Movies: "Wonder Woman" lassos DC Ext Universe back into the light
“Wonder Woman” saved the DC Extended Universe from a very dark place.
After the gloominess of “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad,” a team of DC executives and creatives looked for a new guiding philosophy. DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns told TheWrap they looked to the DC legacy and the qualities that first made people fall in love with superheroes.
“Get to the essence of the character and make the movies fun. Just make sure that the characters are the characters with heart, humor, hope, heroics, and optimism at the base,” said Johns.
Five words — heart, humor, hope, heroics and optimism — are what superheroes were about when Superman debuted in 1938.
“Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins brought those ideals to life on-screen, and producer Chuck Roven led the charge behind the scenes, in a film with more hope than its often-dark predecessors, “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.”
Johns and studio veteran Jon Berg, who has a close relationship with new Batman Ben Affleck, plan to carry the more positive tone forward into the upcoming DC films, including this year’s “Justice League.”
The change came last May, after the disappointing fall-off of “Batman v Superman” following a strong opening. Three executives — Kevin Tsujihara, chairman of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Greg Silverman, the former president of Creative Development and Worldwide Production and Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products — decided to give oversight of the DC film projects to the dynamic duo of Johns and Berg.
Silverman soon stepped down, but Toby Emmerich, the new president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Pictures, helped complete the formation of the new DC film team. (Johns reports to Nelson and Berg reports to Emmerich.)
Berg is a studio insider whose work includes “American Sniper,” “Argo,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “Edge of Tomorrow.” Johns, a DC Comics exec celebrated for his writing on “The Flash,” “Teen Titans,” “Green Lantern” and “Superman,” among other titles, provided the fanboy cred.
In fact, Johns’ experience in DC Comics paralleled the changes to DC films.
In 2011, DC cancelled all of its existing titles and debuted 52 new series under the banner “The New 52.” Like “Man of Steel,” which debuted in theaters two years later, the “New 52 titles were supposed to gently relaunch the DC Universe, making concessions to the modern-era and resetting storylines for new readers.
But in May 2016, DC decided to re-embrace its past. Johns unveiled “DC Universe: Rebirth” No. 1 — an 80-page one-shot that re-lays the groundwork for DC while celebrating its legacy and present. Johns’ compass was a sense of optimism.
“It’s beyond the back-to-basics approach,” he told CBR. It’s not just going back to square one. It’s much, much more than something that simplistic. We all need to do our best to get this right and everyone has come together to create a cohesive universe and terrific stories that work individually as well as together.”
Warner Bros. Worldwide Publicity teams worked hard to make Wonder Woman accessible to anyone who loves a heroic, hopeful story — not just people fascinated by the complex, often-evolving mythology of comic books.