Wonder Woman

FAMILY NIGHT AT THE MOVIE | By Christopher Hill –

Photos Credit by Clay Enos/ TM & © DC Comics.

Rarely has there been a film with the pressure of so many expectations behind it. Female-led comedies and dramas are not uncommon. Female-led superhero movies are a rare breed, with no successful progeny. Supergirl, released in 1984, 2005s Elektr, and 2004s Catwoman all failed to find commercial success.  Catwoman received seven Golden Raspberry awards, “winning” for worst picture, actor, director and screenplay. The result of such mediocrity? Hollywood banishment. Now, twelve years later, Wonder Woman seeks to reverse that direction and come in from the cold.

Debuting in 1941, Wonder Woman is one of the best-known superheroes. The DC character is an Amazonian warrior born of a relationship between their queen, Hippolyta, and Zeus, the leader of the Greek gods. The Amazon women live on the magical island of Themyscira, a land hidden from the world and hidden from men, that is until US Army spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes into their world and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) becomes the white knight who saves his life. She discovers his mission and the world war ravaging all around them, yet obscured from them. Compelled by her mission to stop Ares, the god of War, whom she believes must be behind this madness, and her desire to do good, Wonder Woman sets out with Trevor to stop World War I.

The time period works well for this “fish-out-of-water” story. Wonder Woman is a female warrior in a male-dominated war. Her single-mindedness and focus on goodness contrast with the historical backdrop and the guile and sexism of men now all around her. Wonder Woman confronts offense directly. She is strong and assertive throughout. The film doesn’t try to sway thought. Instead, it allows us to see an irresistible force moving through this immovable object.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was one of the highlights of last year’s Batman vs. Superman movie. For many, she stole the show. The question is whether her success was due to quality or to low expectations for the character. This film was the test. Could she not just hold her own in a solo movie, but also bring new eyes (and girls and women) to the theater and help DC and Warner Bros. build to Justice League, their version of The Avengers? Yes. Absolutely yes.

Wonder Woman, and Gal Gadot’s portrayal, is strong, athletic and unyielding. She is a force of nature, with the other characters swimming in her wake. Both Pine and Lucy Davis (playing Steve Trevor’s comedic secretary Etta Candy) provide both lightness and humor not seen in the grim Batman vs. Superman.

The lightness is challenged by the darkness of the period. While Ares is the main villain, war is a far greater adversary – one that perplexes the naïve princess. Her frustration provides moments of character development as her training and studies collide with the realities around her. This is not a morally gray character. To her, there is good, and there is evil. The shades of gray in between are difficult for her to comprehend.

Wonder Woman is a fun, action-packed summer film that will bring many more female-led films to the big screen, but it is not perfect. The budget, much lower than Batman vs. Superman ($250 million compared to $120 million), is evident in the sometimes uneven special effects. The strength against sexism is somewhat belied by a third-act revitalization predicated on love. The third act, in general, is a bit of a hot mess, with odd special effects and a weak final boss battle. However, these quibbles do not distract from Gadot’s strong performance.

Wonder Woman doesn’t kick some “butt” in the film; she kicks all of it. The action sequences alone provide enough for a solid summer movie. However, the film provides more than just kicks and punches. With so many gray-area superheroes, it is rewarding to see one with a traditional sense of right and wrong. Without any moral ambiguities, Wonder Woman stands out not just as a victory for female-centered superhero films, but for the genre itself. This is a great film for empowering young women – and those young at heart – but also for anyone who wants to see a true hero with ideals we all should aspire to.

Wonder Woman

  • Now Showing: In Theaters Now
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Violence: Yes, tons of action and one-strike deaths. No blood or gore. There is a death of a character that may upset some viewers.   
  • Language: None, surprising for a war movie
  • Sexuality: Limited and off-screen

© 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac Entertainment, Llc