Wonder Woman 2 in the Works: How the Franchise Tapped into the Need for Strong Female Characters

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Wonder Woman

WONDER WOMAN was the superhero film no one expected, but we all agreed well deserved, reportedly earning more than $400,000,000, and was the 3rd highest grossing film of the year. It was tremendously well-received by audiences and critics alike, and it finally broke the DC curse of taking some of the most iconic and beloved comic book characters and producing severely underwhelming movies (the infamous Martha scene in the penultimate BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE movie arguably reached new levels of disappointing even diehard fans). It was immediately clear that WONDER WOMAN 2 had to happen. And it will.

Wonder Woman’s Unexpected Success

When Wonder Woman was released, DC finally had a Marvel Cinematic Universe moment of its own – not only because the movies started tieing into video game reboots, tie-ins to previous and future DC superhero on-screen installments, but also because it is a wonderful standalone origins story that fans have been yearning for since MAN OF STEEL. Its unprecedented success really made heads turn over at Hollywood: with a modest $149 million in budget, the film was supposed to just be a movie that would set the tone for JUSTICE LEAGUE and other standalone origin story movies for characters like Flash and Aquaman.

But Diana Prince (Wonder Woman’s alter ego) catapulted to superstardom, returning a total box office revenue of $412,563,408 in the US and a worldwide $821,847,012 in the 23 weeks that it ran – and $103,251,471 of that was made in just its opening weekend. It holds the top spot in the DC Extended Universe franchise and it also placed first in superhero origin movies – surpassing 2002’s SPIDER-MAN that reached roughly $821.7 million. That a sequel was immediately discussed and very quickly confirmed hardly surprised anybody – and it excited both hardcore Wonder Woman fans and newly initiated enthusiasts who appreciated the movie’s clarity, entertaining quality and its focus on its female lead, with Chris Pine acting wonderfully as a male lead that does not overshadow the female protagonist.

Strong Female Characters in Movies and Beyond

This success could not have been possible without the visionary approach of the film’s director, Patty Jenkins. Her novel approach to a female-led superhero film tapped into momentum regarding women’s issues and the need for strong female (super)heroes to be portrayed sincerely on screen. Such was Jenkin’s influence on a very male-focused industry and so strong the impact of her work that she was nominated by Time magazine as person of the year for 2017 – ultimately reaching spot number 7. Yet WONDER WOMAN could not have existed without a series of other installments in the entertainment industry – that far exceeds the movie theatres.

Strong female leads have been the center of attention for a while now: In the successful HUNGER GAMES movies, protagonist Katniss Everdeen is more focused on winning and saving her and her family’s life than she is on the two boys vying for her love, while series like HBO’s GAME OF THRONES feature several strong female characters on their ensemble cast – Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister are undoubtedly the focus of Season 8, with Arya and Sansa demonstrating incredible character development as they take positions of power. Women have been the focus of video games, too, from classic video game hero Lara Croft and the indie favorite LIFE IS STRANGE series, to more casual games, like Betway’s online slots Girl with Guns Jungle Heat and Girls with Guns Frozen Dawn that only feature female characters. And if we go a bit further back, book heroines like Lisbeth Salander from THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by acclaimed Swedish author Stieg Larsson or Tris Prior from the DIVERGENT trilogy (both of which were adapted to films), or even musical protagonists like WICKED’s misunderstood Elphaba gave new meaning to strong female leads.

Wonder Woman 2: A Different, Standalone Movie

Now, WONDER WOMAN 2 – with Patty Jenkins again at the helm – seems bent on honoring its roots. The movie is set to premiere on November 1, 2019, and it is rumored that Lynda Carter, who portrayed Diana Prince in the 1970s TV series, might feature on the film – which would be a great tribute. Director Patty Jenkins insists that the film will not be so much a sequel as an independent installment that will keep some of the elements that captivated audiences yet explore Wonder Woman in a different way. She wants the movie to be able to stand on its own and provide a different experience in theatres.

The new movie will take place during the last period of the Cold War, as Diana finds herself fighting against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It is also rumored that Chris Pine will return in his role as Captain Steve Trevor, even though WONDER WOMAN made it pretty clear that he chose to sacrifice himself to save us all – so the details of that remain to be seen. We are probably bound to just a bit more of Themyscira and the Amazons, as Diana is still in the process of discovering herself, her powers and her origins, so DC is expected to tap more into that – and Jenkins certainly seems to enjoy the idea of portraying the all-female clan of Amazon warriors.

Whatever happens in the movie, one thing is for certain: After the first installment raised the bar so high, fans have been eagerly awaiting to see just what Jenkins and Gal Gadot come up with when it comes to their favorite superhero.