The movie fans and critics who saw Wonder Woman as a welcome change from Zack Snyder’s DCEU films have never been more hopeful, but claims and comments suggesting the movie’s tone and message are a response to criticism are simply wishful thinking. The reality of director Patty Jenkins’s style of film simply going over better with audiences may be less exciting, especially for those who feast on reports of drama behind closed doors or studio ‘shake-ups.’ But Jenkins has personally explained how her vision for Wonder Woman was born over a decade ago – clarifying just what rules or guidelines the studio is taking. While telling those pleased to certainly look forward to Wonder Woman 2, more than a studio-led overhaul or mandate of tone micromanaged or reinforced.
The idea that DC and WB executives sided with the hyperbolic reviews and effectively abandoned Snyder’s dark vision for a ‘brighter’ one will be music to the ears of disappointed fans, or those hoping Wonder Woman marks a new age for the DCEU. The reality, according to Jenkins herself, is a bit less sensational. It sounds as though her vision for the Amazon’s first movie simply came at the right time – while clarifying just how DC Films boss Geoff Johns will deliver “heart, humor, and heroics” from here on out.
From the moment the first reactions to Wonder Woman began to appear, the idea that both Jenkins and WB were deserving of praise was raised: Jenkins, for delivering a hit, and WB for “fixing,” “righting,” or “taking a better direction” with the DC Extended Universe. After that it didn’t take long for reviews, news coverage, and conversations to assume Wonder Woman‘s tone was shaped as a direct, if not completely obvious answer to the critical response to Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad. But as we pointed out prior to release, the classic, heartwarming appeal of Wonder Woman the character in a faithful adaptation shouldn’t be discounted.
The notion, then, is that Wonder Woman‘s tone, message, and optimism are what define her character – not changes or ‘course corrections’ as part of some deliberate, intentional, or just self-aware effort to ‘balance out’ the tone of Zack Snyder’s films. It’s a reality Patty Jenkins confirms in an interview with Business Insider, when asked about the influence, pressure, or external studio messaging that may have guided her vision. Jenkins describes the impact that critical reactions to Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad had on her own production… rather, the total lack of it:
“It could have, and it certainly does in the industry. In our case we were incredibly fortunate, DC didn’t ever give me a mandate of tone. And I pitched to Warner Bros. and DC ten years ago, ‘I want to make the origin movie, a la the first Superman with Christopher Reeve. I want to go back and try to do a grand piece of cinema for her.’ So I had been very strong about being excited about that idea, and they really supported it from the start. So we were already just different. It’s hard to apply anything about one movie to another. So luckily, no. We just carried on. We were like, far away in England making this movie… we just trudged on.
“I said I wanted to make the origin story, and I wanted to make it a great love story, and have humor, and all of those things as well. As far as the logistics of what period that story takes place, or who the villain is… it’s changed plenty. But that’s not the point. To me, the spirit of it has remained. And also, it feels to me like the right spirit to do Wonder Woman in anyway. Of course there could be other great versions, but she’s such a clean, grand superhero that I really liked the idea of her eliciting that kind of treatment in a big, classic movie.”
Jenkins may have simply delivered the tone she felt appropriate for the character and story, and dispelled any ideas that Wonder Woman was the way it was because of criticism for another approach, but the differences in the DCEU are clear. Praise for Diana often came through comparison to Snyder’s heroes: she’s inspiring in all the ways Batman isn’t, and focused in her morality and mission where Superman struggles. To be fair, those are typically the differences that make DC’s ‘Trinity’ so effective in comic storytelling.
Based on the most common criticism of the DCEU, it wasn’t a stretch to say that Wonder Woman was the hero critics longed for. Once she arrived, the pure, visible values she exhibited were widely praised.
There’s still Geoff Johns’s promise of DCEU movies with “heart, humor, and heroics,” which seems to include Zack Snyder’s Justice League (clearly a more action-oriented, quippy banter-fest based on the trailers). Jenkins’s description of her first steps into the DCEU help clarify the process DC Films is taking. With the DCEU and its critical response and audience taking shape, Johns and the studio leadership saw Wonder Woman as a needed change. Now here’s where distinctions and wording matters: as the DCEU heads decided that a Wonder Woman movie embracing the classic, grand, epic humor and romance would make a strong addition to their slate, they realized that Jenkins’s pitch was exactly what they needed.
So for fans of Snyder’s original take on Superman, Batman, and the Justice League, there’s clearly not cause for concern that the DCEU is getting ‘Marvel-ized’ by any stretch. From recent interviews, it sounds as though Zack Snyder wanted Wonder Woman to be different from either Superman or Batman, too. If the DCEU braintrust is simply looking to appeal to a wider or more varied audience through heroes who inherently appeal to them, then it’s entirely different from responding to criticism.
In truth, it’s exactly what shared universes were supposed to be: different writers, different directors, different stories – not a science of tailoring or tweaking a creator’s vision to earn better reviews. Seeking creators whose vision for a character gets to the heart of them, then letting them tell their story? Sounds like a winning strategy.
Source: Business Insider