‘Wonder Woman’ (2017) Review

Wonder Woman

When Warner Bros. announced that they were going to be creating their own comic book movie universe, they had big shoes to fill. By the time Wonder Woman (2017) would get released, Marvel would’ve already assembled The Avengers twice, (three if we’re getting technical). Even though the DCEU would get off to a slow and rocky start, WB would take a risk that Marvel had yet to do: make a comic book movie staring a female character.

Gal Gadot would make her debut appearance as Diana in the polarizing Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) which saw her team up and fight alongside both Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck) and together, they would take down the villainous Doomsday (Robin Atkin Downes). This would briefly introduce Wonder Woman to audiences prior to the character receiving her own film the following year. Patty Jenkins would come aboard as director. The film was lauded by critics and proved to be a major success at the box office. The risk would pay off and provide WB’s scarce connected universe with a win that it so desperately needed.

The film would go back in time to 1917, and serve as an origin story for Diana. Taking her all the way back to when she was a child growing up with the Amazons on Paradise Island. The plot would intertwine real world events such as World War I — or “The War to End All Wars” as it had once been known — as well as including the myths of the Greek Gods. Diana would go to Man’s World with the intention of bringing peace in an attempt to stop the war. She would succeed in her cause, but not until learning the truth about mankind along the way.

Plot Summary

Present day Diana receives a photograph of her time during World War I. She thinks back to a young Diana, who runs through the streets of Themyscira in order to sneak a peek at the Amazon during their training sessions. Antipoe (Robin Wright) notices her and suggests that it’s time that Diana start her training, as well. However, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), is opposed to this idea. As her mother, wanting nothing more than to protect her at all costs.

As the years pass, Antipoe begins to train Diana in secret until one day they are caught. This time though, Hippolyta agrees that the time has come for Diana to start training as a warrior and be put through her paces. Insisting that Diana get trained harder than any of the Amazons who have trained before her, eventually Diana becomes the best of them.

One day, a man falls out of the sky. Diana rescues him from drowning in his fallen plane and introduces himself as Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Steve has been followed by German soldiers. The Germans end up storming the beach with the Amazons fight them off. The Amazons win but not without a few casualties. Steve is then forced to tell them who he is and how he found them, to which he explains to them he is a spy in “The Great War”.

Steve tells them about how he has been following General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and how he stole a notebook from Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya). A woman how has been creating toxic gas. Convinced that Ares is behind humanity fighting each other, Diana convinces her mother to let her leave Paradise Island. Knowing that she can’t stop Diana, Hippolyta agrees that she must leave. Diana and Steve set off for jolly old England.

While there, Diana has a lot to learn about conducting herself in the real world. After Steve gives the notebook to his superiors, they order him not to take any action. They end up meeting Sir Patrick (David Thewlis) who wants to help Steve and Diana in their cause. Steve recruits a band of misfits, Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner) and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), that he can trust to help them cross into German territory. When they arrive at No Man’s Land, Steve tells Diana that there is no way that they can cross. Of course, this is exactly what Diana has been training for her whole life. She enters the battlefield, taking all the fire so that the English tropes can infiltrate the German side.

Later, Diana confronts Gen. Erich Ludendorff, to which he tells her that she is incapable of stopping him. The two battle leaving Diana victorious, believing that she has defeated Ares but doesn’t understand why humanity continues to fight. Steve has to tell her that maybe people aren’t always good. Which is something that Diana has a difficult time accepting.

The true Ares ultimately ends up revealing himself to Diana, and he goes on to tell her that the Amazons have been lying to her, keeping a secret from her about who and what she really is: a God killer. A battle then ensues between the two of them and in an attempt to stop a plane loaded with poison gas, Steve Trevor ultimately ends up sacrificing himself to save billions. Diana finds the strength to defeat Ares, saving the day and ending the war.

Diana of Themyscira

Wonder Woman has to be one of the most iconic fictional female character to have ever been created. She’s not just an Amazon, she’s a Goddess. So whoever was going to be cast in the role had a lot to live up to. Gal Gadot would be a relative unknown prior to joining the DCEU. She was born in Israel and made her international debut as Gisele in Fast and Furious (2009). She would appear in the franchise’s next three subsequent entries before finally making her triumphant debut as Wonder Woman in the Zach Snyder led DCEU in 2016.

Wonder Woman (2017) really does benefit from Zach Snyder being a producer on the film. The scenes that incorporate his signature slow motion style is what makes the fight scenes in this movie stand out. Also, having Allan Heinberg pen the script was a major boost as he is somebody who wrote her comic at one point, so you can tell there was a lot of care that went into making her a character that would make audiences want to care about her.

Gal Gadot‘s portrayal as Diana isn’t necessarily a divided one, but even I have to admit that I was a little weary and wasn’t completely sold on her initial performance when I first saw BvS (2016). However, I can’t deny that she was a total badass in the third act of that film. She then went onto remove all doubt in my mind about whether or not she was the perfect fit for Diana. There are a few incidences where you can see the novice in her acting abilities but needless to say, she absolutely grew on me and I have fallen in love with her portrayal.

The best part about this movie is watching Diana fight with all of her “accessories”. Even though she is a Goddess who has unbelievable strength and capable of beating her opponents to a bloody pulp, she decides that she is going to use more than just her fists in a fight. There’s something about watching her swing around her sword and shield that is quite entertaining. even with the movie taking place at the beginning of the century, it’s different as it very much it gives off that ancient warrior vibe that she has going on. The golden lasso was very well done in this movie. I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull something like this off considering it’s uniqueness, but the way it was used in battle exceeded my expectations.

