It should’ve never taken this long for us to get a female-led superhero movie.
But I’m glad this is the first one.
Wonder Woman, on top of being the best DC-based movie since The Dark Knight, is a marvelous film — one that was worth the wait and the hype, and it gives us hope that a) Justice League might actually be good, and b) we can have more diverse superhero movies.
Patty Jenkins did a fine job in her big-budget directorial debut, and Gal Gadot embodies Diana Prince the way Robert Downey Jr. embodies Tony Stark and Chris Evans embodies Steve Rogers. I hate comparing Diana to male heroes, but in the movie landscape, that’s pretty much all there’s been until now.
Can the Catwoman and Elektra jokes (those films did not fail because they were female-led; they failed for the same reason Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern failed: because they were bad movies). Wonder Woman is a fantastic film, a bright spot in the otherwise bleak DCEU, and proof that an iconic character such as Wonder Woman absolutely belongs in what is an increasingly-crowded comic book movie market.
In fact, she stands out. Wonder Woman is easily on par with my other all-time favorites in the genre — the aforementioned The Dark Knight and Captain America: the Winter Soldier. But what makes Wonder Woman stand out, even then, is Gadot. The moment she first appears on-screen, she grabs this film by the… I’ll go with horns here, because I feel like the other analogy would be too obvious… takes control, and doesn’t let go until the credits roll.
She is the epitome of Diana’s strength, conviction, and belief in mankind’s inherent good — even when repeatedly shown otherwise. Her fish-out-of-water arc, which harkens back to the first Thor, is a surprising source of comic gold, and it works a) because of her rapport with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and b) because Diana is never the butt of the joke. Gadot strikes the perfect balance between the badass, the compassionate person, the idealist, and the goofball. Diana is all of those things, and Gadot embraces them all.
The opening chapters (this is a book blog, after all) on Themyscira are beautiful, as is the big fight scene (even in its brutality). Later in the film, when Diana has her first true badass “I am Wonder Woman” moment (those who have seen the film know), it’s remarkable in its intensity, its cinematography, and the fact that Diana is shown to be a badass without throwing a single punch.
That scene brought a tear to my eye. And I know I’m not alone in that.
I bristled at the romance between Diana and Steve, but that’s because I reflexively bristle at any romantic subplot anymore. I’m at a point now where, unless I’m watching or reading an actual romance, keep the love out of it. And dammit, can we stop letting guys named Steve get on planes?!
This film isn’t perfect; it suffers from poor villains (which the vast majority of other comic book movies do), the twist in the third act fell flat for me, and the final battle was a jarring change given the tone the first two acts established. But those faults do not truly detract from what is an otherwise amazing cinematic experience, and Wonder Woman is still one of the genre’s best in spite of those.
It remains to be seen if Wonder Woman can fix some of the damage that Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad have done to DC’s cinematic efforts, but as a comic book movie — and as the first such film to star a female hero — it’s a tremendous accomplishment. I will see Justice League this fall just to get more of Gadot’s Diana, and I will be back for however many Wonder Woman movies they decide to make (Gadot deserves at least 50).
Wonder Woman is a fantastic movie, one that every fan of the genre should see, and it proves that diversity of character and diversity of creator need not be something we shy away from.