Walking in the shadow of the MCU was never going to be easy, but the DCEU have certainly made it look a lot more difficult than it needed to be. The fledgling superhero franchise is only four movies in, and so far three of the four have opened to mixed reviews (here meaning: overwhelmingly negative critical reception sparking a war with fans), with many people critiquing the movies' persistent and unnecessary dreariness. #DC fans longed for brighter movies, ones that didn't match Marvel's sometimes cartoon-ish feel but that nevertheless sent a message of hope, reminding us why we love superheroes in the first place. So thank Hera, Wonder Woman just saved the #DCEU from doom and gloom forever.
Wonder Woman Is Exactly What The DCEU Needed
Let's make this clear: Wonder Woman is not a happy-go-lucky movie. Set partially in the trenches of WWI, it would have been very easy for this film to get bogged down by its heavy subject matter, had the hero been plagued with the same kind of existential angst that seems to be a requirement of DCEU protagonists. But Diana is a vision of hope and morality, and her determined belief in the goodness of humanity — despite learning some harsh lessons about human nature along the way — is the light at the end of the DCEU's dark, blue-tinted tunnel.
The best thing is, Wonder Woman's success is... well, not reliant upon but certainly enhanced by the difficult time the DCEU has had so far. We were in desperate need of a bright-eyed, idealistic DC hero, after even Superman fell to overwrought brooding and angst in Dawn of Justice. In comparison, Wonder Woman (both the movie and the character) shines as a symbol of hope and compassion.
Crucially, Diana is a hero we can believe in, someone to inspire us and someone to aspire to — and the prospect of this virtuous hero forming the Justice League with Batman in the DCEU's next movie is very, very exciting. Moving forward, the DCEU looks to be a brighter and more interesting place thanks to what we now know about Wonder Woman, and we'll be going into Justice League intrigued to see how Diana has developed after watching decades of Earth's history unfold. And of course, after Wonder Woman's glowing reviews and record-breaking box office reception, we've certainly raised our expectations for Justice League.
Bringing The Legend Back To The Superhero Genre
But it's not just the DCEU that is dark in comparison to Wonder Woman. With the exception of the lackluster Doctor Strange and X-Men: Apocalypse, the last year of superhero movies have all been either bleak or atypical, or both. Batman v Superman and Civil War tarnished their respective heroes by pitting them against one another; Suicide Squad and Deadpool followed antiheroes; Logan was an (excellent) unrelenting R-rated examination of the dark side of being a mutant.
After all of this, we needed Wonder Woman. We needed someone to reaffirm the legend of the superhero, the principles and ideals they stand for — essentially, why we created them in the first place. And that's exactly what Wonder Woman did.
Because Wonder Woman isn't just a fun superhero flick with bombastic fight scenes and busted bad guys. Nowadays, it's rare for superhero movies to actually send a message — and the story of Wonder Woman is stuffed full of morals. The film sends a message of hope that we can apply to our daily lives, telling us that even when things seem at their bleakest, when humanity seems set on destroying itself, that we can rise above it all. That we can make this world a better place. That we, too, can be a wonder woman (even if you're a man).
Wonder Woman didn't just save the DCEU. It may have saved the entire superhero genre... and our souls along the way.
Tell us in the comments: What did you love about Wonder Woman?