Food for Thought: The Significance of Wonder Woman's Success
In this installment, we will talk about Wonder Woman's critical and box office success, and the larger ramifications it has in the film industry.
It is safe to say that DC's latest, Wonder Woman, is a bonafide success. Whereas Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad failed to gain traction with both critics and fans, Wonder Woman has done so. It currently stands on Rotten Tomatoes with 93% for the critics ratings, and 92% for the fans. I enjoyed the film a lot. It is certainly the best DC movie since Man of Steel. I think I prefer that movie a little bit more, but there's no doubt that Wonder Woman is a great movie! You can read our full review here. But Wonder Woman is not just a critical success; it's been killing it at the box office as well. In its opening weekend, Wonder Woman pulled in $103 million, blowing way past the initial $60 million dollar projections. It then went on to make $57 million dollars domestically in its second weekend, which is more than Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad's second weekend earnings. This means it also had the lowest first to second weekend drop of any modern comic book movie. Right now, it stands at $435 million dollars worldwide, after only two weeks. By comparison, in total earnings worldwide, Man of Steel made $668 million, Batman v. Superman made $873 million, and Suicide Squad made $746 million. It is incredibly conceivable that Wonder Woman will surpass Man of Steel (very likely, actually), and could even get close to dethroning Suicide Squad. I doubt it will reach Batman v. Superman's numbers, however.
But, with all this success, there's a inevitable conversation that needs to happen: what larger ramifications does this have for the film industry? Wonder Woman is the the first time the character has had her own live action movie since she was first created in 1941, and last year's Batman v. Superman was the first time she has ever appeared in live action form on screen. Wonder Woman is also the first female-led comic book movie in twelve years, since Elektra in 2005, and it is the first female-led comic book movie ever to get a positive Rotten Tomatoes score. Patty Jenkins is the first female director to have a film gross over $100 million dollars in its opening weekend, and she is also the first woman to direct a comic book movie. So, needless to say, there are a lot of records being broken by Wonder Woman. But this movie is more than just a record-breaker. It is important for so many other reasons.
I think Wonder Woman is signaling a change not just in comic book movies, but in the film industry as a whole. I mentioned this briefly in my review, but I will get into more details here. And don't worry, there won't be any spoilers for the movie. Let's not forget the climate surrounding female directors and female-led movies just ten years ago. Some studios had completely cut-off woman-led movies, because they had deemed them to be unprofitable. However, slow steps were taken with Twilight in 2008. While it wasn't a critical sensation, it was incredibly successful at the box office, and it showed that women could draw an audience. It's mindblowing to think that people actually believed that a movie would fail if a woman was the lead character, but that was the mindset. I think, looking back on the failures of Catwoman and Elektra, the problem wasn't that they were led by women; it was that they were just sh*t movies. A sh*t movie can be made by men starring men, and it can be made by women starring women. Sh*t knows no gender. But a good movie can be made by men starring men, and it can be made by women starring women. And the audience (unless they're ignorant assholes) don't care if the star of the movie they're watching is a man or a woman. Black or white or Asian or Latino. They just want a good movie, and a good movie can be made by any gender or race, starring any gender or race. Like with Wonder Woman, directed by a woman and starring an Israeli woman. People only cared that this was a good movie, and that's why it's doing so well at the box office.
I think this is the first step towards a progression in Hollywood. Studios understand money. With Wonder Woman making money, they see that female directors can bring in money. Female leads can bring in money. It's sad that it's taken this long for studios to understand this, but here we are now. Ava DuVernay will be the first African-American woman to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million dollars, with A Wrinkle in Time. Female directors are locked in for big-budgeted comic book movies, with Anna Boden co-directing Captain Marvel, and Gina Prince-Bythewood doing Silver and Black. More and more women are getting opportunities to direct not just independent films, but blockbusters as well. And, with more women writers, we will be getting more stories focused on and surrounding women. We can get more well-rounded, well-developed, badass women in films. And we can finally let die the age of women being in movies solely to be the leading man's love interest, or just to be eye-candy. Something Patty Jenkins has said since her film was released resonated with me. She said that she doesn't want to be looked at as a great female director; she wants to be looked at as a great director. That kind of transcendence is imperative. Wonder Woman isn't just a great female-led comic book movie. It's not even just a great comic book movie. It's a great film. Unfortunately, it will take some time before we can stop using the term "female-directed" and "female-led". Eventually we will get to the point where a movie has a director, and the director just happens to be a woman. We will eventually get there. But, for now, we have to look at things through those lenses, so that we can ultimately get to that point. Patty Jenkins did a brilliant job directing Wonder Woman. She is a great director. Wonder Woman is a great film. And I do think that Wonder Woman, with all of its critical and box office success, will signal a change in Hollywood for women directors and female-led movies.
What do you think? Are you happy for Wonder Woman's success? Do you see this as a shift in Hollywood, allowing for more woman directors and more female-led movies to arise? Did you see Wonder Woman yet? Did you like the film? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Written by: Nate
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