There are some actors who get cast as their comic book counterparts because they are exactly who these characters are in real life, and Gal Gadot is one of them. While in Israel, she would be crowned Miss Israel 2004 at 18 years old and went onto represent her country at the Miss Universe 2004 pageant. Shortly thereafter she would serve in the Israel Defense Forces for two years as a combat fitness instructor and would vaguely be dressed up as Wonder Woman in a photo for Sheva Leylot magazine seven years before she would be considered for the role. It’s safe to say that there are many steps that Gal Gadot took in her life that would ultimately lead her down the path to portraying the amazon warrior.

Comic Book Accuracy

To say that Wonder Woman has gone through many changes over the decades since her initial creation would be an understatement. Created by William Moulton Marston and debuting in 1941, Wonder Woman’s first appearance would be in All-Star Comics #8. DC would soon release Sensational Comics #1. A title which would put her in the forefront and she and the Amazon’s would continue to star in the title for many, many years to come.

Sensational Comics #1 (1942) by Harry G. Peter

The one thing that is really interesting about Wonder Woman, especially when you factor in real life events, is how she was able to perceiver through the comic book bust of the 1950’s.

During the second world war, superhero comic books were on the rise. The Golden Age of Comics was the first superhero boom as more and more superheroes were being created. They were looked at and revered as  something that was able to provide people with a sense of hope during a dark point in history. After the war was won, the sale of superhero comics started to decline as people weren’t looking to fictional characters to “save” them anymore. The 1950’s is considered a dark time for superheroes as a lot of characters that were created the decade prior had stopped receiving new stories with most of them fading into obscurity for years to come.

Thankfully, Wonder Woman wasn’t one of those characters.

Even though superheroes weren’t popular anymore, there were still a few characters whose comic books were continuing to sell enough for DC to continue publishing new stories. These three superheroes were Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. This is a large part of why these three are known as DC’s “Trinity”, as these were the only characters who were able to bridge the gap and weren’t replaced when the Silver Age finally came around.

Wonder Woman #750 (2020) by Nicola Scott

DC would continue to publish Wonder Woman stories all throughout the 1960’s, ’70’s and ’80’s. A lot fo these stories would either be inconstant with continuity and largely contradict what came before. It wasn’t until Crisis on Infinite Earths came around in 1985 that the editors decided that is was finally time to give Diana a definitive origin. The results ended up in a story that would entangle her within the lore of being an Amazon, Greek Goddess and a superhero. It was a tough job, but when George Perez would finally launch a new Wonder Woman #1 in 1987, it would be considered the best run in Wonder Woman history and become the definitive version of the character. Wonder Woman would go through a few revamps in later years, being replaced by Artemis and her mother Hippolyta at one point, but nothing would veer too far from what had been established during this era.

Now, I haven’t read every single Wonder Woman comic in existence, but that’s not exactly necessary for the sake of this movie. You can tell that the writer’s read a few of them and were able to break the character down and go with the basics of who she is. DC had changed Diana’s origin a few times and it’s best that the writer’s didn’t get caught up in the details over the decades, and simplified it as to not get too complicated for non-comic book fans.

Most of Diana’s story in the film is comic book accurate. The only thing that was left out was her being formed out of clay and brought to life by Zeus. It was briefly mentioned but never shown and that was a wise decision. As much as I love Diana, that is really the only part of her story that even I find a little too bizarre and probably would’ve been criticized or poked at in some way. It was just a good call to omit it as it wasn’t necessary to show it.

Final Thoughts

This is my favorite DCEU movie, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s by far and away the best female led comic book movie ever made. The one thing that DC has always had that Marvel never will is that of an iconic female superhero– and not just a female superhero — who but one who is capable of standing beside her male counterparts and is worthy of being labelled as an equal. This is exactly what makes Wonder Woman (2017) stand out from the crowd.

This movie was released during a time when the comic book movie genre was becoming more and more crowded with each passing year. When looking back on that era, there are a lot of comic book movies that were either a smash hit when first released but ultimately have waned in popularity or where simply trying to cash in on the fad and have largely been forgotten. Thankfully, Wonder Woman (2017) has been able to stand the test of time.

The main thing that I love about this movie is the plot, more specifically the fact that it’s set during World War I. Mainly the fact that there was no real notorious “villain” in real life the same WWII had. The entanglement of the Greek Gods is actually quite a clever plot point as it makes a lot of sense for Ares who has been the one manipulating and influencing humanity into fighting each other. Of course, it’s a little bit of a stretch if you want to factor in real life events and the real reasonings that led up to the Great War, but this is a work of fiction and it’s enough for me to forgive and go along with “why and how” Diana got involved in the first place.

This is an origin story done right. It didn’t rush anything, it took its time to tell its own story without worrying about setting anything up or what would follow with a post-credit scene, and I think a lot of that has to do with WB learning from the rushed mistakes that were made with BvS: Dawn of Justice (2016). After all this time with everything that has happened with the DCEU, having this movie be a stand alone pays off as it’s able to stand on its own.

It’s a shame that Warner Bros. was never able to get somebody to head their connected universe in the same way that Marvel has with Kevin Feige. I would’ve loved to have more Wonder Woman movies, in fact we should’ve been given a lot more of Gal Gadot‘s Wonder Woman than we got. Regardless, I’m thankful that we were able to get this movie when we did and I’ll always hold it in high regard as one of the best comic book movies ever made.