Wonder Woman has a lot riding on its success. Not only have many DC fans pinned hopes and dreams of a critically respected DC Extended Universe installment on the back of Wonder Woman, but as the first modern female-focused superhero movie and the first big-budget superhero movie to be directed by a woman, Wonder Woman is understandably under intense scrutiny, facing skepticism almost every step of the way.
The first concern voiced after the announcement of a solo Wonder Woman movie was that Gal Gadot didn’t have what it takes to carry a movie on her own, but those concerns were quickly put to bed after she became one of the most well-received aspects of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The next concern was that the influence of Zack Snyder (who has a story and producer credit for Wonder Woman) would lead to the movie being too dark and dreary, something quickly dispelled by early trailers. As the release date crawled closer, a new criticism emerged: “where’s Wonder Woman’s marketing?”
After the deluge of trailers and product brand partnerships for Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, it seemed like Wonder Woman might not be getting the same treatment as her male-centric cinematic counterparts. Were Warner Bros. and DC lacking confidence in the next chapter of the DCEU? Was this some sort of sexism (intentional or otherwise) causing the studio to view a female-centric movie as inferior to the others?
There’s a long list of failed female comic book movies, so it’s understandable that people might start to make assumptions when they don’t see Wonder Woman being marketed the same way as the other superhero movies we get on a monthly basis. But that’s not the case. The truth is that Wonder Woman isn’t only being marketed, it’s being marketed with one of the boldest and most unique strategies in modern Hollywood.
A Bold Stance
As it turns out, Wonder Woman actually has a larger marketing budget than Suicide Squad. The reason the marketing doesn’t seem the same is because… well, it isn’t. WB/DC has learned a lot about marketing these movies through the last few releases and even collected data about fans of female heroes from marketing Supergirl on CBS and CW. The timing and placement of Wonder Woman’s marketing initiatives are intended to maximize return, meaning people who are already likely to see the movie aren’t going to see as much marketing. Obviously, that’d be a waste of money.
This newer marketing strategy isn’t the only way Wonder Woman is different from what we’re used to with every other comic book movie. Forgetting concerns over the timing and abundance of advertisements and simply looking a the posters and trailers for what they are, something becomes very clear: Warner Bros. is not remotely concerned with the marketability of a female-led superhero movie.
Look up any poster for Wonder Woman and you’ll notice a trend. When the industry seems obsessed with cramming as many marketable names and faces as possible into every single movie poster, Wonder Woman does the opposite, exclusively featuring the Amazon hero front and center.
In an era when movies are constantly under attack for whitewashing, which is supposedly for box office reasons; female roles rarely get as much speaking time or marketing focus as males, again, for marketing reasons; and most movie posters have a massive collection of familiar names and faces used to convince people to see the movie, it seems like the typical approach to box office success is settled business. But then there’s Wonder Woman, and every single poster – without exception – has featured one, and only one, character: Diana.
For context, this movie has also has Chris Pine, who traditional marketing minds would consider a bigger selling point than Gal Gadot. He has the name and face of a movie star, and has already headlined several films, including a spot as figurehead for Star Trek – a billion dollar franchise. He’s not on any Wonder Woman posters. He is obviously featured in the trailers, yet even there it’s abundantly clear that he’s only a side character and this is Diana’s story.