How to Watch the Wonder Woman Movies in Order to See Her Full Arc in the DCEU – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

How to Watch the Wonder Woman Movies in Order to See Her Full Arc in the DCEU

The DCU has experienced significant fluctuations in terms of creative leadership and projects ever since its inception with the release of Man of Steel. It has lacked consistency, with films being reworked, delayed, or even outright canceled. While one would expect Superman or Batman to be the face of the franchise, the consistent lead has been Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She has appeared in four films within the DCEU, with her original film receiving positive reviews and earning critical acclaim for Gadot’s performance and portrayal of Wonder Woman.

Update: As of July 7, 2023, this article has been revised to provide a comprehensive timeline that helps better understand Wonder Woman’s role in the franchise, taking into account the recent film entries in the DCEU. Fans were undoubtedly disappointed by the news of Wonder Woman 3, directed by Patty Jenkins, being canceled by the new leadership at DC Studios and the new DCU. There hasn’t been any official announcement regarding Gal Gadot’s future as the character. Some reports suggest that Gadot and Wonder Woman won’t be part of the first wave of new DC projects, but these rumors have been debunked by new DC co-head James Gunn. The lack of immediate news about the character or a new film is certainly concerning, considering Gadot’s popularity as Wonder Woman.

When looking back at Wonder Woman’s journey throughout the DCEU, it is evident that her character has had an intriguing arc. Her story spans different time periods, and elements have been added retroactively, resulting in a fascinating evolution that aligns with the creative vision of the series. Although not initially planned by two distinct filmmakers, Zack Snyder and Patty Jenkins, each director taps into a specific aspect of Wonder Woman. Jenkins explores Wonder Woman as a compassionate and maturing hero, while Snyder delves into her warrior side. These two visions harmoniously merge to create a Wonder Woman story that encompasses both aspects of her personality.

Wonder Woman Movies in Chronological Order:
1. Wonder Woman (2017): This film tells the origin story of Diana, Princess of Themyscira, set in 1918 at the end of World War I. Diana meets Steve Trevor and embarks on a journey to stop Ares, the God of War, and bring an end to the war. Along the way, she learns about her heritage, falls in love with Steve Trevor, and discovers the complexities of the world.

2. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020): Set 66 years after the first film, Diana is living in Washington D.C. and working at the Smithsonian. She faces new challenges when Maxwell Lord gains the power to grant wishes, leading to a global catastrophe. Diana is tested emotionally as Steve Trevor returns from the dead, but her powers are compromised, and she also confronts her former friend Barbara Minerva, who becomes the villain Cheetah.

3. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): Wonder Woman’s cinematic debut occurs in this team-up movie. Set about thirty years after the events of Wonder Woman 1984, this film depicts a more cynical and reluctant version of Diana who has distanced herself from mankind. However, she ultimately joins forces with Batman and Superman to fight against Doomsday.

4. Justice League / Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2017/2021): In both versions of Justice League, Wonder Woman plays a crucial role. She resumes her superhero duties, helps gather a team of heroes, and battles Steppenwolf to save the world. Diana serves as an experienced member of the team, providing valuable knowledge and acting as a mentor to the new heroes.

5. Shazam! Fury Of The Gods (2023): Although Gal Gadot’s appearance in this film is brief, she plays a vital role in reviving Shazam, showcasing her connection to Zeus and her divine heritage.

Throughout her journey, Wonder Woman’s character is defined by love, whether it be her love for individuals or her love for humanity. She undergoes personal growth, learns the complexities of the world, and embraces her role as a hero. Despite the challenges faced by the DCEU, Wonder Woman remains a beloved and influential character within the franchise.

The DCU certainly has been all over the place in terms of creative leadership and projects since it first burst onto the scene with Man of Steel. It might not be the most consistent, with various films being reworked and delayed or outright canceled. While one would imagine Superman or Batman would be the face of the franchise, if the series did have a consistent lead, it would be Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. The character appeared in four films across the DCEU, and her original film was the first positively reviewed entry in the franchise. Fans and critics have praised Gadot’s performance, and her depiction of Wonder Woman has been one of the most well-regarded aspects of the franchise.


Updated July 7, 2023: This article has been updated following the recent film entries of the DCEU to make a perfect timeline to better understand Wonder Woman’s role in the franchise.

