Since the announcement of Superman/Batman or Superman vs. Batman, or whatever you want to call it for now, at San Diego Comic-Con in July, the movie has been hounded by rumors and speculation from the moment two of the most iconic symbols in comic book history joined on screen. Following the buzz and excitement of SDCC, Warner Bros. announced, and director Zack Snyder confirmed, that Ben Affleck would be playing a world-weary and more experienced Dark Knight in contrast to Henry Cavill’s newly minted Superman. While the “World’s Finest” pairing seemed to be enough to get us excited at the prospects of an actual DC Cinematic Universe coming together, the rumor mill continues to be in full swing with the ongoing speculation that the Superman/Batman movie, slated to be released in 2015, will also feature the third member of the DC Comics Trinity, Wonder Woman.
WB has yet to confirm the rumors, but a casting call plus a variety of actresses reading for the filmmakers who fit the description of said casting call, continue to fuel the idea that Wonder Woman will appear in the movie. There’s also a separate casting call for “Bruce Wayne’s love interest” that overlaps description-wise, leading many to believe that they’re one and the same. We could very well see Batman and Wonder Woman dating. Yay? But, again, all of this is simply rumor and speculation. Nothing’s been confirmed. Selina Kyle could be the “love interest” for all we know or it could be a made up character like Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight Trilogy. The Wonder Woman rumors persist, however, because 1) fans have been clamoring for a Wonder Woman movie since the idea of a shared cinematic universe entered our collective lexicon and 2) because Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara stated very clearly that Wonder Woman needed to be “on the big screen or TV.” All of these rumors and news pieces have coalesced into a shared reality in which the announcement is all but inevitable that Wonder Woman will stand alongside Superman and Batman.
But in what capacity?
The rumors of how substantial Wonder Woman’s appearance in Superman/Batman could be range from cameo to quasi-supporting role, none of which is set in stone because we know absolutely nothing at this point. With nothing confirmed, we’re all at liberty to speculate on what an appearance by Wonder Woman in the movie means for the character and the DC Cinematic Universe. Personally, if it’s only a cameo, I’d rather they left her out.
Put the pitch forks down and quell your cries of, “But, Sam, you’re the one who’s been screaming the loudest about Wonder Woman! Isn’t this what you want?” Do I want Wonder Woman featured in a movie? Yes, but I want her featured in her own movie or, at the very least, as a major player in an ensemble cast. One of the biggest problems with the way in which Warner Bros. has been approaching their DC properties is they’ve been trying to play catch-up to Marvel Studios. Prior to the release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. had all but sealed the deal on making Justice League immediately after so they’d have a contender for Avengers 2. Wisely, they nixed the idea in favor of a gradual approach, taking half a page from Marvel’s book by confirming Superman/Batman with The Flash possibly coming to the big screen in 2016 followed by Justice League in 2017. We being the fan base that we are immediately noticed the absence of a Wonder Woman movie despite her being the third most recognizable character of the Justice League and, again, one-third of DC’s Trinity. So the rumors of her “appearing” in Superman/Batman are slightly problematic given the purpose of cameos in superhero movies.
Marvel has become famous, or infamous, for their end credit stingers either acting as the lead-in to the next Marvel Studio film or to give the audience a brief teaser of what’s to come. Nick Fury showing up at the end of Iron Man is an example of the former, Thanos appearing at the end of The Avengers is the latter. Then there are the in-film cameos used as a way to connect the films within the same universe or establish a character for the briefest of moments in order to justify their presence in an up-coming film. Nick Fury at the end of Captain America, Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk, and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Thor being the best examples. There are also the Stan Lee cameos that serve no other purpose than to acknowledge Lee as the creator of most of these heroes. Notice that these cameos are short. Only a scene before the plot of the movie resumes or, in Nick Fury’s case in Captain America, ends. It’s a shout-out, but it isn’t substantial. Is this really what we want for Wonder Woman? What does a cameo in Superman/Batman serve except for us to go, “Hey, that’s Wonder Woman!” before the plot of the movie moves along without her?
Now I know what you’re going to say next, “But, Sam, they’re probably just trying to establish her in the universe. It’s a set-up for her movie.” If that was confirmed on any level, then I would be right there with you. I would be okay with a cameo from Wonder Woman in Superman/Batman if that meant the next movie was Wonder Woman. I want to be very clear on that. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. has been dragging their feet for so long about the very notion of Wonder Woman having a tv show or movie that I’m not holding out any hope for such a gift. Unless I see a statement issued from Warner Bros. along the lines of, “Oh, yeah, Wonder Woman is totes getting her own movie after Bats vs. Supes!” (and I want it worded just like that), I’m not giving them the benefit of the doubt. A Wonder Woman cameo has to mean something because, unlike Hawkeye at Marvel, Wonder Woman is a bigger deal in terms of DC’s pantheon.
