When Wonder Woman rammed her Godkiller sword through the global box office, the film did more than prove a female superhero could carry a feature film. At DC Entertainment, the encouraging shockwaves ran through the company’s superhero line-up, shuffling women similar to Diana of Themyscira a little higher in the ranks. Fans were quick to point out that the new Justice League trailer that premiered at San Diego Comic Con featured not only a higher number of Diana shots, but shots including the Amazons as well. Considering the hype for Wonder Woman, and the uneasy changes surrounding the company’s next Batman film, it seems female superheroes are DC’s best bet.
Though Wonder Woman is still DC’s most valuable female player, Harley Quinn as played by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad made such an impression that she landed her own follow-up film. That yet-untitled movie is rumored to include several other super-women both “good” and “evil”, including the Gotham City Sirens (Poison Ivy and Catwoman), Batgirl, and the Birds of Prey. Julie and Shawna Benson, known for writing The 100, told Inverse at San Diego Comic Con that Wonder Woman’s success has somewhat informed their work on the Birds of Prey comic. Though their story about Batgirl and Huntress hasn’t been altered by the Wonder Woman movie in a micro sense, it’s certainly affirming that the audience for female superhero stories is wider than anyone assumed.
DC comic book writers are typically hesitant to discuss the company’s films at all, but perhaps because the Bensons are from the TV world — a sps they say is vastly different than the world of comics writing — they’re comfortable describing DC superheroes as characters who exist across many mediums. When asked if knowing their characters will be studied under a microscope when they appear in the Gotham City Sirens film, both writers’ eyes widen. “I hadn’t thought about it like that,” Shawna Benson says, unsure of how much the Bensons’ comic will matter, though she’s sitting ironically next to a huge print of Catwoman, on top of DC’s towering booth covered in superhero faces bigger than her entire body.
Atop the same tower, DC Comics head publishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio made similar remarks about the Wonder Woman movie, citing its success alongside DC’s fantastic comic book sales in 2016 as evidence that Rebirth, as imagined by Geoff Johns, is working. “The movie is very clearly from a woman’s point of view,” Lee says, “and it feels different than every other superhero film out there. When you see Themyscira, it’s women that are out there fighting and training. You don’t see Chris Pine for quite a while, until the lore has been developed. Diana is the one who saves everyone’s butt, and the secondary male characters don’t even complete their arcs. The sniper doesn’t get the definitive shot, and they’re broken, but the film ignores those tropes and makes the story about Wonder Woman in the end. To me, that’s a novel way of telling a story and that’s why it resonated with all fans, not just women.” Slowly, it seems, DC is realizing that pandering to women’s interests doesn’t have to alienate men in its audience. In fact, stories told about women
As far as confirmed details regarding DC’s women in film go, we know that a Wonder Woman stand-alone sequel, set during the Cold War, will follow Harley Quinn’s solo movie featuring female heroes and villains in Gotham. Both Harley and Diana are also at the center of DC Super Hero Girls, a cartoon aimed at younger viewers, and the heart of the company’s primary push at San Diego Comic Con. Though Wonder Woman was highly regarded among critics and audiences, DC Entertainment still has a formidable mountain to climb in order to make its extended cinematic universe into anything other than a very expensive disappointment; that is, Wonder Woman under Patty Jenkins didn’t change how stunningly terrible Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are. If the company sticks to its newfound guns and leans on its only proven box office favorites — Harley Quinn and Diana of Themyscira — we might just see a DCEU renaissance.