Summer is time for lying under the sun, swimming in the ocean and enjoying cooling popsicles. It it is also the time when blockbusters invade all cinemas. The 5th Pirates of The Caribbean film, the 10th Spider-Man movie and the reboot of The Mummy series are only a few of these titles to visit the theaters this summer. Beyond their multi-million budgets these films seem to have one thing in common; a male lead. Except Wonder Woman.
For the longest time, studios have been assuming that only male audiences are interested in action films. And as Zoe Williams puts it; “The underlying problem is that the male fighter is conceived as an ego ideal for a male audience, who would imagine themselves in the shirt of Bruce Willis or mankini of Superman and get the referred thrill of their heroism.” With this kind of thinking, studios were shy to make a change. Surprisingly though, this year their broke their old school habits with what feels like a breath of fresh air; Wonder Woman.
And the reaction to Wonder Woman have proven that there has been an unmet demand for female superheroes. Since its initial release date on 2 June in the US, the film has made more than 745 million dollars internationally, becoming the fourth highest grossing film of the year surpassing movies such as Logan, Spiderman: Homecoming and Transformers: The Last Knight. And unusually for a superhero film, %52 percent of the film’s audience were women, while the genre usually has %60 percent male audience.
Numbers may not always be an indicator of the quality or the success of a film. However, Wonder Woman had added pressure to perform well in the box office. Because once every blue moon, the studios give the green light to an action movie with a female lead. Elektra in 2005 and Catwoman in 2004 are the best examples of these. Unfortunately, these experiments disappointed in the box office and have been noted as a reason not create more female superhero films. So the fact that Wonder Woman shattered the estimated 65 million dollar for its opening weekend and became the biggest US opening by a female director makes a loud and clear statement to the studio heads.
Certainly, Wonder Woman is not perfect. The film’s storyline has been criticized for having Wonder Woman obey the orders of Chris Pine’s character who is seemingly less qualified than her. Wonder Woman Gal Gadot’s paycheck has also sparked discussion with a mere 300 thousand dollars of a multi-million dollar film. But in a studio environment that gives countless chances to male-led films regardless of their success, the fact that Wonder Woman surpassed all expectation and landed Gal Gadot a three picture deal is a big step towards equalizing the playing zone in Hollywood.