There’s also been a rumor circulating that Dick Grayson/Nightwing will have a cameo in Superman/Batman, with Girls actor Adam Driver being the frontrunner for the gig. I’m not gonna lie, Dick Grayson appearing in Superman/Batman actually makes more sense. Considering we’ll now have a 40-something Batman in operation, it’s not out of the question that he’d have taken on a sidekick at some point who’s, as of the movie’s timeline, in his early twenties operating on his own. In this case, Dick Grayson is the equivalent of Hawkeye. By including him (if he’s even in the movie), it only serves to set him up for the inevitable Batman solo movie Affleck will helm in the future and it establishes a character that will require minimal explanation later on. Nightwing is an A-lister by comic book standards, but he isn’t integral to the initial foundation of the DC Cinematic Universe. Wonder Woman is essential to the DC Cinematic Universe. I very much see Nightwing going the way of Hawkeye, though probably with a more favorable outcome. Hawkeye appeared briefly in Thor, got a slightly bigger supporting role (though not by much) in The Avengers, but he’s all but disappeared from Marvel’s Phase II except for his role in Avengers 2. Nightwing will, at best, reach a featured supporting status as the movies progress, but he may be a long way off from a movie of his own. There’s also the upcoming appearance of the character on Arrow, but that’s for another article.
I see you’re all pointing to Black Widow, Agent Coulson, and Nick Fury. Okay, let’s look at how Marvel has treated these characters who’ve gotten larger roles in the context of Marvel’s Phase I movies. Natasha Romanov/Black Widow was shoehorned into Iron Man 2 in a quasi-supporting role to justify her existence in The Avengers. She’s now playing second fiddle to Captain America in Captain America 2: The Winter Solider but there are no plans in place, as of yet, for a Black Widow movie. Agent Phil Coulson has always been a supporting player in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his role has grown by small jumps due to the need for a consistent presence representing S.H.I.E.L.D. and the character’s popularity. Now he’s the leader of an ensemble cast on a network television show. Make of that what you will. Nick Fury, like Coulson, has always been a supporting role. He’s a catalyst and antagonistic presence for many of the heroes, certainly, but the closest we’re getting to a Nick Fury movie is the one made for television starring David Hasselhoff from 1998. For now, at least.
To be fair, this is how Marvel has been going about treating their supporting characters. It is in no way a sign that Warner Bros. will go the same route, but it serves as a reminder that even supporting characters don’t necessarily get their due. If Wonder Woman gets a cameo, then the next time she’ll most likely appear is in The Justice League movie, meaning she’ll have to fight for screen time with at least four other heroes and a villain. We can only hope that she’d get a movie after that, but does that do the character any favors? Why would you needlessly have to build up interest in a character people are already interested in? You know who didn’t have to get cameos or supporting roles in order to get their own movie? Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America.
Let’s say, though, for the sake of argument, that Wonder Woman is not only in Superman/Batman, but she also plays a supporting role in the movie. I would hope it’s not just as “Batman’s girlfriend”, but that’s a whole other issue for another day. Why not go ahead and slap the Wonder Woman symbol on top of Superman and Batman? We know who Superman is because of Man of Steel and there isn’t a goddamm person on the planet who doesn’t know who the goddamm Batman is by now. All Ben Affleck has to do is show up. This clears up a lot of room to bring Wonder Woman into the fold without shortchanging anyone. She’s sharing the spotlight with Superman and Batman, but she’s also a major player, making The Justice League movie less about introducing the leftover heroes and more about diving into the plot. It also gives Wonder Woman enough screen time with other heroes that audiences would be chomping at the bit to see her in a solo film.
This is all speculation and, if I’m honest, wishful thinking. I was of two minds about writing this article mostly because even to me it feels like I’m either contradicting myself or coming across as someone who’ll never be satisfied with anything Warner Bros. does with the character. I want the DC Cinematic Universe to flourish like Marvel. I want a Justice League movie and a Justice League Dark movie, hell I’ve been pushing for a Fourth World movie since they put Justice League and Darkseid back on the table. But there needs to be a solid foundation and Wonder Woman is a part of that. For me, a cameo just isn’t going to do her justice.
This article was previously posted on my blog The Maniacal Geek on November 9th.