Chicago’s wonder women talk about “Wonder Woman”

Does it take a “gal” (see what I did there?) to save the much-maligned and divisive DCEU?

After the critical floggings of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, it would seem 4th time is the charm as Wonder Woman is a massive critical success.

Coming in at a 94% fresh tomato rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the Amazonian Princess looks bound for a commercial success as well.

But what does it mean in general to female-driven action films? Especially in a time of feminism? Previous female-driven superhero films were commercial flops including Supergirl, Catwoman and Elektra. Um, Red Sonja anyone?

Even this year saw Ghost in the Shell tank. To get little perspective, I asked some of the “Wonder Women” in Chicago’s advertising, film and production community to see what they thought about the film which opens tonight in Chicago and the rest of the country.

Layne Marie Williams“I mean I am elated by it all. My ultimate goal is to direct big budget superhero movies. So to see that really starting to happen, the path being carved out for us in a way that isn’t under the umbrella of the male gaze… it’s a big step in what I hope to be the right direction. I think it will show that our stories are more than worthwhile in pursuing in a really heightened and exciting way.”

–  Layne Marie Williams, Filmmaker

Nathalynne McGinnis“There has been an insurgent of women making film and great films, whether for major motion or television. Coming on the heels of Ava Duvernay, women can only garner more recognition as filmmakers. To give a project as financially large as Wonder Woman, I’m sure scared the bejeezus out of the lot of men but they knew they had to take a risk during this time of the new feminist movement or suffer a backlash of criticism. It should not be man vs women. Who is best for the job and who understands the character. Every woman should have a WW lasso. I like bracelets. Lynda Carter started a movement… it has been revitalized. Girl Power!!!!”

–  Nathalynne McGinnis, Producer

Mary Kay Cook“It’s important for me to support other female artists, so our stories are given a broader platform. The best way for that to happen in this case is for the film to have a strong opening weekend. Today, our vote for anything is mostly recognized through how we spend our dollars. So as a feminist and artist committed to giving a platform for marginalized voices, I’m excited to support the film. The fact that it has a strong rating already and is gaining critical acclaim has me hopeful that a large audience will come out to see it. I am also hopeful that this will further help turn the tide in the overall moviemaking business, so that more women are given the chance to helm movies on a grand scale, whether those films are action-driven or not.”

–  Mary Kay Cook, Producer

Kathleen Tax Willie“These are encouraging times for female filmmakers. Admittedly, superheroes aren’t my genre, so I’m honestly more thrilled by Sofia Coppola’s win at Cannes. But I’m so heartened by the response Wonder Woman has received, and I have to believe it’ll lead to more women being in the considered set. I want to believe it’ll improve the ratio in front of the camera, too, and maybe the world is finally ready for us. I just can’t believe it didn’t happen with Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Uma Thurman in Kill Bill or Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. What more could you want than Furiosa?”

–  Kathleen Tax Wille, VP/Creative Director

Kate Stransky“I can’t wait for the day when it’s not even worth mentioning that a director is a woman because it’s the norm. I still hear things like ‘I don’t want to watch a woman-directed film. It’s a chick flick.’ We still have a way to go but films and directors like this prove that it doesn’t matter what gender someone is in order to make a good film.”

Kate Stransky, Animation Director

“I am not surprised it is being received so well. A great artist is a great artist no matter what gender they are. The only difference I see is more opportunities may become available for women filmmakers with the success of this film.”

–  Elizabeth A. Morris, Photographer

“I love it and it’s long overdue. There are a lot of great female filmmakers but they never get the recognition because of the male dominated film industry and the misconception that a female filmmaker can’t bring in the box office numbers. Well, tomorrow that’s about to change.”

–  Denise O’Neal, Freelance Writer

“Patty Jenkins has always demonstrated directing success and having auditioned for her can attest to her lovely demeanor. I’m not surprised in the least that this film is a success. All said, I haven’t seen it. Very few date nights are in my world these days but I look forward to one day watching this with my daughter.”

–  Grace McPhillips, Actress/Producer

Jaclyn Whitehair“As an actress, I am always seeking scripts with interesting roles for women: Stories that are driven by intelligent and strong female characters. I hope this film sets the tone for what is to come in the future of films and paves the way for female characters to have leading roles in action films.”

–  Jaclyn Whitehair, Actress

Dara Zan Edelman“Old Hollywood is unfortunately the same old Hollywood. Womencentric movies have been doing well for years now. Between all the new Star Wars movies and their extended universe, to the hunger games franchise and so on, it’s important to see women kicking ass. I also think people need to realize that just because there is a woman filmmaker, it doesn’t mean she is going to have a woman lead. Look at Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker.Women and minorities are taking charge and it’s great. Moonlight was an amazing movie. It’s nice to see different perspectives not just in the film but how they are made and I think more and more people are realizing that.”

–  Dara Zan Edelman, Filmmaker

Wonder Woman opens in Chicago and around the world tonight.

Follow Colin Costello on Twitter @colincostello10.