Wonder Woman is a film that is rooted in rich mythology and history but avoids the tropes and trappings of “throwback” films that rely solely upon nostalgia, and it’s a film that demonstrates how femininity is not the antithesis of physical (and emotional) strength but never resorts to cheap gimmicks to empower its female characters.
It’s a film that isn’t afraid to jump between Diana in adorable fish-out-of-water situations and Diana kicking a ton of booty on the battlefield, and it does so without inducing too much mood whiplash. It’s a tricky balancing act that we’ve seen be done badly in many superhero origin movies before but Patty Jenkins pulls it off masterfully here. Goes without saying, but Gal Gadot has improved and she has improved A LOT. While I thought she was just fine in Batman v. Superman, I was never fully on board with her casting and I wasn’t too sure that she would be able to lead a solo movie but I am glad that she does a great job in this one. She really shows the naivete and the fierceness of Diana really well, she’s not just some model, she’s an actress. Chris Pine is perfect in a supporting role that never overshadows Gal Gadot’s but never seems like one that was written to be purposefully inferior to hers either; they just complement each other so well.
One of the most fascinating about it is the thematic elements it took on in regards to the good vs evil nature of humanity. I’m starting to see the grand plans of DCEU, and what sets them apart from Marvel and I am not trying to say one is better than another. The DCEU want to tell stories of Gods and Men, and the stories they tell are approaching mythical status and deals with the strengths and shortcomings of these gods and how humanity accepts and rejects them. These films aren’t meant to be grounded like Marvel. They are elevated to a much more abstract level and want to raise heavy philosophical questions. These films are DCEU’s modern Greek tragedies.
I love how each film focuses on a different aspect of this pondering of humanity, and how each of the major character, the “holy trinity” (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) deal with it differently in their own way. In Man of Steel and BvS, Superman experienced the doubt humanity has of his good deeds. He learned that no matter how well intentioned, there is so much uncertainty in the world that his simple good deeds can be viewed dubiously by the very people that he tries to save. He saw that humanity problems aren’t black and white, and there may be no such thing as absolute good. Batman tried to do good, but for the years he put in, all the got was the battering of humanity’s grim, and almost succumbed to it. In BvS, he became the villains he vowed to defeat. His goals were no longer clear, and he was blinded by misplaced rage in Superman. He, like the rest of the world, no longer believed in an absolute good, something that Superman represents. Because of that, the distrusts grew and he resented what Superman stands for.
Wonder woman is born of an idea of absolute good. She was created for the single purpose of defeating evil. She isn’t so much a “God killer” as she is the killer of the God of War, which makes her the embodiment of peace. Another absolute ideal. She was untainted at the beginning and was compelled to spread peace. She thought that she could solve everything by defeating another absolute ideal. But she found that the world is much more complicated than that. Yet in the end, she found that no matter how complicated the world is, it is the absolute that will lead humanity through. For her that’s love. For Batman, it’s the absolute good in Superman, and for Superman, it is the ultimate act of sacrifice. The themes at work in these films are so compelling and fascinating that I cannot wait to see what’s next.
The positives of this movie are that it feels genuine; the characters and dialogue has a lot more nuance and it’s a joy to watch. The negatives are mostly technical and towards the end. This movie is a movie that everyone needed to see. Seeing my fiancee’s face after watching this movie, her face filled with hope and joy, it was truly moving and incredible.
SUPERSAM RATING: ★★★★