Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is considered one of DC comics’ Trinity characters, alongside Batman and Superman so it’s hard to believe that it has taken so long for the character to star in her own film. To date Batman has had seven solo films and Superman six. It’s also the first time either DC or Marvel has had a female lead character star as the main protagonist in twelve years. Add to the list that a lot of fans and critics are touting Wonder Woman as the make or break film for the DCEU after what has been a string of lacklustre releases in Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, the film has a lot riding on it before it’s even been released. So are Wonder Woman’s shoulders strong enough to bear the burden of everything it has riding on it? For the future of the DCEU and fans hopes of a good DC movie, Wonder Woman is thankfully one hell of a strong lady.
Prior to becoming Wonder Woman, we are first introduced to Diana Prince on the hidden island of Themyscira, home to an all female warrior tribe called the Amazons. When a World War 1 spy called Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on the island, Diana learns of the atrocities that man is involved in and in her naivety accompanies Steve on his return to end the war.
Original reaction to the casting of Gal Gadot was met with scepticism over her acting ability and a fan backlash that she was too scrawny to play the character. When first introduced to audiences as Wonder Woman in last year’s Batman V Superman, it was considered one of the film’s more successful elements in what was overall a disappointing and convoluted script. More importantly it helped alleviate a large portion of cynicism towards the actress and her ability to play the role. I, myself, was very negative towards the casting but I can honestly say that Gal Gadot has embraced the core characteristics of Wonder Woman and made the role her own. She portrays the compassion and care that has been established as the character’s drive but also manages to encompass the Amazonian warrior perfectly. For such a complex character, Gadot acts the part with ease.
Wonder Woman is a film that emphasises character at the core and Gal Gadot’s charisma and enthusiasm brings the title character to life. The balance of Steve being introduced to Diana’s world and Diana then being introduced to man’s world is a great combination and allows each character to play the guide and the bewildered visitor. Gadot’s and Pine’s onscreen chemistry is fantastic and it is the film’s heart and soul. You feel the relationship is natural and at no point does it feel forced.
As Steve guides Diana through man’s world she constantly questions everything she does not understand, especially why women are not treated equal to men. Diana is completely unaware of social inequality and constantly challenges this perception, but not to the degree that the subject feels rammed down the audiences’ throat. When Diana questions Steve on the way women are perceived and treated, he very rarely has an answer.
This is a superhero film and like any other in the genre has plenty of action. The “No Man’s Land” scene in particular is outstanding and is so emotionally driven that I had tears of joy. It defined what Wonder Woman is all about and is the first time we really see what she is capable of and how she can influence others. It’s a turning point where she is clearly tired of being told to accept things as they are, or that she can’t help everyone in need of aid. A clear message that Steve once believed until he met Diana. The scene is the first time we see Diana take control and is a direct message that things need to change. Yes, she will never be able to help or save everyone which she is constantly reminded about, but she can certainly be an inspiration for people to help themselves and make a stand.
One of my biggest concerns for Wonder Woman after watching numerous trailers was the overpowering theme music which was also present in Batman V Superman. I’m glad to say that the film does not go over the top and use the theme excessively and instead restricts its use to only key moments. In fact, I walked away from the film enjoying the theme even more because it had been applied correctly.
The film isn’t without its flaws and, as is the case with many superhero movies, the flaws are with the villains. Wonder Woman may not have a rogues gallery like Batman’s but there is no excuse for paint-by-number villains. I found myself cringing at the Dastardly and Muttley duo we are introduced to and couldn’t wait for the film to return to Diana and Steve. The final fight also seemed very reminiscent of the one from Batman V Superman but better executed, even though it does let the overall film slightly down. Personally, I would have liked to see more of Themyscira and the Amazons’ way of life. Given that Themyscira is the equivalent to Gotham or Krypton it is given very little screen time but then maybe that’s what a sequel will focus on.
Wonder Woman isn’t just the great DC film that we’ve been waiting for, it’s one of the best superhero films I’ve seen and serves the introduction of the character to the big screen very well. It has helped establish that Batman or Superman do not need to be relied upon for success and hopefully opens up some other avenues that the DCEU could explore. This may be a turning point for the DCEU and with Justice League out in November I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of Wonder Woman.