Three movies in, the DC Extended Universe has proven itself a pretty grim and dismal place, full of brutal extraterrestrial conquerors, deranged murder clowns, and an abundance of women named Martha. Much of that attitude has its roots in the tastes of the franchise’s current architect, Zack Snyder (although Suicide Squad’s David Ayer contributed his fair share of darkness, too).
Now Patty Jenkins, director of Warner Bros.’ upcoming Wonder Woman, has promised that the DCEU is finally ready to start lightening up a little, with her upcoming superhero story offering a break from all the city-smashing monsters and dead mom angst. Instead, she told Variety, her movie is taking inspiration from an older take on superhero goodness: Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman.
“Superman was all about you,” Jenkins said. “It was about you watching and realizing what it would feel like to have great powers and do great things. It was full of love and emotion.” Jenkins—whose most high-profile project prior to this was 2003’s Monster—has been a tireless defender of her new film and its expanded-universe home, openly questioning anonymous reports suggesting problems with the production and calling out critics for their critical drubbing of Suicide Squad.
Producers doubled down on Jenkins’ statements, with Deborah Snyder noting, “Wonder Woman is very different in tone and style than Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad. We pick directors who have their own points of view, so that each of our films will have their own personality.” Executives also questioned the “misconception” that DC films are intentionally “edgier,” presumably brought on both by the experience of watching the movies themselves, and quotes from Warner Bros. executives suggesting that humor wasn’t part of their superhero formula of choice.
“That’s not the case,” said Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and resident of Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Fans of the DC universe know that there are characters, like Batman, who are darker, but there are others like Wonder Woman, who are hopeful, optimistic leaders, and the tone of this film represents that.” Of course, that still leaves the question of why Man Of Steel—whose title character soared with optimism in Donner’s original film—had such a high body count and grim, hopeless tone.