The DC Universe is a unique world full of mythical, larger-than-life characters ever since its birth in 1938, with its heroes embodying true hope and optimism, as well as representing the best in humanity has to offer. However, for the past three films in the “DC Extended Universe” (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad), every last inch of that optimism, hope and wonder was notable by its complete and total absence since all the heroes that filled up those movies were embodying doubt, anger, rage and hopelessness. Instead of inspiring heroes spreading goodwill and courage, we had angst-filled beings acting aloof or having a perverse and somewhat unsettling desire to see others bleed. The DC universe these films were establishing felt very detached from its comic book counterpart and was more akin to an Elseworlds incarnation, unlike Marvel whose movies were highly-accurate and respectful. Now, that’s all changed for the better thanks to Wonder Woman.
After four tries, they finally got it right, and by God, did they get it right; this movie restores and elevates the DC Universe to a brighter, hopeful place thanks to visionary director Patty Jenkins and her extraordinary vision of the world Wonder Woman inhabits. This is an entertaining movie that’s incredibly well-made, had great action and has a good sense of humour, which is amazing considering how tonally different this movie is compared to the previous three DC movies since this movie actually has a hero you can root for, that you can invest in, and you’d legitimately believe in. Despite making her cinematic debut in last year’s Batman v. Superman, there wasn’t much of a character arc for her, so it was hard to identify her as a person, but here, Diana is a fully fleshed out, three-dimensional character that goes on a huge emotional arc over the course of this movie. What makes her stand out is both her idealism and her compassion, and those traits are her driving force above all else, while also being full of love, hope and optimism. At no point does her idealism or her compassion get portrayed as weaknesses, since they are shown as her strengths; whenever there’s danger, she wants to help without any hesitation, despite other forces wanting to hold her back from doing so, which is the kind of heroism that has rarely been seen ever since the days of Richard Donner’s Superman, which served as a major influence for this movie.
Gal Gadot truly comes into her own as the titular heroine, nailing the physicality and subtle nuances of Diana’s character, proving her naysayers wrong. It’s thanks to both her and Jenkins for bringing the character to life on the big screen, truly understanding her character and what she’s supposed to represent. Chris Pine is also huge fun as Steve Trevor, the sidekick/comic-relief/love interest of the movie, displaying real charisma, and the chemistry between him and Gadot is perfect. In many ways, both Diana and Steve are fishes out of water with both failing to understand each other’s cultures, yet both of them have a strong bond holding them together that’s also tied to their own moral beliefs and ideals.
The cinematography by Matthew Jensen is gorgeous to behold, having bright, colourful vibrancy that was sorely lacking in the previous films, and the way the colour is used is ingenious, plus the score by Rupert Gregson-Williams is pulse pounding. For the most part, the action was terrific with great choreography (especially during the No Man’s Land sequence), even though the use of slow motion can be a little overblown. However, the only real major issue this has is in its climatic battle between Wonder Woman and the big bad – SPOILER - in Ares (whose design disappoints) which, even though decent enough, was done on a very small and disappointing scale, and wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been and pales in comparison to the climatic battle shown in the 2009 animated Wonder Woman movie.
Despite its flaws, Wonder Woman is every bit as epic as Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad, yet has the humanity and emotion that those movies sorely lacked, despite being smaller-scaled. What we have here is a coming-of-age story about a God becoming human, sent into a world that doesn’t understand her and is willing to defend humanity no matter the cost. This is what Man of Steel should’ve been and so much more, being a hero’s journey that focuses heavily on the hero as well as the people that are saved. This film balances the light as well as the dark, and it’s thanks to Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot and their vision of the character, that DC Films is (hopefully!) heading towards a brighter, hopeful future.
WONDER WOMAN / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: PATTY JENKINS / SCREENPLAY: ALLAN HEINBERG / STARRING: GAL GADOT, CHRIS PINE, DANNY HUSTON, CONNIE NIELSEN, ELENA ANAYA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW