Coming off a trifecta of divisive films for the DCEU, #WonderWoman succeeded as the first film in the franchise to be loved by critics and fans alike — and for good reason. Gal Gadot’s performance was perfect, the supporting cast was nothing short of spectacular, and the screenplay had a simple, yet perfect formula.
But Wonder Woman didn't just outperform the previous DCEU entries; it's also the movie that X-Men: Apocalypse should've been. Here's why:
Ares Worked In Small Doses, But Apocalypse Was Overexposed
As for the villain, Ares's name was mentioned by Wonder Woman throughout the movie, but we never saw him — in his true form, anyway — until the final act. He'd been established as an unseen, civilization-ending threat, so his ultimate reveal was ominous and powerful, becoming one of the highlights of the film.
That could have been the same if Bryan Singer and the X-Men producers had approached Apocalypse the same way: as an approaching menace, leading up to an epic climax; instead we got Oscar Isaac chewing the scenery for half of the runtime. Wonder Woman proved that a great villain means quality of screen time, not quantity.
Wonder Woman's Story Is Lean, Apocalypse's Was Bloated
There's a lot going on in Wonder Woman, from Diana's childhood to leaving Themyscira to the World War I mission to the final fight with Ares. But it flows so well and progresses so naturally from one act to the next; there are no deleted scenes because Patty Jenkins had developed a story with perfect rhythm before shooting a single frame.
X-Men: Apocalypse, however, suffered from too many characters and an overstuffed storyline that tried to tie in unnecessary elements — did we really need to see Magneto and Mystique switching from villain to hero to villain and back for the umpteenth time? Did Olivia Munn's Psylocke have a single line of dialogue? Were we supposed to feel something when Angel died? Was the Wolverine cameo necessary? And what's up with the Phoenix Force?
The film had so many sequences and characters that were just there to fill the screen, which resulted in an exhausting mess.
Wonder Woman Had Bookends For Its Flashback Story — But Where Are The Original X-Men?
We knew that Wonder Woman would survive the events of Wonder Woman, and — thanks to the ending of X-Men: Days of Future Past — we knew that most of the X-Men would survive the events of Apocalypse. And yet, in Wonder Woman, the stakes mattered so much more. We cared about the deaths and enjoyed the process of Diana's transformation into Wonder Woman because it was about the journey as much as the destination, due to the bookend structure of the film.
Wonder Woman depicted Diana's origin as a memory told to us (and Bruce Wayne) by Wonder Woman herself. The film opens with the Wonder Woman we know from Dawn of Justice, receiving the photograph of her with Steve Trevor and the others in their group. From there, Diana tells us the story behind it. This is a classic formula in storytelling, which dates back to masterpieces such as Citizen Kane.
If Apocalypse had been a story that Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier told to Logan after the events of Days of Future Past, it wouldn't have automatically fixed all of Apocalypse's storytelling issues — but connecting the 1980s battle to the perspectives of the older X-Men would've added dramatic heft. Wonder Woman was told from Diana's perspective, through and through. Every action was character-driven, and Apocalypse could have been from the presence of the original X-Men; even the tacked-on Weapon X sequence would have made more sense to us.
Wonder Woman Taught Us Who Diana Is — But The X-Men Didn't Grow In Apocalypse
Wonder Woman entered the world of men believing humanity was good. She was quickly disillusioned, but — through her experiences and tribulations — came to a more complex conclusion about our flawed but redeemable nature. However, Apocalypse just gave us the same old characters arcs and debates. They were facing the end of the world and we reacted with a shrug.
That's why Deadpool and Logan worked so well: their focus was on character, not spectacle. And Wonder Woman gave us both.
Wonder Woman is now in theaters. X-Men: Apocalypse is available on Blu-ray.
Do you agree X-Men: Apocalypse would've succeeded with the same storytelling formula as Wonder Woman? Comment below!