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After the somewhat lackluster release of Iron Fist the culmination of Marvel’s Netflix universe is almost here with The Defenders. Coming on the heels of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage—all of which were hugely successful—Iron Fist was viewed as the last piece of the puzzle. It almost seemed to be a foregone conclusion that it would be a success, and then, out of nowhere, it flopped. Sure, plenty of people watched it, and it’s not as if Marvel has any cause to halt its progress with the Netflix titles. But Iron Fist received dismal ratings and has been mocked more than it’s been praised.
Fast-forward a few months, and another hyped superhero release—this one a product of Marvel’s chief competition, DC—has blown away all expectations. Wonder Woman was finally been released, and has turned into one of the biggest superhero movies of all time. Critics and viewers alike have loved what they’ve, with some praising the film as a triumph of feminism, some raving about the star turn of lead actress Gal Gadot, and others discussing specific elements like superb action or original costuming. One reviewer probably summed it up best when they called the movie “just fantastic from top to bottom.”
The movie was a hero origin story for Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (Gadot), who starts her journey as one of many Amazon warriors on a remote, idyllic island. Diana is training and growing up according to the customs of her people when a World War I pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes onto the island and introduces her to the conflicts of the ordinary world. Diana decides to do her part to end the conflict, and jumps into the fray of real world spies and combatants battling out the greatest war the world has ever seen. The story is set long before her appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, where she was entertaining but largely unexplained. And it’s very possible that it could lead to further films concentrating exclusively on Wonder Woman. Sure enough, the director is already planning such projects and speculation has begun in earnest for the sequel.
Beyond being a hit, the interesting thing about Wonder Woman is that it seems to have helped DC close the gap on Marvel, at least in a marginal sense. While it’s probably more fair to compare the film’s success to that of Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, it’s odd that the best piece of the DC cinematic universe fell into place just a few months after Iron Fist debuted as arguably Marvel’s biggest flop. It doesn’t make up for years’ worth of Marvel supremacy, but it at least evens the playing field a bit moving forward. And this isn’t something that’s happening only on the big screen.
Video games also attract a great deal of public interest with regard to superhero stories and characters, and DC looks like it might have an advantage there. Injustice 2 was recently released, and it’s a fighting game superior to any similar title from Marvel, which is only just starting an initiative to introduce more interesting console games. Furthermore, Marvel appears to be surrendering the busy territory of online casino-style gaming. While DC is seeking to put out more of the themed slot games that attract fans of comic book heroes, it was recently announced that Playtech, one of the major developers of such games, was giving up its license for Marvel content. That’s a pretty big win for DC, considering the amount of attention these games often receive.
There’s also the future to consider. Marvel has a busy year ahead and looks to be back on track with the positive reception of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thor: Ragnarok is also on the 2017 slate and has been generating a huge amount of buzz for what could be one of the most ridiculous superhero movies yet. Black Panther is still on track for 2018, and its most recent trailer has also helped to light the internet on fire. DC has a slower and less populated release calendar, but it also has a fresh start. Some people believed that after the mediocre Superman and Batman installments of the last few years, DC ought to either scrap its plans entirely or start over. But Wonder Woman has given the studio a lease on life. If it inspires a fresh wave of hero origin stories, DC could start to look interesting right around the time that Marvel’s cinematic universe
starts to feel crowded and familiar.
That’s not to say Wonder Woman has completely turned the tide. Marvel has put out a lot of outstanding films and shows in the last decade, and DC still has a lot of catching up to do. But given the total climate of the superhero entertainment genre, Wonder Woman has made a pretty big impact at exactly the right time.