I remember the Wonder Woman of my youth. She was a knockout. From her satin tights to her million dollar smile, she burst onto our TV screens on Friday evenings. She might have been my first female crush. And not only was this woman beautiful and feminine, but she kicked butt in every sense of the term. From her lasso that would compel men to tell the truth to her lightning quick reflexes and gold bracelets which would deflect any bullet, she would take out any bad guy that would get in her way. As I was a big Superman fan, I think I secretly hoped that Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter) and Superman (Christopher Reeve) would get together.
And if I didn’t catch the live-action Wonder Woman television show, there was always the cartoon version of the Super Friends that included most of the Justice League. Sure, that meant putting up with a crazy super dog and the Wonder Twins. But I would do it for my fab four of the Justice League: Superman; Wonder Woman; Batman; and Robin. This was my weekly ritual. But then they yanked the television show right out from under me. So I continued on with the cartoon. But by the mid-80s, I got too old for the cartoons, and they pulled the Super Friends from the air. It meant no Wonder Woman for quite some time.
By the late 80’s DC Comics and Warner Brothers were starting to translate their superhero stories into modern feature films. They had done Superman back in the late 70s around the time of Wonder Woman. But by the time they reached Superman IV you could tell that they ran retreads of their ideas. (For purposes of my sanity I deny the existence of Superman IV . . . and Superman III for that matter. Whoever thought Richard Pryor made a good villain should be shot. And then hanged. And then shot again.). As a result, they shelved future film projects. So when they removed the Superfriends from the air, it represented the loss of my childhood. Thankfully, there was only a couple year hiatus and when they decided to bring Batman to the big screen.
For the purposes of my sanity and yours, I will not rehash what happened to the great potential of the first two Batman films that was destroyed by Joel Schumacher. Darn you, Joel! For those of you interested in my thoughts on the matter, you can see them here. So then we were stuck with nothing until Bryan Singer decided to deliver us the X-Men, which brought Marvel Comics to the forefront. A relatively successful series and Marvel, the main competition to DC Comics, had put the dust of terrible ideas like Howard the Duck behind them.
Now DC was in a competition with Marvel for superhero supremacy. This lead DC to giving the green light to Christopher Nolan to do Batman. It rebooted the Batman franchise and breathed life into the Dark Knight once again. Unfortunately, it happened to be the only positive decision that DC made. It would attempt a reboot of Superman post-Christopher Reeve. My ex-wife called him Ken Doll Superman(Brandon Routh). And really, that was about all he was good for. Even Brian Singer at the helm, the man who got the successful X-Men series running, and Kevin Spacey as Lex Author could not save the casting choice.
Meanwhile, Marvel sold themselves to Disney. And Disney recognized the gold mine they had. They were not content with each individual superhero story. They saw a world of interconnected superheroes and the comics they inhabited as great source material to bring all of them together. So they had separate films. And then they blended them in magnificent films like Avengers and Captain America Civil War. Furthermore, they extended the plot to TV with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Marvel’s Agents of Shield.
In the meantime, DC was sputtering. Wonder Woman projects had been bandied about behind closed doors. There was a rumor here and a whisper there. The biggest of those rumors I was told was that Joss Whedon was working on a big screen adaptation of the franchise. As he was a very successful creator of a television series with strong females, it was not difficult to understand why he would do this. And the rumored choice for the projects was one of the female leads from his show. For Buffy fans, this represented a good thing. And then that project fell through and DC went quiet.
After culminating the Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan continued to work with DC, only in a producers role. He did not want to direct, so he left Zack Snyder, director of 300, to direct Man of Steel, a Superman reboot. After the horrific Superman Returns, I looked forward to anything different. And if Nolan attached himself to the project, all the better. What I didn’t realize at the time is that DC was scheming in a much larger way. Because Man of Steel was to be the beginning of the DC Extended Universe.
