The story has Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) stumbling onto Themyscira during WW I, hotly pursued by Germans. He’s discovered that the German chemist known as Dr. Poison (a real Golden Age villain, though Japanese back then) is working on a devastatingly deadly poison gas and wants to warn the Allies. Defying her mother, Princess Diana heads back to the war, carrying a magic sword, the “god killer.” She believes this nightmarish war can only be happening because Ares is stirring up hate in the human heart, and wielding the god killer she intends to stop him.
The good stuff:
•Gal Godot does a great job as Diana (who’s never actually called Wonder Woman). And while she’s certainly beautiful, the film doesn’t make a great deal out of Look, Incredibly Hot Chick, Gaze On Her (though this review disagrees).
•The movie is actually upbeat and not grimdark, despite lots of death and bloodshed. Wonder Woman herself seems to delight in what she’s doing and all the people she’s able to help.
•Diana doesn’t exert herself. In the early scenes, like when she’s punching handholds in a stone wall, she’s clearly pushing her strength. But as she goes on and gains confidence in what she’s capable of, she starts doing things effortlessly. Smashing through stone walls. Lifting a tank. As Slacktivist said of Luke Cage, superheroes doing these things shouldn’t look like ordinary people trying to move a heavy weight.
•A solid supporting cast including Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, David Thewlis as a kindly peacemaker and Robin Wright as Diana’s combat mentor, Antiope.
•Like Captain America, this gets over the hump of having a WW II hero by setting one movie in the past, the next in the present (I presume setting this film in the Great War was so that the
But the movie is more than the sum of its parts — it’s not just a compilation of good bits, it works as a whole.
However, there were some flaws, mostly on the feminist aspects. Instead of Aphrodite as the patron of the Amazons, now it’s a male god, Zeus. Even given this ties in to a big reveal late in the story, it felt gratuitous. And beyond that, the Amazons are specifically identified as Zeus’s creation to break the warmaking power of Ares. Nothing about challenging the patriarchal status quo, protecting women, freeing them from bondage, all of which were essential to Wonder Woman’s original conception.
Some of my friends pointed out, too, that there’s little interaction between women once the story moves off Paradise Island, and even on the island, a lot of the conversation revolves around men (Ares specifically, then Steve).
But while flawed, I’d rank it as a flawed success.