“Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins, features Gal Gadot and Chris Pine in a comedic action-packed summer blockbuster perfect for superhero fans. (WARNING: this article contains spoilers, read at your own peril!)
The story follows young Princess Diana of Themyscira (Gadot) as she experiences the world and becomes Wonder Woman. Growing up on the beautiful (albeit CGI) island of Themyscira along with the other all-female Amazons, young Diana wants nothing more than to learn how to battle. Fiercely protected by her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), she trains in secret with her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright). When a plane crashes in the waters near Themyscira, Diana is introduced to Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a British spy of World War I. Together, Diana and Steve must stop Ares (David Thewlis), the god of war, from razing Europe, and the world, to the ground.
The movie itself begins strong, although heavy on the exposition. The beautiful sights of Themyscira are the perfect background for the incredible acrobatic feats of the Amazons. With the entrance of Trevor, the movie becomes more comedic. As Diana’s first experience seeing a man (ever!), the dynamic between her and Trevor makes for interesting conversation and a surprising amount of jokes about the male anatomy. The movie is not without sadder moments as well, but it is a much brighter take on a DC superhero than other movies, such as Batman or Superman.
One of my favorite parts of the movie occurs after Diana leaves the island of Themyscira and arrives in London. Experiencing normal society for the first time, Diana is a regular fish-out-of-water as she deals with proper attire, societal standards about swords in public, and revolving doors. Soon after, the audience is introduced to the comic trio of Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), a swindler with a penchant for accents, Charlie (Ewen Bremner), a drunk sniper with a terrible singing voice, and The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), a smuggler with a heart of gold.
Although the movie begins slower than most action movies, replacing action with comedy and storytelling leads to more relatable characters. After meeting the trio, the movie picks up as Diana, Trevor, and the trio head to the front lines to find Ares.
On the battlefield, Diana learns of the horrors being committed to innocents, and she takes action. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie depicts Diana charging across No-Man’s-Land in between trenches, blocking streams of bullets with her shield and Bracelets of Submission. From that point onward, more and more battles ensue, becoming more similar to a typical action movie.
Although for the most part “Wonder Woman” is a great movie, it is severely let down by a cliche villain. When the true identity of Ares becomes known, he teleports around Diana in not only a display of power but a display of deviousness. At that point, I still have high hopes for his character. However, as the battle between him and Diana rages on, he falls into the classic villain trope of talking too much and trying to twist the hero to the dark side. While trying to corrupt Diana may have been interesting the first time, Ares tries repeatedly, even after the audience knows that she will not give in.
To make matters, worse, Ares’ cliche character makes Diana feel cliche as well. As their fight ensues and Diana realizes her true powers, the fact that Ares is such an underpowered villain in comparison makes their final battle anticlimactic. The entire audience knows she is going to win, and rarely, if ever, feels any doubt. By comparison, Trevor’s battle against the human villains of the movie creates a much more compelling story and makes him feel like the true protagonist of the movie.
Overall, the movie is incredibly enjoyable to watch. The visuals are powerful, the fighting is intense, and the chemistry between Gadot and Pine makes for a comedic story. What I find lacking is the empowerment I expected from viewing the first stand-alone female superhero movie of my generation. This is again due to Ares being a sub-par villain. Despite the ending, I walked out knowing that I enjoyed the movie, and I believe others will as well.