The premise of most superhero movies is simple: our superhero or heroine has to save the world from the clutches of evil. Wonder Woman is no exception, since this adaptation to the big screen has Diana Prince facing off against longtime villain Ares. However, Wonder Woman not only had to save Earth from him, but also from the continuing downwards spiral of the DC Extended Universe. After the comic book community decisively shunned Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, it was up to Wonder Woman to save DC from continuous mockery.
Wonder Woman is the 2017 comic book adaptation directed by Patty Smith (Monsters) and stars relatively new actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince, and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. The movie has also faced fierce criticism after announcing female-only screenings and a complete ban in the country of Lebanon due to Gadot’s Israeli heritage. Thankfully, this article is a review and not a political piece so there’s no need to go into additional details. Feel free to research those topics on your own.
Also feel free to check out Wonder Woman this weekend, since Jenkin’s adaptation is easily the best film that the DCEU has to offer. It keeps that DC feel of a darker movie with deeper undertones. The color palette that DC likes to use, like those dark grays, fit fantastically with a movie set in London and the trenches of World War I. The movie focuses a lot on its action sequences, which I’ll touch upon later, while still offering some heart and humor along with some time to develop its characters, unlike Suicide Squad’s “Slipknot, the Man Who Can Climb Anything.” There’s a genuine connection between Diana and Steve that’s portrayed on the screen through scenes where he shows her how to adapt to life outside of Themyscira, for example, when Diana has to adapt to wearing appropriate clothes while adding humor in dialogue such as, “How do you fight in this?” There’s genuine feeling in this movie shown through Steve and Diana and her desire to save every person that’s been wronged and displaced due to the war.
Briefly summarized, Wonder Woman is definitely an above average comic book movie and the best one offered from the DCEU, but still suffers from a stale bad guys and a mediocre plot. Fantastic, smooth action scenes, lots of heart and humor, and a solid sense of identity are reasons why this movie shines. Go see it if you haven’t, since from here on out, spoiler warning. If you haven’t seen it or don’t plan to, feel free to read ahead.
Let’s talk about action. Action scenes make or break comic book movies, and the scenes in Wonder Woman are absolutely beautiful. The fighting choreography is absolutely fluid and the lack of jump cuts helps add to the smoothness of these scenes, with special mentions going to the epic beach scene and the beautiful fight in the town square. The few colors that stand out on Wonder Woman’s suit contrast wonderfully with the bleak landscape, and in my mind, the scene in no man’s land comes to mind. The blue, red, and gold mixed with the bright sparks from the bullet ricochets are truly wonderful uses of color. The cinematography didn’t strike me as anything special, unfortunately, other than in a couple places. The slow motion has been a criticism of mine in the past, since it felt like every other scene had an unnecessary amount of slow motion, but in Wonder Woman, the amount felt just right and used for great emphasis in certain scenes. The CGI used wasn’t terrible, either, but in some places, was way too overused, like in the final fight with Ares.
Many DC films lacked that emotional connection that really make good movies, and thankfully, as mentioned above, there’s a lot of heart and feeling in this movie. The plot is slowed down a couple of times, but not to an extent where it feels boring, but where it feels necessary and it adds a lot of emotional development to the characters that pays off towards a really saddening part where Steve tells Diana (who’s deafened from a recent explosion) what he really feels right before he sacrifices himself to save countless of lives. The emotion that Gal Gadot brought to that scene afterwards while barricaded by sheets of metal was the emotional climax that so many DC movies have been missing.
The other part of this movie that was a welcome change from DC was the humor in this movie, and most of it comes from Diana’s confusion. What are cars and revolving doors? Why can’t she walk around dressed like a spy but also carry her sword and shield? The concept of a whole new world is a great opportunity for humor, and Jenkins capitalises on that perfectly. The aforementioned secretary scene sounds like slavery to Diana because of the fact that this woman works for Steve, and the first boat ride out of Themyscira talking about marriage, reproduction, and sex is sure to be a classic comic book movie scene.
While the acting in this movie is nothing special, I wish they casted someone different for the role of Ares instead of David Thewlis. While he nailed the acting and ambitions of Sir Patrick and Ares, to me, he didn’t strike me as a god of war looking kind of guy, unlike Danny Huston, who played Nazi general Ludendorff. The twist that Sir Patrick was actually Ares instead of Ludendorff wasn’t really surprising, unfortunately, due to the scene in a pub where Sir Patrick has a sudden change of heart and sends Diana and company to the front lines. Chris Pine and Gal Gadot are probably the best that the movie has in terms of acting since they both play off each other really well in terms of back and forth banter about the differences in their worlds.
I also thought the plot was okay at best. It felt a little cliché for a superhero movie, but I am glad it only had one villain though, unlike past comic book movies introducing too many villains at once. Despite there being only one true supervillain, the twist mentioned earlier didn’t leave a whole lot of room to develop Ares’s character motivations, since the movie tried to throw us a red herring with the addition of Ludendorff. Overall, the movie left Ares feeling underdeveloped. I did like the idea of introducing Wonder Woman to the world and the whole addition of World War I into the plot points, but other than that it felt like your average cut and paste superhero movie plot. I also disliked that the movie was pushing the sword to be the true “god-killer” when they clearly kept hinting at Diana being the true god-killer, and the worst part was that the movie tried to keep the whole act going until the supposed “climatic” moment that was supposed to surprise everyone. Also, if Ares is corrupting people to make innocent people act evilly, when why is she killing supposed “innocent soldiers” instead of keeping them alive and slaying Ares directly?
I know I said earlier I wouldn’t get all political in this article, but there is the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. Wonder Woman is a feminine icon through and through, not just in our age, but one that dates back to the age of Lynda Carter’s days of Wonder Woman. This movie does a fantastic job of introducing strong female leads in Diana while also letting the male characters shine in their own rights. It also shows that it’s a movie about working together between sexes, especially in the town battle scene where Steve and company use a piece of metal to launch Diana into the clock tower to take out a sniper. Towards the end, Steve tells Diana his feelings like previously mentioned, but she telling him, “I can do it, whatever it is. I can do it,” to which Steve replies, “No, I HAVE to do it.” It adds so much more emotion to the movie and shows that Steve is a hero in his own separate right. I’m glad it didn’t force an overly feminist tone in the movie, and rather let femininity show itself and its strengths through the actions of Wonder Woman. I also liked the message that was delivered about humanity’s capability of doing good rather than evil, which in a world filled with constant conflict was a nice little moral boost.
Wonder Woman was a movie that needed to happen for the fate of DC Comics in the movie industry. Flawless action scenes complement a movie from DC that finally has heart and humor. However, it still suffers from stale bad guys, useless plot twists, and an overabundance of CGI. Thankfully, it put DC mostly back on track for Justice League after a series of misses, slated to come out later this year in November. The trailer from Justice League also showed a similar style when it comes to action, humor, and story.
What did you think of Wonder Woman? Let us know below.
Wonder Woman is currently in theaters and projected to open to around $175 million in the box office.