Four films in to the DC universe, this is more like it. Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad may all have been commercial hits (they haven’t fared so well critically) but they have largely been joyless deviants from the canon comic book stories and an evident attempt to burn fuel in the DC Extended Universe’s fire. With the arrival of Wonder Woman, everything has changed. To start with, she’s the first female superhero character to headline her own film, beating powerhouse Marvel to the punch.
When American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes offshore on Themyscira, an Amazonian island that’s inhabited by female warriors, he is rescued by Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and brings the First World War to group of people who had no idea what was going on beyond their borders. Diana decides to leave her home with Steve to follow him back into the heart of war in hope that he’ll lead her to the person causing the pain and suffering in the world, the god of war Ares. The two arrive in London and pull together a team of men who join Diana and Steve on the front line in Belgium, where she is convinced she’ll find and destroy Ares, and ends up becoming Wonder Woman in the process.
Gadot’s turning performance in last year’s BvS: DoJ left us with something to look forward to in her stand-alone film. With her rocking electo-cello riff entrance, we knew this was going to be special. Gadot portrays Diana with exactable exuberance but she’s also defiant and strong-willed, always believing in doing the right thing. She’s funny, especially when channelling a Clark Kent vibe as she attempts to grapple the way the world works. Pine’s Steve Trevor is reminiscent of a Lois Lane damsel-in-distress character because, well, this is a film all about the women. Diana and Steve’s relationship is so winning that it becomes the film’s glue – but he still remains second nature to the Amazonian god because he can do little else but stare at her.
The decision to set this film during the First World War allows director Patty Jenkins to explore themes of female empowerment, feminism and standing up to oppression. It’s a film that largely points fingers at what evil men can do. We’re seeing the damage through the eyes of Diana as she steps out of her comfort zone because she’s never experienced anything like this before. She’s a woman of her own will and her not being told what to do is refreshing, all while she learns from her mistakes. Wonder Woman is a thrilling joy to watch, with yet another standout performance from Gadot, and to appreciate the modern-day classic that it has now become.