Warning: This article will contain SPOILERS for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now in theatres and to say it's causing a stir would be quite the understatement. The film opened with a record-breaking $420 million box office worldwide, yet has also been on the receiving end of the some the most damning reviews in recent years. (You can read our own review right here.)
Amidst the decidedly mixed and emotionally charged responses to Batman V Superman, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman stands as a beacon of hope for the DC Extended Universe's future. Though only in the film for a short time (roughly seven minutes), Wonder Woman has since become one of the few elements in the film met with mostly universal acclaim. The character's standalone movie is already filming, set for a 2017 release, and she'll again join the DCEU's whole superhero squad in Justice League Part 1, which is to begin filming shortly.
So what have we learned about the DCEU's take on Wonder Woman from Batman V Superman?
Though Wonder Woman has limited screen time in Batman V Superman, Gal Gadot communicates much to us about her. Diana is confident, composed, and determined. In her scenes where she masquerades as her civilian identity, adding the Prince surname, she has poise and an air of certainty about her. She also exhibits a sense of superiority, at one point referring to men as "little boys", but instead of reading haughty it comes across as entirely earned given her years of experience - by the time of Batman V Superman, Diana is 5,000 years old! With her experience also comes wisdom, which is why she returns the flash drive to Batman, understanding the value of sharing and working together.
"At the end of the day Wonder Woman is a peace seeker. But when fight arrives, she can fight. She's a warrior and she enjoys the adrenaline of the fight." -Gal Gadot, LA Times.
Armed with sword and shield, Wonder Woman fights alongside Superman and Batman because she recognizes a truly serious threat when she sees one. Wonder Woman is depicted as an exceptionally capable fighter, arguably even more so than either Batman or Superman, and it speaks to her years of training and battle experience. "I have killed beings from other worlds," she says, later grinning during her battle with Doomsday as if it's a challenge she's long missed.
"The greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good and kind and loving she is yet none of that negates any of her power." - Patty Jenkins, CW Special.
Even though she's depicted as such a remarkable warrior who loves a good fight, Wonder Woman only suits up when necessary. She could very easily have beat the snot out of Lex Luthor to get him to return or destroy that photo, but instead she chooses to try and retrieve it without raising suspicions, indicating she understands there's a time and place to use her incredible powers. Diana is world-weary, responsible, yet her presence in Batman V Superman is warm and inviting, not cold and distant.
Her Solo Movie
Presumably all if not most of the events from Wonder Woman's solo outing will have taken place before we see her in Batman V Superman. She'll begin as a young woman living a secluded life in paradise, but over the course of the film transform into the badass warrior we eventually see hacking off Doomsday's limbs with a gleeful smile.
"The Wonder Woman that you see in Batman V Superman is a woman who has been around, and she's very experienced. She understands a lot about man. Whereas in the standalone movie we are telling the grown-up story. Diana becoming Wonder Woman, and this was a story that was never told before. When she starts this journey, she's very pure. She's more naive, she's this young idealist who does not really understand the complexities of life and the complexities of men." - Gadot, LA Times.
Along with an understanding of the world must come an event that serves as the impetus for her chosen exile - "the horrors of man" as she mentions in Batman V Superman. Inevitably, whatever this horror is, it likely occurs during World War I since it appears that a large portion of her solo movie is devoted to that period. So far, all we have is the photo confirming Diana's immortality. Why and who took that photo will certainly be an important detail revealed during Wonder Woman, as is who's in it and how many of them survive the war.
The photo appears to show Wonder Woman in command of her own squad of notably diverse soldiers - including Chris Pine's Steve Trevor and characters played by Ewen Bremner and Saïd Taghmaoui - and is somewhat reminiscent of Cap and The Howling Commandos in Captain America: The First Avenger. If true, this seemingly indicates Diana will be displaying leadership qualities along with a fighting prowess in Wonder Woman, something which along with her immense experience undoubtedly makes her a strong candidate to lead the Justice League.
Her Role In The DCEU
Not to suggest that neither Batman or Superman couldn't potentially fill a leadership role, or that the Justice League necessarily needs a leader - honestly, Wonder Woman would probably be in favor of a more egalitarian approach anyway - but looking towards the future of the DCEU, and in particular Justice League Part 1, Wonder Woman is certain to be integral. As evidence, we have her handily proving herself the "best fighter in the DC Universe" through her battle with Doomsday. And if Superman is sitting out for much of Justice League Part 1 (something quite plausible given his present situation), then she's the remaining heavy hitter. In addition to being incredibly strong, Wonder Woman is also impeccably trained. She is also likely well read in diplomacy, strategy, and whatever additional skills are needed to be an effective emissary from Themyscira. Diana brings gravitas to the DCEU.
"She has so many strengths and powers, but at the end of the day she’s a woman with a lot of emotional intelligence. She’s loving ... And it’s all her heart—that’s her strength." - Gadot, Glamour.
Though Wonder Woman is a warrior, she also is a compassionate, loving person who fights for peace. She understands when it's best not to fight, and also recognizes when it's the only option left. Wonder Woman, as has been established in this very young DCEU, is the character with the most experience by far - making her a vital voice of reason and source of wisdom for a new team of rookie heroes: Cyborg, Flash, and even Superman, who after two films still has much learn. As the DCEU progresses, Wonder Woman will hopefully take on this kind of mentor role, training her young charges and leading the Justice League (either on her own or alongside Superman and Batman) against whatever threatens Earth.
Such an overwhelmingly positive response to Wonder Woman's role in Batman V Superman may in fact be due to how small her role actually was, allowing the audience to project on to her the qualities we wish to see. Then again, the appeal of the character Gal Gadot embodies for those brief, seven minutes is undeniable. Fans couldn't have asked for a better cinematic introduction to Wonder Woman or a more solid foundation for her continued involvement in the DCEU.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now in theaters. Suicide Squad opens on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19th, 2020. The Superman and Batman solo films have release dates TBD.