When the trailer for Wonder Woman finally dropped a couple of weeks back, and when I'd finally stopped watching it over and over again (jokes, totally haven't stopped), one thing was really sticking in my mind. Why World War I?
Rumors had been flying since the film went into production that this was going to be the case, shots of the actors in period costume did the rounds on the internet, Batfleck found that photo in Dawn of Justice, but the real question is why? Why, when Wonder Woman's origins are so firmly entrenched in World War II, has the setting been changed?
Origin stories change, of course, but when you have the opportunity to drop your characters into such an iconic war — one that they were actively involved in during their life in panel form — why go back further?
I can't speak for the filmmakers, though I will say that I think it's a pretty clever move, and one that I fully think is going to work in Diana's favor.
And here's why:
1. No 'Captain Wonder Woman'
Captain America: The First Avenger is my favorite of all the more recent origin movies — a fact that's probably only going to change when Wonder Woman comes out next year. As far as I'm concerned, The First Avenger is pretty much perfect (and that's only partly because it gave us two glorious seasons of Agent Carter.)
Because of the success of The First Avenger, placing Diana in her original World War II setting was a surefire way to invite comparison and criticism — comparison and criticism that would consider Wonder Woman in relation to The First Avenger, rather than as a standalone movie in its own right.
It's something DC has done well to avoid, as DC's movies generally (in this writer's opinion, at least) tend to fall flat when they're held up against the MCU. For every First Avenger or Guardians of the Galaxy, there's a Man of Steel.
Wonder Woman is likely to be under enough scrutiny as it is, and while I'm confident the movie would have been great no matter what the period, it's potentially a pretty wise move on the part of the creators to skip over a very strong similarity to one of Marvel's better offerings.
2. We Already Have Our Bombshell
In addition to her original run back in the 1940s, Diana has also made a more recent return to the battlefields of World War II. DC's Bombshells already have a Wonder Woman taking on the Nazi war machine — why have another one?
3. Put Simply, It's A Change
There's a reason why I'm super excited about Battlefield 1 (other than the fact that it's a new Battlefield game), and it's something that's shared with the new Wonder Woman movie — the World War I setting.
While there's probably still a huge range of stories from World War II that have yet to be told — whether through films, television shows, or games — World War I definitely hasn't had the same treatment. We've been taking on the Nazis from our sofas for a very long time, and while I would never suggest that that's something we need to stop doing, or that there's never anything set in World War I (because, of course, there is), it's certainly refreshing to see such major productions take us to back to 1914.
In addition, (and here's where my history nerd starts to rear her head) having a World War I setting for works that are pretty much guaranteed a large audience means that we're inviting people to ask questions, do their own research, and start up debates. That can only be a good thing.
4. World War I Is Massively Complex
However you choose to view World War I — as the first truly global war, the beginning of modern warfare, the demise of the old forms of warfare (the list could go on) — there's no denying that it is incredibly complex.
Sadly, World War II seems to struggle under the weight of its depictions, so often broken down into the simplicity of Allies good, Nazis (and, by extension, Germans) bad. It is, of course, much more complicated than that, but it's a way of thinking that, in movies with an aim to appeal to a broad audience at least, has stuck. Think Fury, think Inglourious Basterds, think pretty much any World War II movie with a big-name cast that has come from filmmakers based in the West.
World War I, on the other hand, doesn't have that kind of limitation placed upon it. The stories that have endured from World War I show far more sides to the experience than those of World War II, and that's something that's really going to work in Wonder Woman's favor.
I'm sure we've all heard of the touching scenes of the Christmas Day truces, come across the poetry of men like Wilfred Owen, written from the trenches, got ourselves completely lost in the maze of confusion that led to countries like Britain getting involved at all — there are so many levels to World War I that any product that chooses to set itself there is opening itself and its characters up to a really quite vast array of opportunities and options.
We already know from Dawn of Justice that it's in this period that Wonder Woman loses her faith in humanity. It stands to reason that, in this movie, we're going to see what breaks her, and I've got a feeling it's going to be really quite interesting.
5. Etta Candy And Women's Suffrage In Britain
Etta Candy is amazing. She's brave and bold and organized. She came here to do two things: kick ass and eat candy. And she'll do both. Probably at the same time.
But, with the switch to a World War I setting, I'm actually more excited about Etta than ever. In fact, this is probably the No 1 reason why I'm so excited about the new setting. And it's all based on one little thing I got from the trailer: Her accent. She's English.
This might not seem like much, but, as a fellow British woman myself, I'm getting the feeling that the stage might well have been set (oh PLEASE let it have been set) for references to one of the most important moments in British history — women getting the right to vote.
I won't go into too much of the history here, but right up until World War I broke out, women in Britain were fighting a very real battle for their rights. The more militant among them were known as suffragettes (as opposed to the suffragists), and they caused quite a bit of bother. Arson, planting homemade bombs, chaining themselves to railings, going on hunger strike — these women absolutely meant business. When the war started, many of them took a back seat, and instead focused on helping the war effort — a decision which many attribute to them eventually getting the right to vote in 1918.
Just the possibility of a suffragette (or, perhaps even better, someone who had shied away from becoming a suffragette) meeting Wonder Woman is enough to get me seriously considering buying a tent and camping out outside my local cinema until tickets are released.
Tickets, by the way, will probably be released closer to opening night, which is set for June 2017.