Entertainment April 2, 2017
Stakes are high for the upcoming “Wonder Woman” movie, which will become the first female superhero film released in the last 12 years.
From the moment Jennifer Garner’s “Elektra” flopped in 2005, just as Halle Berry’s “Catwoman” had a year previously, Hollywood has only allowed male stars to front such movies.
That’s what makes the June 2 release of “Wonder Woman,” starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the title role, such a potential game changer.
It comes at a time when male-dominated superhero movies are flooding the market. Yes, Scarlett Johnansson has played Black Widow in several Marvel films but only as part of the ensemble. That character still hasn’t had her own spinoff movie despite Johansson being Hollywood’s highest grossing actress ever.
If “Wonder Woman” flops at the box office it will fuel the perception that female superhero films don’t work.
“I’ve heard that argument and I find it ridiculous,” said Geoff Johns, executive producer of the new film, which is being released by Warner Bros. “You won’t be hearing that again after this,” added Johns, who is also chief creative officer of DC Entertainment which has published Wonder Woman’s comic book adventures for over 70 years.
He was speaking at Wondercon this weekend after screening scenes from the movie which were cheered by impressed audience members at the pop culture convention. Also receiving a huge ovation at the same Anaheim, CA, event was the women directing the film, Patty Jenkins.
Previously best known for Charlize Theron movie “Monster,” the director has been a huge fan of superheroes ever since seeing Christopher Reeve’s 1978 “Superman” movie as a seven-year-old girl. “I couldn’t believe the effect that movie had on me. I was Superman,” she said. “It didn’t matter who I was, and it didn’t matter where I was. I was that little boy who ripped his shirt, and picked up a car. I was that character who faced those challenges and felt human.”
That experience gave her a lifelong passion for comic book heroes. Wonder Woman became her favorite and now she’s embracing the pressure to succeed with a film about the warrior princess.
“Being the person who gets to make a movie about Wonder Woman, of course, I take that incredibly seriously. Nothing about the world or nothing about anything could change that pressure. I want to make great films in my lifetime, and I really want to make a great film about Wonder Woman. Who should make a great movie about Wonder Woman? It should be somebody who loves Wonder Woman. And I know that I’m that.”
She wants to use the film to inspire as well as entertain because the character is a perfect role model. “I’m a big believer in the tradition of using these stories as a way to explore every single kind of person’s hopes and dreams for being a better person — a more powerful person in the world — and making a great choice when they get that chance.
“She’s not the only character who has a strong moral compass, but what I like about her is that’s her mission. I feel there are a lot of superheroes who are chosen and find themselves in these positions, but she’s one of the very few who believes in kindness and justice and love, and comes to our world to bring that — but is willing to use force if it comes to that.”
Wonder Woman’s comic book adventures have been published by DC since 1941. Lynda Carter played her in a TV series from 1975-1979. The character only hit the big screen in 2016 as a supporting character in “Batman v Superman.” Gal Gadot played her then and retains the role for her first solo film which will trace the character’s origins.
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Times could be changing in Hollywood because Marvel also has a female superhero movie in development with Brie Larson set to star in the 2019 release “Captain Marvel.”
But money talks in Hollywood and it will need that one and “Wonder Woman” to become big box office hits to prove the doubters wrong and pave the way for a string of further female superhero films. Failure is not an option.
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