Review: ‘Wonder Woman’ is perfect; a herald to the ultimate salvation of the DCEU
‘Wonder Woman’ is exactly what the DCEU needed to get back on track.
It’s safe to say the DC Extended Universe has noticeably stumbled out of the gate. Living in the shadow of its predecessors, while bearing the weight of its accumulated missteps, it was becoming difficult to imagine any of the projects on the docket would save face for the already damaged reputation of the optimistic concept. With ‘Man of Steel’ essentially being an anomaly created solely to mirror the success of ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy, ‘Batman v Superman’ unfortunately meeting very divided audiences, and ‘Suicide Squad’ being an absolute, across-the-board failure, it became clear that a three strike scenario was in place. No more flops could come from the DCEU or audiences would lose total faith in the series altogether. Thankfully, like a beautiful goddess on a mighty white steed, ‘Wonder Woman’ has answered the cries of fans the world over.
Knowing where the DCEU has been meant one solid truth for ‘Wonder Woman’: the movie needed to be competent above all else. The bar was set precariously too low thanks to the three previous films, which means the next movie had a big responsibility to put things right, a fact it manages to take in stride. Hands down, this movie works! It’s funny, has loads of relevant action, and more importantly, it never feels the need to rely on copying the works of other successful films to ensure its own success. WW has its own voice without a heavy-handed feminist agenda, as some had feared. It presents something empowering to anyone, gender aside, while entertaining the masses with something that reminds people why they go to the movies in the first place. If ‘Wonder Woman’ is a sign of things to come, there might still be hope for the DCEU after all.
Gal Gadot is perfect as Wonder Woman and has made it difficult to imagine anyone else in the role.
Gal Gadot’s initial casting as Wonder Woman pre-BvS was met with some controversy. The unknown actress rode right alongside Ben Affleck on the receiving end of hate from fans everywhere. Fortunately, just as the “Batfleck” proved them all wrong, Gadot followed suit. Despite her limited screen time in ‘Dawn of Justice’, she was quickly accepted as our cinematic Wonder Woman, with everyone eager to see her respective contribution to the DC series.
Diana needs to come off as more than just a warrior or hero. Her character only works with a certain maternal nuance; an innate impression that she will fight back the darkness and make you feel strong, not weak or fearful, while she does it. Gadot manages to do this and then some. This Wonder Woman barely needs the lasso of truth to compel people, all she needs is that smile. Overall, her beauty and confidence partnered with her warmth and compassion is why her portrayal is one that can’t be matched by anyone that follows. With this incarnation of Wonder Woman, we now have a hero that appeals to a world that needs the love and acceptance that is being denied to so many right now. She’s giving us something special and real, which we’d be remiss not to acknowledge and appreciate.
Every character has their own identity, relevance to the plot, and defining personal struggle.
The meat of the story focused on the characters we see in the mysterious photograph discovered by Batman. Diana meets Steve Trevor on Themyscira, but they later come across Steve’s war buddies: Sameer, Charlie, and The Chief. Sameer, was not only a flirty, hopeless romantic but was also overcoming his own struggle with inequality, stating he wanted to be an actor, constantly being denied his dream because he’s “the wrong color”. The lovable loudmouthed Charlie was tortured by nightmares of war and death, made all the more heartbreaking thanks to the surprise performance from ‘Trainspotting’s Ewen Bremner. Unfortunately, The Chief doesn’t get too much play, although he’s necessary for the fight at hand.
Ultimately, the character arcs developed the most were those of Steve and Diana, their budding romance giving us the backdrop for their growth. They subtly hint early on that they’ve started falling for each other, but it’s never really addressed (save for some hilariously awkward sex jokes on their way to London) or even relevant until the third act. They both have a mission and that’s what they focus on considering the fate of the world depends on it. It felt very natural that this harrowing experience would bring them together, never feeling forced or obligatory. Steve was just as important to the conflict as Diana and they saw that in one another, a point that makes their romantic arc stand above so many of the bland, superficial romances we’ve seen before.
The villains have a much deeper purpose than your typical “big bad” in a superhero flick.
The villains in place weren’t just there to give Wonder Woman something to punch, but rather to give her a glimpse into the state humanity has fallen into since the Amazons turned their backs on the world of man. Throughout the movie, Diana is eager to stop The Great War by defeating Ares, whom she assumes must be behind it. Steve Trevor goes along with it, as does the audience because it’s assumed that once she gets out in the field, she’ll realize things are much more complicated than a vengeful god pulling the strings, inevitably fighting alongside the US. Once in the heat of battle, she comes across some hard truths: Dr. Poison, despite being a woman, goes against everything Diana thinks she knows and has a hand in the death of thousands; all the while, her intentions to kill Ludendorff (aka Ares, as she presumes) in order to shut down the war completely, prove fruitless. Her naivety is essential in shaping who she must become. Confronted with the realization that there is evil in the world even without the influence of gods and monsters, she is forced to make a significant decision: abandon the world like her Amazon sisters, or fight to preserve what good might still exist within. It’s literally the choice that pushes her from Diana, Princess of Themyscira to the legendary Wonder Woman, making her whole journey thus far well worth the experience.
‘Wonder Woman’ has an empowering story, an engaging plot, and likable characters. It’s a movie that makes you want to see more. What you get is a love letter to the fans that have stuck with the DC movies, despite the negativity surrounding them, while acting as an invitation for those who have strayed. Even without the novelty of the first ever live-action ‘Wonder Woman’ movie, this is a truly memorable film. It’s better than the DC movies that came before it, and it will be compared to everything that comes after it. If you’ve been bitterly waiting for something to come along and challenge Marvel for their shared universe throne, ‘Wonder Woman’ might be the first real contender.