The Wonderful Wonder Woman

Fantastic. Amazing. Incredible. Wonderful. (pun intended)

DC finally got one right. Not just “better.” Right.

Wonder Woman is a truly good, exceptional, inspiring movie that lives up to the considerable hype which precedes it.

High praise? Yes. And well-deserved.

One must inevitably mention how Wonder Woman fits into DC’s Extended Universe, and I will in a moment, but as for the movie itself, standing on its own feet…

First thing’s first: Wonder Woman proves, absolutely, that there can be such a thing female superhero movies of quality. Every fan of female superheroes – which is pretty much everyone – has known this for a long time and has been waiting with simmering impatience for Hollywood to actually do it. Speaking personally as a fan of such figures as Buffy Summers, Sophia Dennison, Lara Croft, Shayera Hol, and the many women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – bonus points if you know everyone I just mentioned – I can say that I love female heroes, and I can fully understand my fellow fans’ impatience. Seeing Diana of Themyscira take the lead on the big screen, at long last, is a great and enjoyable relief.

Even more heartening, however, is how this is not an isolated example. More and more strong women have been getting the limelight, including DC’s Supergirl on the CW and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, the women of Agents of Shield, and the impending production of Captain Marvel. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But, as Wonder Woman herself has long been the single most classic and iconic of female superheroes – not to mention the role of her debut film in the developing DCEU – it really was quite important for DC and Warner to get this one, especially, right.

Happily, they did.

Strong women: not an entirely new concept!

Skating around spoilers as much as possible, Wonder Woman tells the tale of Diana’s beginnings, how she grew up on her island, how she came to leave it, and how she means to challenge the darkness of the world itself. She intends to be a light against all the evil found within humanity, and so she is, though it doesn’t quite go as she planned.

On which note, I was pretty against the idea of setting the film in the first World War, but now I see the sense it makes. The story they wanted to tell was one of the light and darkness within all of humanity. While telling a story of intertwining good and evil might have been doable in World War Two, this is the story of how Diana learned that blame can’t be laid on just one person, which would have been very much undermined with a figure like Adolf Hitler in the mix. She begins the story with notions that are noble, but a bit simple, and in learning how things are more complicated, she loses her naivete.

The Great War was also a similar lesson to humanity. Just prior to this, the great advancements made in science and technology made it seem as if they were on the brink of enlightenment, of curing all humanity’s ills and suffering. People began to have a kind of faith in science. But the horrors of the war illustrated the failings of this, because the mere expansion of technical knowledge is without the virtues of morality or love, as demonstrated by machines guns and gas bombs. In that sense, as humanity was learning how incomplete its knowledge was, it serves as a perfect setting for Diana to learn the same. Eventually, she has to arrive at her own conclusion, to have her own answer to a rather complicated question.

Wonder Woman: strong and wise.

And that is just one way in which Wonder Woman is delightfully intricate and uplifting. There’s how Diana meets the great darkness of war alongside the everyday injustices of prejudice and ignorance. There’s how her relationship with Steve Trevor is believable, entertaining, and important to the climax. There’s how she witnesses the nobility found within men she once dismissed as liars, killers, and criminals. There’s the unexpected nature of the true enemy she seeks, as well as the truth about herself.

All of this is propelled forward by thrilling action, stellar music – her famous theme felt much less “out of nowhere” in this movie – and all-star acting. Gal Gadot is perfect as Diana, Chris Pine delivers a powerful performance as Steve Trevor, and every other member of the cast carries his or her weight beautifully, including the antagonist which, due to spoilers, I will not elaborate on. 😉

Oh, while it does not shy away from the horrors to be found in the Great War, and in humanity, the entire story is told in a way that is very friendly for the audience. The darker subject matter and some images may not be appreciated by very young children, but the language is clean, the violence is not so bloody, and there is no nudity or innuendo to be found… well, ok, there is the scene where Chris Pine has to cover a particular area of himself, but it’s not really anything you can’t find at any swimming pool in the world. 😉

There are a couple technical aspects which could have been better improved, of course. Nothing’s perfect, and I can name a few holes. The German general, for instance, had this gas that made him stronger, but it didn’t really come into play, so it was a wasted gimmick. It’s also strains credulity just a little for a village they liberate to be so close to an important party and for both to be within spitting distance of an unnoticed air field, and for Diana and Steve to notice a certain smoke signal but not the Germans. So, the transition from place to place in the last act is a little choppy. Finally, I wasn’t quite sure just what it was that Diana saw or heard in the closing scene that inspired her to take off in full Wonder Woman regalia. All of these, however, are pretty minor and forgivable.

“I am fighting straight through the plot holes!”

The one thing that really didn’t make sense to me is how Diana, at the end of the film, declares that she has been, and will always, fight for the light of humanity. That feels slightly incongruous with the version of her we saw in Batman v Superman, where it seemed to me like she had given up on humanity once and was just barely reigniting her determination. Furthermore, if she’s been fighting for a good century now, how is it she’s not world famous or something?

And here we get to Wonder Woman‘s place in the DCEU.

First and foremost, it is far and away the best one yet. It absolutely blows away the previous three movies and sets a new standard for them to achieve in the future. 🙂

Even better, if they make movies like this from now on, then they will suddenly have closed the gap in quality and interest which lies between the DCEU and the MCU. DC will finally be giving Marvel a proper run for their money again! And that is a thought that makes me very happy! 😀

There are a few things in Wonder Woman which are typical in the previous movies, but much less pronounced, much more reasonable, and much more balanced.

Yes, they have Diana doing battle with a god, with the fate of the world at stake, and there is terrible death and destruction, and really big explosions. But they make sense here, and are oddly more restrained, which, considering the divinity of Diana’s opponent, would seem counter-intuitive. But it works.

Not to diminish the thrill of the explosions or the power of her enemy! 😉

Yes, they have, as I have previously complained about, the whole “dark and epic” thing going on here too, but, again, not so bad as before. There is actually light and love and laughter to be found! There are smaller, more subtle, everyday things, mundane things, which are important and receive due attention.

I had feared Suicide Squad might be the only installment to feature the ordinary and extraordinary shining together, side by side, but Wonder Woman had that in spades.

“I bring hope for the future.”

Best of all, where it has felt like Warner and DC were stuck using the cookie cutter approach and just trying to mass-produce several Dark Knight films, Wonder Woman is actually unique, in many ways, which is very heartening.

So, some minor technical complaints aside, I loved this movie. Wonder Woman is a well-told, beautiful story, and a powerful addition to the DCEU. I will definitely own this movie! 🙂

Rating: 10 stars out of 10.

Grade: A-Plus.

 

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2 Responses to The Wonderful Wonder Woman

  1. Pingback: MCU Copycatting: The Arrowverse | Merlin's Musings

  2. Pingback: Justice League, Assemble! | Merlin's Musings

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