Photo: Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Column: Is 'Wonder Woman' DC’s last chance in film?

Superheroes are absurdly popular. Nobody could have guessed that one day everyone’s mom would be nearly as excited as her kids to see an Avengers movie, and anyone who says that they guessed that is probably lying. However, while high-budget superhero films are constantly being churned out, it is commonly thought that between the main two comic book companies, Marvel and DC, Marvel is the clear leader in both financial success and quality.

While there was positive reception from some sites and fans, DC’s two offerings in 2016, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” were met with a mostly negative response. This didn’t stop both films from raking in a tremendous amount of money, with “Batman v Superman” making $166 million in its first weekend and “Suicide Squad” making $133 million (Though it is worth noting that the earnings for both movies dropped by 69 percent and 67 percent respectively in their second weekends). While these films were, for the most part, financial successes, I fear that if the course isn’t corrected in terms of quality, DC’s cinematic future might begin to look bleak, which would be unfortunate, seeing as plans have already been made for several more movies in the DC cinematic universe.

The financial success and reception of these films seem to exist in contradicting realities, and while the naysayers might have been loud enough to drown out an immensely large fan base that enjoys the films, I think it’s more likely that the success is a result of the hype that was built up around these movies. Personally, I was fairly excited to see “Batman v Superman,” and it wasn’t until I had already coughed up money for a theater ticket that I realized I didn’t like it. I disliked it so much that I skipped out on the theater experience of “Suicide Squad” and instead watched (most) of it on a plane several months later, but there might have been others who had more faith that the goofy antics of Harley Quinn and the Joker would set the train back on the tracks. After yet another bad movie, there are likely many, like myself, who are rapidly losing faith in DC’s ability to create iconic and memorable experiences like Marvel has been doing on a fairly consistent basis since “Iron Man” in 2008. It feels like DC is trying too hard to force and rush towards a cinematic universe like Marvel’s, when it would be much better for them if they took the time to thoughtfully build a connected story instead of trying to play “catch up.”

This is where “Wonder Woman” comes in. “Wonder Woman” is the next film on DC’s slate and the last before the big multi-hero “Justice League” set to release at the end of the year.After two consecutive, poorly received films and a full year of bad press, I believe that this film is close to being a make it or break it for the DC cinematic universe.

Fortunately, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman in "Batman v Superman" is largely considered one of the best parts of the film, and the trailer released in November looks promising (though I once thought the same about "Batman v Superman"). Those two facts might be enough to draw the crowd back for a third time, but I truly think that DC is walking on thin ice. I am predicting that if this film goes down as yet another disappointment, we will start to finally see DC struggle to fill the theater seats come November when “Justice League” arrives.

What I want for “Wonder Woman” and the other DC films is for them to be their own stories first and a connected universe second. The biggest complaint of the Marvel films is that they are starting to fall under the same formula of periodic one-liners, heroic acts and setting up for future connected films. DC has the chance to do something different — and in some ways better — than Marvel, but they have to fix the horrible pacing problems that dominate “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad” and try to slow down and focus on making interesting stories and character development rather than trying to rush through the motions as fast as possible. As bad as I think the films have been so far, I don’t think it’s too late, and if “Wonder Woman” manages to keep me enthralled in Gadot’s character with a thoughtful story and improved pacing, I would be happy to jump back on board the DC hype train. However, if this turns out to be another train wreck, I’ll likely skip out on “Justice League” entirely, and I don’t think I am alone in that.



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