in 2004, Warner Bros. attempted to rollout the superheroine film Catwoman with Oscar-winner Halle Berry in the lead. 20th Century Fox and Marvel followed up a year later with a similar attempt in Elektra, starring Golden Globe-winner Jennifer Garner. Needless to say, neither film panned out as well as the studios would have hoped, critically or financially. And without even mentioning the cinematic abomination that was the 1996 Dark Horse Comics abomination Barb Wire, it’s clear that female-led superhero/comic book films have had a very difficult time finding acceptance among critics and audiences alike over the years.
Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman has changed that, perhaps only temporarily, but hopefully permanently. The extent of the film’s impact is only speculation at the moment, but the reasons for its success should be clear: It’s a thrilling action film shepherded by a highly competent writer/director, led by the rising star that is Gal Gadot who brings heroism and heart to her performance of the beloved comic book character, all supported by a solid script that pays homage to the Amazonian princess while tapping into contemporary social issues. Wonder Woman earns high marks in every possibly category you can think of, with both critics and audiences rewarding these achievements with positive reviews and hard-earned dollars.
Wonder Woman‘s across-the-board success will certainly impact the future of the DCEU, but it may also influence superhero films and Hollywood productions in general. The most obvious movie-making folks who should be taking note of Wonder Woman‘s success is, of course, the talented team behind Disney/Marvel’s MCU. The OG of the superhero cinematic universe, the MCU has released 15 films with many more on the way (including the shared Spider-Man: Homecoming with Sony); one of these upcoming projects will feature a female co-lead (Ant-Man and the Wasp) while another boasts a solo female lead and female co-director (Captain Marvel), all firsts for the MCU. Clearly, the DCEU beat the MCU to the punch on this one, so what can Marvel’s creative team learn from their competition?