After much anticipation, the fiercest warrior on the planet finally gets her shining moment on the big screen. Directed by the fantastic Patty Jenkins, who led Charlize Theron to an Academy Awards’ win with Monster (2003), the latest installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) proved to be its strongest. Ever since the world was introduced to Superman with Man of Steel (2013), the DCEU has been riddled with mixed responses from both critics and fans. Although Batman v Superman (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016) were box office hits, the backlash spoke volumes to the execs at Warner Bros., and change to the overall narrative was in dire need. Now that it has been released for the world to see, Wonder Woman (2017) has proven to be the fresh spark that the DCEU desperately needed. There is indeed hope for the future.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been the dominant force within the comic book movie market (both critically and box office wise), many were anxious to see when the DCEU was finally going to earn its seat at the table. It’s safe to say that Wonder Woman has become the first DCEU film to successfully stick its foot in that door. Jenkins blends a positive social message, along with defining what it truly means be a badass, in her superhero narrative and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The world needs its Wonder Woman.
Set during the early 20th century, Wonder Woman follows the adventures of a young Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) and her trials to become the fearless warrior you know today. On the island of Themyscira, purposefully hidden from the rest of the world, Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Neilson) and aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright) spend their time preparing the rest of the Amazon warriors for that moment of war to return once again. After a U.S. military pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crash-lands on the island, Diana quickly learns about the ugliness of what mankind has become on the outside and sets out to bring an end to it all. She sees this as an ancient “Great War” birthed by Greek mythology, but the audience knows this war Trevor refers to as World War I. Nevertheless, the mission is all the same and the two embark on a journey to overcome evil and save humanity, ending the war once and for all.
The storytelling is one of the strongest elements this movie has to offer. The message behind power and balance rests on Diana’s shoulders, as she sees the world as one that can truly be good with a little push. Since she’s been secluded her entire life, her interactions with the outside world shine as some of the strongest moments in the film, as well as the entire DCEU. Gadot shines in this role, as she brings a level of innocence, curiosity, charisma and power to the character. You will truly believe that she is a God amongst men, in a new world that is in desperate need of her guidance on the quest for peace.
The scenes where Diana interacts with the real world is where this movie separates itself from the otherwise ultra-serious, hopelessness tone that the rest of the DCEU has provided thus far. There is fresh, genuine humor that comes from Diana’s innocence, and nothing feels forced. At times when moments can follow that clichéd superhero film formula, Jenkins flips it and goes in the opposite direction. The chemistry between Pine and Gadot is flawless and helps progress the story smoothly.
The World War I time period is another element that makes Wonder Woman work because it gave the filmmakers and opportunity to create their own narrative without relying on continuity from the previous three films in the DCEU (which are set in present time). Where the other films failed, Wonder Woman succeeds, as the narrative is focused and straight-forward. This is an origin movie about the most powerful female superhero of all-time and Jenkins made sure to give Gadot all the time she needed to succeed in that regard.
Aside from the witty storytelling, the action sequences proved to be just as strong. Gadot’s physicality to the character embraces power and elegance in its highest degree. The choreography during these fight scenes evoke enough emotion to where you feel the pain Diana’s inflicting on the bad guys. This is due to Jenkins’ work behind the camera, utilizing slo-mo when necessary and not going over-the-top with it.
The balance between style and violence works as both eye candy and story progression. As Diana slowly learns more about herself, she realizes how stronger she is and how “weaker” the enemies in front of her have become. The most memorable sequence comes from one that’s briefly teased in the trailers and television spots. It is referred to as the “No Man’s Land” battle. The execution is captivating and heart-pounding, capturing the pinnacle of what every superhero should strive to be. Courageous, powerful and most importantly, heroic.
Aside from a few dialogue issues, the main con that Wonder Woman carries is its ultimate antagonist. It turns out to be the script’s laziest element, unfortunately. Although not awful, the way that the villain comes to be is bland, however sufficient enough to provide for an entertaining showdown in the third act. There’s so much positivity to be said about this movie beforehand, the lack of depth from the bad guys turns out to be somewhat of a nitpick.
Wonder Woman is truly one of the most important superhero origin films to hit the big screen. After 75 years, the world finally has their definitive female hero in Gal Gadot. Her time has come.
FINAL SCORE: A-