After a sluggish start that saw the first three entries in the franchise do solid business at the box office but leave critics, fans and casual audiences feeling more than a little cold, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air for the DCEU. The first installment to receive almost unanimous critical praise, Gal Gadot’s solo debut was a critical and commercial smash hit.
Not only was it the first DC Extended Universe movie to snag a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but a score of 93% was miles ahead of Man of Steel‘s 56%, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s 28% and Suicide Squad‘s 26%. However, despite receiving rave reviews, Wonder Woman fell into a familiar trap by the time the climactic third act action sequence rolled around.
For some reason, the early years of the DCEU seemed obligated to end with the heroes fighting against a poorly-rendered CGI villain, a contraption that shoots a beam of light into the sky, or a combination of the two. Man of Steel‘s World Engine and Batman V Superman‘s showdown between the Holy Trinity and Doomsday, along with Incubus’ army from Suicide Squad, all offered variations on the same thing, and when David Thewlis’ face was unconvincing pasted onto a computer-generated model of Ares, Wonder Woman made it four in a row.
In a recent interview to celebrate the release of the sequel, Jenkins admitted that she’s still mad that the studio forced the ending on her, when she originally had no intention of having Ares making a physical appearance at all.
“That was the only thing that the studio forced my hand on, that it was not supposed to be. He never turns into Ares. The whole point of the movie was that you get there to the big monster and he’s just standing there looking at you and says, ‘I didn’t do anything’. And then the studio kept saying, ‘Okay, we’ll let you do that and then we’ll see’. And then I could feel it creeping up, and at the last minute they were like, ‘You know what, we want Ares to show up’. And I was like, ‘Goddammit, we don’t have time to do that now’. ‘Nope, you gotta do it’. And so it p*sses me off now, because sometimes I’ll read the reviews and the only thing that unanimously gets some sh*t about was those end pyrotechnics. That, like, ‘DC always does this’. And the truth was it was them, the studio did make me do that, and it wasn’t right. But that’s okay.”
Jenkins clearly had more input on Wonder Woman 1984 thanks to receiving a story and screenplay credit, but that might not have been a good thing after the various massive plot holes and questionable storytelling devices came under fire, not to mention the fact that they went and did the whole CGI villain thing again with Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah, and the studio surely can’t take the blame this time.