It’s already about time, we finally have received a live action Wonder Woman film. Among many things that surprise me, one that comes out the most is the fact that it had taken this long for the demigoddess to receive her own film and we’ve finally come this far, but at the same time comes the first female-directed superhero film with a female lead, with Patty Jenkins directing for the first time since 2003’s Monster. After the disasters of Catwoman and Elektra, what’s there to be said about Wonder Woman? The most pleasing thing to report is the fact that not only is it just a great superhero movie as a whole and one of the better ones to have come in recent memory, but just a great film all around. After all of these years without having her own live action film, not only does Wonder Woman finally manage to have the spotlight for herself but she’s also set an example for the very highest points of superhero cinema from recent memory.
Gal Gadot reprises her role from Batman v Superman as Diana Prince, but for once we finally get traces of where she originated. Although like the onslaught of superhero films in recent memory it may indeed be one that abides by convention, it’s not to take away from just the feeling of joy that came by from watching Wonder Woman because what I got was in part what I would have expected myself to see now that Wonder Woman herself has finally had the ability to take the spotlight. I was left worried on a note that maybe these conventions would have taken the DCEU the same way that constricts that Marvel Cinematic Universe but Wonder Woman presents a greater comfort in wanting to be more than just a hollow shell and thus it manages to find its own identity so perfectly, something that only had me gaining the trust of Patty Jenkins working behind the camera.
My defenses of Batman v Superman aside, DC’s Extended Universe has only presented itself as extremely rocky, with Man of Steel and Suicide Squad standing out particularly for being especially awful films. But there was still a level I found myself able to respect the DCEU far more than I did the MCU right here, for I soon found that each of these films was able to create their own distinctive identity. With Wonder Woman there comes a light being shed upon gender roles within superhero films for Patty Jenkins has found herself experimenting with an innocent perspective with Wonder Woman as the central figure, but in this she has also formed a compelling protagonist all around with Diana Prince and her growth. But no matter what else can come forth, what can be expected out of a film with Wonder Woman in the spotlight is a strong female lead just as one would ever want, and I’m more than just satisfied to report that she delivers.
Speaking of which, Gal Gadot isn’t merely performing anymore as Wonder Woman, she’s become Wonder Woman herself. Gal Gadot’s charisma finally carries all the time it deserves compared to her limited appearance in Batman v Superman, and in her own growth from taking the lead in Wonder Woman, what has come by was truly nothing other than one of the very highest points of superhero cinema in recent years. She and Chris Pine work magnificently together, but the central focus on Diana Prince’s quest to discovery is what ultimately has formed a compelling protagonist as a whole. Upon Diana’s arrival on earth, she sees selfishness has plagued mankind and only seeks to bring the best: even if she doesn’t know a thing about what’s best just at the very moment. Among the many things I would have wanted out of a superhero film with a female lead, there would at least be something universal to come out from what it is that Wonder Woman herself represents: and to repeat what I’ve said in a previous paragraph, I got it.
But the WWI backdrop also left me skeptical at first for I would have thought DC could be repeating a mistake made by Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger. What did come by as a result of the setting not only encouraged great set pieces (the No Man’s Land sequence especially being a highlight) and it created more room for a thematic resonance within Diana’s growth. Diana, wanting to stop this war, enters a naive figure but without any knowledge whatsoever about what has come behind it all. For as much as villain teases may not pay off to what was expected, the way Patty Jenkins allowed them to play a role in Wonder Woman only set up clues for her own discovery in the most rewarding way. The “antagonists” aren’t characters in such sense but ideas that only create something more refined within the superhero genre, as Wonder Woman isn’t fighting just one figure but the setting in itself.
I was indeed excited to see what more would Wonder Woman have been able to offer after her brief role in Batman v Superman and now that she has finally gotten the chance to take the spotlight (for once, given how much time we had been waiting for a live-action Wonder Woman film), it was beyond pleasing to say that they delivered. In Patty Jenkins’s ambition, what has come by in Wonder Woman not only is one of the best superhero films in recent memory but a great film, period. It feels good not only to finally have a Wonder Woman film for once, but a female-fronted one that explores a greater dysphoria that has been presented as many more superhero films come about every year that have males taking the spotlight. But beyond being a great superhero film, Wonder Woman also finds itself a close contender for the best war film of the decade, and probably the finest female-directed war film since Larisa Shepitko’s The Ascent.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Warner Bros.
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Screenplay by Allen Heinberg, from the comics by William Moulton Marston
Produced by Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle
Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 141 minutes