Over the past decade or so, there have been a major glut of superhero movies and for an admitted comic book fan like me, I couldn’t be happier. Every now and then, someone will ask me if I’m getting tired of all these superhero-themed movies. My response usually some form of “Hell no!”
This year has been a damn good year for comic book movies, thanks in large part to the contributions of Deadpool and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s still not over with a Dr. Strange movie coming out this month, but that’s basically another movie about a white guy becoming a superhero. As much as I love superhero movies, I do appreciate a little variety.
That’s why 2017 holds a great deal of promise because that’s where Wonder Woman will finally enter the arena that is superhero cinema. Yes, it’s finally happening. The most iconic female superhero of the 20th century, who just happens to have an origin story with not-so-subtle BDSM undertones, is going to get her own movie. I think I speak for generations of comic book fans when I say it’s about damn time.
I already got wondrously giddy when the first trailer came out. That gave us our first taste of a cinematic Wonder Woman, played by real-life female soldier and overall badass, Gal Gadot. She already proved herself in Batman v. Superman. Say what you will about that movie (and believe me, everything that can be said has), but she was the best part of that movie. She alone made that movie worth seeing.
Now, Gal Gadot is ready to take center stage on her own movie. It’s a movie that promises to explore Wonder Woman’s origin, setting her on the path that eventually led to her arrival in Batman v. Superman. It’s an opportunity to show just how awesome Wonder Woman can be and the trailer only reinforces that sentiment.
Seeing this trailer gave me goose bumps in the best possible way. It got me excited in ways I usually reserve for holidays, parties, and strip clubs. It has all the right ingredients. It has Wonder Woman kicking ass, defending the innocent, and standing up for the values of her people. It’s a beautiful thing and she looks damn sexy doing it.
As excited as I am about this trailer, though, I do have concerns that will likely keep me up until people start whining about it on message boards (and they will because people whine about every superhero movies). I can tolerate and ignore whining. That’s one of the most important skills any comic book fan can learn. With Wonder Woman though, the stakes are a little different.
Unlike Batman, Superman, or Deadpool, there are very different stakes for Wonder Woman’s movie. At least with heroes like Superman and Batman, they have a track record. At times, that track record is mixed. Do I need to remind Batman fans of this?
I’ll avoid scrutinizing that pile of shit, but I bring it up because it sends an important message. No matter how far a franchise sinks or how bad it gets, strong characters will bounce back. Wonder Woman is one of the strongest, most iconic characters in the history of superhero comics. She’s reliant. She can endure more than one blows by Joel Shumacher.
However, it’s not the issues with horrible Batman movies that concern me. It isn’t even the acting capabilities of Gal Gadot or her co-star, Chris Pine. Both are quality actors with a solid track record of playing powerful characters in heroic roles. Gal Gadot already got a head start with Batman v. Superman. So what could possibly be so disconcerting.
It can be best summed up in one word: Catwoman. Anybody remember this? If not, consider yourself lucky.
Why do I bring up Catwoman? Why do I dare reference the abomination that even the Oscar-winning talent of Halle Berry couldn’t save? Well, it’s important to mention because the failure of this movie is part of what set back female superhero movies for so long.
There are many who complain about the absence of female leads in superhero movies. Those complaints aren’t without merit. I certainly wouldn’t lump them in with the typical whining that comes with superhero movies. What gets lost in the complaining though is the context and that context doesn’t have as much to do with sexism as radical feminists would have us believe.
As is often the case, it all comes down to that wholly unsexy force: economics. Yes, I can already sense your eyes glazing over. I can sense panties drying up and boners being killed. Bear with me here. There’s a reason for this and it’s a good reason if you want to understand why Wonder Woman’s movie is so important.
According to Box Office Mojo, Catwoman was a commercial and critical bomb that made only $82 million against a $100 million budget. It’s one thing for a movie to be critically despised. If it loses money, then it becomes an even bigger problem.
Michael Bay movies are among the most reviled by critics, but he gets away with it because movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction make over $1 billion. If Catwoman had made that much money, you can bet that Halle Berry would’ve been in no fewer than three sequels. Hell, Michael Bay may have even directed those movies.
Unfortunately, Catwoman didn’t make that kind of money. As a result, that movie’s failure sent the message that female superhero movies aren’t profitable. They’ll lose a studio money, even if they throw in Oscar-caliber talent. Studios don’t listen to much, but they do listen to money and if a movie doesn’t make money, it may as well be smothered in elephant shit.
This is why Wonder Woman is such an important movie. If it is a success, it’ll prove to Hollywood that strong female heroes can succeed. They can turn a profit. This would be huge, especially for those still pining for a Black Widow movie. Joss Whedon even said he’d return to direct that movie. That raises the stakes for Wonder Woman even more.
If, however, Wonder Woman flops like 2015’s Fantastic Four movie, then that’ll set female superhero movies back even more. That’ll only reinforce the notion that female superheroes can’t hold their own without a strong male lead supporting them. It would be the worst possible message to send to Hollywood, who still control the checkbook.
With that in mind, I eagerly and anxiously await the release of Wonder Woman. She’s entering a golden era of superhero movies. She’s got everything going for her. She got a head start in Batman v. Superman, she’s got a talented actress in Gal Gadot, and she’s got a fanbase who has been hungry for a Wonder Woman movie since Lynda Carter retired.
The stakes literally couldn’t be higher. Gal Gadot, DC Comics, and Wonder Woman have a lot riding on their shoulders. It’s going to take a special kind of female superhero to break through and show the world that women can kick ass. I can think of no one more special than Wonder Woman to make that happen.