In the world of superhero films there are a few that elevate the genre to another level. Since her creation by psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman has become not just a popular comic book character but a feminist and pop culture icon. Director Patty Jenkins does a masterful job of bringing this larger than life character to the big screen and creating arguably the best film to come out of the Warner Bros. DC Extented Universe.
The film begins on the hidden island of Themyscira, a land populated by Amazonian women with mythological origins. We are introduced to a young precocious Diana who has an eagerness to learn the warrior ways of her people. After years of learning to become a skilled combatant, a World War I soldier crash lands near the island sending her into the unfamiliar and dangerous world of mankind.
What I really like about this film is that it sticks to the story and origin of its main character. It doesn’t try to experiment or create a new version of Wonder Woman. This film remains faithful to the established history and characteristics of its hero.
One of the other great things about this film is that it doesn’t rely on its action scenes to drive the story. It takes its time and allows us to get to know the characters and what motivates them. When the action does happen, it doesn’t disappoint. The action scenes are emotional as well as being visually spectacular. This is essentially a war film and we get a strong sense of the complexity and high stakes that are involved. We also get brief moments that show us the tragedy and pointlessness of war. These elements lifts this film slightly above the average superhero film.
Gal Gadot does a fantastic job of playing the many sides of Wonder Woman. She expresses the innocence as well as the warrior spirit of this legendary character. She is beautiful and feminine and at the same time strong willed and physically powerful. Gadot’s physicality as Wonder Woman combined with Patty Jenkins’s camera work is what makes the battle scenes effective. Her chemistry with Chris Pine is another highlight of the film. Pine does fine work as a man who must use whatever means possible to help win the war. He is almost an antihero in that he will lie and cheat if necessary to gain an upper hand. His particular character arc is probably the best in the film.
The main villain is probably the only fault of this film. The whole film takes us on a journey towards a confrontation with Ares the great god of war and when he finally appears, it’s a little underwhelming. The final fight scene did have some emotional impact but didn’t seem as epic as it needed to be. On a whole, Wonder Woman is a special film that brings an iconic character to the screen and does it in a classy way.