Where does Wonder Woman go now that ‘Wonder Woman 3’ is dead in the water?
A little over a month into their tenure running DC Films, James Gunn and Peter Safran made their first major moves in the division by canning the long in development Wonder Woman 3, a project written and directed by Patty Jenkins and set to star Gal Gadot. Despite this star teasing the project just a day earlier, Wonder Woman 3, at least in its current incarnation, seems to be dead in the water due to it not fitting Gunn and Safran’s multimedia plans for the DC Universe. While this movie is down for the count, Wonder Woman won’t be missing from the big screen for long, especially since many ambitious projects are in the works based on various DC Comics properties. However, with this project’s demise, it does become understandable to ask…where does this character go next?
The uncertainty of the future
The future of Wonder Woman in live-action movies is full of question marks, mostly because Gunn and Safran’s expansive plans for the DC properties are also shrouded in mystery. A Hollywood Reporter piece breaking the news of Wonder Woman 3 going down in flames emphasized this uncertainty by noting that there was still no clue whether Gunn and company planned to keep around actors like Henry Cavill in their longstanding DC movies roles. The long-term casting of these projects is in doubt, which means the specifics of various upcoming movies in this cinematic universe are also up in the air.
Still, that doesn’t mean we are all wandering around with blinders on when it comes to what the future could hold for Wonder Woman. Namely, it’s doubtful that Wonder Woman’s future cinematic exploits will be exactly like the two Jenkins movies that made history by finally giving this iconic character her own solo live-action features. Within these projects, Jenkins wasn’t afraid to lean into certain sillier aspects of Wonder Woman’s mythology, including finding a way to give the character her invisible jet in Wonder Woman 1984. However, much of the focus of these features was in juxtaposing the fantastical with everyday reality, which involved largely focusing on environments audiences would recognize as the “normal world.”
There was a lot of entertainment to be had in seeing Wonder Woman walk into No Man’s Land in her first solo movie while there was at least interesting ambition in having the same character trying to bring positivity to the “greed is good” landscape of the 1980s. However, these stories didn’t make much time for the character’s home island of Themyscira and often saw Wonder Woman duking it out with various ordinary humans (save for Ares) rather than fantastical foes. If Gunn’s previous comic book movies exploits in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and The Suicide Squad are any indication, one can expect Wonder Woman’s future big-screen adventures to eschew this norm. Instead, expect future Wonder Woman movies to be a lot more preposterous and lean into the incredibly ridiculous parts of her history. Maybe we’ll even finally see Jumpa and the other Kangas on Themyscira!
But what about the women?
Looking at other ways the next iteration of Wonder Woman in movies could evolve, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a greater number of female characters in future features anchored by this superhero. This isn’t to say that the preceding Wonder Woman movies did women dirty or anything like that, though. The Jenkins incarnation of the character was often navigating the world of men, a domain that’s, of course, dominated by this gender, while in Wonder Woman 1984 she’s withdrawn herself so much from the rest of the world that she doesn’t have time for gal pals.
Those choices made sense for those respective stories that Jenkins was interested in while many scenes in these features that did focus on multiple lady characters were incredibly well-realized. This director’s ability to let women-heavy scenes set on Themyscira breathe without the need to check in on male characters in the first Wonder Woman, for instance, was one of its greatest assets. Exploring other stories that are largely focused on a variety of women, though, could be an easy way for future Wonder Woman features to differentiate themselves from the franchise’s past. Plus, recurring criticism over the handling of the character Cheetah in Wonder Woman 1984 makes it feel even more inevitable that future Wonder Woman films will attempt to correct this shortcoming by making even more room for a wide selection of female characters.
Perhaps most crucially, though, one should expect future Wonder Woman outings to be much more deeply tied into other solo DC franchises. The two initial Wonder Woman films were largely detached from the rest of what was then known as the DC Extended Universe, save for a note from Bruce Wayne at the end of the first Wonder Woman. Gunn and Safran, meanwhile, have been very open about wanting to make sure all properties made under their watch (including video games!) coalesce into a larger narrative. That doesn’t mean there won’t be standalone qualities to this feature, but one should expect Wonder Woman’s future on the big screen to be much more directly tied to the futures of other DC Comics characters.
But what about Gal Gadot?
Finally, there’s the big elephant in the room: does Gal Gadot stick around as this character? That’s harder to say and just one of many things that won’t be decided for years to come. Gadot’s busy schedule combined with Gunn and Safran’s clear willingness to pursue their own vision for these characters could lead to a brand-new live-action version of Wonder Woman existing. Then again, Gadot’s take on the character is rightfully iconic, and it might be difficult for even the sweeping vision of Gunn and Safran to abandon that. Even with Wonder Woman 3 now down for the count, that doesn’t preclude Gadot from existing in this franchise at all.
Really, any questions about what Wonder Woman’s future looks like in the world of theatrical movies is up in the air until Gunn and Safran concretely announce their next few years of DC Comics projects. However, the dismissal of Wonder Woman 3, as well as the ways in which the creative impulses of Gunn and Safran contrast with the motifs of Patty Jenkins, do suggest the character is going in a radically different direction. Wherever she and the other DC characters go, hopefully, Gunn and Safran do remember the necessity to maintain women filmmakers and emphasize a diverse array of perspectives in their works. The shelving of Wonder Woman 3 doesn’t automatically mean the new DC Films division will be a “boy’s club,” but it’s always good to remember that stories like the original Wonder Woman movie resonate with audiences of all stripes for a reason. In other words, let’s make sure that the next wave of DC adaptations creates new stories from a variety of women artists, rather than just dismissing things like Wonder Woman 3 in favor of motion pictures written and directed solely by dudes.
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