When I walked into the theater to watch Wonder Woman last night, I went in with the intent of deciding the future of watching future DC films based on how this movie did. My logic was that if DC can’t even make a movie that is all about female empowerment, the one thing that you’re pretty much “expected” to do well in media nowadays, then there was no reason to watch any other films in the DC universe ever again. If you can’t do the simple thing of making a “girl power” movie, you can’t do shit.
So exiting Wonder Woman, did I feel like the writers, directors and producers create a good film that gives me hope that a movie like Justice League won’t be a pile of garbage? Yes and no. But yes enough, that I’m willing to give them a chance to prove themselves in their first ultimate film in Justice League.
Wonder Woman is an enjoyable film, much in the way that I thought Suicide Squad was actually an enjoyable film. But much like Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman is a film that is a fun watch, but there’s a lot of things to nitpick and a lot of missed opportunities that hinder the film from being an iconic comic book film much like several of the Marvel films have been.
***This article will contain minor spoilers. For major spoilers, please visit The Spoiler Section here***
The film started off very well, the time spent with Diana’s childhood and backstory before becoming the god and superhero she is, it wasn’t drawn out too far, nothing felt like filler and it served its purpose to get her moving forward into her eventual quest that the movie would surround. The beginning however does have a few slow points up until the arrival of Chris Pine’s character, Steve Trevor, a British spy during World War I, as he crashes past the barrier that separates Diana’s homeworld of Themyscira and the rest of the world. From then on, the movie starts to pick up and does something that other DC movies have struggled with.
Surprisingly enough, Wonder Woman may be the film in the DC universe thus far that has the best comedy. The subtle sexual comedy in the film between Diana and Steve are some of the funnier moments I’ve seen in comic book films in quite some time. It’s not a joke that’s thrust into your face, it’s very cutely put together and doesn’t come off like something you’re supposed to just laugh at because of the timing. The entirety of the film leading up to the final act is like that, a lot of really well put together comedy that doesn’t feel forced or out of place. However I will say, the romantic relationship that develops between the two ends up becoming a little too quickly forced together and by the end of the film becomes way too cliche and cheesy and kind of kills any natural development the two had together.
Where the film really has some troubles however is the first few moments where Diana and Steve go to London and establish the war setting and the side characters on their team, who by the way really don’t get any time to shine and honestly become afterthoughts throughout the film. It really felt at the end of the movie that the three party members in Sameer, Charlie and Chief, they come off as background characters, rather than party members integral to the mission, none of them ever stand out beyond Sameer flirting with Diana throughout the film. But in London, the movie just focuses on the “fun” of Diana not being familiar with a setting outside of her home island, which is fun at first, but they spend way too much time with it and it comes off as a bit of filler and wasted time that could’ve been spent on the war itself.
The depictions of World War I in the film are a mixed bag of great sequences and missed opportunities. The realities of war are very much on display, seeing wounded, those missing limbs, the horrors of war are out there for all to see. The trench warfare, No Man’s Land, it’s all there and it’s put together very well, you don’t watch this movie and don’t see the horror and downright terrifying nature of the war itself. However, when Diana starts to fight back and help the Allies change the tide of war, there’s almost no reaction to her god-like abilities, it’s almost as if she’s nothing special. The soldiers should have been in awe that not only was someone single-handily fighting a ton of German soldiers, but a woman was doing this.
Which to me is one of the sadder things about the film, that it tried to take the girl power theme into play, but at the expense of men being treated as the dumb, emotionless arbiters of war. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, I’m all for girl power, but why does it always have to involve taking every possible shot at men? Men are stupid, men are violent, men are careless, men are the wrongs of the world. But women? They’re the only ones who are capable of being the peacekeepers of the world. Though at the same time, there’s really three women in the film that carry any weight of importance once Diana leaves Themyscira and that’s of course Diana, but then there’s Dr. Poison, the lone female villain of the movie who really plays her creepy chemist villain role extremely well, I loved her in this film, despite the lack of closure on her character. Lastly, there was Etta, Steve’s secretary, who pretty much plays the peppy, silly woman that doesn’t really offer much. All the girl power eggs are put in Diana’s basket, while the remainder of the film spends time showing us how horrible it was for women back then and how it’s all the man’s fault. Could’ve gone without so much of that message. But that’s a debate for another day.
Now we finish with the final act. Without spoiling it, what I will say about the last third of the movie is that it is such a massive missed opportunity that could’ve made for an interesting message, an interesting plot point. Those who have watched the film, you know the moment I’m talking about where Diana suddenly questions everything she’s been doing up until that very point. The film should’ve spent more time with this, but instead just cut to the final battle without really much time spent in the current state that the film was at its best at. The villains in Ludendorff and Dr. Poison do their job at getting you interested in the end point of the film, but ultimately the film doesn’t do the best job with its ending. There are points where there is an emotional investment in the eventual ending, but in terms of living up to the potential, being a good ending battle, being written into a proper and logical closure, the ending of Wonder Woman did not live up to that.
The ending in fact comes off more like a collective circle jerk of CG that severely missed the mark on what a final battle in a comic book film is supposed to be. I left the theater happy, but the longer I’ve spent thinking about the film, the more I continue to nitpick and the ending is the biggest problem I have with the film now. The ending upon reflection feels rushed, feels way too cliched and felt like such a massive wasted opportunity that really could’ve put the film over as the highlight of the year for comic book films. Instead, I once again speak about how this film could’ve been so much more than it actually is.
And that’s how I will end this review, by saying that I enjoyed watching this film as much as one possibly can with a film that makes as many mistakes and missed as many easy opportunities that the film has the chance to go through with. The actors do a fantastic job with their characters, the comedy is underrated great in the film and the potential for greatness was certainly there. But I believe the obsession of making a girl power movie and making the archetypal DC universe film which is less colourful and a little more gritty, it gets in the way of what should have been an easy dunk for the creators of the film. There is so much to love and yet the movie is littered with mistakes, so the rating I give this film is the highest I can personally give, but take into account that this was still an extremely enjoyable movie and more than worth your time. But objectively? I can’t give this film that high a score.