The latest movies to come out of the DC extended universe have been mostly disappointing. The release of Man of Steel in 2013 was about an average reception by both critics and fans, some critical about the direction the story took, specifically Superman’s big battle with General Zod towards the end of the movie. Last year’s releases of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad wasn’t any better either. Both films suffered from convoluted stories, terrible editing, and really bad plot holes. The only good thing both films seem to have going for them was the brief introduction of Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman and Margot Robbie’s turn as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. With DC struggling to score a home run in the box office that its rival Marvel seems to be hitting without any real trouble, the only exception being Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, you almost had to wonder if DC’s time in the movie business may be over. Wonder Woman is the latest studio entry for Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment. A lot has been riding on this film to succeed and to pull DC out of its slump. Luckily for the studio execs and for the people who have been dying for a juicy female led movie that’s entertaining and more, Wonder Woman has pulled off what the previous roster of films haven’t.
Wonder Woman is the origin story of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), a princess who lives on the beautiful paradise island Themyscira. The island is populated and run by Amazons with Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) as Themyscira’s ruler. You watch as Diana grows up from being the little girl who loves hearing her mother’s tales on the battlefield to becoming the young woman who can fight better than her Amazon sisters with the help of General Antiope (Robin Wright), who trains and prepares Diana for the day when she may have to fight and protect herself from any oncoming threats. Diana’s journey to become the Wonder Woman we know and love doesn’t truly begin until she rescues and meets World War I American pilot and soldier Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) when his plane crashes on their island. Hearing about a war that’s raging beyond their island and thinking the god Ares has returned to cause havoc, Diana is unable to standby and do nothing. She joins Steve to go back to his world of man to help him with the fight.
The film, directed by Patty Jenkins, seems to avoid the major pitfalls the previous DC movies had. The story is actually really good, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and Diana has a crisis of faith moment in deciding what she stands for and what she believes in––something Man of Steel tries but fails at exploring and executing well. Plenty of care and consideration was taken in making the best movie possible, to give us the Wonder Woman the world deserves and needs, and I think DC may have learned their lesson with the missteps taken with the previous movies.
Wonder Woman is fun and exciting. The best scenes in the film are naturally when Gadot’s Diana dons the costume and becomes Wonder Woman. But a scene where the Amazons fight back a group of German invaders on the beaches of Themyscira is just as spectacular. If you enjoyed Charlize Theron’s Furiosa and the battle scenes with the Vuvalini women in Mad Max: Fury Road, then you’ll love the Amazon warriors in their battle mode in Wonder Woman. Their action sequences gave me goosebumps and it almost makes you want to let out a battle cry of your own and raise a fist in the air as you’re watching the movie in the theater. The fight scenes are choreographed to be fluid, graceful, and almost like a dance. It’s really beautiful and jaw dropping to watch. I personally wouldn’t have minded having more time with the Amazons of Themyscira. This is definitely a film where the women are in charge, strong, capable, and kicking all sorts of ass without any need for assistance by men.
Gadot fits the role as the new Wonder Woman that Lynda Carter made famous in the 1970s TV show. She humanizes and makes Wonder Woman an accessible superhero. One who is kind, optimistic, headstrong, and at times innocent about how the world works. These are qualities I felt were missing in Henry Cavill’s Superman or Ben Affleck’s Batman. There’s an almost cold detachment to these superheroes that doesn’t really build any attachment or understanding to them. Not exactly. Gadot’s Wonder Woman allows the audience to feel what she’s going through. We see Diana navigate the world of man and her learning some hard lessons along the way, as well as how she applies her newfound knowledge. There are also plenty of funny moments in this film, whether she’s perplexed by how women can fight wearing the fashion they wore during the era or Diana’s attempt to go through a revolving door with her sword and shield, staring down the door with an expression of seriousness and concentration. If Man of Steel and Batman v Superman didn’t know how to lighten up, Wonder Woman makes sure to have some fun and avoid walking around in a dark cloud of gloom and despair. As one critic of a movie review I saw said, “it’s a breath of fresh air.”
Wonder Woman is both empowering as it is humbling. It’s about how the woman becomes the superhero she’s destined to become and the ultimate champion to help a flawed and imperfect humankind. It’s about finding hope and love in darkness and despair. Armed with the strong convictions Diana has gained during her time fighting World War I with Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman is ready to conquer the world and be the role model little girls can look up to to become their own warrior of justice and goodness.
Check out some shots of some very special guests that came to say hello during an advance screening of Wonder Woman I was lucky enough to attend last week!