Warning: Spoilers for Wonder Woman inside!
In 2016, the world was introduced to Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While the boys were busy fighting each other until they realized their mom has the same first name, Diana Prince was on an entirely different mission: retrieving a photograph of herself that placed her on the battlefield in World War I. At the time, it seemed weird that Wonder Woman was hung up on the photograph. After all, it’s not like anyone could prove it was her. What possible motive could she have?
Modern superhero movies have conditioned audiences to expect certain things. McGuffins will be deployed to get the story rolling. The third act will involve a giant portal in the sky. And every act the hero does must be to move the plot forward. Wonder Woman defies all of these tropes and more. But it’s her true purpose in desiring the photo of her and her newfound friends in the village of Veld that performs a cinematic miracle. It completely retroactively changes Diana’s role in Batman v Superman.
Without the context of Wonder Woman, Diana plays as a woman hiding a secret in BvS. She’s at Lex Luthor’s party, steals his metahuman data, and generally behaves as if she’s worried about the eccentric billionaire outing her and others like her. Now, knowing she simply wanted the Veld photo for sentimental reasons (which is a perfect valid motive, thank you very much), Diana’s involvement in Dawn of Justice goes from ‘I must protect my secret identity’ to ‘Oh my Zeus, what are these idiot boys doing now?’ Armed with this new information though, the three major players in Batman v Superman truly met at Lex Luthor’s party as a moment of Shakespearean serendipity. A comedy of errors that will eventually lead to the formation of the Justice League.
Remember, before Doomsday started wreaking havoc, Diana Prince was on a plane. Who cares if Lex Luthor is following her around? She’s been saving the world since before Luthor’s father was a glimmer in the universe. She’s an ancient mythical princess. All Diana wanted was that photograph of Steve Trevor and Batman screwed it up. If I was a betting gal, I’d say Diana already knows about other metahumans and, quite frankly, found Luthor’s information collection mediocre. It’s not until the billionaire creates Doomsday that she even bothers to see this conflict as in her wheelhouse.
Why does this change things? Because it converts Wonder Woman from another vigilante with a penchant for violence — like the DCEU versions of Superman and (always) Batman — into a peacekeeper. Diana simply wanted a memory of the first man she ever met, the first man to teach her that humans can be decent. The first man to tell her he loved her. But being a proponent of love doesn’t mean Wonder Woman is weak. When she sees innocents in danger due to Doomsday, she never hesitates. Diana didn’t start the fight, but she will damn well finish it. Off-screen somewhere, one day Diana Prince will tell the story of how she met the Justice League, and it will begin “If it weren’t for Steve Trevor, I’d never have met these guys.”