“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is the superhero season’s early box office star lord, the latest “Spider-Man” series reboot is a month away from swinging into theaters and the solstice sun doesn’t rise for another couple weeks.
But it’s not too soon to declare this the Summer of Wonder Woman.
The amazing Amazon’s modern-day cinematic solo debut shattered box office records for a film directed by a woman – in this case, Patty Jenkins, whose effort brought in more than $100 million.
But the “Wonder Woman” phenomenon speaks to more than money: Her origin story, with red-and-gold-booted feet planted in mythology and World War I, stands tall as an empowerment tale for our times.
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The film’s better-than-predicted box office take can be attributed, in part, to slaking a thirst amid a virtual desert of comic book flicks starring a female hero. Yet the success of “Wonder Woman” lassos a range of factors.
“Wonder Woman” arrived in theaters less than five months after women’s marches around the world upstaged the inauguration of a U.S. president caught on audio tape bragging about accosting women. The film’s larger message – humankind is self-destructive, but people are essentially good and worth saving – may sound clichéd and simple, but it packs added resonance in uncertain times.
There’s nothing clichéd and simple about Jenkins’ stellar direction and Gal Gadot’s breakout performance. The balance of humor (Gadot’s projection of a naïve, sheltered warrior in the big, bad world) and emotion (her character’s unbending sense of honor, outrage over war and discovery of the power of love) both ground and elevate the film.
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But the star is killer action sequences, guaranteed to jar those jaded by too many special-effects-aided battles in too many superhero movies.
“Wonder Woman” singlehandedly revives hopes for the DC Comics film machine, hindered by some recent lackluster outings and outshone by the Marvel Universe.
The movie stands to do for the upcoming “Justice League” film what the first “Captain America” flick did for Marvel’s “Avengers” series, with old-school characters paving the foundation for current-day team-driven epics.
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There’s nothing wrong with going back to the future via classic throwbacks who believe in embracing our best nature and selflessly contributing to the greater good – whether you’re an Army reject from Brooklyn or a princess warrior from Themyscira.
Wonder Woman’s next appearance, in the “Justice League” film, is five months away. For now, enjoy the Summer of “Wonder Woman,” which appears destined to shine as positive word of mouth spreads. That’s what you get when you fill theaters with cheers and hope.
Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of “Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family.” Follow him on Twitter.
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