In its early days, the DC Extended Universe has done very well at the box office, as the trio of Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Suicide Squad have collectively grossed $2.2 billion worldwide. However, the franchise has yet to have a well-received installment from a critical perspective. All of the films thus far have been extremely divisive, with one of the most common criticisms being that the movies are too dark and dour for their own good. A little seriousness in Hollywood tentpoles is fine, but some feel that the DCEU takes things to the extreme and comes across as joyless.
For what it's worth, the filmmakers behind the franchise are aware that a little course-correction is needed, putting together an early Justice League set visit this year to highlight the tonal shift when compared to its predecessors. The long-awaited superhero team-up is looking to be more fun than what's been seen in the DCEU, but things could be looking up for the property as a whole well before Zack Snyder's latest reaches theaters. The solo Wonder Woman vehicle has the potential to be the brightest and lightest installment to date.
Speaking to Variety, producer Deborah Snyder said, "Wonder Woman is very different in tone and style than Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad." Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. consumer products, elaborated on this by explaining how each DCEU film is modeled after its director's sensibilities:
“There’s a misconception that DC or Warner Bros. has made a conscious decision for all our movies to be darker or edgier. That’s not the case. Fans of the DC universe know that there are characters, like Batman, who are darker, but there are others like Wonder Woman, who are hopeful, optimistic leaders, and the tone of this film represents that.”
Another highlight from the Variety piece was director Patty Jenkins revealing that 1978's Superman: The Movie was her primary source of inspiration when working on Wonder Woman, telling the outlet, “It was about you watching and realizing what it would feel like to have great powers and do great things. It was full of love and emotion.” Spotlighting this movie's positive themes has become a staple of the press coverage, with star Gal Gadot recently echoing many of these statements. According to her, Wonder Woman is less about fighting and determining who is stronger and more justice and compassion.
All of these words have to be encouraging for viewers, and hopefully the final product can deliver on the promises. The first Wonder Woman trailer debuted at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 and was a hit with the Hall H crowd, teasing an epic adventure set in World War I. Marketing materials haven't leaned too heavily on the film's sense of humor right now, but Nelson has praised Jenkins for bringing "a beauty and a sense of lightness" to the proceedings, indicating those elements will be pushed heavily during proper promotional campaign. Gadot made a great first impression with her glorified cameo in Batman V Superman, so ideally she can deliver another strong performance in her own film.
Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.