To say that Wonder Woman’s first appearance on the silver screen is long overdue, is a vast understatement. She made her comic book debut in 1941, two years after Batman (1939) and three years after Superman (1938). While DC’s Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader have appeared in over 20 films between them, Wonder Woman has been waiting on the sidelines for far too long.
Thanks to glass-ceiling-shattering director Patty Jenkins and the mesmerizing Gal Gadot, “Wonder Woman” the, Amazon princess’s big screen debut, is worth the wait.
With an origin story centered around Zeus and the creation of mankind, Diana, princess of Themyscira’s (aka Wonder Woman) tale was destined for the big screen.
Diana (Gal Gadot) grows up on the hidden island of Themyscira amidst the Amazons. Completely secluded from the rest of the world, the Amazons are a warrior race of woman who aren’t looking for a battle, but are more than ready to defend themselves. Raised on stories of the Amazon’s true purpose, to save mankind and destroy the god of war, Ares, Diana grows into a fierce, but naïve warrior.
When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) wanders in from the chaos of the outside world, which is in the midst of World War I, Diana is ready to leave the island and defeat Ares, who she believes is responsible for all evil in mankind. Her mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) allows her to go, but warns that she cannot return.
Knowing that she is doing the right thing, Diana asks Trevor to take her to the front so she can find and destroy Ares. Working with Trevor, Diana hopes to stop a deadly gas attack orchestrated by a German scientist, Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) and end the war.
As strange as Diana’s world must seem to Trevor, where the film excels is in pointing out the everyday strangeness of the modern world compared to the world that Diana grew up in. As she learns the ins and outs of this strange new world, it allows an opportunity to bring the systemic, societal inequality to light in a less forceful, and sometimes funny, but still powerful way.
The foggy, dull grayness of London provides a dramatic contrast to the sunshine and bright colors of Themyscira. This corseted, male-dominated world that Diana finds herself in couldn’t be more different from the one she left behind. While the contrast provides some humor, Diana trying to figure out how women are supposed to fight when their fashion options barely allow them to breathe, it’s also a little heartbreaking.
It’s this balance of the serious and the lighthearted moments that makes “Wonder Woman,” soar.
The real star of the show is Wonder Woman herself. There’s something very real and honest about Gadot’s Wonder Woman. She is both a goddess and yet incredibly human at the same time. Her Diana is sweet and inquisitive, but also fierce and determined. One moment she’s talking about completing her mission, and the next she’s cooing over a baby.
Of course, what would a superhero be without their sidekick? Chris Pine as Steve Trevor provides the perfect partner for Gadot’s Wonder Woman. His performance has a serious goofiness to it that makes the stories quirkier elements, like the lasso of truth, work remarkably well.
The central premise around WWI and Doctor Poison could be stronger, but thankfully that’s not what the film is really about. It’s about introducing the world to the power that is Wonder Woman. As Diana learns the true nature of humanity, we share in her disappointment. As she begins to realize her purpose in the world, we’re right there cheering her on. It’s not a perfect film, but it is a perfect beginning for this new leader of the DC Comics franchise. Welcome to the big screen, Wonder Woman, we’re glad you’re finally here.
…just for fun: