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"Wonder Woman" is on track to become a massive hit. So why did DC try to bury it?

May. 24, 2017
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As summer takes hold and the advent of Hollywood-blockbuster season draws ever nearer, so too does the release of Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman--the first live-action movie in the franchise since the character was created 75 years ago.  

Not that you’d know it from their marketing campaign...

On April 27, Uproxx became the first media outlet to publicly acknowledge a phenomenon long since seized upon by comic book fans across the country: the Wonder Woman marketing team was missing in action. Just over a month before the release, the official Wonder Woman YouTube channel boasted a scant five videos--a far cry from the state of, say, the Suicide Squad channel at a similar point in their marketing campaign. Public advertising was little more than a topic of wistful speculation until early May (the Times Square billboards for the movie went up on May 8). And, until recently, their only publicly visible brand partnership was with ThinkThin diet bars. (Since then, the Wonder Woman branded-products market has exploded, with merchandise ranging from Funko dolls to Dr. Pepper cans now widely available.) 

With such an underfed campaign paving the way for the movie’s release, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Warner Bros. is doing its level best to shield a mediocre tentpole movie from public scrutiny. But early reactions suggest very much otherwise: at exactly 7pm PST on May 18, when Warner Bros. lifted their embargo on advance reviews of the film, critics from Collider, IndieWire, and other heavyweight entertainment outlets flooded Twitter with praise for--apparently--the best DC Extended Universe movie yet.

So what gives? After DC and Warner Bros.’ middling luck with films like Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman, they could really use a win--and Wonder Woman seems perfectly positioned to fill that role. But there’s no roadmap for rolling out a blockbuster superhero movie built entirely around a female character: Wonder Woman is literally setting the standard. In an industry which routinely eschews female talent (both behind and in front of the camera) on the grounds that female-led films are “bad business”--despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary--these less-than-feminist industry maxims become a self-fulfilling prophecy: when execs lack faith in female-fronted movies, they are less inclined to allocate resources to those types of projects. That means less focus during the development process, less money for production, and less of a marketing push. And Wonder Woman in particular has had a hell of a time getting to the screen: Joss Whedon, George Miller, and Paul Feig all tried--and failed--to net the world’s most famous female superhero her first big-budget feature.

All things considered, maybe we should have been less surprised by the initial disappointment of the Wonder Woman marketing campaign than by their apparent efforts to course-correct in recent weeks. Luckily, the shift in strategy is paying off: according to polls and pre-sales, Wonder Woman is already on track to crush expectations when it opens on June 1.

Not bad for her first rodeo, huh?

Watch the full trailer below: