The stakes for the Wonder Woman movie

Wonder Woman poster

Up until now, the 21st century boom of comic book-based movies has been something of a boys club.

Women super heroes show up as part of groups (The Avengers films, Iron Man II, Captain America: Civil War). But studios haven’t entrusted a woman character to be the unquestioned lead.

That changes early next month with Wonder Woman, with the title character played by Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins.

It’s the latest effort by Warner Bros. to establish its own “cinematic universe” of DC Comics characters. Gadot’s Wonder Woman made her debut in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and was one of the best parts of that often gloomy movie.

Over at Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios, the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has been prominent in a number of movies but hasn’t carried one by herself. The studio has a Captain Marvel movie scheduled for 2019.

So for a while, it’s up to Wonder Woman, a character who has been around since the early 1940s. She’s considered one of DC’s “big three” (Batman and Superman being the others), but hasn’t gotten the motion picture treatment the way her other two colleagues have.

The new movie is set during World War I, rather than World War II as in the original comics. Based on trailers and television commercials, it appears Wonder Woman may be lighter in tone than recent Warner Bros./DC films, but that may or may not be misleading.

Some critics are questioning whether Warner Bros. is supporting Wonder Woman enough as her solo film nears.

“Warner Bros. has been weirdly reticent about the marketing campaign for one of the most iconic superheroes in the world,” wrote Donna Dickens in Uproxx.

“So what’s a Wonder Woman fan to do in the face of this deflated balloon noise of a marketing push?” Dickens added. “Be a champion for Diana. Tell your friends the movie comes on June 2, 2017. Buy tickets. Show up. Because right now Warner Bros. is trying — intentionally or not — to bury the Amazon Princess and it’s up to us to make sure they fail.”

The Washington Post this week weighed in on the issue.

“With only weeks remaining until release, more ‘Wonder Woman’ ads should be coming soon regardless,” according to the Post. “Whether you believe the advertising has been plentiful or lacking, one thing hasn’t changed: Many are counting on this movie to bring new life to the future of DC Comics on film.”

So far, the “DC Extended Universe” (or DCEU as its known) have had the kind of box office most other films would love. But they’re expensive undertakings and haven’t gotten the kind of good reviews (and even bigger box office) most Marvel films get.

We’ll see whether Wonder Woman can reverse that trend.

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