The Basement

Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Fanboy Bias

I stumbled across an article this morning by someone who, quite obviously, hates the DCEU. It’s a grand false narrative that essentially states Patty JenkinsWarner Brothers and DC, the powers behind the second best reviewed Superhero movie of all time, and the leggiest one in 30 years, have NO IDEA what they’re doing . In fact, his narrative goes, they’re “the most creatively bankrupt major studio there is.”

Where is this coming from? Basically, his perception is Wonder Woman is merely a “reskinned Captain America.” He begrudgingly gives props to Princess Diana’s first foray in a solo movie but he frames it as a fluke or, at the very least, successful because it features Steve Rogers in a skirt. I can think of a million better things for the fan community to engage in than the old DC vs Marvel canard during this golden age of genre movies, but allow me to highlight how completely condescending  his article is. Since he wishes to engage in not just a mere crank on Warners, DC, and Wonder Woman, I think it’s incumbent upon me to respond to his piece.

CLAIM: The DCEU has been a creative disaster since it launched in 2013. And despite offering the biggest names in superheroism, the franchise’s underperformance at the box office is already suffering from diminishing returns.

FACT: While just how creative the DCEU has been since 2013 is debatable, what isn’t debatable is it’s financial success. Man of Steel’s total Box Office performance ($667,999,518) is higher than that of The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor: The Dark World, and Ant Man.

Suicide Squad  sold more tickets than the previously mentioned Marvel films, and also bested Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Dr. Strange without the benefit of China’s always lucrative box office.

Batman vs. Superman’s total box office is even better. It also outperformed all the Marvel movies listed above and will likely still be ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy II when it completes it’s run.

All in all, the first three DCEU movies outperformed 10 of the first 15 Marvel movies. Wonder Woman’s total box office take so far is $749,517,895, higher than nine of Marvel’s 15 films (not including Spider-Man: Homecoming which is predicted to finish with a lower box office take than Wonder Woman’s.)

The first three DCEU movies managed to do this while being the whipping boys of the same critics that showered endless praise over the Marvel films. By this fall, we’ll likely be able to say the first 4 DCEU movies outperformed half of Marvel’s 16 films. The cold hard truth? Fans liked the DCEU movies.

CLAIM: Only a month (after Wonder Woman’s release)… Warner Bros already thinks that it has the series’ future figured out… (they) already (have) some fairly detailed plans for the movie’s inevitable sequel. By the sound of it, they don’t have a single clue about why the movie was so well-received in the first place.

FACT: That is an AMAZING statement, considering Marvel has a reputation for mapping out it’s movie franchises fairly quickly themselves. And, in all seriousness, so what? I think the team that brought us Wonder Woman, after overcoming all the adversity the led up to it’s conception and release, might – just might – have a clue as to why the movie was so well received. 

Obviously someone is distraught at the recent rumors of the Wonder Woman sequel.

CLAIM: Evidently, the movie will be set in the 1980’s, at the tail end of the Cold War.  It will be a political spy thriller.  It will perplexingly star Chris Pine as Steve Trevor: the same Steve Trevor, mind you, who exploded in a mid-air hellfire of divinely-inspired poison seventy years earlier in the first movie.  And if this sounds like the laziest rip-off of The Winter Soldier they could have come up with, you’d be right.

FACT: Comic book characters being resurrected is a plot device that predates Captain America: Winter Soldier so I’m not sure why the rumored return of Steve Trevor is perplexing. But it isn’t really applicable here. Captain America didn’t actually die at the end of The First Avenger. He was in some form of suspended animation in a block of ice or some kind of perplexing something or another. Perhaps someone’s issue is there might be another character who might have died in one movie then shows up decades later. Yet, we don’t even know if that’s the case. Chris Pine could be somehow resurrected if he actually died. He might be on ice somewhere as Captain America was. Or he might be a descendent of Trevor which is how the character jumped decades in the 1970s Wonder Woman TV series (the first season of which was set in World War II and if that sounds like Captain America: The First Avenger was “the laziest rip-off of Wonder Woman they could have come up with, you’d be right.” 🙂 ) Trust me. I could write volumes on ways Marvel has imitated DC (and vice-versa.)

CLAIM: The reason why The Winter Soldier worked so well is because it doubled down on everything that is both unique and compelling about Steve Rogers as a character.  He is the idealized member of a group of young men and women remembered as “The Greatest Generation” for a reason: the personification of the promise of what America could be, rather than the flawed reality of what it is….

… This is not the case for Wonder Woman.  Although she wears a star-spangled leotard, she is not American.  She is merely following Amazon tradition to wear the national colors of the nation she visits.  She chose red, white and blue not because she was feeling especially patriotic when she left Themyscira, but because she was escorting a military prisoner back to his people: American spy Steve Trevor.

FACT: In Wonder Woman, Princess Diana didn’t wear  a leotard, star-spangled or otherwise. The Amazons had no tradition to wear the national colors of any nation and she was not escorting a military prisoner back to his people. While that story-line has been a part of some comic book continuities, I’m now questioning whether someone actually saw this movie.

No, Wonder Woman isn’t American. And neither is Gal Gadot. In fact, a portion of the fan community gnashed their teeth over the fact Wonder Woman has an accent, olive skin and brown eyes as opposed to blue. It’s her decidedly non-American traits that allow her (and us, by extension) to see the world unhindered by red, white and blue-colored glasses. And if the sequel rumors are true and she is working on American soil next, she’ll likely be an illegal alien (which will be a more interesting  hero/America political dichotomy than Captain America’s appearance in modern America could have ever hoped to be. )

CLAIM: I understand the unique problem that Wonder Woman faces as Warner Bros. starts to consider their options for a sequel.  You don’t want to immediately jump into the present because then you’ll have to contend with all the terrible decisions that have led to the franchise’s current status quo.

FACT: Again, there’s a statement that doesn’t quite make sense. It’s a straw man. The Wonder Woman franchise, and by extension the DCEU, is about as healthy as a franchise can be right now. It’s making globs a cash, packing theaters and, with the latest installment, getting rave reviews.

I get that someone didn’t like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad very much. And that’s ok. Plenty of people did. And we all have our preference. Let’s just all try to understand there are no new ideas under the sun. And when offering up the kind critiques that require more than our opinion (like box-office takes), let’s stick with the facts.


About the author

J Davis

J is a former rock star, former DJ, comic book & political historian, and novelist who once read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlocked the secrets of the universe.

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