With DCEU struggling to rival Marvel in terms of box office returns during its initial phase, the success of ‘Wonder Woman’ has showed them a path. And with more recent releases, we try to understand where DCEU will go from here, learning from the success of ‘Wonder Woman’.
When Marvel comics began making strong waves at the box office and the critical scale in the late 2000s, their arch-rivals DC comics finally got the idea to kick-start their own universe. While it’s certainly debatable about which one of those has a better slate of superheroes, a decade into the battle for the box office, Marvel is clearly emerging as the winner. But amidst all the gloom in the DC stable, there is still an ace of heart that promises to single-handedly keeping the DC universe afloat, the Wonder Woman.
- ‘Wonder Woman’ saved the DC Extended Universe
- Gal Gadot is the real star of the DCEU
Marvel films, even the the critically average ones, are constantly making big money on the international box office. While the DC film universe has been nothing but a mess full of critical and commercial failures. But in 2017, Petty Jenkins directed ‘Wonder Woman’ changed all that and became a whopping success, both critically and commercially. It was a new ray of sunshine for the DC universe that had struggled to keep its universe afloat amidst all the criticisms and box office disappointments of its major films.
DCEU initially failed to impress critics or the fans
DC universe began with the 2013 superhero film ‘Man of Steel’, directed by Zack Snyder, who was given the charge to build the DC universe from the scratch. Earlier DC films, such as The Dark Knight Trilogy and Watchmen, had no link to this new cinematic universe. In-fact, DC approached Christopher Nolan first for helming the major project. But the director suggest DC that they must go for Zack Snyder, who was by then known for his dark and realistic VFX extravaganzas, which was a staple with the DC comics.
And Zack did what he understood of the DC characters, he made them dark. But the result was not what was expected. While the first two films in the DC universe, ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’, remain modest box office hits, the critical reception has not been that great. While even the sub-par Marvel films like ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Ant-Man’ registered major success at the Rotten Tomatoes and the box office. The reason? Well, DC films helmed by Zack Snyder are set in a starkly different world than the Marvel heroes, where hope is scarce and realism is heavy. If Martin Scorsese can be paraphrased here, his (in)famous statement would go something like- Marvel films are theme park rides, for children. That definitely hurts, but who cares when the cash-flow is constant.
Snyder’s DC films, though more mature and technically better, portrayed a grim picture of the superheroes and their respective universes. While the superhero film audience was, thanks to Marvel, used to sugary-sweet candyfloss stories. But if that colourful world makes more money, then thats where the studios go. Hence, when they planned ‘Wonder Woman’, the DC executives ensured that the film remains ‘hopeful’ and not bleak and dark like other DC outings. The 2017 film turned out to be a major success, thus ‘saving the DCEU’. And it became obvious that this formula works. The success of ‘Wonder Woman’ showed the path to Jason Momoa’s ‘Aquaman’, who starred in his solo film, which also became a huge hit.
‘Wonder Woman’ saved the DCEU
And now, it seemed like DC had decoded the Marvel-formulae of success. (Exiling Zack Snyder was a part of that formula). However, now again, with the slow response to ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and the subsequent success of ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’, it seems like the tables have turned. But with the introduction of more light-hearted films such as ‘Shazam’ and ‘Suicide Squad’, we know that DC is not leaving this ‘humour’ formula for their future films as well.
However it goes for the DC, but ‘Wonder Woman’ showed them the path and walking on that path had turned out to be quite useful for DC until now. It will be interesting to see where its future lies. But one thing is for sure, ‘Wonder Woman’ proved that DC certainly has the required arsenal to beat Marvel in their own game.
Tell us in the comments whether you think the ‘confusing’ path DC has taken with their films has contributed to their repeated box office failures? If yes, why and how?