The critics agree that Wonder Woman is the best-reviewed film in the DCEU, but the good news for everyone is that Diana’s origin story makes Batman V Superman even better as a result. Those who found Zack Snyder’s Justice League lead-in not to their tastes, and the changes to BvS‘s Ultimate Edition not much of an improvement, Wonder Woman may remain the only DCEU movie they enjoy on repeat viewings. But if the showdown between DC’s biggest icons seemed like a promising, or at least interesting but ultimately flawed story, the depth and added weight behind Diana’s character may improve the film more than one might expect.
With Wonder Woman flying past $300 million box office already – and possibly on pace to make more money than Man of Steel – some fond of Diana may wish to simply look forward, not backward (and that includes the Wonder Woman Amazons returning for Justice League). Having gone to the trouble of seeing what new connections, ideas, DCEU themes, and specific plot clarifications arise thanks to Wonder Woman, we have to recommend that curious fans see if the points on our list catch their interest.
Needless to say, there will be plenty of DCEU SPOILERS in our look at How Wonder Woman Makes Batman V Superman Better.
“Gods Hurl Thunderbolts”
For reasons that should be perfectly obvious to anyone who has seen Wonder Woman, the scene in which Alfred addresses the apparent changing of “rules” in torturing criminals carries some new meaning. When Alfred corrects his employer and states that things have most certainly changed, it’s impossible to hear the following words the same: “Men fall from the sky. The gods hurl thunderbolts.” Considering that Wonder Woman‘s own history of humanity’s creation includes both those exact features, it pairs the final battles between Diana and Ares, and Superman and Zod. In the former fight, the bout itself is based on literally hurling thunderbolts.
Alfred continues to explain that when the gods do battle on Earth, or make this plane of ‘mortals’ their backdrop – as Ares, and Zod have – the result is that “innocents die. That’s how it starts, sir. The fever. The rage. The feeling of powerlessness. It turns good men cruel.” It’s a little eerie how much this claim resonates, since the notion that men are inherently “good,” and that they grow “cruel” only through a hunger for power (all stemming from envy, anger, and hate) are the basic thesis statements of Wonder Woman.
Unfortunately, the pattern has begun all over again with Bruce in particular – adding further fuel to the idea that men don’t need to be directly steered by Ares to be corrupted… unless you argue that Lex Luthor is now the one manipulating events, and trusting that all key players will react, and attack, as he assumes. More on that later.
“You Know, Dad Was Born in East Germany”
Wonder Woman may end with Diana saving the day, and The Great War ending in a ceasefire, but the wars of man were already set in motion. Even if we know that Diana didn’t “turn her back” on the world, she does admit to turning away from it with Ares defeated. It’s hard to blame her, considering how the so-called ‘good guys’ she was fighting alongside in her own solo movie handled Germany upon their defeat in World War II (which spun out of Germany’s defeat in World War I). In short, dividing the country up into sections each conquering country could claim – with East Germany falling under Soviet rule until 1990. By then Lex Luthor’s father had already spent his childhood in the controlled region, “marching in parades, waving flowers at tyrants.”
The likely history, then, is of Lex’s father growing up in the forgotten mess left behind by foreign powers. Only in adulthood did he clearly leave for America, have a son, and grow his empire in that child’s name. Consider how Lex views even virtuous heroes or ‘defenders’ as far darker than most realize, and you’re pulling at a compelling thread. Also of note: Germany largely lost the war Diana fought in by trying to knock out one superpower (France) before their other neighbor (Russia) could attack. Damaged, but aggressive and power-hungry trying to outsmart threats on either side… well, that describes Lex just as well.
The Metahuman Thesis
As manic as he may be in pursuit of power and authority, you have to hand it to Lex Luthor for realizing that Superman wasn’t the only superhuman to have walked the face of the Earth throughout history. The Kryptonite weapon he proposes is intended to deter more than just the Man of Steel, since he believes “there are more of them… the metahuman thesis. More likely than not, these exceptional beings live among us. The basis of our myths. Gods among men upon our little blue planet here.” We learn later in the film that he’s already found proof of one immortal Greek warrior woman, but it’s a solid theory to begin with, since we now know that it’s correct on even its most fundamental assumption.
If Diana would be defined as a “metahuman” due to her being the daughter of Zeus, then it stands to reason many other gods, demigods, and children of gods were similarly shifted from history to myth. Hercules seems just as likely a candidate proving Lex’s point, and may even be referenced in a Wonder Woman easter egg. But if you go one step further and assume that Zeus, Ares, and the rest of the Olympian Gods were also shifted from actual figures to ‘gods,’ Lex may give another hint towards the Gods of Apokolips actually creating the Greek Pantheon.