Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on June 14, 2017 @ 6:22 pm CT
Here’s a confession; I’ve yet to see the Wonder Woman movie. Don’t worry, I have a showing penciled in for sometime Saturday afternoon. But thanks to the internet I’ve gotten the memo that it certainly seems to be a lot more than just this year’s unexpected summer blockbuster Hollywood hit. In an America apparently incapable of coming to a consensus about absolutely anything, almost everyone seems to have liked Wonder Woman. More than that, there seems to be nearly universal agreement that not only is it a good superhero movie, or even just a good movie, but that it's actually important.
Not just because it’s the most expensive movie ever made by a woman, or because it may lead to more women directors getting the opportunity to make these sorts of movies, or because it was exactly the movie the cinematic DC Universe desperately needed. While all these things are true, I’m thinking of something else.
As a piece by Scott Wampler that appeared on BirthMoviesDeath puts it in its headline, “WONDER WOMAN Is Having An Awesome Effect On The World.” In it, he calls the movie “a legitimate Cultural Moment, and -- with a few small exceptions -- it’s been a wildly positive one.” The article is about a letter from a kindergarten teacher, which found its way to Patty Jenkins, the film’s director, about the positive impact it had in her class - both boys and girls.
Then there was this that appeared on The Opinion Pages of The New York Times, “If Wonder Woman Can Do It, She Can Too” by Jessica Bennett (no relation). Bennett wrote about how she saw the film with her daughter and how it brought her to tears, writing “No, we don’t want girls to strive only to be superheroes. But we do want them to believe they have the strength to be one if they could.”
Then there was this piece; “I went to a woman-only showing of ‘Wonder Woman,’ and it was the best movie experience I’ve ever had” by Carrie Wittmer that appeared on Business Insider. As some of you must already know, the cinema chain’s plans for holding such a showing were met with some loud online opposition, or as another piece on the same website put it, “Men are freaking out at Alamo Drafthouse for hosting ladies-only ‘Wonder Woman’ screenings.”
Management took their complaints in stride, then promptly announced even more showings exclusively for women (and women-identifying viewers). Wittmer attended one which took place at the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn, about which she wrote: “I only cried once when I overheard a little girl within earshot in my row say, ‘It’s me!’ during the very first shot of the movie when we see a young Diana Prince. I felt tears streaming down my face because I was so happy for her, and wished I had this movie when I was her age.”
But the line from that I’ve held onto was; “It was the best experience in a theater because I felt like I had the freedom to feel without any judgment.”
As to why the movie was such an unexpected hit, the best explanation I’ve found for the phenomenon came in a Forbes piece by Scott Mendelson, “Box Office: Why ‘Wonder Woman’ Soared While ‘Green Lantern’ Bombed.” Mendelson’s central premise was this, “Wonder Woman is a huge hit because audiences wanted to see a Wonder Woman movie.”
No, really. Mendelson’s larger point being that in an “industry dominated by branded content and IP-driven adaptations,” Hollywood didn’t have to hope that pre-awareness is powerful enough to convince people they already wanted to see a movie based on the TV series Baywatch. Which clearly isn’t the case. Or, as he put it, “There is a huge difference between awareness and interest. Just because folks have heard of a property doesn’t mean they want to see a movie version. Just because people remember that movie, know that character, watched that TV show, play that game or rode that theme park ride doesn’t mean that they are craving or would want to see that property translated onto the silver screen.”
For years and years people, and not just women-type people, kept telling Warners that they really wanted to see a Wonder Woman movie, but I guess they just didn’t believe that they actually meant it. Or that they would actually go see the movie. I can understand their reticence, without any kind of precedent to back it up, a superhero movie with a female lead was definitely a gamble.
Now that it’s handsomely paid off, that hopefully means there’ll be a similar “surprise” when Marvel releases The Black Panther movie. While I know they also have a Captain Marvel movie in the pipeline, one can only hope this also means we’ll finally see that Black Widow movie we’ve all been waiting for.
Twenty Years Later, Joel Schumacher Is Very Sorry About 'Batman & Robin'" the director has finally, almost unequivocally, apologized for his movie Batman & Robin. I say "almost" because he admits that he still doesn’t see anything wrong with Bat Nipples. I think I know why, but I’d rather not say.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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