We're nearing the end of the summer blockbuster season, and Wonder Woman has already become one of the greatest success stories of the year. It's risen to become the biggest hit of the season, and one of the highest domestic grossing films in the genre, as well as inspiring a wave of passion and enthusiasm from fans of all ages. Wonder Woman is a new benchmark both for superhero films, and for female-led properties all around.
Its success as a female-led property is perhaps the most exciting factor for consideration. Thanks to this renaissance of comic book adaptations across film and TV, the time has never been more ripe for an adaptation like Wonder Woman. For the first time in a very long while, we can celebrate a mainstream, iconic female character to stand alongside the Spider-Mans, Batmans and Iron Mans of our culture.
But given that it's been almost been two months since the film's release, one might wonder where exactly is the effect of this film? The newly-minted "Wonder Woman Effect" where we see the influence the film takes into other corners of the industry, in both comic book films, as well as many different genres. Where we take more risks in letting women headline genre properties. Where we move away from the perception that audiences won't see these films if they have a female lead. And where we do away with preconceptions about female directors, and willingness of consumers to buy up merchandise associated with female characters.
Beyond that, there’s also just the need for more films like Wonder Woman. To not just put time and energy into the likes of more Spider-Man and Thor films, but that we have more female characters on the horizon to be celebrated on the big screen, to be given their due.
There Are Already Exciting Projects In The Works
The good news is, there are already a handful of projects in the works from before the release of Wonder Woman, and no doubt they’ll only be bolstered by its success. DC has already hired Joss Whedon for a Batgirl film, and there's word of a Gotham City Sirens adaptation in the works (headed by Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn). Meanwhile Marvel is promoting Wasp as a secondary protagonist for the Ant-Man sequel, and has dropped more details about the upcoming Captain Marvel adaptation.
All of these films will no doubt benefit from that hype, as the fervor for Wonder Woman has made audiences (especially women) hungry for more female superheroes. But what's even more exciting is the prospect of what new properties will come into development now that Wonder Woman has officially forged a path, especially given the comparative dearth of women in big-screen adaptations. Though things are substantially better than they've been in the past, female characters still number too few in comic book films (with Gamora, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Wonder Woman the only ones who currently sit among the ranks of what is now dozens of similar male characters).
The Effect Will Become More Visible In The Long-Term
The bad news is, it's probably going to be a while before we start to see any of this. None of the four projects named above are even in production yet, and any further films that are pitched to follow in Wonder Woman’s wake will take even longer. Wonder Woman has proven a hugely important benchmark, one that no doubt we'll look back on as a major turning point both for comic book adaptations, but also for women in film (especially genre films). And the effects of that will be more clear in the long-term. Meaning it's going to be a few years before we really start to see it kick in; and it will similarly take time for this slow-moving industry to embrace this more female-driven era.
At the same time, there's still a lot of exciting possibilities for how this could pan out beyond the boundaries of superhero adaptations. Because Wonder Woman has proven not just that a female-led, female-directed blockbuster can be a hit, but also that people will turn out to see a big-budget genre film headlined by a woman. Something we only could've dreamed of even just a few years ago.
And there's plenty of other characters that have laid the groundwork, which could benefit in turn. From the iconic nature of Emma Watson's Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, the scene-stealing popularity of Charlize Theron's Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, the exciting surprise of Force-powered Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and even Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen as the lead in the Hunger Games quartet.
This means we'll probably be getting a lot more Hermiones, Furiosas and Reys in our genre films. And it means we'll be getting a lot more diversity of women, with far more expanded roles beyond what has so often typified female characters in the past. Maybe Marvel will finally give us that Black Widow standalone film we've all been asking for, and the next Hermione Granger won't have to be a side character.
It will take time, but the Wonder Woman Effect has only just begun to show its might — as is further evidenced by the recently announced Wonder Woman sequel slated for a December 2019 release. Gal Gadot's Diana Prince is the tipping point, and eventually we'll see the fruits in more and better films. And Wonder Woman herself will prove the inspiration all of us have longed for, in all the ways we needed her to.
What do you hope to see from the Wonder Woman Effect? Sound off in the comments below!