There hasn’t been a bad superhero film yet in 2017. Logan, Power Rangers, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have been special to me for a variety of reasons. Those reason don’t need to be justified to anyone because I’m my own person. Whoever’s reading this, you’re your own person. Frankly, I’m tired of people, especially fans and people deeply submerged in nerd culture, telling other people how to feel about films. The three films I mentioned earlier don’t have much personal meaning to me when it comes to culture or anything like that. The only one that’s close to that type of meaning is Power Rangers and the films excellent execution with a diverse cast. But the other two, I like for different reasons that are strictly story or character driven. Your reasons for liking a film, or even being excited for it shouldn’t always be confined by story. That’s a limp excuse people use to tell us that things such as diversity and representation don’t matter. Well, they do. The opening of this review is dedicated to men and our ignorance. White, black, Hispanic, I don’t care, all men have this superiority complex engrained in our brains when it comes to women. It isn’t our fault, just how society has been for a long time now. Doesn’t make it right though. We think we have some sort of dominion over every aspect of culture. White men are the worst with this. Throughout society’s history, mainly American history, white men have tried to control the narrative of culture. There have been struggles throughout history where men have been forced to relinquish their control over culture. Be it movies or civil rights, we’ve moved from the era of culture being controlled by white men, and men in general. Still, those primal instincts feel good to most and are hard to overcome. All it takes is a bit of gumption, but it can take time. These men have come out in full force recently with the release of Wonder Woman. This film means so much for the advancement of women in film. There’s a long way to go but this is a very important step. Still, I’ve noticed men (and sometimes women) try to diminish the importance of this film. Why? The answers aren’t important. Sometimes it’s a more serious discussion about Gal Gadot’s political views, other times, it’s about slandering Warner Brothers and the DC Extended Universe. Men do not have any right to tell women how they should feel about this film. No right whatsoever. I find it hard to believe that some people feel the need to tell minorities how to feel about issues or moments they could never, ever understand. It takes a wise person to realize they don’t know everything. Wonder Woman means a lot to all of us, but this is an achievement for women first. Stop telling them how to feel about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have much faith in people and I’ll probably be saying the same thing to white people and uppity blacks next February when Black Panther comes out. But it needs to be said. Even with being a rare female led movie, this film had a ton of pressure on it because of the perception, be it fair or unfair, of the DCEU. I personally haven’t been a fan of it and others haven’t either. But when that first trailer for Wonder Woman came out, I was beyond excited.
The first trailer of this movie could be described in one word. Excitement. The movie looked like it was going to be filled with life and give us some amazing moments from Wonder Woman. She’s one of the most elite superheroes ever created. There aren’t many heroes who can go toe-to-toe with her. Not only is she a skilled fighter, Diana Prince is full of personality. She takes zero crap. You aren’t going to bully or intimidate her with words and she’s too intelligent to be swayed. Fierce, but elegant. That describes who Wonder Woman is, and you’d be lying to say that first trailer didn’t show that.
My expectations died down a bit because that first trailer came out in the summer of 2016. I would have showed it in November or December. The main reason for this is to keep the excitement train rolling. I think it was halted when DC released the Justice League trailer. The Justice League trailer to me was cool, but it took away from Wonder Woman. There wasn’t much promotion for her film until after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released. I will say they ramped up promotion rapidly in the past few weeks and it reignited my excitement. I also stopped watching the trailers too. I saw the first two but none after that. I try to do that because if I watch a trailer too much, sometimes it dies down my excitement. Still, after great reviews from critics and friends, I went into this theater expecting fireworks. I wanted to be moved, I wanted to laugh, and I wanted Wonder Woman to be the powerhouse that she is.
