I am a major fan of superhero movies. I’ve enjoyed just about every Marvel movie that’s come out in the last decade. And since I’ve known more about DC heroes than Marvel ones for most of my life, I’ve looked forward even more to seeing films in that universe. But then I saw the DC movies that came out to compete with Marvel, and was so disappointed I came up with a strike system for them — after three strikes, I would stop going to see DC movies because they simply wouldn’t improve. “Man of Steel” was a half strike because it was bad, but I saw it outside of theaters; “Batman vs Superman” was an incoherent mess worthy of a full strike; “Suicide Squad” earned its strike for ruining the Joker for me and creating Harley Quinn cosplay. Thus, a lot was riding on the next DC movie for me, because it was the last chance to impress me lest I give up on DC.
Well, “Wonder Woman” bought DC another chance.
“Wonder Woman,” simply put, is the best DC movie to date, which should be a huge sigh of relief to moviegoers everywhere, in case they feared a repeat of a movie like “Batman vs Superman.” As the titular Amazon’s first independent foray onto the big screen (and the first major film with a female superhero starring), the movie pulls out all the stops: The acting is strong, the characters are well-written, the special effects and aesthetics are excellent, and the whole thing does so while being faithful to the comic books and to the themes of optimism, courage and female strength that one would expect from a movie about this character.
Gal Gadot stars as Princess Diana of the Amazons (aka Wonder Woman), a role which she plays with an immense amount of charisma. Gadot’s Diana is initially rather naive and innocent; she grows disillusioned as the film progresses, but never becomes totally cynical and never gives up on her mission or her ideals. Throughout the film, she is accompanied by Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who brings a world-weariness that serves to show Diana the harsh realities of “man’s world.” Trevor fills the role of sidekick-slash-love interest well, serving to supplement instead of supplant the main character (something that I had feared would happen given Hollywood’s track record with female lead characters).
Every moment of the film looks very very good, to put it simply. Since the story takes place toward the end of World War One, the scenery faithfully replicates the burnt ruins of No Man’s Land, wartorn Belgian villages and the dingy skyline of industrial London (which all contrast greatly with the peaceful green mountains of the Amazon’s home island). Diana’s costume is worth mentioning, as it transforms the often-revealing uniform from the comic books into something that looks like what a real person would wear (especially since it’s meant to be armor). The fight scenes are well-choreographed with many slow motion shots mixed throughout. CGI is present, but it isn’t overwhelming, largely due to the time period in which the movie is set.
“Wonder Woman” is a joy to see for any moviegoer, regardless of their knowledge of comic books or the ‘70s TV show, for that matter. However, it is also rewarding to have some background in the comic books’ lore, to see how often the movie mirrors its source material. The villains, for example, are classic Wonder Woman enemies set in a World War One context. The origin story the writers chose for the movie is similar to the traditional story behind Wonder Woman. They even get the proper names of items like the Lasso of Truth right, not to mention actually using it to make people tell the truth.
There are occasional flaws with the film: Certain plot holes are quickly visible, some of the lines were a bit cringeworthy and the third act appeared suddenly and was sort of indistinguishable from other superhero movie third acts (i.e., a CGI-filled brawl with a supervillain). These flaws, however, do not really detract from the experience as a whole, and are of minor importance compared to the movie’s overall strengths.
“Wonder Woman” is completely worth watching — and even rewatching, as I plan to do — and is a great opening to the summer, especially when compared to the feeble likes of another “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
Verdict: With excellent acting backing up well-developed characters and a thematically powerful plot, “Wonder Woman” is not only leaps and bounds ahead of other DC movies, but also a contender with the very best Marvel movies, making it a worthy showing for the Amazing Amazon.