Upon finishing my first viewing of Wonder Woman, the first word that came into my head was “FINALLY!” This is a film that has been lacking in main stream cinema for too long. We’ve needed an action-packed feminist film with the capacity to reach a large audience and to inspire millions. This film is for everybody and I am so glad it’s here!
Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman carries the weight and fabulous quality that we have come to love and demand from big budget comic films. Under Jenkin’s artful direction, the DCU offers up a movie without a hodge-podge mess of a plot. The story is solid and poetically structured. It’s beautiful and well-shot, covering the esthetics of fantasy as well as wartime Europe. We are also gifted a DC film of quality that doesn’t revolve around daddy issues. For that I am most grateful.
This movie is so refreshingly not man-centric that by the half-way point, you realize that your experiencing a new paradigm in character driven story-telling. Given that the “alpha” character is a woman, you get a fresh new look at the world, our sexist history, and of each character. Diana, played by the gorgeous Gal Gadot, is intrinsically confident and intelligent. She leaves her untouched island for World War I Europe in her mission to fulfill her destiny. As she explores the new world, she has no understanding of gender roles or expectations. Thus, we see a completely liberated woman walking the sexist streets of England. While she remains in a state of curious discovery, she refuses to bend to the will of the times. Diana is never depicted as a fish out of water, who needs to adjust, instead she is perfect and centered. In fact, her presence makes the “normal” people of the era seem awkward and inept. As she engages with those around her and explores the world, she discovers that mankind is war-driven, divided, and cruel. Hippolyta, played by the statuesque Connie Nielsen, tells Diana that the world doesn’t deserve her. As Diana and the audience discover together that her mother was right, one can’t help but wonder if today, one hundred years later, we are no better.
While Jenkins makes the point that society has a long way to go for redemption, she keeps the film from being preachy or too indulgent with social agenda. Rather, she creates a sympathetic eye on our wrongs and in the end, you feel a twinge sadness and shame for the years ahead of Diana. She is going to witness a lot more cruelty in the decades to come, but she also represents a beacon of hope for all of us. Just as this goddess walks among humankind, observing our worst, she will also see our best. Despite our flaws, we have kindness, courage, and love within us. This discovery binds Diana to our world, but her character asks for action. Her role in humanity isn’t to save us from our evils. Diana expects us to do the right thing and to be brave as a standard of living. She is not an enabler and this message delighted me. Wonder Woman is a glorious call for personal accountability and empowerment without the melodrama.
Societal commentary drives a powerful undercurrent through the movie, but it never weighs down how much fun it is to watch. The actions sequences are jaw-dropping and be ready for total nerd-out moments. Gadot knocks it out of the park as Wonder Woman, depicting her as deliciously feminine, brave, and self-assured. Robin Wright is wonderful as Antiope, and she never ceases to amaze with her ageless beauty. Chris Pine proves his versatility once again as Steve Trevor. Instantly smitten with Diana, Steve must learn quickly how to interact with a woman who can outmaneuver him in almost every way. He accepts her instantly as his equal, but is repeatedly caught off guard by what it’s like when a woman considers him and every other man, her equal. His scramble to keep up with her way of thinking further represents that even good people can be blinded by societal norms. He also has a lot to teach Diana, but I think I’ll let you discover that on your own.
A must-see for the summer and a definite addition to my personal favorites, Wonder Woman is an inspiring film that must be shared. It poignantly challenges us to look at the mistakes of our past and to reconsider how we treat each other. It gives hope, not just for humanity, but also for the Justice League sequels. Let’s see if this is the overdue blooming of a fantastic franchise, or just a marvelous one-off that we honor for years to come. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to watch Wonder Woman again!
Thanks for reading,
The Diva Del Mar