Reviews and feedback are still trickling in for #WonderWoman, the latest entry into the DCEU, but so far the response from critics and audiences alike has been overwhelmingly positive. For the first film adaptation of the heroine, Wonder Woman has exceeded all expectations and much of that has to do with its director, Patty Jenkins.
Warner Bros. has a rather extensive universe planned for the DC Comics characters, and has already achieved a fair amount of success with Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and now Wonder Woman. However, Diana Prince wasn't the first home run Warner Bros. achieved for the portrayal of a female character.
What Female Success Has the DCEU Had Already?
The studio delivered what would become a box office hit with Suicide Squad last August. While it set box office records, fan and professional reviews were less successful. Nonetheless, the movie wasn't a total loss because it featured another big screen debut for a highly loved DC Comics villain, #HarleyQuinn.
Margot Robbie's performance as Harley resonated with audiences and became such a favorite by viewers that she not only was the most popular Halloween costume for 2016, but Warner Bros. quickly greenlit a Harley Quinn solo spin-off, Gotham City Sirens. This upcoming female venture is set to have Robbie as an executive producer and Suicide Squad director #DavidAyer back in the director's chair. We can hope that what Jenkins did with Wonder Woman is something David Ayer can learn from for Sirens.
What Can David Ayer Learn From 'Wonder Woman'?
First of all, let's just give a round of applause for Wonder Woman. That movie served as somewhat of a redemption for Warner Bros. and the #DCEU after an extremely rocky beginning. The movie as a whole was cohesive, the plot made sense, it had proper villain execution (if weak villains), and it didn't focus on elements that didn't need to be focused on. But more than that, how it portrayed Wonder Woman herself was fantastic—what's more, it was real.
As a director, Jenkins really sculpted a specific path for what she wanted not only the movie to be, but for how she wanted Diana to be portrayed. Diana was a solid mixture of strong and vulnerable, and she served well as a god who was still discovering her own powers and how she should be using them in the real world.
Now that we've seen what #PattyJenkins delivered, it would have been amazing to have another female director lead another group of female characters, but David Ayer is already locked in. But even though we will have a male director for the project, that doesn't automatically mean things are in trouble.
Ayer was in charge of the film that skyrocketed Harley Quinn (and #MargotRobbie) into super-stardom. However, a lot of that was letting Robbie go with how she wanted to portray Harley as a strong, but still codependent woman struggling to find her identity without her partner-in-crime. Seeing how this spin-off is another female-centered film to include Harley Quinn and (we can assume) Poison Ivy and Catwoman, there is a lot that Ayer can take from Wonder Woman and apply to Gotham City Sirens.
What we can hope is that the success of Wonder Woman and the template that Patty Jenkins created for the film will serve as a positive message that female-centered movies in superhero universes can work. That message is one that can apply to all studios and universes, not just the ones Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios have released.
It would seem that the trick is finding that balance of vulnerability and strength that, let's face it, all women deal with on a daily basis. Hopefully the lessons to be learned from Wonder Woman will be observed by David Ayer as he helms #GothamCitySirens so he can understand the characters and help everyone involved be comfortable to do what feels right.
I don't think David Ayer is the wrong choice for a female-centered comic book movie. I just hope that he is observing what has been put forth by Wonder Woman and does what he can to just simply make a great film that properly represents its characters and connects with audiences.