Ever since her creation in 1941, Wonder Woman has grown and changed with the times. Her origin story seems more fluid now as we look back in history yet, her social conscience and drive for truth and justice remains a constant. Further, Wonder Woman’s story is something that we have never seen to date. This is a standalone, strong, female hero that has virtually no weakness and can stand toe to toe with the world’s Superman. There have been other female superheroes before but with the exception of a Supergirl flop in the late 80s this marks the first female hero to get a standalone film.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect is that this milestone comes from the DC universe. Marvel has been cranking out excellent films with a working formula for almost a decade however they’ve never put up solo female film. What is even more amazing is that this film does not fall victim to the dour, dimly lit, and generally sad formula that recent DC films have adhered to. The terrible sadness that was Batman V. Superman and the Man of Steel seem almost like a memory when you’re watching Wonder Woman.
Let’s start with the easiest item to critique, the costume. Unlike the recent trends in DC films Wonder Woman’s costume seemed to actually have some colors in it. It was slightly altered from the comic book style as well as the TV show we’ve grown accustomed to but it still looked good. Moreover, this scene in which it is unveiled held excellent significance to both comic book lovers and the feminist cause. He and her merry band were pinned down in the trenches of WWI without a seconds hesitation she leapt over the trench and began sprinting across “NO MAN’S LAND”. Veterans understand the phrase and now moviegoers have an insight. More to the point there was beautiful symmetry to the idea that only a woman could lead them through no man’s land.
The idea of using World War I as a backdrop for the film had some people questioning its potential for success. However it makes perfect sense to use the Great War instead of World War II given the enemy in the film. World War I marked the transition from the old style of war to the more modern style we know today. Example, planes we’re just finding their purpose in war, gas was being explored as a weapon, but the most blatant call back to 17th century fighting was the idea of using trenches. Prior to World War I army’s march towards each other in a battlefield. As of the Great War armies still picked a battlefield but now used trenches instead of phalanx. The villain Ares god of war is seen guiding man toward the creation of deadly weapons. The advancement of war is portrayed as his mission. Thus showing that there is room to grow in battle opens many doors for future films.
Gal Gadot is perfectly cast. She is lovable, charming, and believably tough. The best part of the film is the introduction of Steve Trevor aka Chris Pine who unintentionally leads a band of Germans to Themyscira. What ensues is a fight on the beach that rivals most scenes in the Marvel Universe. The Princess Bride herself Robin Wright leaps into the action destroying all soldiers in her path. It was a surprise I’ll admit to see Clair from House of Cards be as physically brutal as she is politically in that series. Unsurprisingly the stunning Connie Nielson plays a perfect Queen Hippolyta and shows she has action moves as well.
For a movie of this magnitude both in scope and impact on the female population you need a top-notch female director. Patty Jenkins of Monster fame led this project and made it look easy. Moreover, after all the sorrow of the first two DC installments maybe all future directors should be women. She also has the distinction of being the first woman to helm a top grossing live action film.
As per usual there needs to be some negative things discussed. I make the clarification that I liked 90% of the film. However the third act fell victim to the Man of Steel “video game” quality. At the end of both films you have two larger-than-life characters with superhuman abilities that engage in a battle that most normal humans can’t even see on screen. What I mean by that is he action is happening so fast and is so blurred that it seems like you’re watching a video game instead of the movie. These are the perils of writing and directing god like superheroes. The Batman, Ant-Man and Spiderman all have a more human quality to their fights then say Superman or Thor.
There’s too much that’s great about this movie to list them all. What I will say is that I have seen many superhero movies in my life and this ranks among the top five. It has several parallels to “Capt. America the First Avenger” but I’m not ruling that as a knock or negative. In fact it was a smart idea two pair the first DC female outing against a very successful and similarly clad Marvel hero. When I look onscreen it’s easy for me to connect with the heroes I see being that they’re largely male. I had no trouble finding a way in to this film. Even though the lead was a woman she embodied all the traits of an action star and the hero.
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