Hollywood’s first female-led superhero film is a home run for DC/Warner Bros
Gail Simone, a DC Comics icon, once said, “If you need to stop an asteroid, you call Superman. If you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But if you need to end a war, you call Wonder Woman.” It would seem that both Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins took this quote to heart; not only does Wonder Woman as a film expand upon Simone’s quote, but it also conveys a true understanding of what it means to be a hero.
There is a moment in the second act of the film where Diana/Wonder Woman (Gadot), Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and the crew arrive at “No Man’s Land,” a battlefield trench where Americans are at a stalemate with the Germans in an attempt to free a Belgian village known as Veld. Steve thinks that the situation is hopeless and urges Diana to carry onward in their hunt towards General Ludendorff (Danny Huston). Suddenly, as the scene slows down and score swells, we see Diana turn away, drop her disguise, and climb into the battlefield. It was a beautiful, perfect moment – one that defines with brilliant accuracy everything that Wonder Woman stands for. What follows is nothing short of epic: Diana charges towards the Germans, deflecting bullets and bombs, allowing the American soldiers to follow behind her as she absorbs the attention of the enemy fire. After a fantastic fight scene to take back Veld, we feel Diana’s euphoria as she and Steve watch the townsfolk dance in the streets. “You did this,” Steve tells Diana. “We did this,” she corrects him.
It wasn’t a scene where Diana was battling some “big baddie,” but it didn’t have to be. In this moment, DC and Warner Brothers finally got it right. Not only that, the scene itself was executed so flawlessly that superhero fans are sure to keep it close to their hearts for decades to come. This was Wonder Woman, this was what being a superhero stands for. Heroism for the sake of heroism. Stepping up to defend any and all, no matter how small or insignificant the person might be.
Wonder Woman is a success in all the ways that the prior installments of DC’s Extended Universe were failures. The humor was not forced, character motivations were properly fleshed out, and the script was not overly concerned with easter eggs or squeezing in hero cameos. Most importantly, however, Jenkins and the writing team had a proper understanding of who Diana Prince is at heart – and it showed in the final product (something that one might not be able to say about Zack Snyder and Superman, for instance). The film also does well to fill some of the unanswered questions of Diana’s role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Admitedly, however, the final climactic battle was fairly CGI-heavy – a page out of Dawn of Justice’s book, for better or for worse.
Wonder Woman is an achievement not only in that it is the first female-led superhero film to grace the big screen, but that it is one of the few superhero movies to actually correctly portray its featured hero. For DC and Warner Brothers, it is a sign that they have heard our criticism and demands for a better product – and what we ended up getting is not only one of the best movies of 2017 thus far, but one of the best superhero films of all time.