From the Archives: The Internet already wants Wonder Woman to be a bad movie

From the Archives: The Internet already wants Wonder Woman to be a bad movie

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Let me be clear: I do not believe that there is a conspiracy against the DC Extended Universe. I do not believe that critics are being paid to bash the DCEU’s films. What I do believe, however, is that for some unexplained reason, the social powers that be have decided that the thing we as consumers want to see most is for the DCEU to fail. I do not know why, but the evidence is there. From pre-release articles loudly predicting that Batman v Superman would be a financial flop that would destroy the studio (it wasn’t and it didn’t) to the complete vilification of Zack Snyder (he’s now synonymous with “talentless douche-bro”). It’s weird. We’ve gone from “hope for the best, expect the worst” to “hope for worse than you could ever expect.”batman-v-superman-144793

Personally, I find this mentality to be an obstruction to fair criticism. Wanting to dislike a movie is a sure fire way to end up disliking a movie. Then again, I’m the guy who finds a reason to enjoy almost everything, so my scale of objectivity is equally out of whack. Nonetheless, this week I saw the most glaring evidence of our strange consumer sensibilities regarding the DCEU. It began when an alleged former WB employee wrote an open letter to CEO Kevin Tsujihara condemning Warner Brothers’ creative practices as well as their inclination to keep the purveyors of creative failure on board while firing lower level employees.

On the one hand, it’s excellent to see someone standing up for the little guy. Of COURSE we want big corporations to feel responsibility toward the legions of hard workers who receive little fanfare for their contributions. On the other hand, much of the letter reads of the same recycled rhetoric that so many internet bloggers have been lobbing at the studio since the release of Man of Steel. The letter literally references the “Martha” moment from BvS, and then goes on say that Zack Snyder is failing the studio by making bad superhero movies … which continue to pull in a ton of money.

Of course, this doesn’t just stop with Zack Snyder and the DCEU. The writer criticizes Warner Brothers’ entire slate of films which have admittedly been pretty lackluster. It truly is upsetting to read about a studio putting loads of money into shoddy product at the expense of the livelihoods of so many members of their team, but it’s also a bit ignorant to act like this isn’t par for the course at really any studio. The only comparison point offered by the anonymous writer, unsurprisingly, is Marvel … which is owned by Disney, who has classically never given even the remotest thought toward so many of their minions. Ultimately, the gist of this letter boils down to “I like Marvel movies better than DCEU movies.” And as a result of the way this was shared around the internet, this boils down even further to “Grrrr at Zack Snyder, Marvel vs. DC showdown! Please click, please click, please click, please click, you won’t BELIEVE #7!”

Which brings me to the case in point. Midway through the letter it’s stated that “insiders” are already calling Wonder Woman “a mess.” And THAT is the headline we all ran with. Not that Warner Brothers laid off 10% of their employees. Not that their slate of releases have largely been underwhelming in the creative sense. Nope, just that Wonder Woman, a movie that isn’t even completed yet, is a mess. All over the film blogosphere, all over Facebook, all over Twitter, the phrase “Wonder Woman movie is a mess” was posted, shared, retweeted, and basically accepted as fact. Coupled with the notions of “typical DC move” and “let’s blame Zack Snyder for this,” the sudden and extreme relapse into what we saw before the release of BvS was almost tangible. Consumers were champing at the bit to be the first to start criticizing and condemning Wonder Woman despite there being no one on the planet who has even seen the movie yet. We don’t even know what “a mess” means, but gas up the hate train anyway!

Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman, has now responded to the allegations and assured that the production is doing just fine. She tweeted:


The most interesting part of this tweet, to me, is her use of the word agenda. I reiterate – I do not think there is any legitimate conspiracy against the DCEU … but I strongly support the idea that there is a public desire to bully their films. It’s the reason why a half-mention of Wonder Woman in a letter which, if it is legitimate, speaks to many more important issues,  but has instead resulted in a filmmaker being forced to defend the quality of her in-production film from legions of people who are happy – nay, EXCITED – to declare the film a mess.

I think the word is schadenfreude, and it now comes complete with a side of the I-told-you-sos. It’s not a good look.

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