For all of the flack Warner Bros. received for its supposed lack of marketing support for Wonder Woman (at least in comparison to other big budget summer tentpole movies of its ilk), it’s hard to argue that the dearth of omnipresent TV spots and candy tie-ins did much to hurt Patty Jenkins’ film--which is just emerging from a dominant opening weekend and a record-breaking $228 million worldwide at the box office. Of course, neither of these elements—marketing push or opening weekend box office—really tell the story anymore. They used to, sure, but not anymore. After all, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened strong. So did Suicide Squad. But why are people calling Wonder Woman the first big win for DC since Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Batman?
Because maybe it’s time we measured a film’s success not in numbers or billboards, but in inspiration.
In the wake of Diana’s big screen solo debut, we are seeing something that did not occur with the dour and muddled first on-screen meeting between The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel—genuine inspiration. There is enthusiasm here. There is joy here. There is a reminder that these movies, whether they take place on the island of Manhattan or the island of Themyscira, are meant to spark the imagination and be, well, fun.
And it’s not just fans getting into the act. London-based motion graphics studio Scorch Motion used the release of Wonder Woman as the impetus behind an animated short that uses the DC heroine as the bassline for a celebration of diverse women of true, real world power. The short focuses on Yusra Madini, who made history as the first Team Refugee Olympic representative in 2016, Stanford University mathematics professor Maryam Mirzakhani, the first Iranian woman to win the International Mathematical Olympiad, American tennis legend Serena Williams, fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, and retired Royal Air Force lieutenant Caroline Paige, the first transgender officer to serve openly in the British Armed Forces.
As we enjoy the wide-reaching and perhaps unanticipated wave of genuine emotion and inspiration fueled by the film’s success, maybe it’s time to consider just how we judge a film’s ultimate “success.” Opening numbers and Rotten Tomatoes scores don’t begin to tell the real story…