Wonder Woman was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. Despite the divisive and mixed reaction that its been receiving, I have so far loved most of the DCEU (I loved Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and… enjoyed Suicide Squad despite it’s countless flaws). No matter their thoughts on the previous movies, everyone was at the very least interested in the Wonder Woman movie. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman (who everyone loved in BvS) returns to star in the female led superhero prequel, and its directed by Patty Jenkins, who directed the great and often underappreciated Monster. Not to mention that this is the first live action Wonder Woman movie. So there was a lot to look forward to. I expected a great superhero movie and I got more than that. All the elements you’d expect are here, great action, characters and story. However this movie does more than just that, the way it explores humanity with its (quite frankly perfect) protagonist, results in an incredibly inspiring movie, and also one of the best comic book movies in recent memory.
For those who haven’t seen any of the prior DCEU movies don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to catch up on any of them beforehand in order to watch Wonder Woman. There is definitely a connection between this film and Batman v Superman but it’s for the most part a standalone movie. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long but all things considering, the pacing was pretty good. Yes, I agree with some other people that the pacing in the first act is a little slow but I wasn’t really bored, and I was completely invested throughout the entire runtime. This movie is entertaining, there is a surprising amount of humour and the best part is that it doesn’t ever take away from what’s going on. You will never see an out of place joke in an emotional action sequence. And also, this movie still does have a very emotional centre to it all (more on that in a bit). The film is still dark, it also tackles the impact of war incredibly well, it doesn’t shy away from taking some dark turns. The third act, is yet another explosive action set piece as per typical of DCEU climaxes (as typical of most comic book movies really), but to say that’s all that this segment had to offer would be under-serving it, there is still an emotional core to be found here, it’s not just a brainless action climax.
Now, onto the parts of the movie that truly makes it one of the best comic book movies. This movie is actually pretty straightforward and simple when it comes to the plot, but it’s what’s beneath the movie that makes it so great. First of all is how this movie explores humanity, with Diana as the protagonist, the film explores that aspect excellently. Diana as a character starts off quite innocent, believing that its all one person behind all of humanity’s wars and destruction and without spoiling anything, and lets just say that not everything is how she thought it would be. It feels incredibly raw and unique compared to most comic book movies and was an important and very compelling part of the movie. The other aspect that makes it so great? Wonder Woman is inspiring, in fact I’d say its really the most inspiring comic book movie I’ve ever seen. A lot of people have already called it inspiring so I just want to clarify something: when I say inspiring I don’t mean it’s a light hearted movie with an likable protagonist with good morals. By inspiring I’m meaning how despite all the darkness and odds that the film shows, Diana rises above all odds to be a hero in the best sense of the word. I know I’m being a little vague and not describing it the best way, but trust me, once you see the movie, you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about. The best example of how inspiring this movie is shown in the No Man’s Land sequence, that scene alone demonstrates how great this movie is. Wonder Woman falls in lines with the rest of the DCEU, which is why they are some of my favourite comic book movies of all time (excluding Suicide Squad of course), the heroes despite all odds end up being compelling and inspiring, and it is so incredible to watch.
Gal Gadot truly impresses here as Wonder Woman. While she was really good in Batman v Superman, she gets a lot more to do here as a character. She does of course sell the action sequences excellently but it’s her acting that is most impressive. She perfectly captures Diana’s innocence and optimism, it’s incredibly easy to love and care about her. She goes through a lot of changes as the events of the film go on, as she sees the horrors of war that mankind had to offer. I won’t give away too much, but if you remember what I said earlier about this film being inspiring, Diana is a major part of that and Gal Gadot delivered on that part perfectly, so believable and powerful. Wonder Woman is an incredibly empowering character, and is beautifully and fully realised by both Gadot and Jenkins. Chris Pine was also great, he was really entertaining and he had a perfect blend of comedy and drama. He is very funny but there’s also an emotional core to him. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine was excellent, this is the best chemistry between two actors in a superhero movie since Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the Amazing Spider-Man movies. Although Pine is the bigger star in comparison to Gadot, he doesn’t feel forced into the movie, he was used appropriately.
A lot of the supporting characters aren’t that complex but they are effective and served the movie well. The Amazonians played by Connie Nelson and Robin Wright and many others were particularly good, I loved the way that the film presented the Amazonians, very memorable and badass despite only really being in the first act. I can’t wait to see more of them in future DCEU films. Other supporting actors like Lucy Davis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock were really good in their roles as well. The villains were pretty good. With Danny Huston as General Ludendorff and Elena Anaya as Dr Poison, they do act well in their roles (even if Huston does go a little hammy sometimes, especially with his thick German accent). Even though I would say that they are pretty good, they weren’t really great. They really needed a lot more scenes and to develop the characters more, they weren’t that interesting. They were okay overall though, and they served their purpose. Now some will already know of a certain other villainous presence in the movie, I won’t spoil it for anyone who doesn’t know of this character yet. But this villain is by far the best villain in the film. It’s worth mentioning that the handling of the villain on paper looks terrible but in execution surprisingly works well (I’m deliberately keeping this vague). Everything from the performance, to the motivations and writing was so great (bar one unintentionally hammy and hilarious line) and I was overall satisfied with its treatment.
This movie is absolutely beautiful, from the gorgeous island of Themyscira, to the worn torn battlefields on the front line, Wonder Woman looks amazing. The action sequences are fantastic, from the fight choreography to the visuals, absolutely intense and entertaining. A stand out action set piece is of course the aforementioned “No Man’s Land” sequence. I won’t go into much depth about it but I’ll just say that it’s incredible, both visually entertaining and beautiful on a deeper level. It’s probably her stand out moment so far out of all the DCEU, Superman had the World Engine sequence in Man of Steel, Batman had the Warehouse sequence in Batman v Superman, and in Wonder Woman, she has the No Man’s Land sequence. The CGI in the movie was great overall, and was used quite well. While some have complained about the CGI in the third act, it’s not bad by any means, some of it just isn’t fully finished and that’s a little distracting. It wasn’t enough to take me out of the movie though. And plus, even though there is a lot of CGI due to the large scale of the action, the film has established early on the immense scale that the movie is. The soundtrack by Rupert Gregson-Williams was absolutely fantastic. It made the scenes even better, the emotional, and at times beautiful scenes, as well as the large action sequences. Beautiful and epic are the words I’d use to describe the score of Wonder Woman. And for those wondering, yes, Wonder Woman’s electric cello theme from Batman v Superman does make a return, and it is incredibly satisfying whenever it shows up.
Wonder Woman exceeded my expectations. With it’s great lead character, great performances, a compelling and inspiring story and entertaining action, it’s everything that a great comic book movie should be, and more. That’s not to say that there are some issues, but none of it is enough to detract from the greatness of this film. I loved the movie. I wouldn’t say it ‘saved’ the DCEU (as I thought the prior movies except for Suicide Squad were at the very least great), but I will say that is one of the best films in the DCEU, and it’s one of the best comic book movies in recent years. However I do think there is far more to take away from Wonder Woman than how it holds up against other comic book movies. It shows that movies with even simple stories can have so much impact, with Diana’s story being truly compelling and inspiring, despite it being straightforward. This film will also certainly lead to even more excellent female led blockbusters and more female directors getting large projects, which is going to be great to see, a huge step forward for the film industry. Even if you don’t like comic book movies, I do recommend checking Wonder Woman out, I’m pretty sure that you’ll find something to love about it at the very least. Wonder Woman surpassed my expectations and is one of my favourite movies of the year.