There’s no questioning that Wonder Woman is the breakout hit of the summer. Not only is it the highest grossing film in the DCEU, it’s straight up the highest grossing movie of the summer. The “throwaway movie” that Warner Bros couldn’t even be bothered to promote properly is hands down the hottest movie property on the planet right now.
What’s more is that the film studio that greenlit it has finally figured out that they have a hit on their hands. The movie is still going strong in theaters and they’ve already greenlit the sequel. What’re more, they haven’t even signed the Patty Jenkins, the director who made everything fall into place the first time around, to the sequel and they’re already well into the planning stages of what the next one will look like.
Judging from what they have so far, the new movie really could use a woman’s touch. They’ve lifted pretty much every notable plot point in the proposed sequel from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, including bringing Steve Trevor back and making it a political thriller set in the final days of the Cold War.
The corner that Warner Bros has written themselves into for the sequel is admittedly a strange one. You want to keep Wonder Woman out of the atrocious DCEU present for as long as possible, because there’s really no coming back from that narrative black hole (just look at the new Justice League trailer from Comic Con for proof). You don’t want to do WWII, seeing as how that would just feel like a shameless retread of the first movie. And no matter what direction they take the sequel, this particular version of the Themiscyran princess can’t help but escape the looming shadow of Captain America.
It turns out that Jenkins’ team is on even more of a clock than we initially thought. Warner Bros has already set the sequel’s release date: December 13, 2019. Bolstered by the first movie’s continued success, Warner Bros is actually confident enough to release it squarely when Star Wars: Episode IX is presumed to come out.
The problem with rushing a sequel into production so quickly after the first hits theaters is that it’s clear that Warner Bros isn’t really sure why it was a success in the first place. All they see is Steve Rogers in drag, when Wonder Woman as a character — as a concept — is so much more than that, and fundamentally so different from him. You can’t just reskin the guy’s movies and expect savvy moviegoers to go along with it.
Although it was still a decent enough movie in its own right, Iron Man 2 suffered from this exact problem. Nobody expected Iron Man to be the Phase 1 Marvel movie to make it big with audiences. Hulk was always a fan favorite character, Captain America was the most iconic of the first-run Avengers and even Thor had a goofy, childish appeal that was bound to play well with the company’s core demographic. Iron Man was just a man in a can, a B-lister that nobody ever really cared all that much for.
But the dream casting of Robert Downey Jr. in the title role, an underrated talent behind the camera like Jon Favreau and a bombastic opening chapter for what soon became the Industry defining superhero franchise rocketed to the top of the box office and had Marvel greenlighting a sequel without ever really understanding what people loved about the first movie. While still perfectly watchable, Iron Man 2 is a notable low-point in the franchise’s otherwise pristine lineup. It gave us more snarky Stark antics and properly introduced the world to War Machine (and maybe even Peter Parker), but it was basically a place-holder while the company tried to get everything else in place for The Avengers.
That’s what Wonder Woman 2 looks like from two years out. It has a pitch-perfect lead, a visionary director and a great foundation from the first movie to build on, but is invariably being hampered by a studio who’s rushing into it before fully understanding why Wonder Woman worked in the first place. I honestly don’t expect much from it under the circumstances, but I’m sure it’ll still be worth the price of admission.
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