It’s come to my attention that amidst the glory that is Wonder Woman many people are saying “This is what a DC movie should be like” and that godforsaken article “the dceu is in trouble everyone liked Wonder Woman” all the while blatantly ignoring the vivid and prominent parallels between Wonder Woman and the other DC movies, specifically Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, because they seem to be at center of all the vitriol. Some of these aren’t parallels necessarily, just things BvS and MoS have been criticized for that magically no one mentioned about Wonder Woman.
Let’s start out with the most obvious, yeah?
1. Wonder Woman was FUN!!!
No. It wasn’t. Let me explain, I had a blast in this movie, it moved me, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made my blood pump and while I am so blown away by seeing a movie directed with the female gaze and with all these amazing female warriors, this isn’t a FunTM movie. It’s set in World War I for god’s sake. It never shies away from the atrocities experienced by the citizens and soldiers in this war. It shows realistically what PTSD looks like through Charlie. It brings up interesting and complex ideas and hard facts about racism, politics, sexism and the arrogance of mankind. There are light moments for sure, but it isn’t bouncy happy fun all the time. I would say it isn’t humorous or light the majority of the time either. It’s a very serious movie, it expects you to take it seriously and you do. The thing is, Batman v Superman and Man of Steel are the SAME way. There’s humorous moments, light moments, but they are serious movies with complex ideas about heroism and being an immigrant in a strange world and how the darkness can corrupt even the most justice and moral driven of heroes. I had in watching them. I had amazing experiences. So did many others. But none of these movies are “fun” movies. They don’t shy away from sacrifice or darkness. They acknowledge that. You can have fun experiencing the movie, and laugh at its humor, but it isn’t a lighthearted film.
I mean, we’ve all hear the terms “dark and gritty” and “lacking color” when talking about the DCEU, which is frankly bullshit but I digress. Wonder Woman wasn’t really “colorful” either. Themiscyra was, but I mean it’s a magically hidden island of Amazons from ancient times. But as soon as they leave the island, the world is grey and dark and dismal. Diana calls it hideous. But this didn’t seem to detract anyone from enjoying the movie or following the story. Diana’s suit isn’t even that brightly colored, something Henry Cavill’s Superman has been criticized constantly about. Both movies use color and the lack thereof, shadows, darkness, to help tell the story.
3. Mental health/Triggering
Both Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman tackle PTSD in very real, pointed ways. Each depicts scenes where characters clearly struggle with nightmares, triggers, and outbursts from what they’re experiencing. Both did so in a compelling and realistic way and yet one was mocked relentlessly and one was not. Batman v Superman lingers on the mental health issues the characters are experiencing more, but they are central parts of the story and how it progresses. Bruce’s PTSD is what allows him to be manipulated by Lex’s games. Charlie’s PTSD is real and heartbreaking, but he is surrounded by friends and people who understand, Bruce is largely along besides Alfred who honestly doesn’t now how to help anymore.
4. The name game
So something I heard over and over as a criticism for Man of Steel was
that no one calls him “Superman”. People said Zack Snyder was afraid to use the name, despite the fact this was an origin story and he wasn’t Superman yet. Despite the fact that Captain Ferris calls him Superman by the end of the film(and I agree Ferris, he’s totally hot). Yet Wonder Woman was not called by “Wonder Woman” in the film and no one seemed to have any problem with that.
5. Stories about sacrifice
This one really gets my goat. Man of Steel ended in the destruction of Metropolis, but the hope we could rebuild. Batman v Superman ended with Clark’s death, but the idea that men are still good, justice is coming. Wonder Woman ended with Steve’s death, but that love is the most powerful motivation for heroism. All three of these things are important, and yet BvS was trashed for implying that heroism requires sacrifice and Clark should have just given Diana the spear. Well, as Wonder Woman also expertly showed us, sometimes, you can’t do everything. Diana told Steve whatever it was, she could do it. But she couldn’t. There was no time. He could save the day, but she needed to save the world. In Batman v Superman a similar situation unfolds: a creature from another word. Batman has the gas, but he’s a weak human compared to Doomsday. Diana is strong, but she’s holding Doomsday back with the lasso. And there’s Clark who knows that he has to do something. He has the spear. When you can do something you have the responsibility to. That’s what being a hero means. So he does. In both cases that sacrifice reminded the heroes of what heroism really is about: hope, love, the fact that humanity is deeply flawed but worth fighting for. This lesson is also demonstrated in Man of Steel when Clark has to kill Zod to save a family.
6. The Hero loses faith
When Batman v Superman came out Superman/Clark was heavily criticized about the fact that he has a crisis of faith, right after the bombing and before Doomsday it really looks like Clark is going to give up. That he’s going to hang up the cape and give up the dream of being the people’s guardian. Diana has a similar experience. After fake-Ares is killed and she sees that nothing stopped, she has an absolute breakdown. Her entire worldview, everything she was taught was shaken and uprooted. Steve tries to convince her that people are worth believing in, and when he can’t he goes back to doing what he must do. He must help save people. In both situations, the heroes are put to the test when people they love are put in danger and face real doubts about heroism and themselves. In both cases, each hero makes the choice to continue the battle. Diana saves Doctor Poison, choosing to believe in humanity and and take down Ares. Clark does his best to reason with Bruce, who he considered a violent vigilante, to stand down, and even after the fight goes beyond his control he begs him to save Martha, he doesn’t care if Bruce kills him first, as long as he saves her. He puts his trust in Bruce’s humanity and THAT is why they are able to put their differences aside to help fight Doomsday. In both cases the crisis of faith were important developmental moments, showcasing to the audience how grueling and disheartening being a hero is sometimes. Sometimes people don’t understand, they vilify you, they mistrust you. Sometimes you don’t win, and those failures have a high cost. Do you keep going? Both these movies answer yes.
Listen, I’m really not asking you to like the other DC movies if you liked Wonder Woman. They are different movies and each film had different strengths and weaknesses, but I am saying that as a whole MoS and BvS have gotten some pretty unfair criticism due to largely what I think comes down to Zack Snyder. Some people don’t want to like his films, so they don’t. But in the light of all that Wonder Woman is getting praise for, which it deserves, that both the other films did well along side it is hypocritical. Patty and Allan did an incredible job, but I would like to remind people that Zack casted Gal Gadot, not Patty, and Zack, along with others, helped write the story that Allan adapted into a screenplay. This movie was a team effort in a grand scheme of films that had its own wonderful unique qualities while sharing the ideals and driving force that its predecessors did.