While Marvel revels in quantity, we are reminded that DC is more than capable of eclipsing their rival. They did it once before with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise and seemingly could again with Wonder Woman.
For eons, the Amazonians have lived and peace and awaited the time to come for their purpose. Said purpose being, to fight and defeat the God of War Aries. However, while they trained for centuries they never dared to venture off their cloaked island in search of him. They simply waited.
Yet, when an Ally spy named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) breaks through the cloak, the world of the Amazonians loses its innocence. One warrior, Diana (Gal Gadot), who has been in training all her life, wishes to jump at this opportunity. The opportunity to take part in Steve’s war and end it. After all, this is what they are meant to do right? This is why Zeus crafted and protected these women. However, her mother, the queen, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) forbids her to go.
But what is a warrior, a hero, without some rebellion? So, against her mother’s orders, she ventures with Steve to London. A place engulfed in poverty and the after effects of war. Something which leaves her desiring to fight every single last injustice. However, Steve makes sure to steer her back to the main one. That is, stopping General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his chemist Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya). One of which she believes is the modern form of Aries. Someone who, if she kills, could end the war and bring Earth back to a state of peace.
Yet, as you’ll see, Diana’s ignorance and naiveté allows her to never fully understand the male species. Especially when it comes to the complicated nature of who is good or evil.
The Fight Scenes
There are only a handful of actresses we regularly get to see whoop some ass. There is Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Milla Jovovich, Angelina Jolie (formerly), Ruby Rose (The newcomer), and now Gal Gadot. However, arguably Gal Gadot stands out above these women. For while Gadot’s fight scenes are CGI heavy, unlike what we from her peers, she is given more epic battles. All in one movie might I add.
What is also noteworthy about the fights in this movie is that Gadot isn’t the sole woman we see fight. Her mother, her sisters, they fight each other in sparring matches and participate in one massive battle. Something you rarely see. For, again, usually there is but one, maybe a handful of women fighting, like you’d see in a Jovovich or Kate Beckinsale movie. Not an entire beach full of bad ass women doing flips, archery, swinging swords, and honestly leaving you in awe.
Diana Is Allowed To Maintain Her Femininity Without It Being Proved By Being Sexualized
I often note this interview either Michelle Rodriguez, though likely Kristen Stewart, gave. The gist of the soundbite was how a lot of badass female roles seem like they were just gender-swapped. A complaint you can often see is true when you look at a majority of female characters in action movies. Of which, to try to regain some form of femininity, usually sexuality and physical appeal is used.
With Wonder Woman, that isn’t applied. Diana’s femininity is shown in her compassion for others, her willingness to feel, and be vulnerable. In fact, that is where her strength comes from. The ability and desire to love and feel loved. To fight for a greater purpose which isn’t for glory but so a kid could grow up peacefully. So that people can focus on living. Such as getting the chance to find that fabled soul mate. Someone who they may live the rest of their life with in bliss.
But, while soft, at the same time she is touted as a badass. Her being the best isn’t something just told to us, but something seen. It is made a point that Diana is unstoppable. Someone who cannot be defeated with any sort of ease, even if you are a god. So while most of the film does feature her just crashing into things, or deflecting bullets, it is that final battle with Aries which seals the idea that femininity isn’t a weakness. For Diana, it is a source of strength. It is a reason to maintain your resolve and it shows that even forgiveness isn’t weak. Forgiveness provides the type of lessons that may make you weary, but instills hope.
It’s Comical and You Feel Connected to the Characters
Now, is this film Marvel funny? No. However, it will make you chuckle here and there. All of which helps you with the fact that this whole movie is basically one 2+ hour flashback. One which, even knowing we may never see any of these people again, they make their presence known. Steve makes a wonderful partner for Diana as he demystifies men and helps her realize humanity is complicated. Then his friends, which an eccentric bunch, they help reinforce all that Steve exhibits and tries to teach her.
Though it is really their personalities which drive things home. Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) was an aspiring actor who charms his way into your consciences. Charlie (Ewen Bremner), as crazy as he is, due to PTSD, brings you a sense of peace as you witness his occasional moment of joy. Especially as Diana smiles listening to him sing and play piano. For it reminds her of what she is fighting for. And while The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) is your usual stoic Native American, he is worth highlighting too. For while everyone is fighting the big evil, his people were massacred by the last tyrants. Showing how complicated relationships can be between man as time goes on. For what once was considered The Chief’s enemy, is now a business partner if not friend.
It Does Not Have Replay Value
While certainly entertaining throughout its 2+ hour run time, the film doesn’t warrant repeated viewings. To me, Wonder Woman only sets a standard for the future of comic book adaptions focused on female characters. Outside of that subgenre, it isn’t truly noteworthy. Especially once you strip away the big to do about a female star. For really, all you get is your basic origin movie. One which mostly takes place in the past. So, similar to Rogue One, you know not to expect hardly anyone to be seen ever again.
But what really brings this film down is that no actor has that larger than life presence. In Wonder Woman, you don’t get that Heath Ledger, Robert Downey Jr. or Charlize Theron type. They are all similar to Chris Hemsworth. Meaning, they are adequate for the role, but it is hard to fathom success without that legendary character.
On top of that, even the villains, which is usually DC’s specialty, don’t have that special something. From the Ludendorff to Dr. Maru, and even Aries, there isn’t this hope they live to be in a sequel. There isn’t this vibe that no one could possibly eclipse their performance. No. Similar to many a Marvel film, they are just there to give our hero a challenge. Someone to push them to grow into a better warrior and that’s it.
The Special Effects
I’m no expert when it comes to special effects but for some things, like the lasso of truth, there was this lackluster quality. Sort of like, after all the money spent on everything else, some 3rd party was paid the minimum and WB got what they paid for. Which doesn’t take away from the movie in a huge way, but still was disappointing.
Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)
While this is a one and done type of film, what film nowadays isn’t? Especially blockbusters? For while they all build off of one another to form universes, on an individual basis, they have become throwaways. Consistently the hero is either a douche like Iron Man or wide-eyed like Diana or Peter Parker. That is pretty much your main options. Making it so, while the locales and name changes, you still get the same thing movie to movie. Also, you get a highly disposable villain. Then, to genre bend a bit, add jokes which usually deal with something sexual or poking fun at someone’s innocence. Add in a death or two, to create emotional depth and then “To Be Continued” styled ending. There is your formula.
Which perhaps leads you to wonder why this isn’t being labeled as Mixed? Well, it is solely because of Diana being a feminist character who treats femininity as a strength. That is what helps this film stand out and is perhaps the only real thing noteworthy about it. Otherwise, it’s just a long ass movie. One which just checks off all the boxes but I can’t imagine holding someone’s attention outside of a theater.
So consider this a film as the lower echelon of the Positive label than something which is solidly labeled that.