After decades of fitful starts, the DC Comics cinematic universe may finally gain traction, if the early buzz surrounding Wonder Woman, the new Patty Jenkins release is to be believed. This Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress) had what amounted to an extended cameo in Zack Synder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was a sequel of sorts to his lackluster re-imaging of Superman in the 2013’s Man of Steel. Gadot earned praise for her quietly invigorating effort, capitalizing on the promise of her charismatic work in The Fast and The Furious franchise.
In contrast, Jenkins seized our attention by helming the 2003 film Monster, based on the life of convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos (played by Charlize Theron who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance), before settling into television work on Entourage and The Killing. While plotting a return to feature films in 2011, she snagged a plumb assignment in the Marvel realm, taking on the second Thor installment, before being dismissed by the studio. Her hiring, at the time, seemed to signal a new day for female directors, an opportunity to prove themselves worthy to command comic book franchises.
Now Wonder Woman marks her second chance at that, and advance word solidly supports her effort. DC Comics and studio partner Warner Brothers certainly need a hit, in light of the less than overwhelming response, both from critics and the fanboy demographic these adaptations so slavishly chase, to past tries.
The decision here to tell yet another superhero origin story just might work because the targeted younger ticket buyers have no connection to the 1970s Wonder Woman television series, starring Lynda Carter. In addition, it appears that the studio wisely decided to inject some much needed warmth, genuine romance and humor into the mix.
During these precarious times, when we desperately need a hero we can celebrate, I say we should ride or die with Gadot and Jenkins as they take control of Wonder Woman’s destiny and seek to breathe new life into the universe of graphic novel and comic book adaptations. (Opens wide Friday) (PG-13)