Wonder Woman has landed
The most anticipated superhero movie of the year, beyond my household, has finally landed. Wonder Woman’s origin story has been anticipated one trailer after the next, showcasing easily the most exhilarating fight scenes in any of the comics-turned-movie universes so far. Led by a woman in direction and in action, the film allows the DC Universe to remind Marvel why, in spite of their darker stories, they hold the road: their main female superhero is the embodiment of female power.
And does Gal Gadot plays that cart well. With a smirk appropriately appearing like a pleasureable pride in her battling services to justice, she takes all the challenges, being every woman, compassionate, strong, naive, knowledgeable, believer, hardworking and dedicated. And like the craddle that a woman is for humanity, so is she every human, woman and man alike, all that can be, all the possibilities of everyone at birth, everything that the challenges of life sometimes punch out of us, dusting off the innocence and the hope little by little.
What a well-written script. Just like Gal Gadot is every woman, so is Chris Pine every man. In the same way, as she is every woman and man at the height of their possibilities, so is he every one, man and woman alike, in the heart of the battles, falling at times, making mistakes but with enough spark within to be lit by the advents of fulfilled hope. There is also a crown to be shared between the Queen of the Amazon, Hippolyta, who wears it by right and her sister, Antiope, who deserves it by sheer magnificence. Robin Wright is just amazing and convincing in every scene, bridging another gap on behalf of the heroin, the age gap. Add to that the burden of such great expectations put on the shoulders of and fulfilled by director Patty Jenkins, and you have the making of everything you need to get the viewing audience to believe in the advent of a new era.
Hollywood faux pas
We may never understand how Hollywood can still justify the parent hiding the truth from their offspring to protect them. Thankfully, that poke did not ruin the film even though it would have been easier for Diana to know who she truly was from the start. It would have been more believable that knowing this, it remained hard to believe or grasp since there exists no-one like her to teach or show her what it means to be, in effect, a warrior goddess.
But Hollywood did not stop there. The real annoyance was still to come. The villains’ monologue, maybe to justify itself, was given an upgrade. It was no longer just about blabbing their plans, weeping about their past, seeking a worthy accomplice to their crime. In fact those were all used maybe as a tremplin to the finale. Yes, you guessed it, the villain had more to talk about. This time, probably in an attempt to fairness, he will blurt out the true nature of his opponent, revealing the weapon she truly is, the power she actually has, even after failing to secure her collaboration. Was Zeus murmuring in his ears to suggest delays? Is ex-machina the muse of plot holes?
When you do something this brilliant, the holes show more. The Amazons of course were mainly models. I was never quite sure whether the difference was made enough between the Nazis and the Germans. I did admire the insistence that the bad was not in one person (or god like Ares) or in one group like the Nazis, it was in all men, humans. That did redeem the former issue by far.
Beyond the monologue, it was really hard to be convinced by the villain Ares. Is the actor a good one? Yes. Did he fit his role until then? Yes. Was it a surprise to realise he was Ares? Well, no we could have guessed that a while before. On the other hand, it was an unpleasant surprise that he did not morph into something more impressive than just his boring self with an armour. He is a god, for God’s sakes. There was not enough character development as far as Ares was concerned in order to be impressed or scared. And it was a disappointment that the film thought it was enough to use special effects reminding us of a Loki trick in order to built a character otherwise mighty enough to be worthy of a fight with Wonder Woman.
But then again, it is obvious that he was not the real villain. There was never that single battle in this war. And that was a clever take on the subject. Yet, it did not need to be at the expense of a real personality in Ares.
I do have a comment about love and how easily it translates to sex in movies. I love Love more than the average Love lover. And I am grateful that we did not have to see the specifics of the ‘Love’ scene. But I will still question the need for it. I doubt any amount of naivety could give a justification so weak as to justify sex.
And of course, as for all formulae, there are a few more clichés in the movie. The remaining ones, I would argue, are harmless enough though, e.g. the comic reliefs that is the secretary. We can very much live with those.
Anything for the fans?
Well, it is an origin story and as such is very much for the fans. Most of the story is faithful to the original comics, well to the many ways the comics version has evolved. A lot of there: the clay sculpted ‘birth’, the Amazon paradise, the amazon training and their fighting spirit, the model women, the lasso of truth, Steve Trevor, Ares (minus the not so impressive characterisation). She is given breath by Zeus but no powers are being related to any other gods like Aphrodite, Hermes or any other who are otherwise known to have contributed to her amazing sets of abilities.
The Justice League is hinted at, or rather Batman’s alter ego, as the Wayne vehicles introduce the film. There is also a little wink to Superman when glasses are given to Diana almost to make her look less herself. The very mention of Ares is an hommage to the Wonder Woman traditional nemesis, even if he ends up not being the one she will eventually have to continually battle. That transition is clever. The mention of Dr Poison, another archenemy of the hero is also a less subtle Easter egg.
I’d like to think that there is more to the Wonder Woman fans than the traditional need to see physical resemblence or allusion to the visible things they know from the comics. For me, comics have always been more about the spirit in life and Wonder Woman has carried this throughout, in spite of the times she has evolved in. As far as that spirit is concerned, I believe this film gets it more than bang on if at all possible.
Wonder Woman: “I am the man who can”
In that one sentence, Wonder Woman has summed up all the reasons for the anticipation, all the reasons why she is needed, filled all the holes we have been feeling in contemporary 21st century Hollywood universe, in spite of the Black Widows, the Supergirls, the Charlize Theron’s characters and the many real-life wonder women.
She is bigger than nature and smaller in ego still. She is everything a woman knows she is. Yet there is more. It is not the courage to be it, for courage has found walls of pride and institutions and traditions of stillness versus evolution. It feels she has the permission to be it, aided by the gods’ blessing, and the breasplate of an abundance of superhuman powers.
She is almost the fictional character who allows the 21st century free woman to live completely and fully, albeit by proxy, a proxy to exhale without endangering oneself.
With that single sentence, she says that she is human before being a woman, the very revendication of the undermined gender. She says that she believes in herself against all odds.
Did Diana’s emotional outcry being turned into power impress me? I’m still in two minds about that. But I cannot deny that having emotion not being turned into the bad guy or systematically confused with irrationality in a far too black and white, women and men 21st century is a breath of fresh air.
There is a lot of hope in the words “I am the man who can” and if you see them as the summary of the movie, you see the hope in the whole movie.
I loved the movie. I love the movie, in effect. To have managed to not belittle men in the rise of the woman is quite the achievement. To have showcased what action truly means in action and direction adds to that. To have chosen an actress to portray Wonder Woman away from her bust size is worthy of praise. To have portrayed her in the clothes of a warrior in spite of the other chosen interpretations is courageous. To have organically balanced the innocence and the fighting spirit has contributed in a well-developed character that is relatable even as an Amazon model-looking princess. To have pulled what no other female superhero would or could confirms Wonder Woman as The (genderless) Super Hero of All Time. Well done! Because all in all, just like any human action, there are going to be mistakes and greatness. But it is what is left that matters. As Maya Angelou says, “people will always remember how you make them feel”. Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman has left me feeling invigorated, empowered and hopeful, not in small part due to that epic soundtrack and its very, very awesome musicians. Therefore, it gets 9 out 10.