By now I’m sure that you have all heard the news. Actress Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel movie. To use the big cliche going around the interwebs, the movie still does not have an official title. It is being referred to as both Man of Steel 2 and Batman vs Superman. Complicating that somewhat is the fact that we know Wonder Woman is going to be in the movie in some capacity and there are rumours going about that we might see Batman’s protege Nightwing in the movie as well, and that there might even be Doomsday, the big bad alien bio-construct who killed Superman in one of the most popular comic events of all times. So there’s a lot to handle.
But the focus of this editorial is the casting of Gal Gadot as the iconic Amazon Princess, who is the most recognisable and most popular female comics hero in the world, despite her 71 year history in the medium. She’s the only female comics hero that I know of who has sustained her own solo title for high triple digits, something like around 650 issues or so, not to mention all the other titles she’s been a part of, or the fact that together with Batman and Superman, she forms DC’s Trinity, the three most important and central properties the publisher and its parent company Warner Bros. owns.
So apparently, we are definitely getting a new Batman in about two-years’ time, and the role will be played by actor/producer/director Ben Affleck. For the uninitiated, we saw Christopher Nolan wrap-up his Batman movie trilogy last year with the Christian Bale-starrer The Dark Knight Rises and Ben Affleck has done comic book roles before in Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil.
This is certainly an interesting time for DC/WB since they just recently launched their own cinematic universe with this summer’s hit Man of Steel and we know that there are going to be three more movies in this “phase 1” at the least: Batman vs Superman (2015), The Flash (2016), and Justice League (2017). I blogged a while back about how DC could start building its own cinematic universe to counter what Disney/Marvel have been doing with an incredibly successful line of Marvel movies.
This “plan” of mine, called Justice League: Strange Union, called on WB studios to make movies with characters that we haven’t yet seen in a live action adaptation for the cinemas and to keep any characters they wanted to reboot for the eventual Justice League film where Martian Manhunter could be added in as a new character for people to get to know.
As things stand though, based on the information that came out of San Diego Comic-Con last month and from all Hollywood sources last night, my plan is pretty much what I knew it would be: a mere hopeful fantasy.
Its absolutely no surprise that following the immense success of Marvel Studios’ various superhero movies, DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers have announced their own plans for movies based on DC’s famous characters. Over the last eight years we’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, and Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern. There has been next to no continuity between these films, unlike the Marvel films which have all been connected through various agents of S.H.I.E.D and their infamous Director, Nick Fury. In fact, such interconnectivity has been one of the selling points of Marvel’s films.
You might ask, why is that? What makes the Marvel movies so different from the DC films?
Its straightforward. Marvel Studios stepped into the business with a clear direction of what they wanted to do. I don’t know exactly if it was the intention or not, but all of their films, especially from Iron Man 2 and out, have been building up towards a specific point, The Avengers. One by one, they released movies that would all tie-in together to culminate in the premier Marvel superhero team-up, thereby bringing their “Phase 1” to fruition.
And they’ve succeeded enormously. Which is where DC and WB step in because they want to mirror the success with their own properties. But its not easy to do that. All attempts so far have pretty much tanked. There just isn’t the same vision, and the same ability to face challenges at WB, from what we can see. Their various Wonder Woman projects seem to keep getting stalled for one reason or another. There are talks of a Green Lantern and Batman reboot already, and we are just about to have a new Superman movie that is another reboot after Singer’s Superman Returns from 2006.
A few weeks ago I was discussing this with fellow book blogger and friend, Nick Sharps, and I outlined the basics of what DC and WB should do to make sure that they are able to reproduce Marvel’s success.
It all ends up being about the vision.