By Neal Steichen, MA ’17
It is no secret that DC’s attempt at a cinematic universe has left many fans disappointed. Whether it is a lack of a coherent, substantive story in favor of flashy, dramatic moments, or reinterpretations of beloved characters with a more “modern” or “gritty” appeal, the last few years have rough for audiences. The DC Comics extended film universe sincerely needed a win.
With all that riding on its Amazonian shoulders, Wonder Woman delivers. The film goes back to the basics as an origin story for Diana of Themyscira (Gal Gadot), daughter of the Amazonian Queen. When the Amazons’ island paradise is accidentally invaded by the German army and undercover American Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), Diana takes up the arms and armor of her people to go to the realm of mankind to end World War I and kill Ares, the God of War.
The film certainly keeps in pace with the rest of the DC franchise with rich moments of pure spectacle. This film has no shortage of explosions and jaw-dropping fight scenes. That said, nothing in this movie is particularly surprising. Of course, there are a fair number of twists and turns, but the movie on the whole is quickly being understood as the standard, paint-by-the-numbers superhero origin. Though there are some surprises in store, there is no real subtlety around them.
It would be a disservice to not mention the importance of this movie in terms of gender representation. Wonder Woman, as a character, has been one of the most visible depictions of a strong, intelligent woman. In a cinematic environment that is heavily male-centric (on top of already heavily male-focused superhero films), Wonder Woman finally gives a solid push towards balancing the playing field. What I really appreciated is that the film’s time period is keenly used to juxtapose and enhance this theme of what it means to be a woman in a man’s world.
At the end of the day, Wonder Woman is not a perfect film, but it does have a coherent story, compelling drama, beautiful action, and a superb cast led with strong direction. If you missed it in theatres, find a copy and enjoy something on par with Nolan’s Batman Begins.