Since its introduction with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel in 2013, the DC Extended Universe has failed to reach the critical success of modern superhero franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The follow-up to Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, was as overstuffed and dense as the title itself.
Both films suffered from being overlong, overly dark, and devoid of joy or humor. Though they are more ambitious than any Marvel film in terms of theme, they failed because they were unable to structure coherent, exciting stories. It seems that Snyder attempted to recreate, or was at least inspired by, the hyper-real tone and aesthetic of Christopher Nolan’s trio of Batman films. Unfortunately, his efforts to replicate this style failed.
Following up both films was Suicide Squad.
The film gained a heavy following after a large marketing campaign; however, each new trailer seemed to introduce a different film. This tonal inconsistency showed throughout the film, as it moved in several different directions. The solid performances by Margot Robbie and Jared Leto were not enough to make up for the flimsy plot and sloppy direction.
After Suicide Squad failed to garner any critical acclaim, many DC comic fans were left with very little hope for the future of the franchise. Not all hope was lost, though, as Wonder Woman closed in on its release date. Because Gal Gadot’s turn as Wonder Woman was hailed as the highlight of Dawn of Justice, some fans remained optimistic.
Wonder Woman has garnered much-needed critical and commercial acclaim, breaking records for female direction. It is the first time a woman led a mainstream superhero film in some time, and it is the first to succeed.
The question remains: how good of a film is Wonder Woman?
It’s script is solid – much better than those of the previous three films. It had a clear three-act structure, and gave the titular character Diana a solid origin story. The film sews together the best aspects of DC and Marvel to make the film. It has the wit that missing from the other DC films, and its action scenes were far more entertaining than those of the other films. Although the use of slow motion was extremely overused, it was more tolerable in this film compared to that of other films.
With Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins made an extremely organized film.
Her meticulous direction is great, and the film succeeds as an origin story for the heroine. The film is good – but it isn’t great. Gal Gadot’s performance is charming but uneven, while Chris Pine is typecast once again as a cocky but endearing hero. The film’s anti-patriarchal subtext is refreshing, but it is hidden behind the overused superhero formula that makes these films so predictable and overbearing by their closing acts. Audiences will feel exhausted by the time the antagonist is finally revealed, and his cliché explanation for his villainy is too absurd to garner any urgency or excitement for the finale. Calling this film the best superhero film of all time is an overestimation.
Wonder Woman has seen so much widespread success simply because of timing. In the crowded theatre full of sequels, reboots, and introductions to new franchises, audiences were craving a good film this summer season. Because Wonder Woman produces the formula that most successful superhero films follow, it became a hit among critics and audiences.
For fans of the genre, the film is worth seeing, but it is by no means revolutionary.