Headed into the second weekend for DC’s smash hit Wonder Woman, everyone’s waiting to see if this movie has legs. Spoiler alert, early projections have Wonder Woman remaining number one in the box office and beating out The Mummy for the top spot (as of this writing). This kind of traction is probably due to the overwhelmingly positive reception. [UPDATE: Wonder Woman has indeed conquered the box office over The Mummy, number 1 for two weeks running now and approaching a half-billion dollars worldwide.)
Regardless of the outcome of the hero’s next great battle – that for box office supremacy – Warner Brothers has already green lit a Wonder Woman sequel. What will they have to do to make sure this franchise carries on, so this glorious first film isn’t just Zeus’ thunder in a bottle?
Here’s my personal wishlist/recommendation for a Wonder Woman sequel:
1. Bring Back Patty Jenkins
It’s probably a shock to you that Patty Jenkins hasn’t been officially brought on for the Wonder Woman sequel (as of this writing). While there are many talented filmmakers who could leave a unique stamp on the character, Jenkins’ vision so perfectly captured the tone, characterizations, and quality that an icon like Wonder Woman demands. This is first on my list because it’s a given that should already be accounted for by now. And I don’t care what it costs, frankly.
2. What Happened Over The Last 100 Years
The movie continuity goes something like this: Wonder Woman is active during the final days of World War I, then basically goes off grid until the events of Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. In the controversial team-up film, she tells Bruce Wayne that she turned her back on fighting during the last 100 years, the “Century of Horrors.” Yet at the end of Wonder Woman, her hope in the world is renewed by the actions of Steve Trevor and the defeat of Ares.
The obvious explanation is, World War II was a demoralizing setback for Wonder Woman, who’d thought she’d conquered all war. But while this should be spelled out, I also want to know, how did she spend the last 100 years? Has she been back to Paradise Island? Why or why not?
This is really important because part of what made Wonder Woman so intriguSome of this could be explored in flashbacks that supplement a primary narrative, which brings me to…
3. Consequences of Wonder Woman’s Actions (or Lack Thereof)
One cool way to bring the story into the present and explain the last 100 years without sluggish exposition slowing down the narrative is to have the central conflict be the result of Wonder Woman’s actions – or lack thereof. Did she fail to save someone she should have? Did her incredible powers inspire someone for good…or for ill?
4. Turn This Into A Political Thriller ala Captain America
Wonder Woman by necessity bore a lot of similarities to Captain America: The First Avenger, because both characters are out-of-time and represent pure, noble values in times of great violence. For that reason I think DC should follow Marvel’s cue with the almost universally loved Captain America: Winter Soldier. This movie helped highlight Cap’s values by putting him at odds with the modern political, military-industrial complex and timely addressed issues of mass surveillance.
Wonder Woman too is a political figure in the comics, and one who isn’t tethered to one country the way Cap is. Now that she’s rejoined the world, how will she handle genocides? Stateless terrorism? National sovereignty? I for one want to see a meaningful political thriller. But to work, it will also need…
5. A Diverse And Well-Rounded Supporting Cast
Wonder Woman’s supporting cast is, and I think this is only lightly a spoiler. a minimum of 120 years old by the time the sequel would start, given when the first movie is set. Safe to say, all pretty dead. And I really liked the cast of this movie – from Robin Wright as Antiope is a standout, along with Etta Candy, Apache Chief (seriously, too freaking cool), and Steve Trevor. But who is Wonder Woman’s supporting cast in her modern-day comics? And are any of them household names like Jimmy Olson or Alfred?
The best super-hero movies have always had an excellent supporting cast. The aforementioned Winter Soldier teamed Cap up with Black Widow, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and the Falcon. Diverse, bad-ass, and compelling in their own right. The Christopher Nolan Batman films had a stellar supporting cast, with such classic characters like Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox portrayed by grade-A actors like Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, respectively. In fact, most modern super-hero have gotten the hint here.
Wonder Woman is no exception, but because of the lack of instantly identifiable secondary characters, there’s a chance here to create a supporting cast. One as diverse and well-rounded as her fans. The comics can and should certainly be mined for inspiration, but this film shouldn’t be afraid of teaming her with mostly original (or very changed) characters. Even if it ends up being other superheroes ala Winter Soldier – wouldn’t it be great to see her fight alongside Vixen, or perhaps in a strained partnership with Amanda Waller. Which brings me to the final suggestion:
6. Bring on some classic villains
I’m pretty biased, and generally think most of DC’s silver-age super-villains are pretty corny. Most of Batman’s beloved rogues, for instance, are only loved in their current state reimagined by the 90’s Bruce Timm animated series with simplified, character-driven origins and motives. And that’s what Wonder Woman needs: a streamlined, grounded reimagining of some of her classic rogues.
My Personal Wishlist For A Wonder Woman Sequel
Personally, if I could take a crack at a draft for a Wonder Woman sequel, I want to see the Cheetah, and a slightly more modern antagonist, Maxwell Lord. If Lord is the sort of master mind, they’ll be able to incorporate the political drama I mentioned above – perhaps he’s trying to harness magical artifacts for evil? Maybe he’s being investigated by Amanda Waller, who conscripts Wonder Woman into helping? Cheetah is like Maxwell’s prototype, and his muscle? And in the end, when Waller inevitably double-crosses Wonder Woman to take Maxwell’s MacGuffin/weapon for her own use, Wonder Woman puts her foot down and destroys it, maintaining her autonomy from the American military machine?