There are superhero movies where the actions of the hero are never contested. Everything is sunshine and roses. The jokes land on the correct beats, the action is cut in exciting jumps, but there’s something missing. Patty Jenkin’s take on the leading lady of the DC Universe supplies what the super hero genre can lack: heart.
At 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and throngs of Twitter praise, Wonder Woman is the most well received DC Comics movie since Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Wonder Woman, as a whole, is a beautiful, fresh reprieve from the over-indulgent Super hero movies of the last two years. Unlike Man of Steel, and Batman V Superman, the film could be described as light, but with a setting of World War I the movie is not free from the strains of the world, as war and the repercussions of it are the main focus–besides the origin story of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince.
What I liked about Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was the way Superman/Clark Kent was portrayed. We saw the darker side of Superman’s past: how he never fit in and never would. With Batman V Superman we lost the heart that Snyder created in the first film, and personally that’s why I didn’t like Batman V Superman, and thought Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the saving grace of the movie. Patty Jenkins employed Gadot’s grace, and charismatic nature in even bigger and better ways in the Wonder Woman solo film.
Now, Wonder Woman is not a perfect movie. The overuse of CGI is still a problem, and the writing could be cheesy at times, especially with the main villain. I also felt that the supporting characters needed more time to be fleshed out. We get short, one-liners about their background, and troubled pasts and it wasn’t enough. But, over-all these issues did not take away from my enjoyment of the movie. I laughed along with Diana’s witty exchanges with Steve Trevor, and I cheered when the Amazons dove off the cliffs, charging into battle with the German soldiers on the beach. What Wonder Woman showed me is that the DC Universe needs to use more directors like Patty Jenkins, who can give us something new in a genre that is throwing movies at the world every other month.
What Jenkins did best with Wonder Woman was give us a good character arc for Diana. We start with a strong-willed and self-assured woman, who believes she knows how to fix everything, and by the end of the film we see Diana grapple with the truth that she didn’t know everything, and that there isn’t always one way to solve a problem. That war cannot be stopped with more death. That the human condition is not black and white.
Diana is not the only shining character in the movie. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is a delight. His interactions with Diana is what gives this movie the heart the DC Universe ached for. Their relationship is explored in a light-heated and truthful way. It is a bit fast paced, but in love and war there isn’t always time for pining and angst. The other supporting characters in the human world are interesting, but we don’t get to spend that much time with them. It is through them, though, that we get to see the effects of war on a diverse set of characters, and those effects transformed them from being clones of characters in other war films, and made them unique additions to Wonder Woman’s story.
The one thing I would change about Wonder Woman would be to use the Amazons, and Greek Mythology more. Once we leave Diana’s home island, Themyscira, the female count in this film drastically decreases. I understand why there weren’t as many women around in the locations the movie travels to, as they were not allowed to fight on the front, but I still felt the loss of female counterparts for Diana, as the Amazon’s screen debut left me wanting more. On the same level of Mad Max: Fury Road, the Amazons are a beautiful depiction of strong women who are also able to have other emotions, opinions, and passions. The love and respect between Diana and her Amazonian Mother and Aunt warmed my heart. But, also the way the Amazonian warriors feared Diana and her powers was relate-able to anyone who has experienced the loneliness of not fitting in with family, or friends.
Wonder Woman showed me what the DC Movie Universe has to offer, what it could be. I now can only hope that the rest of the films can live up to these standards.
Have you seen Wonder Woman? Agree with my review? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!