For me, superhero movies are about more than just epic fight scenes and awesome villains. They’re about characters that we care deeply about, fighting battles that make us think about our own world, in films that makes us laugh, cry, and hopefully make us feel a little bit better about life when the credits roll. There are lots of great superheroes out there, and some fantastic superhero movies too, but none have ever quite had the effect on me that Wonder Woman did. After 75 years of being one of DC’s most popular superheroes, Wonder Woman has finally got her own film in the DCEU, and thank the gods, it’s not just good – it’s everything a superhero film should be.
In the film, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is working as a curator in modern-day Paris when she is given a photo that sends her back to 1918, when she was Diana, Princess of the Amazons. Having lived and trained on the island of Themyscira her whole life, she anticipates a war she hopes will never come, but when human man and soldier Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) washes ashore and warns the Amazons of the war to end all wars, Diana must brave the world of man and step up to her destiny: to kill Ares, the God of War, and end World War I.
Wonder Woman is the most emotionally affecting and moving superhero film I have ever seen. As we watch Diana grow from a child to a warrior in the opening scenes on Themyscira, with the muscled, scarred and skilful Amazon women training and kicking ass, it is so uplifting and new to see powerful women dominating the screen; and from there it only gets better, as we follow the curious, idealistic Diana out into the world of man, Steve alongside her. Europe is dreary compared to stunning Themyscira, and Diana’s naivety about the human world makes for some fun fish-out-of-water humour, but her horror at the suffering around her is what is most compelling, throwing us hearts first into the emotionally overwhelming scenes to come.
Because this is a war film, and whilst that provides for some incredible action sequences and powerful imagery, including the best scene in the film, the No Man’s Land scene, the emotional impact it has on Diana as she comes to understand the complexities of man at war, and is heartbroken by it, is so raw that you feel your heart breaking, too. Her wholehearted belief that Ares is the only man responsible for the war is idealistic yet impossible, and Steve knows it to be, but watching their rag-tag gang of soldiers scheme against German General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), you almost believe her. Despite these villains being very underdeveloped, their threat is still enormous, as their potential to destroy humanity beyond repair is certainly a villain worthy of Wonder Woman.
Gal Gadot is extraordinary as she leads us through this film, commanding every scene, doe-eyed and full of life; her honour as a warrior, her optimism and faith in humanity, and her compassion and ability to love are infectious. Though her journey does create cynicism within her, and incite anger and pain, she never gives up hope on mankind, never stops loving and remains optimistic, proving that strong female characters’ strength does not have to come from just their masculinity, and that compassion and love make you strong, too. But she’s not just emotionally strong – she’s also an absolute badass, tactical and honourable, and her Amazonian fighting style and use of the Lasso of Truth (or Hestia, as it is known in this film) is mesmerising.
As is her chemistry with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor – their romance is tender and sweet, but he is so much more than just a love interest to her. He’s her friend, a symbol of her hope for humanity, and she believes that if he can do good things, then so can the rest of the world. He leads a cast of humans that is so much fun, with Said Taghmaoui as Sameer, Ewen Bremner as Charlie, Eugene Brave Rock as the Chief, and Lucy Davis as the delightful Etta Candy providing the perfect amount of laughs and serious moments as needed. Conversely, the Amazons are a huge standout and one of the highlights of the film; Antiope could become one of Robin Wright’s defining characters, and her scarred, fierce, beautiful general is just as inspiring as Connie Nielsen’s Queen Hippolyta. Diana’s bond with both of these women is hopefully something that will be revisited in future films.
Despite this being quite a long film, with some pacing issues and a one-note villain, I never wanted it to end, and Wonder Woman’s ability to key in on issues about war, hate and love that have never been more relevant cannot be denied. Patty Jenkins has crafted a gorgeously bright, but emotionally moving film about optimism in the face of cynicism and belief in the power of love, which is exactly what the world needs right now, and Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince is the compassionate, fierce warrior that women need right now too.
Wonder Woman has a really great cast that all work so well together, so here’s my top five favourite films starring the cast of Wonder Woman:
- Fast Five – Gal Gadot
- Star Trek – Chris Pine
- The Princess Bride – Robin Wright
- David Thewlis – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Into the Woods – Chris Pine
Photos taken from IMDB.com: