*Spoilers on plot points in the end!
The DC Cinematic Universe has not been my favourite thing lately. It just seems to continuously miss the mark for me, and just doesn’t measure up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Well, Wonder Woman changed the game on that. With this movie, DC stepped away from the forced hand on dark and brooding films and delivered a lot more complexity.
Wonder Woman is a sort of origins story for how Diana, a.k.a. Wonder Woman although she is never referred as that in the movie, came to be on Earth walking among humans. This movie is set during WWI, and so happens before her appearance in Batman vs Superman.
Diana is played by Israeli-born Gal Gadot. I had my doubts on how that was going to pan out, since I don’t particularly subscribe to a lot of what Gadot represents and stands for and I wasn’t sure she’d be able to sell Wonder Woman to me. However, I will be the first to say that she not only delivered, she destroyed. The role fit her like a glove, and potentially because of her background in the army, she was just so natural. From her accent to her expressions to the physicality of the role, she gave a fully fleshed out character (credit also to the screenwriters, of course). She was hard, soft, gentle, rough, compassionate, merciless. It was fun to watch.
Chris Pine as Captain Steve Trevor (Another Chris playing another Captain named Steve. I see what you did there, DC) was something to behold. I have always somewhat liked Chris Pine, but he has never been as likable as here. Steve is also a complex and well-built character, doesn’t play the macho-hero type and plays a lovely second fiddle to Diana. He feels like a real person amidst this fantastical superhero world.
Now, I *LIVED* to see Princess Buttercup/Claire Underwood become an Amazon General in Themyscira. Robin Wright can do no wrong for me, and seeing a whole new side of her was such a fangirl moment.
Steve’s friends, The Chief ( Eugene Brave Rock – A NATIVE AMERICAN PLAYED BY A NATIVE AMERICAN Y’ALL!! 10 points for Gryffindor here), Charlie (Ewen Bremner in a very lovable character), Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoul) were also a pot of gold of braveness, humanity, sadness, and fun. For a language nerd from the field of international relations, Sameer’s language-off with Diana was a little treat.
Thoughts on David Thewlis on the spoiler section below…
I know that originally in the comics this story seems to have happened during WWII, so I quite liked they changed it up to WWI here. It gave a freshness to the story, since so much of the superhero world has ties with WWII or the Cold War. I do find they may have written themselves into a corner there because of how Diana would react to WWII and how that would change everything. That might account for the different Diana we get in Batman vs Superman, but it just seems like it could evolve into a plot hole depending on how it is worked with in the next films.
Cinematography here was PHENOMENAL. Themyscira and its Amazons was gorgeously conceived and constructed. That trenches scene was so incredible and well-made and badass. I myself felt like getting up and fighting off criminals. They should have used that scene with Kashmir by Led Zeppelin playing for the trailer, it would have been as badass as the Iron Man/Iron Man by Black Sabbath awesomeness back in 2008. I feel I can say everything in this movie was badass, honestly. It’s been a week since watching it and I am still in awe of how good it was.
It had the right amount of humour, the right amount of darkness, I feel it respected the source material and the historical time to create a complex and well-balanced work. Not too pastiche, not too Joker in Suicide Squad.
I couldn’t be happier that a female-led superhero movie directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins) is gaining so much attention, positive feedback, and box office numbers. This movie wasn’t a badass female superhero movie. It was a badass movie in itself, and I hope its success show movie executives something they have been refusing to acknowledge: women sell. All it takes is a well-made, well-rounded story and characterisation, something female protagonists rarely have in big blockbusters.
Some things worth talking about:
- Steve’s untimely but heroic demise: I kept hoping he would have a way out. That he’d parachute out of the plane, or that Diana would make it in time to save him. But nothing happened, and he was really gone. Such a beloved character for me, but at the same time, I quite like the realness of it: not everyone gets saved at the end of the day.
- The movie’s relentless message of love, empathy and belief: love is often synonymous with cliché, so it was interesting that Diana’s love and empathy for humankind, for Steve, is what kept her grounded. That Steve’s love for humankind, for Diana, led to his sacrifice. Love, empathy and belief are powerful, they don’t have to be sarcastically scoffed at, they are not inherently bad movie foundations.
- David Thewlis as Ares: no. I mean, I love David Thewlis and his portrayal was good. However, it just made no sense that he would be negotiating an armistice, the reasoning he sort of provided for it was very weak and didn’t hold up to scrutiny. Also, for someone who is being propped up to be the big villain, he gets very little screen time to build up the character of Ares and the threat it represents. I feel he was very underused as a character, as was Thewlis as an actor, which is a shame.
- Ludendorff was also a problem for me. We were being lead to believe he was Ares, but then it turns out he is…nothing. Which makes little sense. Why the “You know nothing of the gods” phrase? Why that weird energizer Dr. Poison gave him? It was just poorly executed for me. Maybe some deleted scenes would explain the missing pieces?
- Doctor Poison/Maru: I may just have a problem with all the villains in this movie haha My issue with her is that she was a very one-dimensional, “crazy scientist” stereotype. While I can appreciate the fact they put a woman to be the mad genius for once (well, kinda, since Ares was whispering things in her ear…), it just fell a bit flat.
- End credits: I know DC would get a lot of hear and get accused of copying Marvel, but post-credit scenes would be highly appreciated. They are a little extra something that does add to the final product. Maybe a scene with Steve Trevor’s assistant, Etta (in a hilarious portrayal by Lucy Davis), or a bit on Dr. Poison, or on Steve’s friends, I don’t know… there could have been something. But that’s just wishful thinking for me.