The all-boys club of predominantly white-male led superhero movies changed forever earlier this year with the debut of DC’s Wonder Woman. The combination of Patty Jenkins’ direction and Gal Gadot’s performance was a game changer, culturally and demographically, but perhaps most important (to Hollywood) the film created a seismic shift at the box office.
Traditionally, origin stories carry a lot of baggage. It’s a huge risk for studios, given the budgets of these films, to establish a new character’s voice and presence on-screen to an uncertain audience. Sometimes it works brilliantly (Iron Man, Deadpool) and sometimes not so much (Catwoman, Green Lantern). Over this past weekend Wonder Woman shattered a significant record, and this one is resetting the entire industry’s expectations regarding not only gender, but also possibly race and ethnicity too!
According to Box Office Mojo, Wonder Woman crossed the $800 million threshold in worldwide box office revenues and also became the highest-grossing superhero origin film ever (domestically) — Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man (2002) still holds a slim lead in worldwide grosses… but this record is within reach too.
Take a look at the top 5 superhero origin films in lifetime domestic box office grosses:
- Wonder Woman (2017) $404,125,059
- Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
- Deadpool (2016) $363,070,709
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) $333,176,600
- Suicide Squad (2016) $325,100,054
This is pretty cool stuff if you’re an accountant or a Hollywood exec, but what does this mean for the average fan? Essentially, Wonder Woman‘s success implies that conventional wisdom is wrong, has been wrong, and no longer applies. North America is incredibly diverse and more than half the population is female — it doesn’t take a genius to realize that there’s an underserved audience out there.
But let’s take it a step further, in America our demographics are rapidly changing. The percentage of Hispanic, black, Asian, and mixed ethnicities has been rising for decades, and yet our superhero films haven’t really reflected this change. Will the dramatic success of Wonder Woman result in more gender and ethnically-diverse superhero films?
While it’s certainly not the job of any single film to reset Hollywood’s casting and roster decision-making, Wonder Woman might have actually accomplished this very thing. The DC and Marvel source comics contain heroes from a wide variety of backgrounds, and we’re seeing movement with casting of characters like Jessica Jones, Miles Morales, Captain Marvel, Luke Cage, Black Panther, Aquaman, and Carnage. Positive news all-around, but still a long way to go. I would argue that Wonder Woman will only accelerate character diversity in our superhero films, and the biggest winners are the next generation of kids who will have new role-models who more closely resemble themselves and their families.
Are you surprised that Wonder Woman has dominated the domestic box office and taken the number one position? Let us know in the comments down below!
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SOURCE: Box Office Mojo