adorned with the onomatopoeia, “bang.”
However, the narrative for the DC Extended Universe is quite bleak. If the company is incapable of producing an enjoyable film for both critics and audiences, it is entirely plausible that ticket sales may drop as confidence in the franchise wanes. A decrease in ticket sales would be the kiss of death for the DC Extended Universe films.
Although Wonder Woman has not been without controversy for the sake of controversy, early reviews and reactions to the film appear to be overwhelmingly positive. As a result, die-hard fans can breathe a deep sigh of relief as it seems DC and Warner Bros have broken their abysmal batting streak with these films. All that is left to determine the film’s true success is ticket sales and audience reaction. This will be the true test of the Amazonian Princess’ mettle.
How do you think Wonder Woman will affect the superhero film genre and the DC Extended Universe? Do you think that Wonder Woman will affect future superhero films? Is there anything that we have missed with this list? Do you think that the fate of the DC Extended Universe rests on this film’s shoulders? Sound off in the comment section below with your thoughts on Wonder Woman!