Gal Gadot

Wonder Woman Deserves a Fresh Start in the DCU

James Gunn and Peter Safran's DCU has the potential to expand Wonder Woman's mythos.

DC’s Trinity has become a cornerstone of superhero storytelling, with fans across the world recognizing Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. After countless appearances across comics and their subsequent adaptations, there’s been a lot of speculation about how the trio of characters will fare in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s new DC Universe. David Corenswet was already cast as a new rebooted version of Superman earlier this summer, and is set to make his debut in 2025’s Superman: Legacy. A new version of Batman is also set to star in a The Brave and the Bold movie, although Gunn has hinted that that casting is still a ways away. By comparison, Wonder Woman’s future has been something of an enigma, with current star Gal Gadot claiming that she was actively working with Gunn and Safran on a third solo movie for her to reprise her role, only for reports to quickly debunk that.

That back and forth, as well as the confirmation that some characters will be carrying over from the current DCEU to Gunn and Safran’s DCU, has sparked quite a lot of conversation about what the future holds for the Princess of Themyscira. While we’ll probably have to wait a while to get the answer, an argument can be made that Wonder Woman deserves the fresh start that the DCU is promising.

Gadot’s Wonder Woman was often seen as a bright spot through the ups and downs of the DCEU, both through ensemble movies and her own solo adventure. Her first solo film, 2017’s Patty Jenkins-helmed Wonder Woman, helped shatter the glass ceiling of misogyny that had surrounded female superhero films in the years prior, and grossed over $822 million at the worldwide box office. Sure, 2020’s Wonder Woman 1984 did not fare as nicely, premiering in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with a hybrid streaming-and-theatrical release, mixed reviews, and backlash from fans over its CGI and plot points. But on paper, it would seem like a no-brainer to continue that Diana’s onscreen story, or at least give Gadot and Jenkins the opportunity to wrap things up.

Except… Warner Bros. tried to do exactly that, and Jenkins’ proposed Wonder Woman 3 did not make it out of the development stage for several years. In December of 2022, reports indicated that the studio would not be moving forward with Jenkins’ version of the film, after rumors of creative clashes around her vision for the end of Diana’s arc. While Gunn and Safran were reportedly not involved with that decision, their new universe has a lot of bigger priorities than trying to make Jenkins’ version of the film “work”.

It could also be argued that continuing to dwell on Gadot’s Wonder Woman would go against the creative approach of the DCU — an attempt to “reset” the universe and make projects more comic-accurate, more accessible to new audiences, and more narratively-sustainable in the long run. For starters, having Gadot reprise her role amid a recast and creatively-retooled Justice League would be a jarring reminder of the old and controversial DCEU canon, even if her costume and lore were “reset” to fit into the new universe. More so than the characters confirmed to carry over between universes, like John Cena’s Peacemaker and Xolo Maridueña’s Blue Beetle, Gadot’s Wonder Woman is very intrinsically tied to what didn’t “work” about the previous canon.

And despite Gadot and Jenkins’ movies having some high points, they only began to scratch the surface of what the character — and her corner of the canon — has yet to offer. The larger “Wonder Woman family” of superheroines and sidekicks never made it onscreen (and based on comments from Jenkins, probably weren’t going to be in her Wonder Woman 3). The pantheon of Old Gods was already long-dead by the events of Wonder Woman, cutting off countless potential stories involving that lore. And thanks to bizarre timeline choices and the Snyder Cut of it all, Diana has not had a clearly-defined arc of growth and change, despite existing in the DCEU canon for nearly a century. Her most recent appearances, cameoing in this year’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Flash, proved this, coming across as little more than a two-dimensional punchline and the electric guitar lick of her theme music.

The flattening of Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and the lost potential of her tenure as the character, are undoubtedly frustrating… but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Look at Gunn and Safran’s immediate plans for the Wonder Woman corner of the DCU — Paradise Lost, a Max-exclusive live-action series that will dive into the larger lore of the Amazons. Look at the Wonder Woman-related comics that Gunn has been advocating for fans to read — namely, Wonder Woman: Historia, which turns that Amazon lore into breathtaking and complex epic text. Heck, look at the onscreen histories of Diana’s fellow Trinity members — both Superman and Batman have had nearly a dozen different live-action incarnations across movies and television, each of which are distinct and beloved regardless of how much canon they got to cover, and each of which reflect the moment in which they were made. Wonder Woman is absolutely deserving of a similar kind of treatment, of being portrayed in more shades than what Gadot and Lynda Carter already did for the character. The new DCU has the potential to do just that, and it absolutely should take it.

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