Sneak Peak of Wonder Woman Shows Why People Were Wrong to Judge Movie Over Director Controversy
It is early, very early, to be judging a movie that is not even done filming. But this is the era in which we live and DC gave everyone a mini-sneak preview. So let’s dive into the Wonder Woman footage and comments which were shown last night on the CW.
“The greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good and kind and loving she is, yet none of that negates her power.”
So said Patty Jenkins, who is directing the film now.
It’s worth noting that this statement applies with equal force to CBS’s Supergirl, which is doing excellent work in creating a relatable superhero so far in its first season. We have female characters on TV and movies who kick literal butt and we’ve had them for years. What we want to see more of are complex characters who show their strength (and vulnerabilities) in other areas of their lives, too. Perhaps we might be getting somewhere with Wonder Woman.
There sure was a lot of needless handwringing over Supergirl and Wonder Woman last summer, since every time we have A Thing led by a female superhero there is pressure for that thing to be perfect. (Nothing human is perfect, folks). This was especially true with Wonder Woman. There was controversy in 2015 when director Michelle MacLaren left the project over creative differences. Reports at the time suggested, without offering proof, that MacLaren wanted a badass character but DC wanted the character to have a love interest. (*commence eye-roll*) To me this sounded like fans were being trolled – hard – by someone with an axe to grind. We cautioned everyone to calm down when Patty Jenkins stepped in to direct the movie.
Gender bias was inherent in these reports, which seemed to pit MacLaren against Jenkins, with some fans taking the bait and running with the idea that Jenkins’ version would turn Wonder Woman into nothing more than a superhero looking for love.
(You may laugh at this now, but the internet overreaction at the time was intense.) When Edgar Wright was dispatched from Ant-Man, which he had championed and developed in his own idiosyncratic way, fans were outraged but nobody blamed Peyton Reed. Reed and Wright weren’t pitted against each other.
Whenever a conflict is framed this way, as a Girl Fight, we would all do so much better to take it all with a HUGE GRAIN OF SALT.
Later reports indicated MacLaren’s vision for Wonder Woman included having her chat with a mythical tiger sidekick. This sounds inane, but maybe it would’ve been good. In the comics, Wonder Woman has acquired psychic abilities including being able to talk to the animals, like an Amazon Snow White. We will never really know how this would’ve played out and that’s fine.
Wonder Woman is part of a larger DC Cinematic Universe and the movie – unlike Wright’s Ant-Man – was always going to be an indispensable part of a much bigger narrative. The tone of Batman v. Superman, Justice League, and Wonder Woman will have to match. I’m willing to give DC the benefit of the doubt since they have enthusiastically embraced bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen.