Diana: No. But it’s what I’m going to do.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
In 2013 we had Man of Steel: It was…okay. It had its moments but there were one too many flaws to keep me from enjoying it fully. In 2016 we had Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad both of which were horrible letdowns in just how hyped and how disappointing they were in too many aspects to count. But in 2017 came yet another DC solo movie. And well…every good superhero movie gives me an experience of the journey in the eyes of the hero (or heroes rather in some cases). Each one is different and it’s something that I don’t forget. And that’s exactly what this movie does.
The story involves princess of the Amazons, Diana (Gal Gadot) of Themyscira (is it really that hard a name to pronounce come on people THEM-S-KEER-A) who is trained to be a powerful warrior by her fellow Amazons. As a child she learns how Ares, the god of war, tried to destroy humanity but was ultimately forced to retreat by Zeus though Ares vowed to return one day. One day World War 1 pilot Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on the island and tells her about the war happening in the outside world. Believing Ares has returned and convinced she can stop the outside threat and bring peace to mankind she heads out with him to do so and discover her true purpose and powers.
One of the first things I liked when looking back on this movie was director Patty Jenkins giving the worlds a distinct look from the colorful and luscious world of Themyscira, the grey and joyless look of London, and the despair of the trenches.
Another small detail that stands out is that Diana is never called Wonder Woman once in this movie (and while I’m not the biggest Batman v. Superman fan I did find it clever how they tied in Diana’s alias Steve creates for her of Diana Prince into that movie). It might be easy to criticize that but DC’s got a knack for seriousness and well the name Wonder Woman would sound cheesy as hell. But it’s not enough for simply a hero or heroine to be taken seriously. We also have to believe in them as well. And Jenkins understood that immensely in crafting Diana’s character. We see her warmth, innocence, compassion, determination, and optimism making her into a person who genuinely wants to help people seeing it as the right thing to do. We haven’t had a DC hero like this since Christopher Reeve’s Superman but works in making her into a legitimate character. The moment Diana and Steve arrive in London we spend a lot of the time of her getting to know the people she’s fighting with and building a bond with the people she seeks to look out for. Some like the people Steve recruits for the mission aren’t the most interesting of characters on their own but it’s very intriguing in just how differently they interact with our lead and it plays into Diana’s character traits, beliefs, and layers.
I don’t care if she should be taking bullets to the legs here or not this scene is awesome
All of this builds up to what is without a doubt my favorite action sequence in the movie: When Diana steps out of the trenches into No Man’s Land. It’s truly a scene where we see Diana’s ideals personified through action and you feel everything as she is fighting in there. Capped with a beautiful score, this is that unforgettable experience I was talking about when it came to superhero movies at its peak. It’s a scene where we see Diana’s power in action but a scene where we experience the defining of her character, what she stands for, etc.
At the core of it all is Gal Gadot herself who knows how to bring the aforementioned traits or emotions of Diana at any given point depending on what the situation requires. This is a portrayal on par with castings like Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man or Chris Evans as Captain America or Christopher Reeves as Superman or heck even J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. She’s someone who genuinely brings this character to life for the big screen. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor shares wonderful chemistry with her and his character is just as fun and charismatic.
The other members are a mixed bag. The other Amazons aren’t given much to do. Lucy Davis got a few chuckles out of me as Etta Candy but she didn’t to get to be in the movie much. The guys Steve Trevor recruits are definitely a diverse bunch but are somewhat cliched.
Sadly the biggest failure of this movie falls to its villains. Elena Anaya’s Isabella Maru aka Dr. Poison was underwhelming. While thankfully Danny Houston never goes Jesse Eisenberg territory he’s mostly hamming it up. And then there’s a matter of Ares himself. I’ve liked David Thewlis as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter movies for years. And I kind of dig his character’s plan at first: Not necessarily starting the war but planting ideas for people to do it well but with it ultimately falling to humanity’s love for violence. It very much creates a challenge for Diana’s loyalty with her seeing it as a battle of good vs evil but learning things aren’t black and white. But to make LUPIN into the god of war it’s just terrible miscasting. And it amounts to a horrible CGI fight that doesn’t do much good at all for the movie.
Although its final act is definitely a step backwards, its supporting cast is far from perfect, and its villains were weak, everything else is just filled with so much earnestness, so much belief, energy, and passion that I’m well willing to overlook it. I may be a Marvel fan first but I will gladly say DC won with their female superhero far better than virtually every female superhero in the MCU. And there is nothing that would ruin–
Ah crud! Well here’s to hoping for redemption in Wonder Woman 1984.