When fans have adored a character for over 75 years but her only cinematic appearance is in The Lego Movie, it’s no wonder that Wonder Woman‘s arrival has been more anticipated than even James Comey testifying before Congress. Then, Patty Jenkins directs the film with a cast of mostly women and a crew with more women than usual? On the surface, it almost sounds like an experiment in finally proving the Hollywood Studios wrong about the selling power of women especially female superheroes. So, did it work?
Wonder Woman in many ways is the typical film about feeling out of place and trying to find your destiny. Others have already made the comparison to Moana especially when they both grow up on an island. Little Diana (Lilly Aspell) is so incredibly cute and the audience is allowed time to fully understand the future superhero’s background and culture. However, the constant foreshadowing about her paternity seemed a little forced. The actual reveal worked well for those unfamiliar with Wonder Woman or that had kept up to date with the New 52 but for older fans, some seem confused by the new mythology.
The film is at its best when letting Diana (Gal Gadot) be Wonder Woman; using her God-like powers to take down everyone in the vicinity. It’s a thrill to behold. Her body dances through the air like a ballet. Her sword strikes like a natural appendage. The bullets clink off her cuffs like a percussion instrument. A yellow glow illuminates the twirls and twists of her lasso. All other pieces of action without her seem almost superfluous. The praise everyone’s heaping on the “No Man’s Land” scene is truly merited.
Naturally, there are some nice fish out of water scenes for Diana and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who prompts her exit from the island. Diana’s comment that the duties of Steve’s secretary (Lucy Davis) sound like slavery was a nice nod to Wonder Woman’s original feminist roots. Steve is a nice foil to Diana and they have a great chemistry. He’s the more seasoned military veteran who knows the value of spying and reconnaissance, very similar to a male version of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). That’s not the only similarity with Steve and that Marvel film either which was a bit distracting. However, it was very nice to see Diana and Steve’s little band of warriors filled out by a Scot, Muslim and Native American played by actual representatives of their groups (Ewen Bremner, Said Taghmaoui, and Eugene Brave Rock). Unfortunately, it seems to be a one shot deal.
The film is not without flaws. It suffers from some typical introductory film problems. Diana is so lovingly crafted and characterized that others remain barely more than stereotypes. The “twist” with the villain is so predictable that my mother would later comment, “I knew it was him!” Both of us also correctly guessed the villain’s specific demise. More insight into Dr. Maru’s (Elena Anaya) motives would have been nice. The score by Rupert Gregson-Williams sometimes sounded hampered by incorporating Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman theme, first heard in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, like it was two different films at times. Still, the photograph subplot will have greater significance now.
Wonder Woman is a step in the right direction. It’s a film acknowledging that there needs to be more representation in film and the box office receipts prove that people will come. In between the plot holes and tropes is some timely discussion on war, love and beliefs. Plus, despite the script problems, it’s still the best DC film since Christopher Nolan stopped directing for them and well worth seeing just for the fight scenes alone.