We’re reviewing Wonder Wonder, the latest DC Universe superhero movie now playing in theaters and starring Gal Gadot.
It’s hard to imagine that up until about 20 years ago, the only real superhero movie franchise we had was of the Batman variety. Since then, we haven’t just seen a great surge in superhero movies, we’ve also seen franchises intersect with each other and spinoffs being launched. This is especially true within the Marvel universe, but we’re seeing similar things in the DC universe. Wonder Woman is an excellent example of this, as she first appeared in last year’s Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Now Wonder Woman steps out of Batman’s shadow and into the light, in what is a combination of an origin story and a setup to what’s next in the franchise during the modern day. This decision makes sense, because Wonder Woman isn’t nearly as familiar a character as Batman or Superman, and a lot of moviegoers will need the backdrop to her character that this film provides.
Roughly the first half of the film is mostly dedicated to this – the setup and introduction of Wonder Woman as a character. A lot of the early story takes place on the island of Themyscira on which Diana (who later becomes Wonder Woman) lives, together with an all-women group of Amazon warriors. There’s a direct link to Greek mythology as well, as the incredible power of these women comes directly from Zeus. Living in isolation from the rest of the world, the women train in preparation for the return of Ares – god of war.
When the island, shrouded beneath a supernatural veil, is discovered on accident, things quickly change. An American pilot called Steve Trevor (played by Starfleet captain Chris Pine) crash lands and is saved by Diana, but he’s quickly followed by a group of German soldiers who are after him. A battle ensues in which many of the tribe’s women fall, as they learn that war has already come to the world – in this case, the First World War.
Diana sees this as her calling, and decides to leave the island in order to find and defeat Ares. She joins Trevor as he returns to England, where Diana takes on the alter ego of Diana Prince in order to blend in. The middle section of the movie deals with the culture shock that she experiences, as she tries to make sense of the modern world of men and how things are not as black and white as she was taught.
Before long, Diana and Trevor head out to try and take out a sinister German duo bent on claiming victory for the Germans through chemical weapons, despite talks of surrender already being under way. I won’t go too much into detail about what happens next, but this is where the film transition to the usual action adventure fare that we’ve grown accustomed to, culminating in an over the top final sequence of the supernatural kind that feels a tad out of place with the tone of the rest of the movie.
Despite this, Wonder Woman is an excellent superhero movie for those not intimately familiar with the character. Structurally, it does a lot of things right – showing us Diana’s childhood years, her upbringing, her struggles when confronted with the ‘real world’, and her motivations. It’s like screenwriter Allan Heinberg condensed all of Bruce Wayne’s struggles that led him to become Batman into 60 minutes.
Director Patty Jenkins has also made sure that Wonder Woman isn’t pictured as a one-dimension comic book character, showing us the rationale behind her actions and not just their outcome. Gal Gadot is wonderfully cast for this role as well, as she expertly portrays the innocence that Diana enters our world with. We’ll have to see how things work out in the upcoming Justice League sequel where there is likely to be less of that innocence to her character, but she’s done well with this origin story.
Because of that, Wonder Woman is well worth a look even if you’re not too familiar with the source material. Despite a careful buildup, flashbacks and other events provide plenty of action for the adrenaline-hungry even become Wonder Woman emerges. But in a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre, movies like Logan and Wonder Woman are proving that superheroes, sometimes, can be quite human as well.