Is this the Wonder Woman movie we need, or the one we deserve? WW review

Wonder-WomanOk, so I’m gonna do this one in english, like anyone from any nationality in this movie. Seriously, its 2017, can’t german generals speak german amongst themselves and just have some subtitles? Anyway, on with it.

First lets just answer the question we are all asking ourselves: did Warner finally get its shit together and put out a good DCEU movie? The short answer is yes, they did. The movie is fun, witty, well paced (for the most part at least) and, most importantly, Wonder Woman is just BADASS. I mean it, you don’t wanna mess with Diana of Themyscira. She is fierce, powerful, super smart and wont take shit from no one. Gal Gadot is perfectly cast and her chemistry with Chris Pine carries this movie all the way to the finish line. Chris Pine is a charming and lovable Steve Trevor, which is a lot to say because captain Trevor is the most meh character in comic book history (hyperbole people, I don’t mean it literally ok?). I mean, even Max Landis, who is famous for his cynical and often negative feelings towards contemporary hollywood blockbusters, said this is the best superhero movie since Winter Soldier (and believe me, this guy knows superheroes. Do yourselves a favor and read American Alien) However, WW is not a perfect movie and although its super important because its the first big blockbuster superhero film headlined by a female character… its not a game changer beyond that. I’m sorry to say it, but part of what makes Wonder Woman so enjoyable is that its not another DCEU movie… its a Marvel movie. Now, before you call heresy on me, bare with me for a moment. Wonder Woman is a paint by numbers movie with a very simple plot, a lot of well timed jokes, witty dialogue, fun comic book characters, nice action with some just ok CGI at times and a forgettable villain. Doesn’t that formula sound familiar? The only thing that reminds us this is a Snyderverse movie is the overuse of slow motion and some of the desaturated stuff Snyder likes so much. But Diana’s costume has its color back at least, and Themyscira was a much needed breath of life into the grim grey world of Batman v Superman and other DCEU entries. You could even say the movie borrows a bit of Captain America and Thor, with Diana being both a mythological fish out of water and having a black and white super naive moral view of the world. I’m not saying that none of it comes from the comic books, I’m just saying that the way the character was brought to life on screen certainly seems to borrow a bit of how Marvel handled its own characters. Oh, and if you are a greek mythology geek, or a history geek, and you don’t like alternative super inaccurate retellings of mythological stories or world war one history… yeah, you should probably sit this one out.

So that’s that for the spoiler free section of this review: Wonder Woman is fun and enjoyable. We have waited long for a female led superhero movie and we finally got one, and its a good one. Its not perfect, but its a great starting point both for female superheroes and for DC’s cinematic universe. Now lets get into spoiler territory and separate the good from the bad.

Lets do the bad first, shall we? In my opinion, the worst thing about the movie was Ares. Not only did they butcher the greek mythology regarding the god of war, they totally destroyed the comic book version of him as well. Now, anyone who knows a bit of DC or Marvel lore knows that these characters backgrounds are messy af. It is normal that the writers would take liberties regarding both greek mythology and comic book mythology. I didn’t expect Ares to be a faithful representation of either. To be honest, I would have preferred not to have Ares at all, even more so after that boring, one note not-even-cool-looking version of him we got. I think the movie looses the chance to explore a possibly much more interesting villain in Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) who ends up being sidelined in favor of two rather boring male villains. Actor David Thewlis (Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film franchise) is given the task of delivering the two underwhelming “big” reveals in the third act of the movie. This is another thing that bothered me, how predictable the endgame of the movie was. Who didn’t roll their eyes when “Sir Patrick” reveals himself as Ares? And then, to double down on the eye rolling, he lets Diana know what we have known since Hippolyta pretty much spelled it out in the first act of the movie: the sword she is carrying is not the Godkiller… SHE IS! (Was anyone at all surprised by either of these plot “twists”?). It didn’t help that the following fight was quite underwhelming when compared to several action sequences we see before, particularly with the amazons at the beginning of the movie.

My second biggest problem is also one of my favorite things about the movie: Steve Trevor. On one hand, I’m very impressed because Chris Pine, an actor I don’t care about, made me care about Steve, a character I never cared about. And yet as much as I liked him and as much as everything he did made sense for what his character was during the movie, I still didn’t want Wonder Woman to end up being a love story. And what makes it worse for me is that in the end the real acts of heroism in the movie are given to the men around Diana. The most heroic thing in the whole movie is done by Steve Trevor, who sacrifices himself to save thousands of lives, and who inspires Diana to fight for love because just before running to his certain death he says “I love you” to her. My wife pointed out that she wasn’t bothered at all by that, since she didn’t interpret it the same way, so its possible that I’m just getting hung up on minor things. As she pointed out, it is important that Diana fights for love as opposed to what most heroes (and particularly male heroes) fight for: power, acknowledgement, money, etc. But it is Diana’s newfound love for captain Trevor that draws her to choose to believe in love even after what she has witnessed, deminishing (in my cishetero male opinion) the strength of her big statement just moments before defeating Ares. I find this to be a particularly irritating problem because the movie misses the chance to explore Diana’s relationship with the women around her and decides to focus on her relationships with the first man she meets. I mean, Antiope who trained her, who was probably her closest friend, dies, and right away she is like “peace, I’m out” and never even mentions her again.

Now, now, lets not be so hard on the film. Its certainly full of good things. Unlike Zack Snyder, Patty Jenkins can actually put together a movie rather than clip a bunch of cool looking images together. The motivations and actions of the characters in this movie make sense, which is more than any of the DCEU movies that came before were able to achieve. In the end the thing I wanted most from this movie was to see Wonder Woman. And I saw her. This movie was about Diana’s journey to become the iconic superhero we all know and love, and as enjoyable as some of her companions are, in the end this is Diana of Themyscira’s movie. Sure, she is still super sexy in a very normative way, but there is no question that Wonder Woman would give Superman a run for his money in a fight and is Batman’s intellectual equal, speaking hundreds of languages and being as cunning as she is brave. Diana is not supposed to be a human character, she is a goddess walking among us, and although the movie does humanize her when its important, it also does a great job at showing her godlike features when necessary. The movie succeeds in making the viewer be in awe of the protagonist and yet care for her in a personal level. I hope the amazons of Themyscira show up in the upcoming battle against Steppenwolf and Darkseid, because they kick so much ass. Actually, can we just have a bunch of Wonder Woman and the amazons movies and forget about Superman and never again see Jared Letto’s Joker? Because I’d be fine with that.

I’ll give Wonder Woman a 3.5/5

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