Finally, the world’s most popular female superhero gets her own solo movie as she makes her way to the big screen. Yet, the Wonder Woman movie has a lot to accomplish before it can be regarded as a success. Not only does the movie need to do justice to a feminist icon, but it also has to break the stink streak that has become a part of the DC Extended Universe. Watching this drama unfold was almost as thrilling as the movie itself. Could the movie overcome the poorly rendered special effects, uneven lead performances and a frustratingly executed fight in the climax? Yes, the movie does its job and Wonder Woman manages to resonate emotionally with its refreshing take on the typical Superhero formula. They have finally given us a true bona fide hero.
There is no denying that this is a superhero movie and yet the story of Wonder Woman is so different than the super soldiers and street vigilantes we have become accustomed to. Therefore, you never feel as if you are covering old ground. Even Thor falling into a small town in the middle of nowhere from his space palace holds no candle to Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) entering a world full of death and hardship after leaving her breathtaking and beautiful island behind.
The philosophy behind her tale is drastically different from its other DC siblings; it doesn’t force you to think what would happen if superheroes existed in the real world. Instead, rather than trying to explain how gods like Ares and Zeus could be real, it simply accepts this mythology. Signature items such as her bracelets, tiara and lasso present themselves gradually as the story unfolds. The origin of Wonder Woman has been explained repeatedly in the comics for explaining some ridiculous elements, but the movie doesn’t stop too much and simply marches on.
Flashbacks are used for explaining her origins, which began with a young Diana and the women who brought her up. Connie Nielsen’s Queen/Mother Hippolyta and Robin Wright’s General Antiope both wish to raise her right, but the disagree on how to protect her. Their culture dictates that she becomes so combat proficient and fit to be able to put 300 guys to shame. These scenes do an excellent job of establishing that Wonder Woman doesn’t take no for an answer and also explain how she is so good with a lasso, sword and shield. The arrival of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor, an American spy, brings trouble in paradise.
We see some exciting stunts in the ensuing battle as he is pursued by Amazons on horses, but the action lacks in terms of scope and focus, which makes it difficult to follow. However, the emotional chords in the scenes come through loud and clear and give Diana’s character her mission for the rest of the movie. This element persists throughout the movie; the action is not always sharp and on point and the technical aspects falter, particularly in the fight in the third act, but it works due to the unflinching performance delivered by Gadot.
The best moments of Wonder Woman don’t come in effects-heavy fights or predictable plot twists; they come from when Diana sees the outside world in the midst of World War I and is disgusted at the injustices. She wants to set them right, but she is a bit naïve due to her concepts about good and evil because she doesn’t see the grey areas that Steve and the rest of the society do. The emotional core of the movie is undeniably compelling and it is this clash of worldviews and Diana’s journey of overcoming her disillusionment that form the character of Wonder Woman as she is in the comics.
Perhaps the best scene of the movie is when she dresses in full superhero costume and climbs out of the trenches in the face of German fire. Her decision to ignore her doubters and letting her actions do the talking is the galvanizing point of the film. It is the most unique scene because she is fighting for the ideals and values she believes in rather than just for a cool fight scene. Furthermore, the action scenes of Wonder Woman are definitely a breath of fresh air as opposed to other superheroes.
She is super tough and can leap high into the air for hitting the truck, but she is not invulnerable like Superman. This means she has to switch between attacking with her lasso and sword and defending with her bracelets and shield. Yes, the movie is not as visually crafty or technically masterful as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it has plenty of style. There are going to be plenty of arguments for deciding if this is a feminist movie that captures the essence of Wonder Woman. But, the fact of the matter is that she has flaws and ambitions, she rages and loves, she feels sadness and joy and she fights her own battles.
More importantly, she doesn’t just talk to other female characters about men and she doesn’t take no for an answer. The movie could have just as equally become a self-parody, given that it is a mix of a society of immortal women who are nationless and soldiers of the World War I era and it needed a strong cast and performances to stop this from happening. Thankfully, Pine delivers exactly that as he balances his charm with the weariness of a man who has had enough of war. Steve’s secretary Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) is also a great addition, even with limited screen time.
Wright and Nielsen also do a good job in portraying their characters and give Diana the support she needs in forming her character. The villains don’t get a lot of screen time, but they do their job quite well. The actual antagonist of the movie is war and its consequences as the movie aims at making a statement instead of showing a super person just punching something, which makes Wonder Woman excel.