It’s taken Hollywood a long time to warm up to female superheroes. For over a decade, the system believed audiences didn’t want to see a woman kicking ass simply because a bunch of REALLY bad movies with female leads (Elektra, Catwoman, Aeon Flux) flopped hard. Wonder Woman capably proves that the problem with those films isn’t the fact that they were headlined by women, but that they simply had terrible scripts to begin with.
Almost everything about this film works, starting with its lead Gal Gadot. The actress was certainly the highlight of Batman v Superman (a supremely messy film), but I wondered if she could carry an entire film on her own. Thankfully, she’s magnificent in the title role. Gal is bursting with charisma, and she does an outstanding job of balancing Diana Prince’s innate goodness and vulnerability with a healthy dose of badassery. Gadot doesn’t just shine in the film’s many action sequences, she’s equally effective in the movie’s quieter and more heartfelt moments. I simply can’t wait to watch her Wonder Woman continue to grow and kick ass in her cinematic journey (and we won’t have to wait long, as Justice League arrives this November, and the Wonder Woman sequel has already been set for a December 2019 release).
Of course having a great star isn’t the only requisite for a successful superhero film, and Wonder Woman‘s script does a terrific job of ticking off all the boxes in exciting ways. Director Patty Jenkins proves that her Oscar Winning film Monster was no fluke, and she handles the film’s epic journey with finesse and the utmost confidence. In fact, she manages to do a whole lot of world-building in the span of two hours; she introduces us to the magical Amazonian world of Themiscrya, and then promptly drops us into World War One as Diana comes into her full powers. In addition, the action sequences are top-notch. So many comicbook films mistake action with seizure-inducing editing that prevents viewers from seeing what’s going on. Here the action is coherent, bombastic, and most importantly of all, rooted in Diana’s heroism. It’s so refreshing to have a superhero who fights for good wholeheartedly instead of being driven by vengeance (Batman), or a freak accident (Spiderman). Diana embodies goodness through and through, and her unwavering belief in humanity is remarkably empowering.
The film’s supporting cast is also first-rate. Chris Pine is superb as Gal’s love interest Steve Trevor. It would have been too easy to emasculate the man while building up Diana, but he never feels lesser than. Connie Neilson and House of Cards‘ Robin Wright also do excellent work in their roles of Amazonian warrior queens, and the film’s comedic side thrives thanks to Lucy Davis’ hysterical portrayal of Steve’s secretary Etta Candy. Here’s hoping she gets a whole lot more screen-time in the sequel.
Without spoiling anything, I will say that the infamous “No Man’s Land” sequence in which Diana makes her way out into the battlefield is a true cinematic gem. It’s one of the most memorable sequences you’ll see in years, and it’s a majestic symphony of goosebump-inducing music and powerful imagery. I’ve rewatched the scene several times, and its impact never wanes. It’s no wonder so many women are crying while watching this scene, as it perfectly symbolizes their strength and resilience. Beautiful.
And yes before you ask, the character’s spine-chilling theme song from Dawn of Justice definitely makes an appearance.
It’s a pity that it took 75 years for the iconic superhero to make it to the big screen. Nevertheless, Wonder Woman is a rousing success in every way. I for one can’t wait for the sequel.