Wonder Woman

“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.”

The daughter of the Queen of the Amazons comes to man’s world to help end the threat of Ares, who she postulates is the root cause behind the Great War that has killed millions.

Wonder Woman (2017)
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Screenplay by Allan Heinberg
Story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs

There’s something about this movie that just leaves me completely ambivalent about it, and it’s very frustrating. I really do enjoy Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She has a charm and beauty that translates so well into Diana of Themyscira. Gadot was a great choice, and the rest of the cast holds its own, as well.

Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, in particular, was a brilliant choice. The lighter moments she provided during Diana’s “fish-out-of-water” scene when she arrives in London would have been much more difficult to pull off without her deft sense of timing and delivery.

Chris Pine, on the other hand, feels like he should work well as Steve Trevor, the first man to set foot on Themyscria and the person who brings Diana off the island and into “Man’s World.” Something about him just feels off, though. Maybe it’s just the character that doesn’t work for me. Steve Trevor isn’t the most relatable – or interesting – character. I’ve enjoyed the modern characterization of Trevor in the comic books over the last 7 or 8 years, where he’s charged with leading a super secret U.S. military division. But here, Trevor is just a means to an end.

Trevor is just a less interesting Hal Jordan, the Air Force pilot who becomes one of the greatest Green Lanterns ever. Pine would have been better served staring in a new Green Lantern movie than playing Trevor here.

Setting the film in the past, though, was a brilliant way to go. The move allowed WONDER WOMAN to stand on its own, with only the briefest ties to the rest of the DC Comics cinematic universe as a framing sequence at the start and end of the film. Moving her origin from the 1940s – during World War II – to the Great War may seem like a way to differentiate this superhero film from the first CAPTAIN AMERICA. But narratively, it makes sense. The world hadn’t experienced a conflict like this in the modern era. It could very easily been the work of Ares, the God of War.

Man, I wish they had gone with a different villain than Ares. Diana’s obsessive hunt to find the God of War – who she believes is the root cause of the Great War – is the biggest problem with the film. It makes her come off as desperate and a little crazy. And the final battle does little more than disappoint.

It would help if Wonder Woman had a better legacy of rogues outside the Greek pantheon of gods. But that doesn’t seem to be improving any time soon, either. Thankfully, one of her more interesting antagonists – the Cheetah – will be featured prominently in the sequel.

The first attempt at a WONDER WOMAN film was a fairly average film that managed an outsized achievement – putting a female superhero front and center and making it good. At least, it was better than CATWOMAN or ELEKTRA. It’s flawed, but that doesn’t make it bad. I just don’t feel like it holds up under repeat viewings as well as other superhero films do.