They saw what Marvel did and wanted a piece of the action. So they began scheming to bring their own super-powered superheroes together. After Superman, they knew they would need a Batman, which would fall to Ben Affleck (I’m still not sure about this decision). And after Batman, they needed a Wonder Woman. And since no Wonder Woman origin story had ever been told on screen, DC knew it had its work cut out for them.
Whether what transpired next were missteps, you will have to be the judge. I actually enjoyed Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And my daughter and I both enjoyed Suicide Squad. But many had been spoiled by the intricacies of the Marvel Universe and had papered over Marvel’s own missteps with films like The Hulk, and several versions of Spiderman. So they were unforgiving of what they considered low brow entertainment. Winter Soldier and Civil War upped the game for them.
So when it came to making the picture of Wonder Woman, DC decided to go big. Not only did they cast a relative unknown in the role of Wonder Woman, they hired a female director to helm the picture. This is the equivalent of going all in with only a pair of 2’s in poker. You could win. Or you could lose your house, your car, your wife, your dog, your job, and any self-respect you thought you had. (Insert Country Song Here).
So what happened with their bet? What did I think of the picture? And is Warner Brothers doomed?!?! Doomed I tell you?!?! (I’m guessing since this isn’t coming out until after they made 100 million over the weekend domestically that you know the answer . . . but you can pretend you are in suspense just for me for two more seconds.) Two . . . and one . . .
Wonder Woman Review
They introduce us to the character of Diana as a young girl. She of the precocious mind and indomitable spirit roams around Paradise Island trying to be a warrior. They regaled her with tales of Zeus and his gift of the Amazons to spoil Ares plot to corrupt all humankind. Zeus sent the Amazons to protect creation from being manipulated and turn them to the light. And they were able to deal with this for a time. But Ares changed tactics and gathered other God’s to his aid. A Great War ensued and man became thoroughly corrupted. To stop this Zeus sacrificed himself to spoil Ares plans. And he gave a weapon to the Amazons should Ares return to inflict more damage on humankind. So the Amazons hid away from the world with their weapon, awaiting the day of Ares return.
Diana, knowing all of these stories wanted to grow up to fight Ares and protect civilization. But her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), kept putting her off. Until General Antiope (Robin Wright) intervenes. The general just so happens to be Diana’s aunt and Hippolyta’s sister. So she carries some sway. After much discussion, Hippolyta relents and allows Diana to go through training. Not only does she go through training but she is to be trained harder than any other Amazon before her. Because what we know, and Diana does not yet realize, is that she is the gift from Zeus to conquer Ares.
Diana (Gail Gadot) grows up and becomes one of the greatest warriors the island has known. But of course, the story could not end there. Something has to upset the apple cart. And an American Pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), crash lands near the island. He just escaped from the German’s to bring back a significant piece of information to British Intelligence. But he has not escaped the Germans entirely. And when they arrive on the Island, a battle ensues.
The Amazonians win, but not without cost. Hence, they do not trust Mr. Trevor. And what do you do if you do not trust someone? You lasso them of course. OK! Maybe not just anyone does that. But they happen to be wielding that lasso of truth. With this, they begin to question Steve about where he has been. And has he got a story to tell. The whole world is at war, the Great War in fact (World War I). Diana recognizes this as a sign of Ares intervention. But the Amazons have become too complacent and Hippolyta does not think to risk anything for man is worth the cost. So she commands Diana to stay.
But Diana’s destiny, unbeknownst to her, lies on foreign shores. And a conversation with Steve shows her a depth to humans that she sees as noble and worth saving. She cannot just sit idly by the world explodes all around them. She must act. So she takes it upon herself to liberate Steve from the Island and to get to the front to stop Ares. What waits for Diana there shocks her on so many different levels.
For Steve Trevor, his goal takes him back to the line of fire. For the secret information he carries contains descriptions of new horrific chemical weapons the German’s make. This weapon could extend the war infinitely. Steve must prevent that from happening at all cost. He appreciates Diana’s help. And he definitely finds her attractive. But he knows that his task may carry him in a far different direction than alongside Diana.
