Wonder Woman Breaks Box Office Records

By Morgan Correa

Billboard for Wonder Woman outside the Vancouver Mall. Photo by Morgan Correa.

A mist rolls over the desolate stretch of dirt covered with rotting corpses that leave their imprints on the wet earth. Sounds of screaming and explosions echo through the battlefield. Hiding in opposing trenches, enemy soldiers sit ready to shoot anyone who steps out of the safety of their hiding spot.

Little ground has been taken by either side; that is until Wonder Woman shows up and runs head on and without hesitation into whistling bullets. A woman’s heroics in a man’s war allows the Allies to win the battle.

This is a typical scene from Wonder Woman, the movie released on June 2nd, 2017 to critical and audience acclaim. The film’s action takes place in 1917, when the world of man was ravaged by the first World War.

The movie dominated the box office with the highest domestic opening weekend for a female starring lead and female-directed film of all time, with a whopping $103 million in sales. The film beat out the previous record holder, 2015’s ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ which cashed in at $85.1 million during its opening weekend.

As of June 13th, 2017, the film has garnered a domestic total of $212 million and a global haul of $444 million.

Those who saw the film say that for the first time, women have a female superhero to look up to who also has had her own successful film. Wonder Woman also signals a potential beginning for a renaissance of female led films being released to the public.

“I didn’t have a superhero growing up, but other little girls that are now watching Wonder Woman, they now have Wonder Woman to hold and they’re like ‘I want to be like Wonder Woman’,” said Cheyanne Holliday, president and founder of the Women in Politics club at Clark College. “Wonder Woman is just the epitome of love and acceptance, and that’s a really good role model to have growing up.”

Holliday said she was thrilled that Wonder Woman was able to shatter through the glass ceiling for women directors in Hollywood. Statistics show that only 17 percent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers that worked on the 250 highest grossing movies of 2016 were women. From 2015 to 2016, the percentage of women working in those roles actually dropped by two percent.

“We’re still coming out of the roots of a deeply sexist society that is emerging now as somewhere where women can actually equate to men and lead,” Holliday said.

Wonder Woman in the film is based on the character created by William Moulton Marston, which appears in the DC Comics publishing line. In most iterations of her comic book story line, the Wonder Woman story begins with a group of fellow warrior women called Amazons who live on an island hidden away from man’s world.

Diana, the daughter of the Amazon Queen, saves a World War I spy named Steve Trevor who has crash-landed near the shore of the island. The timeline of Trevor’s arrival depends on which version of Wonder Woman a medium presents. However, the movie chose to set the action during World War I. Trevor tells the women of the horrors that are happening in man’s world and Diana decides to do something about it by using her power to end the war.

Dan Prado, a local comic book shop clerk at Columbia Hobby, who also freelances as a comic book inker on the side, is feeling the excitement for the movie. He said Wonder Woman’s Greek mythological roots give her a unique past. Customers at the shop where he works and on social media have made a large impact on his anticipation for the movie as well, he said.

“There always seems to be a bit of an uptick in book sales related to whatever characters are being featured in the upcoming or latest movie,” Prado said. “Wonder Woman is no exception.”

Sergio Rivera and Cherie Poolsiri pose for a picture in front of the Vancouver Mall Cinetopia 23. Photo by Morgan Correa.

However, to average movie goers such as husband and wife Sergio Rivera and Cherie Poolsiri, it matters little who is behind the camera (whether it is a man or a woman). What matters most is that the person directing the film is a good filmmaker.

“There’s no theme or any substance to tell whether it’s a man or a woman directing it,” Rivera said.

Men and women getting cast in roles that are ineffective and uninteresting is a big issue in the film industry, Poolsiri said. She added that Wonder Woman didn’t fall victim to this.

“She’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and I think a lot of people admire that,” Poolsiri said.

Rivera did express his approval with how Wonder Woman handled feminine empowerment while condemning the techniques of last year’s Ghostbusters reboot. “Ghostbusters tried to make men look stupid in order to promote female empowerment and Wonder Woman treated everyone equally,” Rivera said.

Holliday, the Clark College Women in Politics club president, had a similar opinion as Rivera. The difference, she said, has to do with how women characters are portrayed in films. For example, she did not like how the 2016 summer blockbuster ‘Suicide Squad’ portrayed the character Harley Quinn as too sexual and lacking character. Wonder Woman, Holliday said, is a much better model of how a female should be portrayed on film.

“I love how empowering it is, not only for females but for people in general,” Holliday said.

Studios will be more likely to make more films with major female characters because of the success of Wonder Woman, Holliday said. She pointed to several female led comic book films that she heard were being developed by DC Comics.

Prado, the comic book shop clerk, had been skeptical in the past that studios would put out more female led films. However, because of the success of Wonder Woman and the two recent Star Wars films (Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), all of which had female leads, he’s now confident females will take a larger role in film going forward.

“The powers that be, aka the studio executives high atop their mountains, never felt like it (Wonder Woman) would make any money,” Prado said. “I’m pretty sure, at the end of the day, that it all has to do with that bottom dollar and what they can force feed us to make more of it.”