Unlike her best pals in the famed DC Trinity, Wonder Woman has never had her origin story told in live action. Meanwhile every man, woman and child knows how Batman and Superman became the beloved heroes they are today.
The woman tasked with the weighty responsibility of telling Diana’s tale was director Patty Jenkins and if Rotten Tomatoes and box office take are anything to go by, she pulled it off spectacularly. The film currently holds a 93% rating on RT, the highest by some margin of any DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie, and an impressive worldwide opening weekend haul of $228 million. It’s no mean feat when you consider that Wonder Woman’s real battle is not with Ares, the God of War, but with the dubious honour of being the follow up to much-maligned previous Warner Brothers/DC entries, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. It wasn’t even that long ago when Jenkins had to publicly dismiss rumours that her movie would follow suit and be a complete mess.
Wonder Woman’s journey begins on the hidden island paradise of Themyscira. Home to the female warrior race of Amazons. The lush landscapes and brilliant blue water are a stark contrast to the gloomy backdrop of World War I which serves as the setting for the remainder of the film. When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands off the coast and warns the Amazons of the war raging in the outside world, Diana, unable to stand by while people are being hurt, returns with Trevor to dreary old London to do battle with the Germans and stop Ares.
It’s pronounced guh-dote
Gal Gadot is beautiful and captivating as the title character. She is equally charming and funny as an innocent and curious new visitor to the world of men, but also adequately portrays the disillusionment a naive person as herself would likely experience once they realised the horrors of which humanity is capable. One minor gripe I have is that her dialogue is at times rather clunky. Lines like, “I command you to tell me the truth,” whilst her magic lasso is wrapped around her foe, up the cheese factor considerably.
In my recent Guardians of the Galaxy 2 review I poked fun at Chris Pine for being the only Chris in Hollywood without a Marvel contract but one could argue that at least he chose the right DC comics movie. His chemistry with Gal Gadot is one of the highlights of the film providing genuine laughs and a romance that doesn’t feel forced in the slightest.
While the rest of the cast is somewhat short-changed by Diana and Steve hogging the limelight, French/Moroccan actor Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer, one of Steve’s trusted allies, manages to steal a few scenes including some amusing back and forth between himself and Diana.
I was excited to learn that this franchise would be grounded in Greek mythology with Ares as the primary villain. Yet, bizarrely, we find out early doors that Ares has killed all the other gods and more disappointingly, because of the way the story has been structured to not give too much away, the character ends up being under-developed.
Bringing the God-Killer to a gunfight
Wonder Woman boasts some exciting action sequences including an impressive show of hand-to-hand combat training and a brief battle on Themyscira exhibiting Robin Wright’s innate badassery as Amazon general, Antiope.
In another pivotal scene, Wonder Woman almost single-handedly takes out a German-occupied town, unleashing her sword – the awesomely-named God-killer – on a horde of enemies armed with rifles, to the tune of Rupert Gregson-Williams’ heart-pumping soundtrack. There are moments when the fighting takes on a video game-like quality but it is forgivable when depicting the movement and power of a demi-god.
Zach Snyder, director of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, has a story credit on Wonder Woman but you’d be forgiven for thinking he had a hand in the battle scenes as well. The liberal use of slo-mo in the film harkens back to Snyder’s breakthrough movie 300 and the climactic fight is eerily reminiscent of that of Batman v Superman.
Hope for the DCEU yet?
Although it is the first successful female-led superhero story – easily besting the wretched Catwoman and Elektra without even having to put on her armour – Wonder Woman does not necessarily revolutionise the genre outside of that respect. It is a relatively straight forward but enjoyable origin story with serviceable action and humour. And that is perfectly fine given the rocky start the DCEU has had.
Most people agree Wonder Woman’s brief cameo in Batman v Superman was one of the few good parts of the film and likely helped to build their excitement for her solo movie. In turn, her solo movie will have fans eagerly anticipating her return in just over 5 months for Justice League.