What happens to Diana? What happens to Steve? And where in the heck is Ares? These are all questions that will be discovered by the end of the picture. But I have revealed enough of the basic plot already. The rest should be for you to discover.
*End of Spoilers*
So what did I think of the film? What did I think of the actors and the sequences? Do I think it’s the greatest superhero movie ever? Great, good and no. What? You thought I would give you more? OK! OK! You are so picky about your reviews, aren’t you? I guess I will have to get into it.
They did an excellent job of casting for the picture. Gal Gadot reflects the perfect warrior princess. She brilliantly plays the self-assured role of Diana. She ably promotes both Diana’s strength and her naivete about the world she now inhabits. The world destroys itself. But the world also can be loving and kind. We can see the world as she sees it through her eyes.
Chris Pine perfectly plays Steve Trevor, the above average man with a large ego and a soft heart. And what’s beautiful is that you can imagine no other person in the world for either of them by picture’s end. She needs someone with a healthy ego and yet tenderhearted. And he needs someone to challenge him to be more as well as see the amazing person he already has become.
David Thewlis, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Saïd Taghmaoui, Elena Anaya, and Lucy Davis all play companions on the chase to stop the world from being plunged into more darkness. Some of them have more to hide than others. But all function well. Whether they are there to bring moments of levity or to bring a more serious note, they add to the picture.
As far as the direction, Patty Jenkins takes the reigns. What’s seems impossible is that she has not been in a director’s chair since 2003 when she directed Monster. While critically acclaimed, for some reason Monster did not inspire anyone to hire Patty to take a director’s chair again until now. One would hope that this will change with the success of this pictures. Not only does she tell a story with heart and compassion, but she gets the most out of the characters in the smallest of roles. Her eye for detail in the story makes it so you couldn’t see any other person directing this film. Not even Joss. (Sorry Joss.)
Is this the greatest superhero movie ever? No. And I want to say this with several caveats. First, not even my daughter thought it was. She ranked Suicide Squad higher. I know many of you would consider that sacrilegious. And it may be. But the greatest superhero movie should move my daughter to shift allegiances. And this did not. Second, while I think it tackled some sensitive issues, it was neither as deep as Captain America Civil War, or have the inspired hilarity of Guardians of the Galaxy. It threaded a needle with both levity and depth. And it did it well. I just wouldn’t say it was the best.
But aside from the first and second Batman movies that Christopher Nolan directed, I would say that it’s the best DC movie that I have ever seen. And for once we have a strong amazing woman with heart and ideals. And what’s even more brilliant is that it displays that what’s in a man or woman’s heart is far more important the way they look on the outside, not saying that Gail Gadot is not stunning.
Would I recommend seeing this picture???? Absolutely! It’s so good that I am planning on seeing at least once more before it leaves the theater. And I don’t say that all too often. It’s a comic book movie the way it was meant to be made. And it does the Wonder Woman of my youth proud, even if she has traded in her satin tights for leather armor.
Rating: 3.5/4 Stars
Continue The Conversation-
It’s one of these times where I wonder how much of my audience has seen the picture already. And how many have gone to see it twice already. 100 million dollars on an opening weekend makes for a lot of people coming to the theater. Now whether this means just first-time moviegoers or includes many who were so excited they saw it twice is hard to tell. I enjoyed it. And I will see it again.
So I ask you for those of you who have seen it, what was your favorite part? Or if you are worried about spoiling it for someone, who is your favorite character? For those of you who haven’t seen it, what are you looking forward to most about seeing it? Or why don’t you want to see it? What is holding you back? And lastly, if you want to discuss the end, please contact me in the contact me section. If I get enough people interested, maybe I will start a thread to discuss it.
Thanks for stopping by once again. If you loved this review, please feel free to check out some of my other reviews I will list at the bottom of this post. Also, sign up to follow my blog to never miss a review or a post. Email subscribers get access to the Dad Rules. These are ten rules that every dad should follow, and every mom should know about. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Until next time, Wonder Twin Powers Activate!
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life