Wonder Woman is a 2017 superheroine action film, based upon the DC Comics character of the same name, directed by Patty Jenkins. It is the fourth film in the DC Extended Universe following Man Of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad., and features a script and story by Allan Heinberg, a comic book writer who spent some time as the lead writer on several DC Comics properties. The film stars former Israeli soldier turned fashion model and actor Gal Gadot as the hero, Diana, Princess of Themyscira, a member of the Amazon people, a society of powerful female warriors, of which she is the only child.
Diana is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta and was given life by Zeus. Diana dreams of one day becoming a warrior like so many other Amazons, but her mother forbids it. She is instead secretly trained by her Aunt Antiope, general of the Amazon Army. It is discovered she possesses impressive powers. In 1918, British intelligence officer and pilot Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, is pursued by German forces, crashes on the shores of Themyscira, and is rescued by the Amazons, which results in Antiope’s death. Trevor, the first man Diana has ever seen in person, is understandably fascinated. Suspecting the mastermind behind the war may be Ares, The God of War, who has long been predicted to return after his defeat by Zeus, Diana decides to accompany Trevor to London to assist in the war effort.
The DC Extended Universe, Warner Brothers’ answer to Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been off to a pretty horrible start, I’m not going to lie. Although I got some enjoyment out of Man Of Steel, it certainly wasn’t anything above passable; the following effort, Batman v. Superman, was a complete mess. To be honest, I was going to review Suicide Squad after it was released on video, but I couldn’t even get through the first twenty minutes. I was beginning to wonder if the DCEU would ever produce a legitimately good feature.
Thankfully, Wonder Woman wins the prize of being the only good DCEU feature worth anyone’s time. Patty Jenkins, director of 2003’s Monster, is, in my opinion, the only director DC has hired worth her paycheck; I have long-maintained that Zack Snyder is an overrated director and a huge problem for DC properties in both the long and short run of things, mainly due to his overwhelming focus on style over substance, which I find to be the downfall of the majority of his films. Thankfully, Snyder stayed away from this property and now we have finally been given a film with a cohesive narrative, likable characters, and well-planned action sequences. Though I felt the 2 hour and 21 minute film was slightly overly long, it is ultimately solid entertainment.
I feel the film owes a lot to Heinberg’s script, which finally injects levity into the brooding wormhole that has so far been the DC Extended Universe. There are finally some solid laughs. A veteran of the comics industry, Heinberg is a writer who finally understood Batman should be the only one allowed to brood and mope like a heartless cynic. Indeed, Diana is, dare I say refreshingly, naive and idealistic. I believe I enjoyed this film because it is the only DCEU film I didn’t come out of confused and/or sad, usually both. Wonder Woman, for once, was actually hopeful.
For me, the standout of Wonder Woman was Star Trek’s Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. He has a lot of charisma and hits a lot of the film’s comedic and more lighthearted notes, as well as the more serious, important moments. Gal Gadot is pretty good as Wonder Woman, but I felt she faltered at points when trying to adequately express emotion, though not so much so that I would count her performance as negative in any way.
There were some confusing plot holes in this film, mainly Aries’ plan to cause the end of humanity with the Armistice, which he pushes for throughout the film. It is never explained why he does this. Also, the film’s climax, the final fight between Diana and Ares, falls into cliche and is uninspired. It could have easily been remedied by Heinberg.
I found it interesting (and good) that the DCEU finally made a mainly self-contained narrative without mentioning Superman, The Justice League, or anything else. The narrative does start out in present day with a picture of Diana and Trevor circa 1918 being delivered to her by Wayne Enterprises on behalf of the man himself, but as it is a larger universe, I can see how that very minor plot point would be a necessity.
Ultimately, Wonder Woman is finally a solid film from the DCEU. With a solid script from someone who actually knows what they’re doing, a good director who also knows what they are doing, and good actors, I am very happy to see an actual good DC film, although the fact that it took four tries to actually make a good film is still very worrying to me, maybe the franchise has finally found it’s footing.