Do yourself a favour and go and see it. There are so many reasons this ticked so many boxes, starting with Wonder Woman herself. Gal Gadot does a fantastic job as the determined and headstrong Diana. The daughter of Hyppolyta, Queen of the Amazons, Diana has lived in a community of women on the island of Themyscira her whole life. She has no idea of her destiny as Wonder Woman.
The island, seemingly untouched by time, is protected from our world and hidden, seemingly, from Ares, the god of war. But that hasn’t stopped the Amazons from continuing to train as kickarse warriors.
Diana grows up there, initially training in secret under the guidance of her aunt, General Antiope:
Unbeknownst to the Amazons, the “world of men” has been at war for the past 4 years. It’s 1918 and millions of people are dead. Spy Captain Steve Trevor inadvertently manages to crash through the protective barrier in a small aircraft and is promptly followed by a bunch of German soldiers. The ensuing battle horrifies Diana (who, up until this point, has never even seen a man) and she is drawn into the world of men. She believes that Ares, is behind the conflict. Putting an end to Ares should, in theory, end the war.
Into the world of men.
Diana strikes a bargain with Steve; he wants off the island to complete his mission, she wants to go to the front to find Ares and basically stick him with her sword to bring peace. They team up and leave Themyscira for London. Diana finds 1918 London to very much be the “world of men”. She’s hit on in the streets, made to dress in clothes no one could comfortably fight in and causes outrage by having the temerity to speak in an all-male war council.
Even her new ally and side-kick, Steve, seems bent on sidelining her at first. Diana is clearly the smarter of the two but he takes some convincing. Her strength, skill in battle and courage take him some time to get used to as well. A product of his times, Steve tries to call the shots but Diana has little patience for that.
Wonder Woman has no time for your shit, Steve.
With a roll of her eyes, she gives no fucks and does and says what she wants to, anyway. Whether it’s speaking up in front of important army Generals or taking on the Germany army largely on her own, Diana gets on with business, never doubting her own capabilities.
Unlike other brooding superheroes from the DC Universe (I’m looking at you, Batman and Spiderman!), Diana is entirely comfortable in who she is and what she wants to achieve.
The bit I didn’t love.
Yes, the storyline is implausible and the theme super-earnest, but it’s a superhero movie. Neither of those things were unexpected. I didn’t sit myself down expecting anything else; I just wanted to be entertained. The push against sexist stereotypes was a welcome addition, for sure.
One aspect that left me scratching my head was this:
On their mission to the front, Diana and Steve pick up three companions to help them on the way. A Turk, a Scot and a Native American. Yes, there is a bar involved. No punchline, though. Each of these characters has their own moment of poignancy but honestly, I wasn’t sure why they were there. Perhaps it was to lay the groundwork to develop their story lines in future films?
Battle, banter and baddies.
The battle scenes are what you’d expect from a big budget action film. Improbable, explosive and impressive all at that same time. The female warriors (including Wonder Woman, Diana) have this amazing acrobatic fighting style and it’s showcased with brief slo-mo shots, often mid-air. It’s awesome fun to watch and makes you want to hit the gym and maybe get a sword or at least take up archery.
The villains include the evil General Ludendorff and his ruthless and mysterious chemist, Dr Maru. Together, they’re working on a shocking weapon. Captain Steve Trevor seems to be the only one who wants to stop the devastation in it’s tracks. Because, of course, we can’t have a superhero movie without a heroic story arc for a man, right?
That said, Chris Pine plays Captain Steve Trevor and for all his flaws, he’s quite likable. The banter between him and Diana is well placed and entertaining. They bounce off one another well and although there is an obvious undercurrent of attraction, this is often played with good humour. The small bit of romance is understated, sweet and doesn’t overshadow the story.
There seems to be a lot hinging on the success of Wonder Woman in terms of female-led superhero movies. There are some great feminist elements to the movie but at the same time, it could have been further explored. Diana seems to take the innate sexism she finds in the “world of man” in her stride. While she pays it little attention, she also doesn’t really question it, which is possibly a missed opportunity. As far as women, equality and this film go, this sums it up neatly:
All in all, I gave it 4 stars.
Gifs via Giphy.