Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen
I’m so happy to say that I really liked Wonder Woman. Isn’t that just so refreshing to say? I really enjoyed a film in the DCEU, finally. It’s been a long time coming! Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad. These were all very bleak, dark, dingy, depressing, disaster filled affairs. I honestly believe that Suicide Squad is one of the worst comic book movies made in the last ten years, and we were subjected to Josh Tank’s Fantastic Four during that time.
Wonder Woman’s plot is pretty simple. It’s basically an origins story, but told in a way that keeps things moving at a fast pace, which makes it thoroughly engaging. We meet a young Diana (Gal Gadot), princess of the Amazons, living on the island of Themyscira. Her whole life she wants to be an Amazonian warrior, yet she has to be trained in secret by her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright), because her mother, Queen Hippolyta, doesn’t want Diana finding out the truth behind her existence.
It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.
Eventually, a pilot, who we later learn – thanks to a rather amusing scene involving the Lasso of Truth – is a spy called Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crashes nearby the island. Diana saves him and he tells them of the devastating war (World War I) which is being waged in the outside world, and this spurs Diana to leave the island with him in what she believes to be her mission to destroy Ares, the God of War, and save the innocent lives that are being taken by this awful war.
As mentioned above, Wonder Woman is an origins story, which many people may roll their eyes up at. “Yet another superhero origins story… Really?” Yes, it’s true that these have become commonplace in the superhero genre. The fact that this film is set to the backdrop of World War I also brings to mind Captain America: The First Avenger. That said, Wonder Woman is so much more than just a copy of the first Captain America movie. Firstly, not only is this the first female-led superhero film since 2005’s Elektra, but it’s also the first superhero film to be directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, and that’s something of which to take note.
I will fight, for those who can not fight for themselves.
It’s inconceivable that it’s taken this long for Hollywood to give the reins of one of their tentpole superhero films to a woman, but that’s Hollywood for you. However, putting sexual politics to one side, it’s also the first film in this post-Nolan DCEU to actually be any good. In many ways, Wonder Woman takes these DC superhero films back to the genre’s roots. Synder’s films have been far too concentrated on the internal struggle our favourite DC superheroes face, which makes watching these films very depressing indeed, and slightly tedious. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman wants to go out and save people, making her DC’s first real hero. Superman and Batman have been acting like selfish and spoilt brats so far in the DCEU, whining over their own personal tragedies, and not focusing on the bigger picture.
Gal Gadot is simply perfect as Wonder Woman. I take my hat off to whoever cast her, since it was a real masterstroke. Not only does she kick serious butt, she’s also able to demonstrate Diana’s naivety to the outside world. Think about it for a second. This is a woman who’s been literally living in paradise her whole life. No wonder she thinks London is hideous! That was arguably the best line in the movie, along with Diana’s quip about not needing men to experience, “the pleasure of the flesh”.
This leads me nicely onto my next point, which is the brilliant on-screen chemistry between Gadot and Pine. Not only do they look great together – they are two “above average” specimens of the human race – but their relationship also feels very genuine. Moreover, I’m not ashamed to admit that Chris Pine’s performance brought tears to my eyes, but I won’t say anymore on that front.
We’re headed to the front. We’re probably going to die. This is a terrible idea!
The only problem I had with Wonder Woman was its final third. As is usually the case with these modern day superhero films, they all have to end in a big brawl, and unfortunately, Wonder Woman is no exception. It does end up being a dark and dingy CGI mess towards the end, and that’s a shame because the film had been so captivating up until that point. Marvel’s movies also suffer from this problem, yet these DCEU films’ endings are especially problematic. Marvel demonstrated with Doctor Strange that they are at least attempting to address this, and create something genuinely different and engaging.
Sadly, Wonder Woman’s final third follows the same template as both Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad’s. It’s very dark, lots of CGI, walls of fire and too much devastation. There’s nothing new about it, and I found myself losing interest slightly.
That aside, Wonder Woman is a breath of fresh air, and it’ll hopefully revitalise the DCEU and serve as a platform from which to kickstart the rest of the franchise. Yet, I’m still trepidatious about Justice League, but at least we’ll get to see Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman once again and hopefully hear her kickass theme tune and see her unique fighting style, equipped with her Lasso of Truth, sword and shield.