I wasn’t expecting to like the opening of this film as much as I did. I thought, “Come on, show her home world and Steve Trevor crash and let’s get to the war.” But the opening of this film sets up the tone and character of Diana extremely well. The entire movie is a flashback. Diana gets a picture from Bruce Wayne of her and her crew during World War I. The movie then goes to a young Diana running through Themyscria. She’s full of life and wants to fight. She wants to be a warrior like her general aunt, Antiope, played by Robin Wright. Diana’s mother, Hippolyta, played by Connie Nielsen, wants Diana nowhere near war. We get an expositional story from the mother when Diana is getting ready for bed. Movies are getting more creative in the way they show retellings of story. Guardians had some weird plastic molds and this one had something resembling clay figures moving as the mom was talking. This scene sets up the entire story. We learn about Ares, the God of War and his quest to show the evil within man. Diana is obsessed with Ares and learning more about him. She sneaks off to fight with her aunt later on and a mini-montage happens next and we get to Gal Gadot as our main character. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing about this movie, but I would have been completely fine staying with young Diana and on Themyscria a bit longer. She leaves soon after this montage is over. But the actors were all great here and I was really into it. Steve Trevor, who’s played by Chris Pine enters the film next. He’s a spy working for Britain during World War I and his ship crashed on their island. The Germans aren’t far behind though and a crazy fight ensues. My biggest complaint of this film is here. There was simply too much slow motion during this scene. Some moments looked worse and the computer effects were noticeable because they slowed it down. It made the entire scene feel choppy and overall, made it feel extremely slow, like a two-bar game of Call of Duty, for all my gamers out there. The fight was visually great though. But, compared to the other action set pieces in this film, it was by far the weakest.
This film takes its time establishing these characters. Diana is so much more than a powerhouse. She’s extremely intelligent and independent. I LOVE this movie for showing that. The conversations between her and Steve Trevor were the best. Going into this film, I thought the majority of their dialogue was going to be jokes and him trying to assert himself over her. There was plenty of that, but also deep, touching moments where we got more insight into one or both of them. The first was right after Steve was bathing and Diana saw him naked. It was a funny moment, but Steve talks about why he joined the war. He briefly talks about his father and how his father was one of those “If you see something wrong, fix it,” type of guys. Diana probably didn’t need much motivation to leave and help Steve, but this shows the connection, or should I say similarities between them. It was the first of many great moments between them. The next one came quick. Diana decides to leave, and Hippolyta knows she must let her daughter go. I’ll harp on it again, but I seriously wouldn’t have minded for half of this movie to take place on Themyscira. All of the actors, the look of the island, everything was great. But, Steve and Diana have a funny moment where Diana asks Steve is going to sleep next to him. He immediately jumps to the conclusion that Diana isn’t aware of normal human culture where this implies sex. As I said earlier, I love how this movie shows Diana is no fool. She completely understands the physical nature of relationships and let’s Steve know that. She also makes a joke about men being good for reproduction, but not for pleasure. I thought that was funny and maybe they’re trying to let us know that she’s bisexual? I don’t know, but it was a funny scene that reminded you that you weren’t watching a film where a man is the main hero.
My biggest praise for this film is something every DCEU film has struggled with. Forget snapped necks, Martha, and BET jokes for a second. The first three DCEU films have had horrible pacing. Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman were snooze fests in the middle. Suicide Squad’s editing made certain parts of the film seem disconnected at times. Wonder Woman’s pacing is great. There wasn’t one moment I wanted the movie to be over or looked at my phone to check the time. I think it’s because this next part of the movie is just so funny. Diana and Steve go to his superiors to show them the notebook Steve stole from this lady named Doctor Poison, who’s making chemical weapons for the Germans. Before that though, they go shopping to help Diana fit in with society. It’s such a funny sequence. After she gets dressed, Diana walks out onto the street with her shield and sword. The funniest scene of the movie by far. When they reach his superiors, Diana once again proves she’s no dummy by being the only one who was able to decipher Poison’s notebook. The men in the room know they can’t read it, but almost don’t want her to read it because a woman is embarrassing them. It’s quite comical. I liked the scene where she saves Steve’s life too. It was the first taste of her power and skills.
If that part of the film was slow or boring, my score for it would be significantly lower. It isn’t my favorite part of the film, but it keeps you interested. Next, we meet some more side characters who have been helping Steve during the war. I’ve seen some state criticisms they had about these side characters being stereotypes. I didn’t necessarily see that in these characters. What I saw was men from completely different walks of life uniting to defeat the monstrous Germans, which is what both World Wars basically were. I also think using men of different ethnicities who still drool over Diana just plays into this idea that she’s beautiful and no man can resist. These men were Shameer, a Middle-Eastern (who I took as Moroccan) spy, Charlie, a Scottish sharpshooter who suffers from extreme PTSD, and Chief, Native American man who operates both sides of the war. All were enjoyable and added some depth to Diana as she learned about the true nature of war.
