Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis
Diana, Princess of Themyscira (Gadot), finds herself seeking revenge on Ares, God of War. Secretly training with her General Aunt from a young age, Diana longs for a taste of the real action. But when an American spy (Pine) washes up onshore, and she is thrust into the real conflict of WW1, will Diana have taken on more than she can handle? And will she ever find Ares?
WARNING: This review is going to be über-spoilery, because I don’t feel I can be anything but in praising this film.
Where do I even begin with Wonder Woman? The DCEU had a bit of a rocky start to life, when the Man of Steel duo and Suicide Squad flopped at the box office. It was up to Wonder Woman and Diana, who appeared in Batman vs Superman, to save the plummeting reputation of the franchise. With DC pumping as much publicity and promo into it, this was make or break time. I decided not to watch B vs S beforehand, as I wanted to go in with a fresh slate, not knowing anything about the Wonder Woman story (blasphemous, I know).
It was everything I wished it would be, and more. I can now understand how men felt coming out of every Marvel and DC (every superhero franchise in general) film of past. This film made me feel empowered, it motivated me, and it made me proud to be a woman.
Gal Gadot’s performance is flawless (much like herself). She manages to say so much, even when saying nothing at all. She brought EVERYTHING to Diana’s character. The fierce warrior that she is, but also the softer and more compassionate character that she becomes. Some of the best scenes were the ones where Diana finds herself adjusting to everyday life; interacting with other human beings and coming to understand the ins and outs of the ‘real world’ a little bit more. Gal Gadot shouting “Baby!” in the middle of a packed London street with a look of sheer wonder on her face will forever by my favourite.
What is there to say about Steve Trevor? Chris Pine was made for the role with his cheeky charm and boyish good-looks. The Bucky to Diana’s ‘Captain America’, (Or for DC comparison the Lois Lane to her ‘Superman’), Steve Trevor takes a pivotal role in the Wonder Woman story, without ever stealing the spotlight. The idea that this film could have been without Steve Trevor seems astonishing to me. He plays such a pivotal influence into guiding Diana from being the naive, headstrong, and sometimes reckless Princess, into this fearless and ferocious hero we all knew she could become.
The No Man’s Land scene is the moment everything changes, when Diana chooses to ignore Steve’s adamant remarks about how impossible it is to cross, and instead uses her strength to clear a path across. It wasn’t the act itself that got me, but what a huge relief it was to hear the reactions from the soldiers in the trenches. A cry of “She’s done it!”, not just in shock or in disbelief, but in awe and admiration. These men realise what a warrior she is when before all they saw was the woman, and they recognised her as a leader, their leader.
One of my favourite things (surprisingly) about the film was the romance element between Diana and Steve. When the main character is a woman, there is always the worry that somehow the man is going to swoop in, turning our female protagonist into a ‘damsel in distress’. The love story in this film blossomed slowly over time, leading into one of the greatest film climaxes of all time.
Both Diana and Steve proved that the love they felt for each other didn’t make them weak, it made them stronger. It gave Diana the strength she needed to face her Brother and gave Steve the strength to sacrifice himself for the greater good. “I’ll save today. You save the world.” One of the greatest ‘I love you’s’ of any superhero film.
Coming into the film I can imagine David Thewlis may have had a similar reaction to me; an actor of his stature and quality, playing such a minor and inferior part? How could they?! (I imagine he was more graceful in his protestations than me) But his role became one of real substance.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD: That moment when I twigged, having thought for the entire film that Dr Poison was going to be revealed as Ares, I literally sat there like “No way…no way… no waaay…” Cute, innocent Ralph Fiennes turned out to be the big bad, the God of War! Thus begun an epic duel between Diana, the Godkiller, and the King of Chaos.
The final clash has had its criticism from a number of reviewers, and yes it may not have the most seamless of special effects that we have come to know from the likes of the Avengers. But by no means did it in any way ruin the film. A huge feat for any SFX department, with Sith-esque lightning, to Diana lifting a huge-ass tank as if it was a goose-feather pillow, they tried to pull out all the stops.
But I think what’s important about any superhero film is not the glitz and the glam, not how epic the special effects are and how many lens flares they can use (*shudders*). But it’s about the story, and the heart. And Wonder Woman brings so much heart to it.
This has hands-down become one of my favourite superhero films, one that I will gladly watch over and over for years to come. I would even go as far as saying that it tops the Avengers for me, putting it up there alongside Guardians of the Galaxy. It has everything, but most of all it teaches you everything. Thank you Patty, thank you Gal and thank William Marston, for creating, moulding and inhabiting a character of courage, empowerment and purity. I thank you on behalf of myself, and on behalf of all of the young girls who are going to be able to grow up alongside a fierce and ferocious heroine, and role model.
Wonder Woman is out on Blu-ray and DVD now.