As you see above, the word “wonder” can be used as a noun or a verb. Of course, in Hollywood, it can also be used as a movie title judging by this year’s fall films. Did you know there are four movies coming out before the end of the year that feature the word “wonder” in their titles? They arrive on the heels of a wonderful summer movie called Wonder Woman that has grossed more than $800 million worldwide. And yet, none of these films are shamelessly coasting on the success of that superhero movie, as each picture earns its title.
Stephen Chbosky’s WONDER (Nov. 17) and Todd Haynes’ WONDERSTRUCK (Oct. 20) are both coming-of-age dramas based on bestselling books by R.J. Palacio and Brian Selznick, respectively. Selznick adapted his own book, while Chbosky teamed with Steve Conrad and Jack Thorne to adapt Palacio’s YA hit.
The simply-named Wonder follows a young boy (Jacob Tremblay, Room) with a facial deformity as he attends school for the first time. I haven’t seen the film or read the book, but I imagine his classmates are cruel to him at first, and over time, he wins them over because he’s a truly special kid, a wonder of the world, if you will — hence the title.
Meanwhile, Wonderstruck features two young protagonists (Oakes Fegley and Millicent Simmonds) from different eras who secretly wish their lives were different, prompting them to set out on quests that unfold with a certain symmetry. The word “wonderstruck” is an adjective used to describe a person who is experiencing a sudden feeling of awed delight or wonder, and children are certainly more likely to be wonderstruck due to their limited life experience. Judging by the film’s fantastical trailer, the title, as with the book, strikes me as a good fit.
Then there’s the case of Angela Robinson’s PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN (Oct. 13), which tells the sordid secret history behind the world’s most famous female superhero, Wonder Woman. The fortuitous timing of the film makes as much sense as its title, which refers to Wonder Woman’s creator (Luke Evans) and the two women in his life, his wife (Rebecca Hall) and their girlfriend (Bella Heathcote). The three carried on a relationship together when such arrangements were considered very taboo, so not only did they jointly serve as the inspiration for Diana Prince, but they were truly wonder women of their time off the page.
Finally, there’s Woody Allen’s WONDER WHEEL (Dec. 1), which takes its name from the famous amusement park ride at Coney Island, where the story takes place. The poster depicts Kate Winslet in front of the titular wheel, which is right outside a bedroom window — though we’re not sure whose bedroom it is — the one she shares with her husband (Jim Belushi), who operates the carousel, or one belonging to a handsome young lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) who catches her eye.
Clearly, these four films couldn’t be more different, and yet the word “wonder” fits each of them. Only time will tell whether these titles will enjoy wonderful runs in theaters, or whether marketing executives will be left wondering what went wrong. Either way, it’s safe to assume none of these movies are going to steal Wonder Woman‘s box office crown, as Oscar nominations will be the real gold prize for this quartet.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief