As Diana’s story unfolded in Wonder Woman, fans were treated to a potent warrior with a heart of gold, who wielded her compassion alongside her lasso of truth and “god killer” sword. Beyond the epic battles, dastardly villains, and dashing heroes, director Patty Jenkins’ film scored high critical and box office marks because of its high drama and chipped characters. Wonder Woman’s successful run cemented her as a key player in the forthcoming Justice League and the franchise as a whole. The picture also poised her to become the next Tony Stark-like figure, the first true standout in the expanding DCEU.
At face value, Iron Man and Wonder Woman don’t have much in common. He’s a self-proclaimed “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” She’s a curator at the Louvre and the centuries-old child of an Amazonian queen and Zeus, who re-enters the world after a self-imposed exile to help Batman and Superman. Stark pulls on his iron pants one leg at a time, and Wonder Woman rocks an armored breastplate and skirt. Most of all, Stark is a consummate huckster, quick with a quip and a roguish grin, while Diana is a world-wearied yet heartfelt combatant looking out for humanity’s best interest.
Nonetheless, these two definitive superheroes share similar roles in their distinct film universes. Much like Iron Man in the MCU, Wonder Woman will become the foundation of the DCEU in more ways than one.
Initially reluctant, Tony became a key member and organizing component of the Avengers. He even put Earth’s Mightiest up at his technological marvel of a building, renaming Stark Tower after the team. Although Wonder Woman doesn’t have a large building to house the formative Justice Leaguers (it usually falls to Batman’s obscene bank account to fund the Hall of Justice), she plays a major part in the recruitment effort. Her and Bruce’s file-sharing session on metahumans in Batman V Superman seems to have fomented the notion of a super-powered collaboration… the true dawn of justice. With Supes underground for the moment, Wonder Woman and Batman are responsible for putting together the inaugural crew.
Over the years, Tony Stark has (somehow) transformed into a mentor figure, if a cantankerous one. His role in molding a young Spider-Man in Homecoming and Captain America: Civil War remains one of the more endearing subplots in the franchise so far. Likewise, Gadot’s heroine seems to be picking up the slack for the younger members of the team. In particular, her recently revealed role in Flashpoint could indicate a comparable mentor role (unless she’s playing her traditional, villainous character from the comic book) in the possible timeline-shredding feature.
She and Batman also share the broadest insight into the field of heroics and will plausibly form a parental unit of sorts for the younger Leaguers. Yet despite his incredible wealth, Bruce Wayne is human and only retains the wisdom from his brief but eventful forty years or so. Diana may have left Themyscira about 100 years ago, but she can call upon millennia of Amazonian knowledge. Not to mention that she’s watched the world grow from an enfant terrible into a toddler with lots of new toys. Her tactical, battleground, and life experiences will benefit her future teammates like Cyborg and Flash and mold them into the Earth’s first and best line of defense.
True, Diana might not pull a colleague under her wing like Tony did with Peter Parker. But as one of the most powerful metahumans on Earth, with powers and abilities ranked alongside Superman, Flash, and Shazam, Diana has the brains and brawn to shape the newly minted group into a force for good. Much like Stark in the Avengers and beyond, Wonder Woman’s inquisitiveness, warmth, and intelligence should inspire her colleagues to face their deepest fears and darkest foes in Justice League.
Of course, leadership traits aren’t the only similarities between these two mighty heroes.
As Marvel’s first self-produced movie, as well as their cinematic universe-launcher, alongside the less-triumphant, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man’s success paved the way for Marvel’s near-decade of shared universe domination. The picture also set the tone for the MCU, defining the House of Ideas’ movie realm as a breakneck-paced but whimsical world.
While Wonder Woman isn’t the first DCEU offering, it is arguably the first one of their four films to really succeed on multiple levels. More importantly, Diana’s origin story may mark a slight departure (albeit not unplanned) – from the grimmer, deconstructed comic book world to a serious if lighthearted Golden Age-take on DC’s iconic superheroes. Working with the admittedly somber subject matter of a colossal war, Jenkins still infused her feature with humor and charm, something that director Jon Favreau also captured in Tony Stark’s entry point.
Stark and Prince clearly embody different sides of the superhero coin, though. At the same time, their film triumphs launched their respective characters to the top of their shared realms and signified turning points for their respective studios. Iron Man solidified a B-grade hero as a superstar for Marvel, while Wonder Woman gave Warner Bros a solid tally in their “W” column, allowing them to shed some of the debatably deserved negativity hovering over the DCEU. Both features also managed to define two iconic personas for a contemporary audience and establish them with sincere, fairly true-to-type origin stories.
In light of Wonder Woman’s accomplishments as a film and a character, she’s poised to become a key player in the DC Extended Universe going forward. Princess Diana and her reformed cynicism are emblematic of Warner Bros. world-building going forward. Tony Stark and Diana Prince may not mesh on all levels, but they’re vanguards of the future of their respective cinematic universes.
While Tony’s influence as a character could wane as the MCU moves out of Phase 3, his swagger remains a major aspect of Marvel’s aesthetic and shapes its heroes and villains to this day. Similarly, Wonder Woman is redefining the DCEU with her compassion and should help cement Justice League as the next step in Warner Bros film plan. Her optimism, leadership, and camaraderie should also position her character as a force to be reckoned with in the sequel and turn her ragtag band into a lean, mean, Earth-protecting machine.
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