Wonder Woman, the fourth installment in the DC Extended Universe, finally gives one of the most influential super-heroines the solo film she deserves. Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot as the titular Amazon princess, Diana Prince. Although this is Gadot’s second outing as Wonder Woman, after first appearing in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this is the first theatrical film focusing solely on the character, while also being the first tentpole summer superhero film to be both directed by and starring a female.
The plot feels as if Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor were mashed together, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Taking place on the fictional island of Themyscira, a young Diana wants nothing more than to be a warrior. After reluctance from her mother, Queen Hippolyta (played by Connie Nielsen), Diana is permitted to train under the tutelage of her aunt, General Antiope (played by Robin Wright). After many years of training, Diana is swept up into the first World War after she meets Captain Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) after he crash-lands on the island. Determined to end WWI, Diana and Steve embark on a journey to defeat Ares, the God of War.
The DCEU has struggled with its past few entries, mainly Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. Both suffered from a convoluted plot, uneven characters, and above all, hopelessness. In Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins is able to reinvigorate a struggling franchise by crafting an installment that improves on its predecessors in nearly every way. Although there are some gloomy moments in Wonder Woman, the movie never feels bleak, in fact, it’s just the opposite. The film offers nothing but hopefulness, something that our world needs right now.
Gal Gadot absolutely shines as Wonder Woman. She is so hopeful, strong, and funny, that it is easy to attribute the film’s success to her. Due to being raised on an island that is populated only by females and then introduced into sexist WWI era Europe, Diana is a very fish-out-of-water character. Although these moments are often quite funny, Diana is forced to experience sexism. These moments are some of the most character-defining for Diana, because it’s when we see her prove that women are not only equal with men, but also have the ability to be superior. Diana is a character that cinema has needed for far too long, and it is so satisfying to have her played by such a charismatic lead.
With the exception of Chris Pine, the rest of the supporting cast seems to be a bit underdeveloped, not to say that they don’t have their moments. Another aspect of the film that is a bit disappointing is a final CG climax and a somewhat underdeveloped villain, both tropes that seem to be becoming increasingly common in superhero films. The action of the film can be somewhat excessive, but in general, is very much welcomed. One scene in particular features a group of Amazons engaging a fleet of German soldiers in battle that is filled with some of the coolest choreographed fighting sequences that I have seen in sometime.
Wonder Woman is a film that should have been made a long time ago. It finally provides young girls with a role-model who is not sexualized and who is able to take care of herself. Jenkins and Gadot have been able to craft a film that features a very relevant message of equality, despite it taking place nearly 100 years ago. Although it may not be the finest superhero film ever made, Wonder Woman’s charismatic lead, sensational direction, and positive message places it in an above average position in the ever-growing superhero film genre.