Nobody owes Gal Gadot another Wonder Woman sequel – DC fans need to get out of this mindset

DC does it: Gal Gadot in ‘Wonder Woman 1984' (Warner Bros)
DC does it: Gal Gadot in ‘Wonder Woman 1984' (Warner Bros)

Wonder Woman 3 is no more. Call it what you will – DOA, kaput, trapped in the Phantom Zone perhaps – but Gal Gadot’s superhero franchise won’t be coming back for a third outing. At least, that’s what the latest report in Variety suggests, contradicting Gadot’s own claims that DC Studios bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran were keen to offer her Amazonian crime-fighter another go around. Gadot has fronted two Wonder Woman films already – the warmly received Wonder Woman (2017) and its fudged 2020 follow-up Wonder Woman 1984 – and has appeared in multiple other DC films as the character. So what is it, exactly, that we have lost out on here?

The incident has rehashed old grievances for DC fans – specifically, the jettisoning of Henry Cavill in the role of Superman. When Gunn and Safran took over as co-chairmen and co-CEOs of DC Studios last year, the expectation was that they would impose some sense of authorship and direction over the franchise, as producer Kevin Feige did with Disney’s Marvel universe. Many fans hoped that this could mean Cavill would finally get the quality vehicle he deserved. But while Gunn and Safran have opted to carry over a few vestiges of the old regime – Margot Robbie’s flamboyant antihero Harley Quinn, for one – they have drawn a line under most of it, including, somewhat divisively, Cavill’s Superman. For the forthcoming Superman: Legacy, directed by Gunn, the character will be played by House of Cards’ David Corenswet. The announcement drew the ire of many comic book boffs, who had defended Cavill’s performance through thick and thin (let’s be honest, mostly thin – from Justice League to Batman v Superman, Cavill has been lumped with some truly dreadful material to work with). Cavill, they say, had earned a shot at a “good” Superman movie. But here’s the thing. No one owes him, or Gadot, anything.

Increasingly, now, there is an entitlement among fans when it comes to franchise filmmaking – the idea that an actor who puts in the hours, dutifully slogs their way through some turgid movie series, should be rewarded, with a showpiece project of their own. Sometimes, of course, this is exactly how it works. Black Widow (2021) was seen as something of an inevitability after Scarlett Johansson’s decade of servitude as a Marvel supporting player. Margot Robbie was the sole bright spark in 2016’s execrable Suicide Squad, so she got her own vehicle in the form of the bang-average Birds of Prey. Spider-Man: No Way Home was framed as a chance to give Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield the closure that their Spider-Man arcs never received. But the work is the work: these roles are jobs, not handouts. Movie studios are not charities. If Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man films are sub-par – and God knows they were – that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to a do-over. If anything, it’s the opposite. Cinemagoers are being served plate after plate of cold gruel, and yet they keep ordering more, hoping vainly next time, next time it might taste like lobster.

This entitlement complex reached a peak in 2021, with the release of the so-called Snyder cut of Justice League. A lavish black-and-white re-edit of DC Studios’ 2017 dud, ZackSnyder’s Justice League was produced at great expense following a long and bullish fan campaign (“#ReleaseTheSnyderCut). It was an act of appeasement for Snyder, who had been unable to follow through with his original vision in 2017, and for his devoted fanbase. Two years on, though, and the Snyder cut survives as little more than a curiosity – an indulgent four-hour-long testament to… what, exactly? The power of a petition. It may indeed be better than the insipid original, but it was not embraced by either the critical establishment or a mainstream audience.

The reported abandonment of Wonder Woman 3 is a shame, maybe, for Patty Jenkins, the director whose work on Wonder Woman established her as one of Hollywood’s highest profile female blockbuster filmmakers. But she will be fine. If anything, the prospect of her being freed up to pursue some non-franchise endeavour could be a fruitful development. A third Wonder Woman wasn’t some righteous passion project that was snuffed out as an embryo: we’re talking about a cynical commercial product. They – Gadot, Cavill, the lot of them – aren’t entitled to anything more than a paycheque.