Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Neilson, Robin Wright
Director: Patty Jenkins
By: Myri Nieves
Warning: This post contains major spoilers. If you have not seen the film, please leave now.
When walking into this film you have two things in mind: ‘Will DC get this right?’ and ‘Will this be the movie to open all doors for female superhero films?’ It’s a hard burden to carry, but Wonder Woman had this on her shoulders ever since it was announced. Because of the scrutiny that DC films usually get, all eyes would have been on it regardless. It just so happens that in a market primarily dominated by men, many would be surprised that the first female superhero film would be the tying break between DC and complete failure. The darkness that DC loves to display in its films is present, but not dominating to the point of making everything too somber to really enjoy.
While the film does open with a melancholy sort of tone, it sets the mood for the actual story. This prelude will show the familiar photograph seen in Batman Vs Superman which made Bruce Wayne discover that the mysterious Diana was in fact not of this world. As she stares and recalls her days of nativity and hope, she also speaks on her disillusion with the entire human race. Her story begins with the island of her people, Themyscira, and the flourishing nation of the Amazons which were created by Zeus to protect the human race from themselves. As told by Hippolyta – Queen of the Amazons and Diana’s mother – Zeus had created humans in the image of the Gods themselves and were kind and just, but the envious Ares wanted the Gods to see the corruption of Zeus’s creation and poisoned them with envy, wrath, jealousy, and so on, which led to the warrior women’s creation.
After a great war between Ares and the Gods, every single one – Including Zeus – were defeated but not before the King of the Gods struck Ares down and bestowed a gift upon the women. They would have their own paradise where no one, including Ares, could find them and a weapon that only the strongest could wield in case he did return. This weapon is the ‘God Killer’ – a mighty sword that does exactly as the title suggests. Antiope – who is the greatest warrior the Amazons have – urges Hippolyta to let Diana train and through a visually striking montage, you see how they train her harder than any other so she is ready for any immediate threat, including Ares.
Antiope teaches Diana a very crucial and important lesson: the battle will not always be fair and your opponent, no matter how honorable you may be, will show no mercy at the strike. This lesson is pivotal for the film as Diana will deal with this exact problem both as a warrior and as a person. She first discovers the level of human cruelty when a man – Steve Trevor – lands in Themyscira from a fallen airplane and accidentally leads an invasion by the enemy to the island. This moment changes everything as this will be the first time Diana encounters man kind and death. She learns through the lasso of truth, which is bound around Steve, that a great war is happening in the world of man, the war to end all wars, and he is fighting to make it end. He reveals that he is a spy for British intelligence and infiltrated German camps to recover Intel but steals a notebook from General Erich Ludendorf’s top scientist, Doctor Maru (Doctor Poison), who is creating a deadlier version of mustard gas to win the war.
Diana is convinced that this must be Ares that has returned and in a moment of revelation, defies her mother and leaves the island to stop Ares and end the war. The film takes a childlike turn when Diana comes in contact with the outside world. Gadot excels in portraying the innocence of Diana, who does not know what a secretary is and thinks that carrying her sword and shield will not garner any attention. With the heavy premise of their journey, it allows us moments of laughter as she navigates through the human world and tries to adapt.
Steve delivers the notes to his superiors, including Sir Patrick Morgan, who is trying to negotiate peace and end the war. Diana is confused as to why Steve’s superiors do not let him or the soldiers invade and destroy the weapon that could kill millions and here is when we see her innocence start to fade and, again, Gadot plays this masterfully with Diana’s growing rage towards the injustice she sees. Watching Gadot portray Diana’s change is much like peeling an onion, layer by layer, to get where you want to be. Eventually, Steve forms a small party composed of spy Sameer, marksman Charlie, and smuggler Chief to infiltrate the German base camp and destroy the weapon themselves. Sir Patrick Morgan discovers their plot and gives them their blessing.
It is through this journey that they discover a village ravished by war and Diana decides to take the situation into her own hands and fights the enemy on her own to save the village. In this moment, she is Wonder Woman, defender of the people and the world’s champion. When I was a child, I looked up to this bold character and want to be her. As I saw this scene developing, I had chills, and the tears spilled out of my eyes. You weren’t just witnessing the birth of – arguably – the best female hero of all time, but the realization that little girls will look at her and go, “that’s my hero.” She is just, true, loyal, compassionate, kind, loving, and powerful. She is everything we aspire to be as human beings and the best of our kind.
The cinematography, directing, and the acting really comes together in this remarkable scene that showcases her true strength, courage, and conviction to do what is right and holds her promise to protect the world from evil. She, much like Batman and Superman, do not owe the world anything but they choose to serve it because they know they can do good and give a voice to those who do not have one. In a rare moment in any film, she even showcases compassion for the animals that are often mistreated in stressful situations of war. This to me is a remarkable sort of feat as this aspect rarely gets acknowledged.
While the film isn’t perfect by any means and at times falls into romantic clichés that weren’t needed, it’s a grand step up from Warner’s previous DC incarnations. The structure by direction and script of the film really bring the heart front and center and that’s what makes the film worth watching. It is through courage and love that the world can change and one person can start the revolution. As a woman, I feel as though we needed something to give us faith, hope, and a little perseverance for the days to come and this film/character are it. As I write this they have green-lit ‘Wonder Woman 2’ with Patty Jenkins taking command once more and I am confident that the faults this go around can be corrected and an even greater film will be made.
Official Rating: ✰✰✰✰