Gal Gadot’s DC Comics character could revive a sluggish movie industry
Wonder Woman stops bullets cold and made the Axis fold. Her next task? Saving Hollywood and franchise owner DC Entertainment.
Relative to its longtime rival Marvel, Warner Bros.-owned DC has had a mediocre run recently. While the likes of “Suicide Squad” and “Batman v. Superman” were financial hits, they were critically panned; “Green Lantern” was a complete flop. By contrast, Disney’s Marvel has raked in the big bucks with its “Avengers” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchises (“Marvel’s The Avengers,” which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide, is the biggest superhero movie ever.) After adjusting for inflation, DC-branded movies have made almost $6.2 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. Meanwhile, Marvel has taken home a cool $11.1 billion.
“Marvel’s been firing on all cylinders but DC has had a mixed bag,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore, who expects “Wonder Woman” to be a game changer. “DC’ve been looking for a movie to sink their hooks into, and this is the movie that is going to deliver everything they need.”
The Patty Jenkins-directed film, which cost a reported $120 million to make and stars Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the eponymous role, has received rave reviews. “DC Extended Universe has finally produced a good old-fashioned superhero,” wrote Variety, referring to the Warner Bros. franchise featuring crossover characters from the various comics. Gadot, who previously played the satin chemise-clad demigoddess in “Batman v. Superman” has become a fan favorite; just witness the hoopla around her wearing flats to the movie’s premiere last week. It’s even dipped a toe into the political zeitgeist after the Alamo Drafthouse organized several women-only “Wonder Woman” screenings—which spurred a backlash from the so-called ‘manosphere.’
While females have helmed superhero flicks from “Catwoman” to “Elektra” and “Supergirl,” there’s a sense that “Wonder Woman” is of a different class. Dergarabedian, who caught a preview screening, thinks it’ll be a blockbuster for two reasons. First, the casting is perfect. “This is a character in search of the perfect actress to portray and that’s Gal Gadot,” he says.
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) May 27, 2017
Alongside the feminist-tinged discourse around the flick, Dergarabedian also think it has universal appeal. “Other female-led superhero films didn’t have the gravitas to transcend the genre, but ‘Wonder Woman’ has so many nuances to it. It’s not just for women, but everybody,” he says. “When you go out, you just go ‘wow.’ If they keep going like this, it may be a reset for DC.”
The Amazonian warrior’s allure also extends to department store shelves. DC has a partnership with Gap for a “Wonder Woman”-themed clothing line, while Mattel has produced a much-hyped toy lineup. It has also a controversial tie-up with a diet protein bar maker. Such merchandising deals are increasingly important for movie studios. Warner Bros. reported $6.5 billion in revenue from licensed products in 2016, up 8% from the previous year.
The expected success of “Wonder Woman” will come as a massive relief to both Hollywood and Warner Bros., which have seen a disappointingly sluggish start to the summer movie season. Memorial Day box office sales clocked in at their lowest since 1999, while the film studio’s “King Arthur” was a massive flop when it opened earlier this month.
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