The DCEU is back with its latest cinematic instalment and, to everyone’s surprise, it’s not an absolute disaster.
Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins who, as we’re all constantly being reminded of is, in fact, an actual human woman. Gal Gadot (another woman) stars as the title character also known as Diana of Themyscira. Wonder Woman was a film under a considerable, and probably unfair, amount of scrutiny and pressure. Whether that’s because of the failure of the DCEU thus far to deliver a coherent and enjoyable film or because it’s a female superhero film directed by a female, I’m not sure. It’s probably a bit of both.
While it’s fair enough to doubt this film based on the DCEU track record it seems bizarre to put so much pressure on it based on the fact that it is female led. It’s almost as if people forget that Wonder Woman is one of DC’s Holy Trinity, along with Batman and Superman, with seventy-five years of rich history behind her. People are treating this film as the one chance to show that a female led superhero film could work and if it doesn’t then we’ll just all go home to the grim tedium of Superman and Batman punching each other for no reason.
Thank fuck then, that Wonder Woman is mostly a success. The main reason for this is the tone adopted by Jenkins and the writers. It embraces hope and optimism and heroism which have all been sorely absent from the DCEU so far (something I complained about in an article I wrote here). Sure, you can be dark but you need your hero to be…well…a hero.
In this regard, Gal Gadot does not disappoint. I had my doubts over her casting after BvS, in which she had very little to do, and her past filmography is rather underwhelming. But she’s a real success. In the same way that Chris Evans is Captain American, Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. She embodies the role of Wonder Woman with strength and power and yet naivety and innocence. She’s a beacon of hope in a grim world. Her performance is tonally perfect; funny and light, yet serious and on-message when needed to be. She’s the hero this DCEU needs right now.
Chris Pine plays Steve Trevor, a WWI spy who crash lands on Themyscira while being pursued by German soldiers. Pine is just as solid as you’d expect. Funny and charming, his relationship with Diana is a highlight of the film. While one of them is a literal Goddess and the other a man, their relationship feels totally equal, they each bring different things to the party.
The action scenes and choreography are a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from exhilarating to boring with a few rare dodgy CGI shots thrown into the mix. There’s also an overkill of slo-motion, which just feels shoehorned in to make everything look cooler.
Plot-wise, Wonder Woman is pretty much as paint by numbers as you’ll get, which is a disappointment. Think Captain America: The First Avenger and you’re pretty much there. You’re never surprised where the story goes and the villain is shamefully underdeveloped. I’m not sure why people haven’t yet realised that your protagonist is only as good as your villain. It’s a point that stops so many good films being great and I’m not sure why filmmakers haven’t learnt from The Dark Knight and spend time investing in villain character development.
Overall though, Wonder Woman delivers the goods. While uninspired in parts, particularly in the villain department, it’s a film brimmed full of humour and charisma and the DCEU finally has a hero we can root for.
What did you think of Wonder Woman? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!