wonder woman first look

Gal Gadot‘s Wonder Woman was one of the highlights of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, bringing a fresh and unpredictable energy to the grim third-act battle sequence. For fans who felt that the film (and Man of Steel before it) was too damn dark, she was a shining beacon of light, an uncomplicated hero who actually had the audacity to smile while battling a giant monster from another world.

But the DC Extended Universe is still the DC Extended Universe. And so it should not surprise you to hear that Wonder Woman’s standalone movie, due out next year, is going to be… also pretty dark. Although, Gadot hastens to assure fans, that doesn’t mean it’ll be without moments of levity. 

Gadot teased the Wonder Woman tone in a chat with Digital Spy:

In Batman v Superman, you get a glimpse of who she is but not where she comes from. In Wonder Woman, this would be the first time we ever tell the coming-of-age story of how Diana becomes Wonder Woman. It’s very interesting. It has moments of humor, but it’s pretty dark.

What exactly makes Wonder Woman so “dark” is unclear — though it is set during World War I, and it’s not like the battlefield ever lacks for ugly and unhappy moments. But perhaps whatever happens in Wonder Woman helps explain the street-smart character we met in Batman v Superman. “We all saw before the beautiful coming of age of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman. We don’t know anything about Wonder Woman,” said Gadot. “We go back 100 years to when she’s more naïve. She’s this young idealist. She’s pure. Very different to the experienced, super-confident, grown-up woman you’ve seen.”

Over the past couple films, the DCEU’s dark vibe has proven to be extremely divisive. And Warner Bros., it seemed, was listening: rumor had it the studio took the criticism to heart, ordering expensive reshoots on Suicide Squad to lighten the mood a bit. (For what it’s worth, Suicide Squad star Jai Courtney insists the reshoots are about punching up the action, not the comedy.) However, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman really set the tone for the franchise, for better or for worse, and at this point it’d be tough for the series to drastically change course. As Zack Snyder has pointed out, the upbeat feel of something like the Flash TV series just wouldn’t fit into the grittier big-screen DCEU.

Ultimately, though, whether Wonder Woman is “dark” is less important than how and why it’s dark, and what the film does with that darkness. Superhero stories can be grim and great — just look at Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, or Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones series. And love it or hate it, the DCEU’s very specific vibe helps set it apart from its competitors at Disney and Fox. It’ll only be a problem if Wonder Woman indulges in bleakness for its own sake, robbing Diana of what we love about her (her empathy, her intelligence, her toughness) without offering anything new and interesting in return.

So while fans exhausted by Batman v Superman‘s downbeat tone may be tempted to react to news of Wonder Woman‘s “dark” feel with knee-jerk irritation, we may as well try to stay optimistic and hope for the best from this new look at the iconic superhero. Be the change you want to see in the world and all that, right?

Patty Jenkins is directing Wonder Woman, which also stars Chris PineRobin WrightConnie Nielsen, and Lisa Loven Kongsli. It opens in theaters June 2, 2017.

 

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