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[This story contains spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984.]
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to her hit 2017 film, Wonder Woman, opened in theaters and on HBO Max last weekend. While the rollout was anything but traditional and created no shortage of controversy within the industry, due to its shattering of the theatrical model, Warner Bros. has deemed the film successful enough to fast-track a third film, which will see Jenkins, and star Gal Gadot, return. Jenkins has previously discussed plans for a third film, though recently said her outline for the film may be subject to change given the events of 2020. Alongside that third film, Jenkins has also discussed a spinoff, The Amazons, which she envisions producing and releasing before Wonder Woman 3, while tying in to the events of that film, ultimately creating a four-film arc.
Given Jenkins’ recent commitments to Disney, as director of the Star Wars film Rogue Squadron, a third solo adventure with Diana (Gal Gadot) seems at least four years away, though the DCEU won’t be left entirely without wonder. Themyscira, the Amazons and Wonder Woman will be prominent in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, arriving in March 2021. And hopefully the spinoff, The Amazons, which seems like a perfect vehicle for HBO Max, will also be fast-tracked, making the wait for the third film a little easier. But while we wait, we can at least have fun speculating where Jenkins and Gadot might take Wonder Woman next.
In January 2019, when asked about the setting for the third Wonder Woman film, Jenkins told The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m not planning to put it in the past again, because where are you going to go? You have to go forward. It’s definitely a contemporary story. That’s all I can say. Where we put it and how that gets figured out, I haven’t totally nailed down.” What’s interesting about her statement is that she doesn’t clearly say that the film will be set in present-day, the year of whenever the film will be released. The careful choice of words does make me wonder if perhaps Jenkins is planning on stepping into the not-too-distant future. Jenkins has done her war movie, her globetrotting ’80s action movie, perhaps the next step is into a dystopia or cyberpunk-inspired world.
In terms of Wonder Woman 1984, I don’t think our society is that far removed from the values of the ’80s, and the message of that film holds just as true for 2020 as it did for 1984. But there’s something conceptually fascinating about Diana looking at where we’re going if we stay on the path we’re on. What happens if Diana can’t fulfill her promise to save man’s world like she wanted to? There’s certainly a comic book precedent for that question, and recent books like Wonder Woman: Dead Earth and DC’s upcoming Future State look at Diana’s role in a future society. Such a move to the future would also ensure Jenkins the space to work without having to react to the rest of DCEU, and once again take audiences to places where audiences haven’t seen Wonder Woman onscreen before, given the character’s present-day appearances in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. Plus, imagine what kind of futuristic Wonder Woman costume Lindy Hemming would have the chance to create. And this step into the future could be even more groundbreaking with the appearance of the right villain.
Jenkins has already introduced many of Wonder Woman’s most prominent comic book villains: Ares, Doctor Poison, Cheetah, Maxwell Lord, and even early adversary Duke of Deception getting a nod in 1984. But Diana’s most powerful nemesis has yet to make her debut: Circe. Based on Homer’s character of the same name, DC’s Circe is a powerful sorceress and the daughter of the Titans, the forebears of the Greek gods, and a follower of the witch goddess Hecate who possesses her soul. Her antagonism of Wonder Woman began with her reading of a prophecy that suggested Diana would steal her power and magic. Wonder Woman 1984 already planted the seeds for such a conflict, with Diana telling Steve she’s tapped into the magic of the gods, finding a way to turn things invisible. She also learns to fly over the course of the film. So, assuming Diana’s powers continue to grow over the decade, it would make sense for Hecate to be alerted to a power stronger than Circe attempting to possess Diana.
In the comics, Circe’s great act was War of the Gods, a George Perez story in which Circe incited a war between the pantheons of gods that exist within the DC Universe, claiming the power of each defeated pantheon for herself. A loose adaptation of War of the Gods, along with elements from the recent Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark story, The Witching Hour, involving Hecate and Circe, could serve as the groundwork for the third film. And for Jenkins to showcase magic and the gods within a slightly futuristic setting sounds like the kind of visual splendor worthy of Wonder Woman’s return to the big screen. And since I’m dreaming of the future, it could be fun to enter this future world with an action sequence of Wonder Woman taking down Adrianna Anderson, aka Doctor Cyber, whose technology could later be adapted into a new suit of armor, combining both science and magic, and giving Diana an edge in her fight against Circe.
