I’ve been up since 4:45 AM, I’m dog tired, and I have to go to work tomorrow. By all accounts, I should be in bed, drifting off to dream land instead of sitting at my laptop taking long blinks to keep my eyes from drying out but I’m not. I am indeed sitting at my laptop, with a fresh beer and a plate of chicken taquitos because earlier tonight I had the honor and privilege of taking my mom to go see Wonder Woman, the first movie featuring the titular Amazon as the main character and the first proper, big budget, comic book movie with a female lead character. (GTFO Elektra and Catwoman, you don’t count because you were terrible.) There were a lot of questions going into Wonder Woman – Would this be the movie to right the DCEU ship? Could Gal Gadot carry the movie? Would this be the female lead super hero movie we’ve been waiting for? In short – Yes, Hell Yes, and Yassss!
There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s get into it!
A Wonder Woman movie was a long time coming but I think part of the reason it took a while to get off the ground was Wonder Woman’s awkward origin story. It’s not quite as clear cut or well know as other DC mainstays like Batman (parents killed in alley, uses fortune to become vigilante, uses bats as a symbol to strike fear into bad guys) and Superman (alien, home planet explodes, sent to Earth, alien biology + yellow sunlight = super powers) but a bit more…. odd – Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazon warriors molds her from clay! Ummm ok then…. See? Awkward – especially when contrasted with the other big DC characters. DC being unable to come up with a good way to present Wonder Woman’s story was kind of a joke when compared to Marvel characters like Rocket Raccoon.
DC: “We can’t figure out how to do a Wonder Woman movie because she’s confusing.”
Marvel: “Eh fuck it, here’s a talking raccoon with machine guns.”
With all that being said, DC finally figured it out with the help of director Patty Jenkins and writers Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder, and Jason Fuchs. Wonder Woman does a great job of explaining that origin story which is key to understanding the character going forward in the DCEU and because, well, this movie is an origin story. Before seeing this movie, I only had a vague idea about who Wonder Woman was as a character from what little I’d seen of her in various cartoons and the animated movie that came out way back in 2009. After seeing this movie, I feel I completely get where the character is coming from, her motivations, and her reason for being who she is.
Now, we’ve already seen Gal Gadot turn in a great performance as Wonder Woman in last year’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice so we knew she could embody the character well in a supporting role, but would that translate to carrying a full movie, especially when her character isn’t moving forward but going back in time about a hundred years? It absolutely did. Gadot completely sinks into being Princess Diana of Themyscira/Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. She is incredibly charming as the “fish out of water” and conveys a true feeling of innocence as she explores the world outside of her island home. It also hurts your heart a bit for her as you watch her begin to learn the evil that is in this world. I, for one, cannot wait to see her in this role for years to come.
Actually, speaking of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, I really think that this movie elevates Gadot’s performance in BvS which I’ve only seen once in theaters. I may go back and revisit BvS to see if I like it any better after getting the added context from this movie. There’s no doubt that BvS was not a great movie but Gadot’s Wonder Woman was definitely the shiny spot on the dirt pile.
As for her physicality, she is just as amazing in the action sequences, as amazing the sequences are themselves. I love, love, love the way they designed the hand-to-hand combat in this movie and the fluid way Wonder Woman and all of her fellow Amazons move. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gadot’s two years of service in the Israel Defense Force where she served as a combat trainer, had more than a little influence on the fighting style developed for Wonder Woman. (It also looks like her time in the IDF caused Wonder Woman to be banned in Lebanon due to the ongoing war between the two countries – sucks for you Lebanon!)
Chris Pine is every bit the leading man he needs to be here, taking charge when he needs to but never taking away from Gadot’s Wonder Woman. I really enjoyed his character even if it wasn’t explored as deeply as it could have been. But again, this is not his movie.
It was also a really smart play by the writers to set this movie during the first World War as it helps set this movie apart from it’s sibling film over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Captain America: The First Avenger) and it keeps the movie from just retreading the already worn through villain in the Nazis. The type of warfare that was allowed in World War I is also a major plot point in this movie so setting in World War II would have necessitated changes for the worse.
As for negatives for Wonder Woman, all I really have are nit picky things…. The shwoing of passage of time is a bit clunky like when characters travel long distances and there are a couple green screen shots that come across looking awkward but for the most part this is an all around solid movie with no real major flaws or issues.
I really enjoyed Wonder Woman and as it stands now, it is my favorite of the four movies that currently comprise the DCEU. I can’t wait to go see this again next weekend with my wife (who hates opening weekend crowds) and to buy it on Blu-ray in a few months so I can watch it with my daughter as soon as she is old enough.
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Until next time, Thank You for reading and…
SEE YOU AT THE CINEMA!