DC's Extended Universe is against the ropes, clinging on while taking a hammering from critics. It all started in round one, with Man of Steel (2013), followed by this year's Batman v Superman, both of which received below average reviews. With barely time to breathe in between rounds, Suicide Squad looked to be a glimmer of hope before also receiving poor reviews.
While fans still cheer on in the sidelines (none of the above have completely flopped at the box office), the shared movie universe is still looking for a product that can come out all guns blazing, and hook and jab its way to critical acclaim. Wonder Woman is the next competitor up for the fight, reaching cinemas next year. But will Diana Prince pack a punch?
Suicide Squad's Troubled Production
Before looking at the difference with Gal Gadot's first solo venture, where did Suicide Squad go wrong? There's no doubt that many enjoyed David Ayer's movie, but a troubled production and possible knee-jerk reaction from the fallout of BvS resulted in a tangled web of antiheroes with wasted promise.
Much has been made of the editing process, where fans were shown two versions; one from director David Ayer, and one with heavy influence from Warner Bros. themselves. THR reported that Ayer wrote the entire script in six weeks. Then there was the issue of reshooting to add humor, and the distinct lack of Jared Leto's much-hyped Joker.
Take a look at some of the deleted Joker scenes below:
In some respects, the marketing of the film was one of the strongest aspects of production. The neon infused trailer and promotional images, as well as intriguing stories emerging from the dark depths of Leto's method acting, made the film hotly anticipated for months.
How Is Wonder Woman Different?
But the unfortunate combination of all of these bumps on the road to production make it unsurprising that the film failed to deliver. On the contrary, Wonder Woman has had a more robust creative process, which has been helped by one man who could really make the difference: Geoff Johns.
In May, it was announced that the well-respected comic book writer and president of DC Comics would take joint ownership of DC Entertainment movies, a branch of Warner Bros. By July, it was announced he was the new president. Having someone with the creative drive and love of comics will no doubt benefit the DCEU, but essentially for Wonder Woman Johns has had a hands on role, helping to craft the screenplay with Allan Heinberg.
Considering a lot of the fallout for Suicide Squad was based around clashes between Ayer and Warner Bros., having someone of Johns' calibre on the executive side of the fence will aid Wonder Woman's development. For all the right reasons, Wonder Woman is highly anticipated, with early indications that this could be a film to change the entire superhero landscape for the better.
Johns' involvement is reassuring, bridging the gap between the creative team and Warner Bros. But perhaps Wonder Woman's strongest point is that it is aware of its own identity. One of the criticisms of BvS and Suicide Squad was down to a cluttered narrative (with Zack Snyder's preferred Unlimited Edition running at three hours long), but having already been introduced elegantly in BvS, Gal Gadot now has the space to shine on her own.
What You See Is What You Get
Part of the cluttered storylines in the previous two DCEU films has been down to an ensemble cast, and trying to weave their own narratives together while maintaining a consistency through the shared universe. To some extent, this can hinder films with an excitable and erratic energy — like with Suicide Squad, which was almost restricted in terms of plot.
The trailer is also a strong indication of what you see is what you get, with Patty Jenkins' film will focusing heavily on action. There is a potentially platonic relationship with Steve Trevor to explore, but most of the focus will tell the traditional origin story of Diana Prince, and Steve's landing on the Amazonian island of Themyscira.
Suicide Squad showed promise, but ultimately failed to become the film that could restore the DCEU to critical acclaim. With a talented creative team, strong identity and the heavy influence of Geoff Johns, Wonder Woman could still be set to become the film that finally saves DC's shared universe.
Were production issues the real problem with Suicide Squad, and can Wonder Woman remedy that?
Source: The Hollywood Reporter