The Love Interest
It seems like Wonder Woman 1984 closed the book on Steve Trevor, finally allowing Diana to move on. But romance has been an integral part of the Wonder Woman films, and a key part of their success. While there’s perhaps some flirtation going on between Diana and Bruce Wayne, it’s arguably more interesting to see her with someone who doesn’t have a superhero background. Diana hasn’t had a lot of long-term relationships in the comics outside of Steve Trevor, but one who has stood out is Trevor Barnes. Created by Phil Jimenez and Joe Kelly, Trevor Barnes, whose name is indeed meant to evoke the spirt of Steve Trevor, is an African American human rights advocate who serves as field director for the United Nations. While Barnes was killed off too soon in the comics, the concept of Diana dating a human rights activist, and a Black man, whose perception of the world would be much different than Steve Trevor’s, potentially opens up new opportunities to explore Diana’s role in the world and what she represents. And if Circe’s presence, and those of the gods, lend themselves to a theme of power, then Barnes’ sociopolitical position in the world speaks very clearly to what the transfer of power means, and who benefits from it.
In Wonder Woman, Ares (David Thewlis) goaded Diana, telling her that he would always be a threat. And while Diana defeated him, his status as a god means his return is very possible. And as we saw in 1984, war is still very much a threat to humanity. And if a War of the Gods serves as an inspiration for the third film, it makes sense that Diana would come into conflict with her brother again, and maybe both characters will come to blows with their father, Zeus.
And what about Asteria (Lynda Carter), who showed up in a flashback and mid-credits scene? The Amazon warrior has been living in man’s world for centuries, presumably learning a fair bit about mankind. But has she made it her mission to save them? And if she has, does that mean she failed? I have to imagine she and Diana will meet in the third film, and perhaps she’s the one who will alert Diana to Circe’s presence, and the ancient prophecy, serving as a kind of Spock Prime figure for Diana (for my Kelvin Timeline Star Trek fans).
There’s also the matter of Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). While the Cheetah reverts back to her human form at the end of 1984, we never explicitly see her giving up her wish. Jenkins told Den of Geek, “I have my reasons for making it ambiguous, and I think it’s not clear what her point of view [is] on everything that just happened … I love that we wrap up Max Lord’s point of view, and that you see the culmination of that storyline, I think is so important. But the truth is there may or may not be more to come [for Barbara].” A return of the Cheetah makes sense given her position as one of Wonder Woman’s most frequently occurring villains. It’s also important to note that Barbara made two wishes, to be like Diana, and to be an apex predator. It’s entirely possible she renounced the second one, but not the first, which would leave her with immortality and the opportunity to return in any contemporary or future storyline.
And of course, there is the matter of Circe turning humans into animals and animal-human hybrids. Perhaps if she does serve as the villain, she sees Barbara’s true nature and reverts her back to her furred and clawed appearance. But this doesn’t necessarily mean Cheetah will serve as the antagonist yet again. The character has a long history of seeking redemption in the comics, and a team-up of Wonder Woman and Cheetah against Circe could make for a great moment of reconciliation between the two former friends.
One of the most important concepts in the DC Universe is that of legacy. Of mantles picked up by successors, or inspiring others to shape identities of their own, and leaving a mark on the world. And since her inception, Wonder Woman has always been a teacher, highlighting the importance of legacy, inspiring young women and men to share in her ideals and uphold them. And throughout the years, a couple of young women have taken up the mantle of Wonder Girl, Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark.
Donna Troy’s history is one of comics’ most complicated, but long story short, she was created as a mirror image of Diana, a sister, whose powers were later nurtured by the Titans of myth (which give her ties to Circe as well). The character is prominent in HBO Max’s Titans, where she is portrayed by Conor Leslie, but with Warner Media exploring the multiverse there’s no reason why there couldn’t be another version of Donna. And given the complexity of her origin, perhaps her creation could be addressed in The Amazons spinoff. Imagine if Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), missing her daughter, Diana, created a new one in her stead.
As for Cassie Sandsmark, who in the comics is revealed to be the daughter of Zeus, she could easily be introduced given that her mother, Dr. Helena Sandsmark, is an archeologist and Diana’s co-worker. Cassie doesn’t have to become Wonder Girl in the third film, nor does Donna Troy for that matter, but it would be interesting to see Diana develop relationships with them, and for those characters to be teed up for future roles in the DCEU.
The third Wonder Woman has the potential to be a truly epic conclusion to Patty Jenkins’ saga, and it could also open doors for future stories to be told, ensuring that the DCEU is never without the nobility of the Amazons.
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