Finally, the DCEU ship has been righted and the female superhero movie has been saved. Tasked with pushing a great a movie, restarting the DC Extended Universe, and jumpstarting the female superhero to boot, Wonder Woman has done the impossible and aced with flying colors.
Nay, not only that. Wonder Woman stands out among the battalion of superhero movies to date, including Marvel. Perhaps the most memorable since Iron Man’s, Wonder Woman’s origin story crafts a tale that involves more than just its eponymous character. It’s a charming story about Diana Prince, Steve Trevor, and the double-edged sword of war.
Set during the First World War, Wonder Woman’s story tells of how Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot) emerged from being a princess of Themyscira to a superhero for the world. Jarred from her paradise by the crash landing of Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), Diana journeys to the world of men armed with a sword, a shield, a lasso, and an overwhelming desire to save the world from Ares, the god of war.
Despite its less-than-great pack of villains, Wonder Woman develops its major and supporting characters more than Batman v Superman did with Bruce Wayne alone. Steve Trevor and his band of merry men are as much heroes as Diana Prince herself. They carried a lot more personality and gravitas, rather than stagnating as plot devices.
Much of Wonder Woman’s charm is delivered by the smooth and silky pairing between Steve Trevor and Diana Prince. We haven’t had a pairing as memorable as them since The Amazing Spider-Man’s Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. In fact, Wonder Woman isn’t even meant to be a standard love story. There’s a sense of duality between them, but never an outright union. Both are fishes out of water, thrown into worlds they know nothing about. They’re always mutually learning from each other. Diana learning the sordid ways of mankind, Steve learning the fantastical world of gods. One is never “greater” than the other as they take turns being the butt of jokes and helping the other out. It makes for hilarious sequences and a relationship that just jells naturally.
As far as set pieces go, Wonder Woman is halved between the lush paradise of Themyscira and the grittier battlefields of London and Belgium. Both are almost perfectly separated from one another. Where one world ends, the other begins. But it just never feels jarring. Both halves are just wondrous on their own.
And because it had brilliant characters and vibrant set pieces, fight and action scenes didn’t come off as eye candy to glorify the action nerds. There’s always pathos in an action scene. You always know what each character is fighting for. That’s always important because it lends credence to our heroes’ powers and personalities.
By far, the only thing lacking with Wonder Woman is its lackluster set of rogues. Despite being set during the First World War, it feels like a cop-out to assign wartime Germans as the movie’s villains. It wasn’t even a great cop-out because this is the First World War. Hitler and Nazism wasn’t even a threat yet. Wonder Woman didn’t have a Hitler figure to prop itself on. General Ludendorff and Doctor Poison were just too evil-for-the-sake-of-it one-shots reminiscent of most Marvel villains.
But you know, this has always been a story about Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. While a great villain is much appreciated, the growth of Diana Prince and Steve Trevor readily makes up for any faults that can be nitpicked about the film. It stands out on its own as a tentpole film without the need to prop up additional DCEU lore and Easter eggs.
Will this be the start of great DCEU movies? Only time will tell. For now, do yourself a favor and watch Wonder Woman right now.