I can imagine that to work on or just be somehow involved in something as huge as Wonder Woman must be both mind-blowing and unenviable at the same time.
Think about it—on one hand, you’re working on a groundbreaking film that could both pave the way for more female superhero leads and solo movies, and save DC from their poorly-received releases. On the other hand… people are relying on your movie to pave the way for more female superhero leads and solo movies and save DC from their poorly-received releases. Much like the fate of the world in the 1910s, everything rests on Diana’s shoulders.
Fortunately, Wonder Woman, director Patty Jenkins, and star Gal Gadot pretty much prove why they’re deserving of the huge task in front of them, as well as all the positive reviews it got ahead of its release.
A quick rundown of the plot the best way I can: Diana, Princess of Themyscira grows up in an island that’s magically secluded from the rest of the world. One day, American spy for the UK Steve Trevor washes ashore on Themyscira after fleeing an angry band of Germans, who he had infiltrated in an attempt to stop General Ludendorff and his protege Doctor Poison from unleashing a potent mustard gas on the world and turn the tide of World War I in their favor. Diana, who also grows up believing that they have to prepare for a battle against Ares, the God of War and the Amazons’ mortal enemy, accompanies Steve into the outside world to help the Allies and stop Ares from further spreading strife.
If that seemed all convoluted to you, don’t worry—Jenkins manages to cram all of that into a beautiful, empowering package that showcases what an actress and heroine Gal Gadot can be. Gadot, who’s nothing short of perfect, is a real revelation in Wonder Woman, especially for those of us who’ve only seen her as part of the gang in the Fast and Furious series. Not only is she a pretty face, but she also reveals herself to be a capable and charismatic fighter and presence on the screen. At the same time, she could effectively explore and express the nuances of being a real human, who thinks and feels and believes and fights strongly for what she believes in, whether it’s helping people in need or seeing the goodness in mankind.
Although a lot of people wanted it to be, Wonder Woman is far from perfect. The story drags on just a little too long, simply because it’s trying to cram in all that plot and detail in two and a half hour. I’m starting to believe that TV is really the superior medium for comic adaptations simply because it allows for a more drawn-out pace. Some of the Zack Synder special effects feel too cheesy, too, especially the overdone slow-mo “money shots,” but I also understand that action fans and kids eat that stuff up. They should, too, as the sight of an awesome Diana fighting the way she does is enough to empower girls.
My favorite part of Wonder Woman aside from its organic female empowerment, though, is how it’s unashamed to embrace love (and with it, feelings) as the most important thing people need to believe in in order to beat an inherently flawed humanity. I appreciate that much is made of how cruelty, strife, hostility, and savagery are actually a part of human nature and not the specific creation of a God of War—which isn’t wrong—and it’s a good enough reason to advocate for the power of love, no matter how cheesy it sounds. It also helps that the message is quite timely, with everything going wrong in the world today.
All in all, if you’re a comic fan—and especially a DC fan—you owe it to yourself to go catch Wonder Woman, no matter what. It’s not just because you gotta support your favorite characters and franchises, but every little bit of success Wonder Woman achieves means we’re steps closer to a future with more heroines in the lead. Maybe soon we could finally get that Black Widow movie, a Captain Marvel movie, Supergirl, (a better) Catwoman, She-Hulk, and so on. Women would get the heroes they need and deserve. We all would.