Wonder Woman, much like the movie’s title character, has a lot of responsibility riding on its shoulders. As the latest in the new line of DC features, all of which were disappointing, Wonder Woman needed to be good enough to set up the upcoming Justice League film(s), lest the fans finally switch off. And as the first superhero blockbuster in over ten years with a woman as the primary character, it needed to be good enough to ensure that female superheroes don’t end up regarded as box office poison for another decide.
Thankfully, by erring on the right side of average, Wonder Woman manages to do both. Indeed, this movie might just save the new DC universe simply because it is not massively self-important, sloppy or boring. The plot follows the Amazonian princess Diana of Themyscira (Gal Gadot) as she leaves the protection of her island paradise homeland upon learning of a Great War raging in the outside world, which she sees as her duty to stop.
Surprisingly, the highlights of the film are the CGI-riddled battle scenes on Themyscira. Despite the fact that the computer-generated landscape is often unconvincing and the writing (as with the rest of the picture) is more than a touch overdone, the fighting still somehow manages to feel raw, even if this feeling is fleeting. The fantastic, powerful Robin Wright (Antiope) is largely to thank for this. The perfect half smile she wears as she rides into battle reveals more about her character than all her dialogue put together. The only shame of it is that she does’t get more screen time.
Perhaps the main reason why these early battle scenes are so satisfying is because we are presented with a no holds barred, unsexualised struggle in which women of varying ages fight with passion and vigour equal – if not superior – to that of the men.
No doubt many will find it hard to call this a feminist film because the Amazons’ costumes are short, but to reduce feminism to an article of clothing is, at least in this case, reductive. Diana herself puts it best when, as she tries on various versions of what was considered “acceptable” female garb at the time, she asks how women can fight in these clothes. Thankfully, director Patty Jenkins does nothing whatsoever to fetishise the Amazonian costumes, and, after all, we don’t see Batman or Superman criticised for their spandex, bulging codpieces and shredded muscle suits.
However, the movie is far from perfect. While it does manage to be emotionally stirring and genuinely thrilling at times, Wonder Woman is equally cheesy and overdone. It falls prey (to a far lesser degree) to that which has plagued DC and other superhero pictures in the recent past: a plot on the thinner side, sticky sentimentality and a tendency to take itself a little too seriously.
Wonder Woman is released nationwide on 1st June 2017.
Watch the trailer for Wonder Woman here: