It’s crazy to say aloud that the last female superhero movie was Elektra, a 2005-film that was not graciously received by audiences and critics alike. With the onslaught of comic-book movies and their complete domination over the Box Office, with a catalogue of films from both Marvel and DC to choose from, it’s shocking that it’s taken so long for audiences to be prized with a superhero movie with a female at the helm.
Yet 2017 is the year. The year that Patty Jenkins, most known for Monster, a biopic of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos, would bring forth an eagerly-awaited Wonder Woman, standalone movie.
Nothing heightened the excitement for this standalone movie than her appearance in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Whilst some hold the opinion that Snyder’s BvS was underwhelming, mundane and bleak, many viewers had nothing but praise for Gal Gadot’s debut as the Amazonian princess.
The fourth entry to the newly-founded DC Extended Universe provides the origin story of Diana Prince, a story that delves elbow-deep into Greek mythology and the conflict between peace and crisis. When British pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes into the waters of the utopian Themyscira and brings the wrath of the First World War to a peaceful land, Diana must leave her home to fight in a war that will end all wars.
It would be trivial to claim that Wonder Woman is solely an origin story. Patty Jenkins has somehow managed to transcend the genre that her film finds itself in, by merely using it as a stepping-stone for providing audiences with an important role-model in which they can look up to and identify with. The superhero genre is so influential for people to project themselves onto these immaculate heroes on screen, and it’s about time that women finally have Wonder Woman as a true, feminist icon. With that being said, Jenkins handles the politics of feminism with great delicacy. She shepherds out political correctness and instead focuses on subjects that matter: conflict, love, and unity. It’s evident that Jenkins herself identifies with the Amazonian princess, bringing forth a film that attempts to address issues such as war and the chaos it brings, and how Wonder Woman opposes these terrors. This truly is a landmark for our generation.
But where Wonder Woman shines is its meticulous eye for the characters on offer. The charismatic duo of Pine and Gadot (Gine? Padot?) are the heart of this film, they dictate the mood and encourage viewers to either laugh or cry, and there truly are some tender moments to be enjoyed here. With 2 hour and 20-minutes at her disposal, Jenkins uses the time perfectly by gradually and organically giving the characters the back-stories that they deserve, investing time and effort into making them as believable as possible. This, for me, is the allusive piece of the puzzle that the DCEU has been missing; its eye for character development and its importance in allowing the viewer to invest in the story.
Yet it’s fair to say that these characters have been brought to life through impressive performances. This is by far the best we have seen of Gadot, with her unforgettable roles in equally as distasteful movies such as Keeping Up With The Joneses and Criminal, this is a badass revival for the actor. Whilst there are moments where her line delivery fails to hit the mark, her physical presence on screen makes up for any uncertainties. And there were plenty of those, her initial casting was met with many complaints, with even Patty Jenkins herself admitting she wouldn’t have cast her for the part; but the role was tailor-made for her. She handles the stunt-work with such grace and conviction, no doubt helped with some noticeable CGI here and there, but the final result looks incredible.
But, of course, no film is without flaws, and sadly for Wonder Woman these flaws pile up in the final act. Much like other comic-book movies, Wonder Woman fails to stray away from a CGI-filled battle between hero and villain that fans almost expect at this point. It seems as if Jenkins and co. placed all of their efforts on the development of Diana and Steve, and had somehow glossed over their antagonist. Although the final twist within the finale will somewhat be unexpected, it will make a rewatch almost redundant. Characters come and go, and so do their motivations, but when the final credits roll you’ll feel giving it another watch will leave a huge gap in the verisimilitude of the narrative.
Yet Wonder Woman is a remarkable success not only for the DCEU, but for film in general. With Jenkins’ movie already generating mass profits and critical acclaim, it will hopefully remove the stick that has been wedged up the studios’ asses and encourage more storylines that accept diversity in regards to the superhero genre. Women can be superheroes. And now the world knows it.
Bravo, Patty Jenkins.
FINAL VERDICT: B+
One of the best superhero movies to date!
What do you think? Is Wonder Woman deserving the credit that it’s been receiving? Let me know in the comments below!