SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Wonder Woman, in theaters now.
My first comics were from Marvel, but when I was growing up, Wonder Woman was seemingly everywhere. I watched reruns of the Lynda Carter show as a kid, not to mention the many different incarnations of Super Friends, of which she was part of. Despite that, however, for me, she was always just a character who was sort of “there.” I didn’t have any strong feelings towards her one way or another.
I think my opinion of the character began to change when I saw George Perez’s cover to War of the Gods #1 in 1991. There was something about the way she looked on that cover that was so bad ass. But what really changed my opinion on Wonder Woman and showed me her potential was writer Greg Rucka’s initial run on the character.
That was over a decade ago though and the DC Universe is only just starting to feel like home to me again thanks to Rebirth. Sadly, due to budgetary reasons I was not able to pick up Rucka’s latest run on Wonder Woman, but I did feel as though Gal Gadot’s Diana was one of the only bright spots in the lackluster Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, so I was excited for her to get the solo spotlight in her own feature film directed by Patty Jenkins. I hoped after having failed to produce movies that captured the heart and heroism of their characters, the new line of DC films would finally get things right with Wonder Woman.
Having seen the movie, I’m happy to report that they got things very right with this cinematic version of Wonder Woman. Yes, the film is full of heart and great action, but one of the reasons I thought it worked so well was how it demonstrated the wide range of stories you could tell with Diana. Not only is she a super-powered hero with ties to mythology and the supernatural, she’s also a character who’s been operating in our world since the final days of World War I. On top of that, she’s a character you can use to explore fundamental issues of human nature; while Diana is not human, she chooses to see the best in humanity, and inspire them to love one another.
That’s a recipe for not just one sequel, but a whole bunch of them! So let’s look at some ideas and characters that could be explored in potential Wonder Woman sequels.
Ares and the Changing face of War
Wonder Woman ends with Diana defeating her arch-nemesis, Ares, (played by David Thewlis) in the final days of World War I. As we all know, that conflict sadly did not live up to its title of “The War to End All Wars,” so there’s plenty of opportunities to revisit the god. The most obvious route, of course, would be to examine the role he might have played in World War II. It might prove more compelling, though, to see his hand in different types of struggles like the Cold War, or the conflicts we’re experiencing today. It would be especially interesting to see what he makes of things like private military companies, the War on Terror, or even the War on Drugs.
World War II and The Justice Society of America
Wonder Woman was created during World War II, so this is a time period with a lot of potential adventures for Diana. Beyond the obvious reemergence of Ares, you could also bring in Wonder Woman’s first reoccurring villain from the comics, Baroness Paula von Gunther. The Baroness’ expertise in the occult and her Nazi ties could make for a fun, Indiana Jones style adventure for Diana to embark upon.
Another possible fun element of a World War II era Wonder Woman movie could be the establishment of comics’ very first super team, the JSA, in the DC film universe. In the original comics, Wonder Woman was a member of the Justice Society, and in the most recent trailer for the Justice League film she can be heard saying, “They said the age of heroes would never come again.” That, of course, begs the question of which age she was referring to. The one of the ancient Greek myths? Or perhaps there was a time, say in the 1930s or ’40s where Diana gathered together a group of like minded super powered people to tackle an apocalyptic threat? The JSA could then graduate into their own spin-off movies that could tackle what happened to them, why the world no longer remembers they existed, and perhaps even bring them into the modern age.
One of Wonder Woman’s most enduring comic foes is the sorceress from Homer’s The Odyssey, Circe. Her cunning and mastery of magic would make her an interesting and especially dangerous cinematic foe for Diana. I think she would work best in the modern age where sorcery could collide and combine with modern technology. Plus, Circe is a villain who takes delight in humiliation whereas Wonder Woman exists to inspire. Setting the conflict between them in the modern day would allow for some interesting exploration into the way our culture uses transformative images to make people, especially women, feel less confident and ashamed of themselves.
Decades before Jessica Jones ever crossed paths with Killgrave in the comics or the later Netflix adaptation, Wonder Woman was doing battle with another misogynist with mental and occult powers: the villainous Doctor Psycho.
Doctor Psycho made his debut in 1943’s Wonder Woman #5 by writer William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G Peter, and different versions of the character have been menacing Diana ever since. It makes perfect sense, then, for him to appear in a Wonder Woman film. He’d also be an incredibly timely villain; in the age of MRAs, ‘nice guys’ and toxic masculinity it would be very cathartic to watch Wonder Woman punch out someone like Doctor Psycho.
While we’re on the topic of enduring Wonder Woman foes, it felt like the film was definitely setting the stage for an appearance of the Barbara Minerva incarnation of Cheetah, who in the comics is an archeologist. Film Diana’s role as a curator and obtainer of lost items means Minerva could be easily brought into a sequel. She would make for a relentless foe, one that is capable of challenging Wonder Woman on a number of levels, not the least of which is physical. Plus, Urzkartaga, the god responsible for transforming Minerva into Cheetah, would expand the mythological corner of DC’s film universe. And speaking of gods and mythology…
The Wonder Woman film establishes that the gods of the Olympian pantheon were murdered by Ares, but what exactly does that mean? Perhaps Diana could be forced to travel to Hades’ realm to find them? Plus what about the gods from other cultures and pantheons? Future Wonder Woman films have an opportunity to take an American Gods-style look at the role deities play in modern culture.
Amazons in the Modern World
Diana’s departure is bound to have some big effects on the isolated world of Themyscira. At some point, the Amazons are likely to go check on her, or perhaps try and bring her back. This would be a great opportunity to do more with characters like Artemis (Anne Wolfe) and Diana’s mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielson). It would be interesting to see other Amazons react to the modern world and if they make the same choices Diana makes. Plus, putting Wonder Woman in a position where she’s forced to choose between the world of Man and the Amazons is a classic dilemma for the character, one that we’d love to see play out on the big screen.
In theaters nationwide, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot as Diana, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Robin Wright as General Antiope, Danny Huston as General Erich Ludendorff, David Thewlis as Ares, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Elena Anaya as Doctor Poison and Lucy Davis as Etta Candy.