Wonder Woman alone could carry the weight of expectations we held for this movie. And she carries it with grace, beauty, and ease. Breathe a sigh of relief, everyone: the Wonder Woman movie is brilliant.
It has been one of the most anticipated movies of the year. It is definitely the most talked about movie in the GeekMom/GeekDad staff rooms. In fact, it seems to be the only movie truly talking to almost every person you meet, and it has a strong message: Believe.
Believe in the director, Patty Jenkins. A woman who has spent as much time reassuring people as she has making this film. Jenkins has always believed in her film, and the fans believed in her. The result is a movie with depth and love, clearly made by somebody who respects the characters and ALL of the history behind them. One of the sweetest touches to the film was not a “fan-only Easter egg” or throw away comment in the dialogue; it was the explicit thanks given to all of the creators of Wonder Woman’s story. Jenkins has made the effort to learn about Wonder Woman, and allow the character to grow on screen. There are a couple of scenes where I questioned the angle or motivation they had taken. However, none of it distracted from the storytelling as a whole.
Believe in the story and the origins of Diana. I’m not talking about whether she is clay or human or whatever in between. I’m talking about the existence of Themyscira and how that shapes a person. Our first introduction to Themyscira is bright and beautiful. The colors are warm, the imagery is vivid, and the world is anew with wonder. It’s almost like a fly-over scene, showing us the warrior training in an open-air school filled with as many core-strength exercises as there are sparring and simulations. However, we are also shown markets and what appears to be “village life.” We hear one woman referred to as Senator. Every day living beyond the one-dimensional view of warriors. This is the home of the Amazons. This is the home of Diana, and it is a brilliant scene-setter for who Diana is.
Believe in the Amazons. They rock every scene they are in. Every. Scene. I know Diana would eventually travel to the Land of Men, but I would have happily… nay, blissfully watched a longer movie about the Amazons. Their characters are only touched upon with this introduction, but you already have a feel for their individual personalities. Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) has the ultimate presence overall on the island; General Antiope (Robin Wright) is automatically felt as strong and powerful; young Diana (Lilly Aspell) does amazingly well to capture the youthful exuberance of a child who knows she is different but is yet to know why. I want to know more about Epione and Menalippe. I could watch more of their fight scenes, and learn so much more about their politics. *sigh*
Believe in our history. I admit—I questioned the placement of Wonder Woman in World War I. It seemed like a convenient business choice at the time, and I was curious to see how they would go. But I am also a history nerd. I recall how horrific that time was. It’s called The Great War for a reason. Without starting a history lecture, suffice to say it was a turning point in our human history and one we should not be proud of. It is THAT perspective that brings Diana into our world.
The history nerd in me was a little irked as the movie delved into “Heroic Allies v. Demonized Germans,” and believe me when I say I don’t want to get into a discussion on that. I know, I know. Wonder Woman’s survival in the comics post-WWII was supported by her ability to punch Nazis. However, I was hoping we had moved on from such one-sided history re-telling. I believed in our history to be honest so that we can truly learn from it and move forward… And then the movie heard me (because it’s all about me). Seriously though—the story includes this. Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman’s story, and she tells it from her view. An observant movie-goer will see the build-up of history, the reflection on our society, and then the realization of what Wonder Woman sees in us. Comic books have often been used as a reflection on our society; their movie equivalents are not exceptions to this rule.
Believe in Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). He does a great job at being the eye-candy (Nicola Scott fans will be very happy with this film). No, wait. He deserves more credit than that. He represents all that is changing with the times. Trevor is the personification of the belief we need to have in Wonder Woman. Pine brings a lovely balance of humor and determination to the character. He shows Diana there are expectations we have in society… and ways to work around them. In fact, Pine presents Trevor in the standard manner befitting of any “companion” to a superhero: he progresses the story with fresh eyes and narrative, but for Trevor, it is in a way that also embodies the message of the movie. At one point, Trevor sets up a strategic move to support Wonder Woman in action. That same maneuver is a direct reflection of something he had seen on Themyscira, showing his belief in Diana and her Amazons.
Believe in Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot has captured the spirit of Wonder Woman and made the role her own. This is her movie and she has taken the mantle with both hands proudly. I swear there are times her face changes in the movie, but each time it seemed to suit the events taking place: the need to impress her mother, the curiosity of social customs in early 20th century, the disappointment of political interference, the determination of a fight scene. We have all seen the video of Diana climbing the ladder, and stepping out on to No Man’s Land. It is an iconic scene of strength, determination, and belief used in many trailers. Without spoilers, I can tell you this scene is so much more. There is a shot where she looks to her side and can see Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) has followed her onto the field. He was inspired by her actions. And yet at the same time, she is then inspired by his belief in her. His commitment to fight by her side. At first, I thought, “Okay. Wonder Woman is an inspiration. I get it. That’s the message.” But it’s not just inspiration. You have to believe in the inspiration. And Gadot has you believing in her.
My dad said, when you see bad things in the world you can either do nothing or do something. Well, I tried “nothing”…
Steven Trevor (Chris Pine), Wonder Woman
Believe in this movie. I am not a hardcore DC or Wonder Woman fan. But I deeply appreciate the significance she has had on the balance of representation in comic book culture. There have been other superhero female movies (e.g., Elektra and Catwoman), but they were small fry in the history of all superheroes. We have been waiting for Wonder Woman to have her own movie for many many years. We have had talk after talk, rumor after rumor, and nothing eventuated. I am soooooo glad DC finally did something and made the movie!! Nothing before has been as eagerly anticipated as Wonder Woman. And let’s all be honest with each other: the majority of us are not exactly thrilled with DC movies right now. It truly was not fair to place so much weight on Diana’s shoulders. But she lifted it up, high above her head, and says, “Did you not believe?”
I am not going to tell you to go and see the movie to send a message to Warner Bros. I am not going to tell you to watch the movie to show all the “fanboys” how much we love female superheroes. And I am definitely not going to tell you to pay for a ticket purely for the point of supporting Wonder Woman over any other DC film.
I AM going to tell you to see Wonder Woman because it is a brilliant movie. It is beautiful for the fans. It is enjoyable for the standard movie-goers. It is a stand-out amongst superheroes, war movies, and history storytelling.
Believe in the movie.