After years of middling box office and sometimes brutal reviews, Warner Bros.’ DC Comics movies are on an upswing. Aquaman was a huge blockbuster and a hit with many critics. Shazam hasn’t opened yet, but it looks like it will get the best reviews of any movie in the DC Extended Universe. And next after that is Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to what has been the most critically acclaimed DC movie Warners has produced since the end of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.

But ... maybe it’s not really a sequel? According to Wonder Woman 1984 producer Charles Roven, director Patty Jenkins does not consider the movie a sequel to her first Wonder Woman movie with Gal Gadot. He told Vulture:

She was just determined that this movie should be the next iteration of Wonder Woman but not a sequel. And she’s definitely delivering on that. It’s a completely different time frame and you’ll get a sense of what Diana-slash–Wonder Woman had been doing in the intervening years. But it’s a completely different story that we’re telling. Even though it’ll have a lot of the same emotional things, a lot of humor, a lot of brave action. Tugs at the heart strings as well.

According to any technical definition of a sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 is one. It’s the same cast, including Gadot, Chris Pine, and Connie Nielsen. It’s by the same director, some of the same writers and producers, and takes place after the events of the first movie. That’s a sequel. You can tell people it’s not, but it is.

What’s interesting to me is not so much the idea that Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t a sequel, but that the people involved in the film are trying to sell it that way, and that Warner Bros. and DC Comics is very quickly moving from a model where they tried to mimic Marvel’s approach to moviemaking — huge tapestries of interconnected franchises — to distinct, separate franchises that are barely tied together, if at all. Aquaman only briefly acknowledged the rest of the DCEU, and without spoiling Shazam, it’s totally different from the style established by Zack Snyder in stuff like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. 

Here, the producer of Wonder Woman 1984 doesn’t even really want you to think his movie is connected that tightly to the previous Wonder Woman movie, which a lot of people really love! That’s a pretty drastic change from “Look at all these movies we made! And they all fit together!” And given how well the early movies in this new style have done, audiences seem to like it.

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