NO MAN’S LAND
No matter where you mark this film on your all-time list or even if you didn’t like it. It doesn’t get more heroic and iconic than Diana crossing no man’s land. Anyone who knows anything about history knows that World War I was all about trench warfare. In the trenches, foul things happened. Men died, and were sometimes stuck for days. Men developed diseases such as dysentery and other illnesses in the trenches. It wasn’t a place any human would want to be. Diana cannot ignore the suffering any longer. Throughout the movie, Steve had been coaxing her along. Telling her where to go, not in a demanding or disrespectful way, but in a parent escorting a child sort of way. She was determined to find Ares, who she was sure was the main German, General Ludendorff. Steve thought she was a bit crazy for believing that. She didn’t care though. She stops in the trench and changes into her costume. I haven’t mentioned it much but the music in this film is sensational. It’s loud and takes over every action scene. Diana steps up on the ladder and stands alone in no man’s land. I swear to god I haven’t chills like that in a long time. She looks amazing and fierce. She charges the other side and is swiping bullets and mortar rounds. No one will ever forget her shielding off all of those machine guns, slowly, arduously, trudging through the mud. Steve and the other soldiers are close behind. As if that wasn’t enough, they enter the German occupied village and Diana doesn’t stop. Her theme begins to slowly rumble in the background and she goes to work. There wasn’t a bunch of jump cuts here and the slow motion that was used was tasteful. I couldn’t contain myself watching it. Then, at the end, she was using her lasso after losing her sword and shield. She’s a seasoned, talented warrior. She can use anything and I loved how she wasn’t dependent on one thing while fighting. Such a memorable action scene.
It’s the little moments though that make this film memorable. Diana learned about war throughout this movie. The idea of Ares is simple. Kill him, and man stops fighting. But she learns it isn’t that simple. Steve helped her understand that war doesn’t break people, sometimes it makes them stronger. When all the fighting is done, the village is extremely grateful for Wonder Woman. She’s their savior. They have a town wide party where people are dancing outside, drinking, and just having a great time. This scene is beautiful because it shows the emotional side of Diana. She asks Steve is this what people do when there aren’t wars. She isn’t sad or anything about not fighting, she’s truly enjoying the moment and Steve’s company. That’s why I love Wonder Woman. She isn’t some recluse who doesn’t know what to do when she’s not fighting. Yes, she shines when she’s fighting and it’s what she knows best. But she has feelings. She takes the time to appreciate life. Her and Steve go upstairs and share a passionate kiss and I swear in recent memory, this is one of the most earned origin story kisses. It was amazing.
The last part of the movie isn’t forgettable but that second act was so strong, it was hard to follow. Diana is still convinced she needs to kill Ludendorff because he’s Ares. They invade a fancy gala where he’s hosting people to celebrate a German victory. He’s also planning to unleash a new weapon that Poison made. I wanted the gala to be extended more. I thought it was going to be this extravagant scene, but it wasn’t. Not really a negative, but it would have made the third act stronger. So, all of this leads to a final battle in an airfield. Diana rushes the compound and successfully kills the General. She’s extremely proud of herself but then she realizes that the fighting, the war is still going on. I love when heroes get their morals shaken in films and comics. Diana’s morals are good and pure, but she is naïve. Ares appears before her. He was one of the British politicians we see earlier in the film. This was a bit lame to me and one of the main reasons this film suffered in the third act. I wanted Ares to be this unstoppable force who could inhabit other bodies, but he himself, was an ugly beast of a God. Anyways, Diana learns that Ares isn’t the main cause for hate and war. She learns that mankind will do this all on their own. Ares just encourages it. It destroys her for a second and it catches her off guard long enough that Ares traps her.
