When I was a kid you could not convince me that Wonder Woman was cool. I was down with the rest of the DC Universe—Superman and Batman, especially, but also Aquaman, Green Arrow and the Flash on occasion. But WW just always seemed like the kind of gal guys dreamed of (especially the guys who read comic books). She can kick ass, they said, but she looks so hot in that skimpy get-up! Since I was nine and totally dismissive of such thinking, I gave her a pass.
By the time Lynda Carter brought Wonder Woman to the television screen in 1975, I was graduating from college and had no interest in her star-spangled campy action heroics. There may be some women out there now who found a role model in Carter’s version of WW in their childhoods, but I missed that bus.
Now at last we have a Wonder Woman I can consider an equal member of the Justice League. Portrayed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, in the film directed by (yes! a woman!) Patty Jenkins, this WONDER WOMAN is rocking movie screens everywhere with a combination of beauty and mesmerizing action grace. The only thing left from earlier versions of WW is a blazing guitar riff from the Seventies show (and, of course, her catchy weapons, which include stylish bulletproof cuffs and a Lasso of Truth). (Though, honestly, true fans would know better if the backstory is accurate.)
Diana, Princess of the Amazons, is a rebel with a cause—to save humankind from the ravages of Ares, the God of War. She takes on the mission when an American spy working for the British in WWI (Chris Pine) crashes into the ocean off the Amazons’ protected island, and she is forced to save him. She becomes enamored not only of the spy, but also of his fight in a “war to end all wars.” The Amazons, she believes, have a sacred duty to oppose Ares, who must be behind the war. Her mother, the Queen (Connie Nielson), disagrees, but Diana has been rebelling against her restrictions since an early age.
So, Diana leaves her isolated island in the company of the handsome spy. Adventures (galore) ensue, some of which may be a bit much for younger audiences. World War I was a gruesome affair, after all, and even without close-up images or a full visual of the effects of gas warfare, the action can get a little too real. (As opposed to other superhero films, where the fight is between invulnerable beings or the destruction is so over-the- top as to be cartoonish.) Sacrifices must be made (and since Zach Snyder of BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN fame had a hand in writing the story, you can probably figure out what they are), but good wins out over evil as it should.
If you’re thinking the plot is lacking detail, you’d be right. It’s a summer blockbuster, not Oscar material. The central question of the film seems to be whether we humans are ourselves responsible for the horrible things we do (the hero’s POV), or some external, supernatural force (e.g. “the gods”) is interfering to keep us at each others’ throats (Diana’s argument). In the end, however, it’s no surprise that Wonder Woman chooses to continue to be a force for good in the world, no matter what the source of evil.
I haven’t gone looking for other reviews of this film, much less have I sought out any fanboy reaction to the idea of a female lead AND a female director for a superhero film. The numbers speak for themselves, with a record-breaking opening weekend gross of $103 million domestically (the top earner) and $122 million internationally. The film did better internationally than any Marvel superhero origin story; it did well in China (where the character is virtually unknown); and it had the best opening weekend of any film directed by a woman ever. Bravo, Patty Jenkins.
But the biggest kudos belong to Gal Gadot, the strong, beautiful young actor who has given this superheroine a new life. She leaps off the screen and makes you believe—Lasso of Truth and all.
Yep. WONDER WOMAN is a definite GO!