Time Warner Inc. (TWX) has produced sketchy results for the movies in its DC Extended Universe (DCEU). While box-office takes for Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad have been sufficient to consider them successful, critics have panned them and fans have lamented them.
Some objected to the dark, gritty, and overly serious tone of the movies. There have also been questions about portrayals of the quintessential heroes in a less than heroic light, such as the death toll in some of the epic battle scenes, or whether it was fitting for Superman to kill his arch enemy, Zod, by breaking his neck. Considering the light-hearted tone of many of Marvel's offerings, DC's entries have been positively bleak by comparison.
After several disappointing attempts to take on The Walt Disney Company's (DIS -0.15%) Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it wasn't DC's biggest stars and movie veterans, Batman or Superman, who have finally given the DCEU some positive buzz, but the success and critical acclaim of its latest celluloid hero, Wonder Woman.
A woman's touch
Wonder Woman has been a hit with fans and critics alike, in a welcome change for the beleaguered franchise. The movie posted a $100 million domestic opening weekend, marking the best ever for a female director. The Patty Jenkins-helmed film also boasts a 92% positive score among critics and a 91% from fans on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The three previous releases, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, saw scores of 55%, 27%, and 25% respectively. Fans were more generous, with ratings of 75%, 63%, and 62%, which still were by no means stellar recommendations. It was important for the future of the interconnected films that they deal with the ongoing fan disillusionment, not only in terms of critical acclaim but also in dealing with other well-documented production issues.
It appears that the Amazonian princess may be headed to the top of the DC box-office heap as well. With domestic ticket sales of $275 million and a worldwide take of $572 million thus far, Wonder Woman is tracking well ahead of her DC predecessors, and the movie continues to draw crowds. If this continues, Diana Prince's alter ego may become the most successful DCEU offering to date.
Other positive developments bode well for the future of the DC heroes.
More good news
News broke in April that fan favorite Joss Whedon had been signed to direct the Batgirl movie. Whedon was the creative voice behind such cult favorites as Firefly, Dollhouse, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was also the writer, director, and driving force behind the success of Disney's Marvel's The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The two films combined earned over $1 billion in domestic box office and nearly $3 billion worldwide, so it's easy to see why his participation would be considered a coup for the DCEU.
Director Zack Snyder announced recently that he will step away from Justice League to deal with a family tragedy, and Whedon has come in to fill the void and complete the project. The superhero team-up film is scheduled to be released in November. Whedon's light-hearted humor and witty repartee may be just the thing to build on the fan and critical goodwill Wonder Woman's success has generated.
Roll the credits
While DC could still meet or exceed Marvel's onscreen triumphs, that wouldn't be necessary for it to be deemed a success in its own right. Disney's protagonists have generated a heroic $12 billion in worldwide box office with their fare. That performance gives Marvel bragging rights that DC wouldn't mind having. Some would rightly argue that the DC box-office results speak for themselves. Still, while Marvel's fans have been widely supportive of the franchise to date, there have been mixed reactions among DC's fans, and addressing their misgivings would be a step in the right direction. You can't be all things to all people, but Wonder Woman is certainly a good start.