During all of this, Steve knows that if the plane carrying the new gas got loose, thousands, maybe millions would die. He decides to fly the plane up as high as he can and detonate a grenade, sacrificing himself. Before he does it though, he tells Diana and also tells her that he loves her. She watches Steve die and her anger wakes up her God powers in her. She starts killing soldiers left and right. Ares has an Emperor Palpatine moment. He’s overjoyed that she’s realized the atrocities of man and wants her to join him. His motivations seem flawed and silly. Which I guess makes sense. Greek Gods were notorious for their human-like flaws. Diana picks up a tank and is moments away from killing a helpless Doctor Posion, who I honestly felt bad for in the movie. She was manipulated by Ludendorff. Posion’s face was disfigured, so most men didn’t give her the time of day. Ludendorff had no intentions of being romantic with Poison, but he made her think so just so the weapons were done. He touches her passionately at one point when he wants something from her. And Steve almost got information out of her until Diana walked in the gala. I think there’s some message in there about respecting all women, whether they look like Diana or Doctor Poison. This movie did a great job showing the struggles of both types of women. Maybe if one person showed Poison genuine kindness, she’d be different. In that moment, with the tank, Diana was that person. In her anger, she remembered her battles with Steve and his men. The beautiful moments shared with Chief talking about his war and why he operates both sides, Shameer about his dream of acting but being brown in the early 1900’s, and helping Charlie overcoming his PTSD and inviting his singing. Diana learned that everyone is in their own battle and that sometimes all it takes is for someone to give a damn. Diana has plenty of damns to give. Ares continues to lecture her about what mankind deserves. She repeats a quote that Steve told her earlier, but adds her own twist at the end. She says, “It’s not about deserve, it’s about what you believe, and I believe in love.” She drops the tank and kills Ares. As he dies, the war is basically over.
The movie ends with her reuniting with her people in London and them remembering their fallen comrade, Steve. The movie comes back to the present. Diana is looking at the picture and sends a thankful message back to Bruce. Am I wrong, or was she gearing up to fight Doomsday at the end of the film? It looked like she was wearing her same outfit from the film and I know the timing seems off, but that’d be awesome if that was the case. Either way, the movie ends with her flying through the air proclaiming her love for humanity. She says it’s her duty to protect them and it’s something she’ll do forever.
This the best DCEU film to date. DC Comics excels at individual stories. I think they tried to chase the money too soon with Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad. I enjoyed Man of Steel too. It was another solid solo film. If DC can get back to this style of storytelling, they will be okay. Also, another thing that is obvious at this point is Wonder Woman needs to be center stage. I don’t really care about her being on the front of posters or promotional cups. Fast track a sequel and maybe start planning a third film. All directed by Patty Jenkins. Along with James Gunn whose vision is solely responsible for the Guardians being who they are, the same can be said for Patty and Wonder Woman now. Gal Gadot deserves credit too. Her acting, mainly her facial expressions were great. Whether she was happy or offended at men doubting her, Gal’s face said it all with clarity. Every side of her character was shown in this film. There isn’t much left to say. Although I want to harp on my point in the very first paragraph. Just as men have been troublesome with their reviews of this film, so have people who consider themselves to be extreme liberals, or SJW’s as they’re called. I honestly consider myself one as well, don’t get me wrong, but people sometimes take their criticisms too far of things that show genuine efforts at representation. I really hope we can ditch this part of nerd culture where nothing is ever good enough. I know some people are upset with the black women not being prominently featured in the movie. Well, there’s a simple defense to this. The movie isn’t about them. This movie had too much pressure on it in general. That type of criticism is silly to me because what if there’s a light skinned person in Black Panther? Or more white people than advertised? What if Ayo, a member of the Dora Milaje isn’t specifically identified as lesbian? I know all minority groups want to be represented on screen. But this is a great step for women. And I know black women and white women have had different struggles throughout history, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s a competition to see who’s represented more. We’ll see Storm, Spectrum, and Vixen one day in solo films. Progress is happening. Not only is this not a competition, it’s wrong to diminish the success of other minority groups. It isn’t necessarily evil but I think it’s a dangerous way of thinking. It’s also annoying and detracts from the wonderful film that this was. Fantastic visuals, decent plot, decent villain, and masterful character development. This film for me is an easy 9/10
Did you enjoy this review? I’m always looking for feedback. Agree with my points or think I’m a self-righteous prick? Either way, thanks for reading, I want everything to succeed. Having more excitement for certain things because you recognize with them more is normal and should happen. I just can’t get on board with nitpicking these films when everything humans make will have errors, technically and culturally. Always. You can follow me @Hero_Review on Twitter to interact with me and to see updates on future reviews. Peace, Love, and Comics everyone. Until next time!