Wonder Woman could easily have been a run-of-the-mill superhero movie that would fly under the radar in five years. Her story is not wholly unique, and it’s easy to pick out tropes that have been used and overused in other origin movies. However, Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg’s screenplay plus an excellent cast under Patty Jenkins’ direction served to elevate the movie into something that has all the potential to become a classic.
The movie is refreshing – arguably the most refreshing superhero movie since Christopher Reeves’ Superman. It didn’t follow in its DCEU predecessors’ footsteps with all the flash and bang to detract from its lack of substance. Nor did it rely on the “big moments” to fish for reactions from the audience. Instead, it’s the characters who drive the story forward in Wonder Woman, peppering every moment with bits and pieces of humanity and empathy along the way. You’d be hard-pressed to dislike them or refuse to empathize with them.
Diana Prince and Steve Trevor were arguably the best things about Wonder Woman. They were already well-written. But there was something special in the way Gal Gadot and Chris Pine brought them to life. Diana’s progression from a strong yet naive Amazonian to the jaded but not completely hardened superhero felt completely organic. Gal was the epitome of “show, not tell”. Her micro-expressions – an eyebrow twitch here, a broken expression there – gave Diana more depth than an ordinary script would.
Chris Pine, too, was perfect as Steve. He was self-assured yet had an air of insecurity about him throughout the movie. It worked perfectly with the kind of character Steve was – a good man who sometimes did bad things, all for the greater good. Steve served as Diana’s anchor, and this odd character reversal with Steve taking on the “girlfriend” role worked perfectly for the both of them. Their chemistry was explosive, and their multi-dimensional relationship weaved itself into the story rather than being shoehorned in to “attract the female audience”.
If there’s one thing that didn’t work out so well in the movie, it’s the big bad Ares. The reveal was anticlimactic, and while the final battle itself was great, the buildup to it was rather disjointed and Ares’ motives felt unconvincing. It puts a dent in an otherwise excellent film, but definitely not big enough to spoil an unforgettable experience about the first female-led superhero movie in years.
(And while we’re on the subject: yes, it is a feminist movie. No, Diana was not a bra-burning, man-hating Amazonian who sought to subvert men once she left her all-woman island. Rather, Diana was someone who asserted her right to stand alongside men because it never occurred to her not to do so, and the men around her are not threatened by her being a woman. If that doesn’t scream equality, I don’t know what does.)
Is it a perfect movie? No, but it is objectively very good and memorable and important. It’s something that can be watched over and over, if only we had more time.