‘Wonder Woman’ redefines the superhero genre
By Kaely Monahan
It's been over a year of anxious anticipation for DC’s Wonder Woman. Fans of the heroine and the DC universe have prayed, “Please be good!” And begged, “Please don’t ruin it!” The small taste of Princess Diana was the only redeeming bit in last year’s “Batman V Superman.” And it only whet audience's appetites. So, the question is: Is Wonder Woman good?
The answer is no.
It is the DC film fans have been hoping for. And it is the best superhero film in a generation.
Director Patty Jenkins clearly knew what she was doing. With only some TV credits, movie shorts, and one feature film under her belt, Jenkins isn’t the Hollywood giant you would expect to helm this movie. But the lack of credits certainly does not mean a lack of talent. Her eye for direction, action, and emotion drives the story.
Wonder Woman tells the origins of Princess Diana of the Amazons. For those of you who are comic book buffs, you’ll see that her story has been reinvented yet again. Diana’s story has evolved a lot since her first inception in the 1940s. Far from the star-spangled Lynda Carter version, Gal Gadot’s version draws heavily from Greek and Roman imagery and mythology. With plenty of references to "the gods" and the legendary Amazons of myth, this version of Wonder Woman is less the patriotic manifestation of the ideal female, and more the hero the world needs now.
Fierce and independent, Gadot’s Diana is equal parts unbridled goddess and naïve "alien" who's hope is inspiring--if not exasperating for her sidekick. (At least at first.) Having been raised and sheltered for an untold number of years on the mythic paradise island of Themyscira, Diana has been honed into the ultimate weapon.
Paradise is interrupted when WWI spy and fighter pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes near the island. His arrival sets into motion, Diana’s quest to destroy the God of War, Ares.
Gal Gadot is a powerhouse, energizing the screen with merely a look. She fully captures the innocence and grace that the sheltered heroine should have. At the same time, she leaves no doubt in your mind that she is all powerful. The god-like power is felt even when Diana runs about undercover in the streets of London or backwoods of Europe. If there are any doubts in Hollywood’s mind that an “unknown” can carry a franchise, Gadot dispels it. If anything audiences are thirsting for new faces. It was more exciting to see a foreign actress play the legendary heroine than a familiar Hollywood face. And the fact that Gadot is also from the Middle East—Israel—is a huge win for minority actors everywhere.
Megastar, Chris Pine, managed to be the perfect reflector for Gadot. His jaded, yet determined Steve Trevor, highlights Diana’s goodness and sense of justice. In a way, he refines it. As Diana is confronted with the duality of mankind’s nature he manages to pull her back, convince her that saving even just a few lives matters.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a superhero movie without epic battle scenes, and Wonder Woman also delivers. The spine-tingling power walk into no-man’s land, as briefly seen in the trailers, is only bested by the final battle between Diana and Ares. There’s enough slo-mo punches sprinkled with accelerated kung-fu moves to keep you wanting more.
To that point, many of the Amazon warriors are athletes and even law enforcement in real life. (Can this film get any cooler?) And if you’ve ever wanted to see what a battle between a Roman cavalry against modern war engines would look like, then the opening battle between the Amazons and Germans will satisfy all your nerdy history mash-up dreams.
Many of the fight scenes look like they were lifted straight from the comics, much like in movie 300 there’s liberal use of CGI. But unlike that mess of a film, Wonder Woman manages to use it with care and skill.
The epic “Wonder Woman” theme by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL is retained, but the rest of the soundtrack, written by Rupert Gregson-Williams will grab you by the throat and won’t let you go. Half of any action film is its music and the soaring epic music is the perfect soundtrack both on screen and in the car. Or on your phone. Or blast throughout your house.
The DC film franchise has been gasping for a win ever since Man of Steel. Batman v Superman was all over the place and barely earned audience's regard. The quirky Suicide Squad had fans hopeful but it didn't quite hit the mark. If anything, DC's hopes must have been pinned on Wonder Woman. And they finally won one.
Wonder Woman is everything we hoped it would be. The next question I have for DC is, "When's Wonder Woman 2 happening?"
• Kaely Monahan is a journalist, graduate of City University London and the creator of Popcorn Fan Film Reviews. Follow her @PopcornFans and @KaelyMonahan.