Hey, DC have only gone and done a good one!
It’s taken some doing, but they have finally capitalised successfully on one of their famous characters. Thanks to the goodwill testing drudgery of Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman (BvS), Wonder Woman likely won’t make the money that those films did, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that it’s exactly the tonic that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has been crying out for.
In BvS, Superman is ever reluctant in his duty as guardian of the many. He hovers ominously, godlike, over those that need his helping hand, just about as unheroic as he could get before having his superhero tag removed altogether. Not Wonder Woman though. When she’s told there’s no hope, she creates hope herself. She’s proactive in the face of evil and stops at nothing to do what is right. She is, in short, a real superhero. Gal Gadot adds a spark, wit, and emotional grounding to the titular role of the Amazonian warrior, Diana Prince. From the early stages of the movie on Diana’s beautiful island home of Themyscira, she’s placed as the overly protected underdog who’s capable of more, who in turn wants more for the world in which she inhabits, and is selfless in her quest to make the lives of those around her better. It would be difficult not to root for such an upstanding, strong-willed character.
With American spy Steve Trevor (the hilarious Chris Pine) crash-landing his plane on the shores of Themyscira, she’s about to be given the chance to do right by her people and those that need her help. Even if it means facing up to the realities of the Great War that has broken out just beyond the reach of her homeland. A battle that she can only attribute to one being; Ares, the god of war. Can the crimes of thousands, the atrocities of Danny Huston’s German General Erich Ludendorff and his co-conspirator, the brilliantly named Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), really be laid at the feet of just one god, or does humanity really have a deep-seated penchant for destruction? To find out, Diana must head to the unknown streets of London (“it’s hideous!”), and into the mouth of war itself.
Parallels have been drawn between Wonder Woman and Captain America: The First Avenger – both are set in the same time period, and both heroes are remarkably steadfast in fighting their causes (even if Wonder Woman digs far deeper into the nitty gritty detail of war than Cap ever manages to) – yet, it’s another Marvel property that it shares the most DNA with. That being Thor, with its vibrant, colourful otherworldliness, and its fish out of water comedy. And also its generic climax, complete with all the explosions, CGI, and slow motion (there’s a whole load of that), all with coatings of added DC gloss.
Still, this doesn’t detract too much from what director Patty Jenkins has achieved here. Against the odds, she’s delivered an optimistic, fun and earnest entry into the DCEU, stomping on records along the way. And that seems like something to feel mighty positive about.
Rating (out of 5):