We are exactly one month out from the theatrical release of Wonder Woman, and first off, oh my lord we’re only a month away from Wonder Woman! How amazing is that? Fans have been waiting years, decades really, for a Wonder Woman movie and we’re finally about to get one. Plus it’s actually looking pretty cool. From everything we’ve seen thus far, it feels like Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and the whole team have put together something fun, exciting, and most importantly true to the character. We got two TV trailers at the end of last week that made me increasingly hopeful about the film:
We also got this longer preview during Gotham last night, and it was great too:
The trailers are funny, which is good to see because that’s something the DCEU’s been sorely lacking, but they’re also stylish and action packed. I also appreciate that neither these nor the full trailers have given away too much story. We don’t even have an official look at Ares in full on Ares mode yet, and that shows some admirable restraint.
More importantly, these new trailers are telling me exactly what I want to hear about the Amazons and Wonder Woman, namely that the Amazons were created to bring peace to the world and that Diana is their champion for this cause. The “Power” spot has the tagline “There is a power greater than man,” which is perfect, and it’s hard not to get excited when you hear Wonder Woman say, “I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.” That’s who Wonder Woman is, and it’s encouraging to see that they’ve captured the essence of the character in this way.
However, while the trailers are fantastic, there’s been some concerns in the fan and film communities about Wonder Woman‘s lack of marketing more broadly. We’re only a month out now and we’re just starting to see TV trailers roll out, plus there seems to be a lack of Wonder Woman product branding, tie-ins, and what have you. Others suggest that the film is about on track, with Warner Bros. having spent the same amount of money a month out with Suicide Squad as they have thus far with Wonder Woman. There are interesting points on either side of this issue across myriad posts you can read at your leisure.
Having followed Wonder Woman closely, I fall on the side of being underwhelmed by the marketing thus far. Just over a year ago, I was up to my ears in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice paraphernalia. That movie was EVERYWHERE, not just in theater and television advertising but in piles upon piles of branded products, toys, and other items. There were cereals, for goodness sake, one for Batman and one for Superman. And the marketing team made a big show of sending them out to notable folks in a special box so that they’d share it on social media. It was all a bit goofy and over the top, and the flavours of the cereal sounded disgusting, but it speaks to the omnipresence of the Batman v Superman marketing that their weird cereals got such a massive push.
Wonder Woman doesn’t have her own movie branded cereal. In fact, she’s got little in the way of any grocery item tie-ins, apart from Dr. Pepper. Wonder Woman is different than Batman v Superman in little ways as well, like Lego, for example. Batman v Superman got three different Lego sets, while Wonder Woman has only one. It looks super rad, with Ares and Steve’s plane and such, but it’s still just one set. A month before Batman v Superman, you could walk through any major store, be it grocery or big box generally, and see Batman and/or Superman stuff EVERYWHERE. We were inundated with it. A month out from Wonder Woman, the Wonder Woman items are few and far between.
Now, I don’t think that Warner Bros. is intentionally trying to tank Wonder Woman or anything nefarious like that. But I do think it’s clear that they allotted far, far more resources and effort to their dumb movie where the superhero boys punched it out than they have to Wonder Woman. And this is somewhat troubling, because even with all that effort, Batman v Superman only did about fine at the box office. It made Warner Bros. a good amount of money and obviously the franchise is continuing, but it wasn’t near major Marvel levels despite the fact that it starred the two most famous superhero characters in the universe. With all of that marketing effort behind it, Batman v Superman still got bested by the lower budget, R-rated Deadpool in the United States.
The thing is, Batman and/or Superman can have a mid-level performance at the box office and be fine. We’ve seen it several times over. Batman & Robin sucked? Don’t worry, here comes the Nolan trilogy. Superman Returns flopped? Don’t worry, here comes Man of Steel. Warner Bros., and studios generally, are dedicated to their male characters. This is not the case with female characters. If Wonder Woman doesn’t do well, it might be a long time before Warner Bros. takes another crack at her, and it would certainly hamper the chances for future female-led superhero films.
That’s why the underwhelming marketing for Wonder Woman thus far is a concern. An aggressive marketing push can really help a film succeed, but the studio seems to be taking a more relaxed approach. It feels like a missed opportunity on multiple levels. First, strongly pushing Wonder Woman would show that Warner Bros. is committed to Wonder Woman and female leads generally, which would have been nice to see. Second, a successful Wonder Woman would inevitably come with a strong female fanbase that could even further expand the audience for the DCEU, which would be great for the studio. And third, after decades of development, they’ve finally got a Wonder Woman movie and it looks really good, so it would make sense to set it up in the best position possible. And Warner Bros. isn’t quite doing that, relative to how they’ve promoted movies in the past.
The good news is that Wonder Woman does look great. The new trailers are fantastic, the movie feels exciting and cool and different, and the buzz has been very positive thus far. I’m optimistic not only that the movie will be good, but that it will do well. It just would have been nice to see more of a push from Warner Bros. to help ensure that it does more than well. Hopefully it does so on its own merits, and maybe we’ll see lots more promotional stuff roll out in the weeks to come. It just doesn’t feel like Warner Bros. has treated Wonder Woman like the landmark movie it should be.