When I heard that the social media embargo was being lifted for Wonder Woman reviews a full two weeks before the official release of the movie, it told me that enough critics and bloggers have already seen it to generate buzz and that the buzz was clearly good. You don't lift an embargo that early before release unless you think it's going to get you positive results.
It looks as though that is certainly the case here with widespread critical acclaim on Twitter for the fourth movie in the DC Extended Universe:
I think it is no coincidence that as I sat down to write this post, Twitter started acting up on the East Coast and in other areas. Clearly this much praise and positive feedback for a DCEU movie was too much for Twitter to handle.
So what does this really mean? Has the DCEU finally turned a corner with critical acclaim? Is this just because it was Patty Jenkins directing the movie instead of Zack Snyder, whom the critics and bloggers love to loathe and detest? Is it because WB finally made a movie in their comic book shared universe that isn't extremely polarizing?
Well, yes AND no to all.
I've written before about why I thought Wonder Woman was going to be the first "fresh" movie by the critics for the DCEU on Rotten Tomatoes, the biggest reason being that I think the movie is going to be very good. Things we have heard about the production, the direction that Jenkins and Gal Gadot were taking with the story and how important everyone seems to have treated this truly historic film just all indicated a critical winner for once, so I'm not totally surprised at all of the positive buzz for the movie right now. On June 1, I will likely confirm that it is well deserved praise when I finally see it myself.
The thing is, a number of these critics that appear to love Wonder Woman are also ones that have said the DCEU is in desperate need of "fixing" or course correction, and they could be very well touting this movie as the "saving grace" of the franchise when it has never needed to be saved. It has never been more evident to me than it has been lately that the DCEU has a vast and viable audience now that defends this franchise tooth and nail and will support it heavily with their dollars at the movie theater. WB and DC knows this so even though Wonder Woman certainly appears to be a very different movie from Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad, it's not completely indicative of a course correction that was deemed necessary after incessant critical panning.
That is likely not how critics and bloggers will see it though, and they will cite the bad reviews for the previous two DCEU movies, the restructuring of Geoff Johns and Jon Berg to be in charge of the franchise, and the fact that Zack Snyder didn't direct it all as reasons that a course correction was indeed ordered and is now being carried out. So with that in mind, one wonders if this praise will continue with Justice League in the fall when Snyder is at the helm again. This might seem like paranoia and cynicism, but not when you still have people saying things like this:
Now, that is not a surprising reaction at all and I would bet money that more than a few official reviews that praise Wonder Woman will echo the same exact sentiment, even though Snyder has been heavily involved in the entire DCEU development and was the one who cast Gal Gadot as Diana in the first place. When you see this though, you can understand why DCEU fans would be skeptical of this praise. Is it REALLY praise or is it cloaked spite for Snyder and the franchise as a whole? Obviously, we ALL hope that it is real praise and I do believe that a large amount if not most of it is just that.
With that in mind, it is clear that the DCEU is in fact turning a corner with regard to critical acclaim. You simply cannot say otherwise when you have this kind of outpouring from them on social media. Bloggers that I have blocked for tearing the franchise a new one at every turn while touting Marvel in their bios are praising this film:
So it is clear that Wonder Woman will be the first DCEU movie that critics will largely enjoy, which is a turning point in the franchise with regard to public perception. On a superficial level, it means the end of the "rotten" streak on RT and assures that critics enjoy a minimum of 25 percent of the DCEU. Does all of that mean anything? Not really, unless you are someone that hangs everything on critical appeal and review aggregator scores. At the end of the day, no matter how many critics and bloggers like it, you will still have to see the movie on your own and decide for yourself how good it is. For many of us, this isn't going to be a revelation or a renaissance of the DCEU. It is going to be a historic continuation of the strong storytelling and world building that started with Man of Steel in 2013, and this one is historic because the greatest female superhero of all-time is leading the charge in her own movie, finally.
If you are a DCEU fan, should you be happy that the critics like Wonder Woman? Of course you should, because it's better when anyone likes the movies you like. Life is much easier when that happens. Should you put a lot of stock back into critical opinions, though? No, you still need to find your own opinion on these movies and let your own mind do the thinking for you instead of the critics minds. As much as you may praise a critic today for loving Wonder Woman, you might go right back to being infuriated at them in six months when Justice League comes out. If you have been forming your own opinions of these movies without the critics' assistance then there is no reason to start now just because they like the latest movie in the franchise. It's a nice thing to see and you feel good about it, but the choice is still yours on how you receive the DCEU.