I think I speak for many of us when I say that we’ve long wanted to see a superhero movie that encompasses more than a showdown between good and evil. We as humans don’t just want to be saved, we want to see ourselves as agents of change.
We want to see compassion in action, love, and mercy extended to the undeserving, and peace reigning over our differences. We want to see what a different world would look like and how we can bring it into being. It would make sense, then, to tell a story about a different kind of superhero.
Wonder Woman is the definition of compassion, sacrifice, and courage. She gives everything in her power to create a better world
It’s taken a long time, but we finally have a woman-led superhero movie that's actually good. Scratch that - great. Wonder Woman is a glass-ceiling-shattering masterpiece that was worth the inexplicable wait.
Here’s a crazy factoid. The last woman superhero movie was Catwoman back in 2004. That's right – thirteen years ago, people.
Director Patty Jenkins’ (Monster) Wonder Woman is the product of years of lobbying with studios to both finance a film about a woman superhero and to hire a woman to direct it. Not that Jenkins hasn’t had her chance. Since Monster (2003), she’s kept a steady stream of television projects going, but she’s turned down some big opportunities in the name of integrity. That spoke volumes to me even before I saw Wonder Woman. It promised that it would tell a story worth being told.
If you’re unfamiliar with our heroine, Diana of Themyscira is the princess of the Amazons (and is stunningly well-played by Gal Gadot (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). Since Wonder Woman is an origin story, we meet Diana when she’s still a young girl, dreaming of fighting with her sister Amazons. Eventually, Antiope (Robin Wright, House of Cards), general of the army, trains the princess in secret. With her help, Diana becomes the most skilled warrior of the Amazons.
When WWI Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, Star Trek Beyond) accidentally crash-lands his fighter plane into the sea of their hidden paradise, the peace and safety that Diana has always known is shattered. Not only does he unwittingly draw battle to the island’s shores as he's pursued by enemy boats, but he also introduces the Amazons to the Great War taking place in the human world. After hearing Steve’s testimony about the horrors of World War I, Diana’s convinced that it’s the work of Ares and she takes it upon herself to stop him.
Who is Ares and what does he have to do with World War I? Well, Ares is the god of war who destroyed the peace that mankind once enjoyed. Only the Amazons can stop Ares from destroying mankind once and for all. Diana believes World War I is his doing.
After Diana arrives in London with the aid of Steve, they gather a motley crew and set off to the Western Front to find Ludendorff (Danny Huston, American Horror Story), whom Diana believes is Ares himself.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jenkins relates:
“We need a new kind of hero. It's not easy to be a hero. You do it because of what you believe, not because of what other people deserve. I wanted to talk about the fact that we can't defeat the evils upon us by slaying one villain. We're facing a time where each country has such legitimate complaints against each other and this has all been going on for so long that if we're going to come to a world of peace in the future, we have to lay down the past and become responsible heroes ourselves. Often what that requires is love and peace instead of battle. That is a hugely important message to the world right now from my perspective.”
Ah yes, a hero with a relatable message! Wonder Woman is an example of all we are and all we can be. I think this challenge was well-understood by Jenkins and Gadot.
Speaking of which, Gal Gadot was the perfect choice to take on the challenge of playing this iconic hero. She’s the real deal, folks. Not only is she as beautiful and statuesque as an Amazon, she also fights like one. In real life, she has served in the Israel Defense Forces, won the title of Miss Israel in 2004, rides motorcycles, and is a wife and mother of two. #goals, amiright?
That was the conclusion my friends and I came to after seeing this film. Our cozy little group included a filmmaker, a comic/film enthusiast, and one of the most ladylike warrior women I know. Each of us had high expectations, and we were still talking about Wonder Woman the next day!
Wonder Woman is all-around solid. Diana’s character is a woman who stands unashamed of her identity and walks fearlessly in it. She uses her mind and her heart, leading humanity by example and inspiring them to be more. I know women like her, and I aspire to be like her myself.
And then there’s the technical quality of the movie, which gets solid kudos across the board. The acting is excellent. The stunts are inspiring. The locations and cinematography are stunning. The costumes are detailed and well-thought out. Never has a strapless dress looked so combat-worthy. And the score… Okay, between you and me, I tend to listen to the Wonder Woman theme from the Batman v Superman soundtrack when I need an extra boost of can-do attitude. I was just waiting for the film’s score to be released and it does not disappoint!
Ok I guess, there are a few notes on how the movie could be better. The dialog was super comic booky and a bit trite but it’s a comic book movie and it had moments when it felt slow. But then Gadot poses mid-air in some epic fighting stance and deflects a few bullets and all is forgotten.
Gah! I just can’t stop gushing about this completely badass film!
Not just because my woman friends and I have finally found a superhero we can identify with, it was just that good. It’s a film that stands on its own merit. Not because a woman directed it, or because the casting was diverse and on-point (though those are landmark achievements). But it’s the kind of film that anyone can go see and thoroughly enjoy.
Our token man left the cinema feeling as inspired as the rest of us, and my fellow Amazons and I practiced our roundhouse kicks outside, feeling more empowered than a film has made us feel in a long time.