Being slightly skeptical of what DC can achieve after the very disappointing, haphazard and contrived Batman V Superman, I’m happy to say that Wonder Woman not only pleasantly surprised me with strong direction and voice but came out smashing with thorough characterization of one of the most iconic superheroes in the DC universe. It kept me holding my breath and squinting my face in exhiliration and nervousness (albeit an enjoyable kind of nervousness). And some, if not most, superhero movies fail to even entertain. I make no bones about how I fell out of love with the DC cinematic universe since it’s muddled premiere, BVS, which also led to a loss of interest in the DC characters from the animated series I’ve grown to love as a child. That wonder, that childish innocence to dream beyond and aspire beyond impossibilities (and for a second to imagine a place where I too, you know, could literally move mountains and smash a few buildings and baddies) has come through.
I wouldn’t call something like that nostalgia. Not entirely. It’s more of an inspiration. Conceived from minds that were considered subversive for their time, Wonder Woman is a symbol of female empowerment that’s still more progressive than modern times. Patty Jenkins does a fine job pacing the film with fast intense action scenes that draw us into Wonder Woman’s raw determination and strength while mellowing other moments that really enflesh her wisdom, purity and conviction. Without falling into the pitfalls of making WW a hero simply caught up in the storm, the ending battle scene pulls in themes of reality while confronting WW with a moral struggle that enriches her coming-of-age. Finally seeing beyond her limited mythical viewpoint, she realizes that evil is not something that’s a single entity. Her whole journey has led her to this point where, with a sword through the General’s chest, she looks down upon the ghastly and deadly operations that still persist. But Patty Jenkins brilliantly materializes the omnipresent evil on screen, and gives nuance to her hero’s journey. WW is not entirely wrong because individuals doing evil things can be collectively viewed as an evil force. But as the rages of war ravage on and the emotional heartbreak and catharsis soon to come, the film has successfully negotiated a way in which Diana has found meaning from absurdity and tragedy. And in a very honest and genuine way, Diana has connected and found herself in the real world. She chooses to believe in the goodness of people rather than fall prey to the nilhilism and absurdity if life presented by the personified devil.
Of course, Chris Pine’s character, Steve, had an important role to play in the context of Diana’s catharsis and formation of identity through trust and love. Like a bridge that links, he doesn’t steal any limelight away from our beloved protagonist. And the great thing is he didn’t need to be in order to enrich the film and it’s themes. Again, Wonder Woman doesn’t fall into traps of giving way to age-old sexual tropes. And a big part of this, in my opinion, is because a woman directed it. I’m not saying a film can’t be genuinely female empowered if directed by a guy, but evidently we don’t see many. From scenes of Themiscyran women training on horseback shooting arrows, to acrobatic and intense workouts and fight-scenes, to a strong female voice that prevails in the face of male suppression and authority, Wonder Woman is truly an inspiration and a great representation of women. For a big-budget superhero hit, that’s something.
In the end, the film left me clenching my teeth and fists. It holds it’s entertainment value throughout and is not afraid of toning down the mood or pace to make Wonder Woman accessible and essentially the everywoman that is relatable in some aspects and inspires strength and courage when she’s standing her ground or kicking some ass. And hopefully, it’ll inspire greater representation and empowerment for women. I say films like the Dark Knight and Logan are fantastic because they are dark and gritty. But dark and gritty is one side. Wonder Woman inspires the child in me again to love heroes as heroes. Sure, I love Batman and Logan as flawed suffering individuals battling their own very human demons. But with Wonder Woman (in addition to it’s serious themes), I felt that rare childlike fire and excitement once more. *cue badass guitar theme*