The DCU Scores with a Superhero Movie with Heart.
I adored Wonder Woman when I was a kid. I watched the TV series, I had the action figures, I practically lived in my Wonder Woman Underoos for longer than I'd care to admit.
Somewhere along the way, Wonder Woman lost me. The goofy superpowers (A lasso of truth? Really?), the whole Amazon thing, and most of all that ridiculous costume - I just couldn't get into it. Neither could my daughter. Reading one of the LEGO Superhero books, she wrinkled her nose at Wonder Woman and asked, "Why is she fighting in a bathing suit? Isn't she cold?"
Despite all that, I was really looking forward to the new Wonder Woman movie. The trailers looked great, I love movies set during WWI, and it was about dang time that they gave a female superhero her own movie. Oh how I hoped it didn't suck, because there was an enormous amount of pressure on it. Too much, actually, as the Daily Show's Michelle Wolf eloquently pointed out:
As evidenced by the box office returns ($206.53 million in ten days according to Forbes) and reviews (93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing) - clearly the movie didn't suck. And while I may not gush as much as some of the people who were moved to tears or calling it the best superhero movie ever, I did really enjoy it.
The things I liked best:
Diana is not "Wonder Woman", she's just "Diana". Little moments - like sneaking out to watch the warriors as a child or enjoying ice cream for the first time - make her more than just her superhero identity; she's a fully fleshed-out character. Her empathy and innocence is her weakness as well as her strength.
The diversity of the cast. Robin Wright is freaking awesome as the fierce Amazon general who's also Diana's aunt. She smashes Hollywood's age barrier as easily as she does the German troops. The band of sidekicks that helps Diana in her quest is also refreshingly diverse, and there's even a female villain for good measure.
The No Man's Land scene. So. Awesome. It was the perfect way to showcase Diana's true purpose, which is not really about defeating the Big Bad but about saving the innocents. It reminded me of some of the random-do-good scenes in the old Superman movies. And the symbolism of her taking on "No Man's" Land hearkened back to another big literary moment in Lord of the Rings, when Eowyn vanquishes the baddie while declaring, "I am no man." It's truly the best moment in the movie, which makes it absolutely baffling that director Patty Jenkins had to fight to keep it.
The humor. It provided some much-needed levity, and Chris Pine proved to be a great straight-man in Diana's fish-out-of-water scenes.
Even with all the awesome, there were a few things that didn't work for me.
After a first half that worked so hard to not be like all the other superhero movies out there, the final battle felt like the same "unstoppable force meets immovable object" fight we've seen a million times before. It wasn't interesting, and it dragged on far too long.
I also think the movie underutilized Steve Trevors. He had his moments, but honestly - if we swapped gender roles he wouldn't get a very high Princess Power rating. He's little more than a "damsel in distress" love interest who gets fridged to give the hero(ine) purpose. As amusing as it was to see Diana tell him, "Stay here," while she went charging off to kick butt, it was a guilty pleasure. If we complain when women are given those roles in movies starring men, why should we turn around and do the thing we hate? I think the movies are better when the two leads are more like equals, like in Huntsman: Winter's War.
I still can't get past all the issues that turned me off Wonder Woman all those years ago, but holding that against the movie feels kind of like saying, "You know, Spiderman wouldn't be so bad if he weren't a teenager." She is who she is, love it or leave it.
Hopefully it won't take another seventy years for Wonder Woman to return to the big screen in a film of her own. And in the mean time, could we please get an Agent Carter or Black Widow movie? Pretty please?
- Princess Power:
- Bechdel Test: Pass
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