Arguably Wonder Woman (WW) was always going to be a tough sell. With only bullet deflecting bracelets, a small shield and a “truth lasso” in her armoury.
WW never had the coolest toys but this was not the major studio concern, the real worry was – can a female central character carry a multi-million dollar Superhero movie?
Previous attempts have been spectacular failures, could this buck the trend and persuade the 14 year old male demographic, a female character can kick butt and look good doing it?
“Diana” (Gal Gadot) has grown up on an idyllic island populated only by Amazon women and enjoying her status as the only child on the island. Eventually she is schooled in the ways of a warrior against her mothers wishes, by the resident teacher “Antiope” (Robin Wright).
On reaching womanhood, this isolated peaceful existence is rent asunder when a pilot “Steve” (Chris Pine) crashes his WW1 plane into the sea. In rescuing him from certain death, Diana sets off a chain of events which leads her to leave the island, to alter the path of history.
This journey takes in a WW1 period London and to a stand out sequence on the killing fields of Flanders. With WW breaking through the trench warfare stalemate in quite spectacular style. With Diana slowly realizing her own powers, it is apparent to Steve and his rag tag band of brothers, WW can handle herself and possesses skills they can only dream of.
There are many missteps this film could have taken, with so many factors at work. Political correctness, women’s empowerment, lovey dovey stuff and the central character becoming a bit part in her own movie. And yet director Patty Jenkins and Israeli model turned actress Gal Gadot have managed to avoid every pitfall.
Gadot is self deprecating, funny, believable when kicking ass yet vulnerable when it suits the story and frankly looks damn good all the time. The film has fun making her less beautiful in one scene, with the most demure outfit only serving to highlight her attractiveness.
The team gets sterling support from Pine, who plays a difficult role with just the right amount of humour, graciously ceding the stage to the main character at every turn. Ultimately playing a part most less secure male actors would be unable or unwilling to take on.
Veteran actors David Thewlis and Danny Huston get some decent screen time to add some gravitas to the proceedings but this is Gadot’s film and rightly so.
This is a spectacular success and praise must go to director Jenkins who has managed to find a consistent, believable tone throughout the film. With humour, enough action and with a level of violence that suits the character.
So when people argue who would win between various DC universe superheros, the answer is Wonder Woman, who would have thought?
Arguably the best superhero movie for some time, with $828m box office matching the critical acclaim, a resounding success.
Ironically, a female cinematic superhero has swept in and saved the faltering DC “multiverse”, rescuing Batman and Superman from their recent cinematic ignominy.
Whether WW will be powerful enough to save the upcoming “Justice League” remains to be seen, as they say a woman’s work is never done.
Wonder Woman was a huge surprise (and as a comic book nerd I confess to actually liking BvS, but I get why some where not all that taken with it) and it’s definitely the best superhero film of this year thus far (and I’ve seen Thor).
High hopes for Justice League after this, awesome review Jules.