To say Wonder Woman is the best of the DC Extended Universe films would be to damn it with faint praise. Somewhat. I like Man of Steel. I enjoyed Batman v Superman (Martha not withstanding). As for Suicide Squad? It was what it was. Somehow, some way, Wonder Woman got it right.
There was an imperial ton of pressure placed on this movie through no fault of its own. Warner Bros should be working from a position of strength, but they have been on the back foot from the beginning and have no one but themselves to blame. Marvel has a massive head start with its cinematic universe, and WB unwisely decided to play catch-up in one giant leap. Hindsight being 50/50, they made the wrong call. I understand the impatience, considering that “experts” have been predicting that the superhero movie bubble will burst with every new release. And of course by “expert” I mean “blogwanker.” WB/DC didn’t want to wait half a decade for Justice League, only for audiences to rediscover the pleasures of independent cinema. They would also look like even bigger idiots when you consider Marvel will have four Avengers movies done and dusted by then.
Wonder Woman works as a standalone movie, and thankfully WB didn’t try to shoehorn in a bunch of Justice League nonsense. This is an origin story, told in flashback. Diana (played at younger ages by Lilly Aspell and Emily Carey) is the daughter of Hippolyta, (Connie Nielsen) the Queen of Themyscira. And if my math is correct, that makes Diana a princess. Against her mother’s wishes, Diana studies battle training under the tutelage of her aunt, Antipope (Robin Wright). It turns out to be a good thing, because war is about to invade paradise.
Wonder Woman is the creation of William Moulton Marston, and that is a fascinating story I won’t go into–just wait for the biopic. Like Captain America, Wonder Woman emerged against the backdrop of World War II. The decision to change the setting for the film to World War I, was a smart one, with the added benefit being that it is harder to make a direct comparison with The First Avenger. Also, WWI is underrepresented on screen. The obvious exceptions being: All’s Quiet on the Western Front, The Grand Illusion, and Paths to Glory; just to name a few.
Some complain the DCEU films have moments, but not scenes, and that they lack subtlety. Well Sparky, Wonder Woman contains one of the most well crafted scenes in any superhero/blockbuster movie in quite a while. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say this much: No Man’s Land.
Director Patty Jenkins and composer Rupert Gregson-Williams did a clever thing by saving the Wonder Woman theme for just the right moment. What’s even better is that it isn’t overplayed. You must admit that one advantage DC has over Marvel is the themes for the characters.
Having not seen Hell or High Water, I cannot say if Wonder Woman features the best ever performance by Chris Pine, but I cannot think of a better one. I’m a huge fan, and I am ecstatic to see him get such wonderful notices. There is definitely more to him than merely Captain Kirk.
And can we just stop with all the “Gal Gadot can’t act” nonsense? Okay, she is no Meryl Streep or Judi Dench, but so what? I’m not saying Wonder Woman is an easy role to play, or that the character can be played by anyone. What I am suggesting is that Gal Gadot is the right actress at the right time. She is one of the reasons to look forward to Justice League; and we need all we can get.