That is why fans were certainly disappointed with the announcement that Wonder Woman 3 from director Patty Jenkins had been canceled by the new leadership at DC Studios and their new DCU. No word has been made regarding Gal Gadot’s future as the character. Some reports said Gadot and Wonder Woman don’t have a place in the first wave of new DC projects, although new DC co-head James Gunn has debunked those rumors. Given how popular Gadot is as Wonder Woman, it is certainly troubling not to have some immediate news about the character or a new film.

Looking back at the character, Wonder Woman certainly had an interesting arc across the DCEU because the fact that Wonder Woman’s story took place across different time periods and elements were added retroactively makes her arc a fascinating evolution that follows the creative direction of the series. Yet while not planned out as being envisioned by two distinct filmmakers, Zack Snyder and Patty Jenkins, each one taps into a specific aspect of Wonder Woman. Jenkins explores Wonder Woman as a loving, maturing hero while Snyder explores her aspect as a warrior, and the two filmmakers’ visions work in harmony to craft a Wonder Woman story that merges these two aspects of her personality into one cohesive whole.

How to Watch the Wonder Woman Movies in Order

Wonder Woman

wonder woman
Warner Bros. Studios

Wonder Woman tells the origin story of Diana, Princess of Themyiscara. Set in 1918 at the end of World War I, the film shows Diana meeting Steve Trevor as he crash lands in her homeland, which has otherwise been sealed off from the world of men. She joins him back to Man’s World, hoping to stop Ares, the God of War, and bring about an end to the war. Along the way, Diana grows and discovers the world is not as black and white as she imagined. She discovers the truth of her heritage, that she is, in fact, the daughter of Zeus, she discovers Ares was a more complicated figure than she imagined, and also she falls in love with Steve Trevor, who will forever connect her to humanity.

Diana’s arc in Wonder Woman very much sets her up for her role in the DCEU. She starts the movie out as noble if a bit naive, and along the way learns the complex truth about humanity and her own origin. Yet, in the end, Wonder Woman discovers who she is and what makes her a hero. Across the DCEU, Wonder Woman will be defined by love, be it her love for an individual or her love for humanity.

Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984
Warner Bros.

Set 66 years after the first film, Wonder Woman 1984 shows Diana living in Washington D.C. and working at the Smithsonian. In the years since the first movie she has been operating as her superhero alter ego Wonder Woman, yet has been able to stay off the radar. When Maxwell Lord acquires the dreaded Dreamstone, he can grant anybody’s wish, which will lead to a global disaster that only Wonder Woman can stop. Wonder Woman herself is tested, both emotionally by her former love Steve Trevor returns from the dead but at the cost of her powers while also dealing with the physical threat of her former friend Barbra Minerva transforming into the villainous Cheetah.

Related: Wonder Woman 3: Where Could It Go With the Retooling of the DCU?

Wonder Woman 1984 had a difficult task, trying to squeeze an arc in between Wonder Woman’s origin story and her appearance in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice which clearly laid out what Diana had been doing since her origin story. While some may say it conflicts, when laid out there is a great tragedy to it. Wonder Woman 1984 shows Diana that is a traditional superhero, as opposed to the warrior version seen in the other entries. She notably does not use her sword or shield in this film; she does not kill and all of her action scenes are about either disarming opponents or saving civilians as opposed to beating up a villain. Yet in the years that will follow, the bright and colorful aesthetics of the DCEU give way to a more dark, bleak tone, one that impacts Wonder Woman.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman’s cinematic debut did not even happen in her own film but instead in a team-up movie, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Set about thirty years after Wonder Woman 1984the Diana seen in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has certainly undergone some major changes after her two solo films. Diana explains she walked away from mankind after World War I, and while that was later retconned in Wonder Woman 1984the idea is that emotionally Diana did become more cynical towards people after her first solo film, which does track with the sequel.

In many ways, Wonder Woman is a glorified cameo in the movie, but many aspects of her character are laid out in this film that was expanded upon to make her arc. Bruce Wayne officially comes face to face with her while looking over rare antiquities, showcasing her civilian job. This Diana is a reluctant warrior, seemingly putting her superhero days behind her but leaps at the chance to fight the monstrous Doomsday.

Justice League / Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Wonder Woman in the Snyder Cut of Justice League
Warner Bros.

While there are a lot of differences between the theatrical cut of Justice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice Leaguethe arc they settle on for Wonder Woman is relatively the same. Both versions show that even after all these years, she is still thinking about Steve Trevor and needs to open herself up to her teammates.

Diana has not only resumed her job as a superhero, but she now helps Bruce Wayne gather fellow heroes, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, to battle Steppenwolf and save the world. Diana acts as one of the elder statesmen alongside Batman, two co-heads of this team as they both have years of experience. Diana provides key knowledge to the group regarding the ancient history of the Mother Boxes, and she now serves as a mentor to the new batch of heroes.

Related: Best Gal Gadot Movies, Ranked

In many ways, it brings everything back full circle to her first film, where Wonder Woman formed a close connection with her teammates. After being shut off for so many years, either due to losing her friends to old age or for sinister intentions like Cheetah, Diana is now no longer alone. It is through her actions alongside the Justice League that Wonder Woman officially stops operating as a secret hero. She has now fully embraced Wonder Woman, a figure the entire world can look to as a hero.

Shazam! Fury Of The Gods

Wonder Woman and Shazam
Warner Bros.

Gal Gadot’s appearance in Shazam! Fury Of The Gods was too brief to give away any tangible contribution to Diana’s arc. In the final scenes of the movie, she manages to come as a Deus Ex Machina to revive Shazam from the fatal blow that cost him his life. As Shazam! draws power from Zeus, and Zeus is Wonder Woman’s father it makes sense for this connection to be here and for her to appear in the film. She revives him using her Goddess powers and restores to the world another superhero who will keep it safe.

Wonder Woman is clearly an established hero here, as she is the ultimate crush of Billy Batson. She shows up almost as a graduate superhero who has already learned her lessons and grown into her super powerful goddess identity, and who is mature enough to pass on her wisdom (to use Zeus’s power wisely) to the newly established hero, Shazam who is still struggling to sit comfortably in his power. She’s the mentor who is always keeping an eye on the younger generation hoping that it would manage on its own but still interfering when it doesn’t. It almost feels like an early retirement for a character who has much more to give.

The Flash

New Justice League Trinity Unites in Fight Ready Photo

Wonder Woman made one more final appearance in the DCEU in The Flashreleased just three months after Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Again another brief cameo appears in the opening climax as she uses the Lasso of Truth to save Batman and a terrorist from falling into the Gotham River. She and Batman seem to have some flirtation, which was hinted at in the theatrical cut of Justice League.

Wonder Woman flies off after saving Batman, and at this point appears to be her last moment in the DCU. Notably, this sixth appearance makes Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman the DC character with the most appearances in the DCEU, with Ben Affleck’s Batman at four and Herny Cavill’s Superman at four as well (not counting his faceless cameo in Shazam!). It is unknown if Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman has a place in James Gunn’s new DCU. It would be a shame if this is her final appearance.

The Original Plans for Wonder Woman’s Future

Gal Gadot standing in the shadows in front of the sky in Wonder Woman
Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman was set to be a key player in Zack Snyder’s Justice League sequels. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 3 was planned after Snyder had departed the franchise, so there were two potential branching continuations of Wonder Woman’s story. Not much is currently known about what Jenkins had planned for Wonder Woman 3but the director had mentioned how she wanted a story set in the present day and likely would have followed Justice Leagueallowing Jenkins to explore a Wonder Woman operating as an open superhero in a world filled with them.

Unfortunately, Director Patty Jenkins’s pitch for Wonder Woman 3 has been canceled following the restructuring of the new CEOs, James Gunn and Peter Safran. They’ve announced that a third installment of the Wonder Woman franchise is not part of their plans as the DCEU becomes the DCU. Although this decision was a heavy blow to the fans and the cast of Wonder Woman alike, the lead actress declared that she is looking forward to new projects.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League provided a small hint of what was to come for Wonder Woman in his original plans. Cyborg’s vision showed Wonder Woman dead, and audiences would have seen her die in Justice League 2setting up the stage for Justice League 3 to take place in the Knightmare future first glimpsed in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice before everything is rewritten due to the Flash’s time travel.

Snyder saw Wonder Woman’s story ends with her returning to Themisycara to become the new Queen and opening up to the outside world. In Snyder’s plan, Wonder Woman truly undergoes a hero’s journey, with the final step returning home a changed person and being the bridge between two worlds. Now the future is uncertain for Wonder Woman in the DCU, but there are still plenty of stories to tell.

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