Movie Review: Wonder Woman

The DC comics universe finally hits its stride with a feminist superhero

Wonder Woman
Directed by Patty Jenkins
With Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya

Female characters usually do not come off well in comic book action films. They are either seductive villains or sidekicks, but seldom the main focus. Wonder Woman, part of the DC comics universe, seeks to change that.

The film tells the origins of Wonder Woman, and begins in Ancient Greece on an island populated entirely by warrior women. Diana (played as an adult by Gal Gadot) is different than the rest of the women, but she does not know exactly why and the others don't tell her. The audience is kept in the dark for a long time too.

The action eventually skips ahead to World War I, and Diana teams up with US military pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). They wind up back in London.

The situation gives Diana a chance to notice the inequality between the sexes at the time, and make some feminist statements. There are also some amusing fish out of water scenes as Steve tries to explain to her that she can't go around carrying a sword and shield.

Steve has a secretary, Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) who tries to help Steve make Diana a bit less conspicuous. Etta also provides a good bit of comic relief, but without undermining the feminist messages of the film.

This being an action film, Diana and Steve aren't content to sit around London while the war rages on. They get together a small and of misfits and join in, as high command is ignoring some important information. Diana and Steve and their motley crew want to keep the war from getting worse.

Diana, like all superheroes, has an outfit. Hers looks like a metal bathing suit. She also has a magic lasso and some other items. Gal Gadot's performance as Diana, who becomes known as Wonder Woman, draws the audience in so much that seeing her walk across the battlefield magically dodging bullets doesn't look nearly as ridiculous as it should.

The group of fighters around Wonder Woman is bit reminiscent of the mismatched crew in Guardians of the Galaxy from the rival Marvel comics franchise. The bunch is quite diverse but works well together despite their differences.

Wonder Woman and Steve have some enemies on the other side of the war. Specifically, they are chasing after a female scientist called Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya), who wears a mask covering half of her face. She is closely tied to General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston). Both are depicted as being insanely evil, in typical comic book fashion.

The supporting cast is very strong, with Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen turning up in the Ancient Greek scenes as leaders of the warrior women. In the World War I scenes, the versatile David Thewlis turns up as a British politician trying to broker a peace settlement. Ewen Bremner of Trainspotting is one of the crew that helps out Wonder Woman.

The film also has a pretty solid script for a comic book film, trying to make some points about feminism and war, while also balancing action and comedy.

The end does go off in an unexpected direction, and isn't as successful as it might have been. The gigantic special effects extravaganza at the end also undercuts some of the drama that went before it.

But the film delivers on its goals of creating a strong female superhero that can be a role model for young women. It good for its type of film, but not with a few flaws.

The character should return in a sequel, and the film dropped some hints about her knowing other members of the DC comics universe.

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