‘Wonder Woman’ Can’t Save the DCEU and It Shouldn’t Have To

Drew Dietsch
Batman Comics
Batman Comics DC Movies

Wonder Woman has a lot of hype behind it. As the newest entry in the DC Expanded Universe, it’s following up a trio of films – Man of SteelBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad – that have not had the warmest of receptions. Fans are eager to see a DCEU film that gets a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes, and a narrative has been propped up that Wonder Woman can “save” the DCEU.

And that’s completely unfair.

No Movie Is a Hero

wonder woman action pose

The idea that Wonder Woman has to pull double duty by being a good movie and fixing what people don’t like about the DCEU is ridiculous. A movie needs to be judged on its own merits. Imposing other criteria on it only heaps on what it needs to achieve. And trying to “fix” the DCEU is a task that will take much more than a single movie.

The DCEU hasn’t quite found an identity or tone that it likes yet. A lot of fans look at Wonder Woman and see a movie that seems more in line with what they want out of this cinematic universe. While that is a positive factor, it also shouldn’t be a metric that we judge the film by. Wonder Woman‘s only responsibility is to itself. If it’s a good movie that stands on its own, that’s what we should champion. Whether or not it fits with the films that came before or carves out a better path for future films is a criticism best left to history. Only time will tell how DC’s experiment is received, and lumping all of that pressure onto Wonder Woman does the eventual film a disservice.

This Isn’t the First Time…

It’s also worth mentioning that this narrative isn’t a new one. When Man of Steel earned a ton of criticism, fans felt that introducing Batman in the next film would steer things in the right direction. The response to that was mixed at best, and fans yet again turned to the next movie in the series, Suicide Squad. It had a different writer/director and looked like it was going to have a slightly more humorous tone. Though it did fulfill those criteria in some respects, critics still weren’t on board.

Though all three of those films have their own faults (and triumphs), it’s unfortunate that a larger judgment was cast over them. The idea that any one of those films was going to “save” the DCEU gave them a set of challenges they had to meet. Rather than letting the movies live on their own, audiences saw them as a part of a bigger picture and didn’t like what they saw. That made it easier to accentuate the negative elements of each film. Yes, all of the DCEU films have good things going for them. Whether or not they are good movies is another debate. But, it became harder for those good elements to shine when fans and critics needed the films to be something more. They needed to be saviors of some sort. And that’s just not fair.

Look to the Future

justice league super friends feature hero

Wonder Woman looks like it’s going to be a fun movie, detached from any complicated feelings about the DCEU or superhero films in general. On its own, the film looks good. But, maybe it won’t be! That possibility exists as well. And if it isn’t, it doesn’t mean that the DCEU is unsalvageable or cursed. And the series will soldier on no matter what happens with Wonder Woman. All we should hope for is that Wonder Woman works on its own terms. If it can do that, then how it reflects upon the DCEU is no big deal. Let’s just hope for a good movie and worry about the bigger picture later. That’s how you’ll end up getting more good movies.

Drew Dietsch
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast, The Drew Reviews Podcast. He'll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him.
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