Let’s ignore all this nonsense about who’s directed Wonder Woman and how their career stacks up against the likes of Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow, Rogue One’s Gareth Edwards and Avengers: Infinity War’s Russo Brothers, because that’s just what it is – nonsense. Patty Jenkins directed an Oscar winner, she’s freaking awesome, she deserved this gig and she’s done a damn good job.
All comic book movies are inherently ridiculous, and Wonder Woman’s no different. We go from a paradise island filled with badass women doing back flips off horses and generally kicking the shit out of each other to the horrors of the Great War: destroyed villages, flying shrapnel, disfigured soldiers and all.
But where Wonder Woman triumphs over its superhero contemporaries is that the protagonist actually seems to give a shit about humanity. Too often are we expected to sit in the cinema for two hours while some egotistic ‘hero’ tears through a city, ripping down famous landmarks all in the name of conquering evil. Look at Man Of Steel and witness Superman literally flattening Metropolis just because he’s a baby bitch.
Diana – thanks largely to Gal Gadot’s ability to, you know, act – shows empathy for mankind. When she first sets off to the Front, she passes maimed soldiers before witnessing helpless families torn apart by the war that rages around them.
She may be on a personal vendetta against Ares, the god of war who her fellow Amazons believe to be the cause of the ‘war to end all wars’, but she doesn’t discount the devastating effect on mankind the war is having; she’s always spurred on by the notion that defeating Ares will cleanse everyone of his hate-fuelled influence over them.
Gadot as Diana was arguably the highlight of the convoluted mess that was Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and since then we’ve been justified in having hope that she could carry her own standalone movie. Oh boy, doesn’t she just. There’s personality, a wry smile here and there; endearing naivety to early 20th century London; heaps of smarts to overcome challenges; and just an absolute fuckton of strength. She’s everything we could have wished for.
And she’s ably assisted by a fantastic, diverse cast of characters. Although her Amazon sisters are somewhat under-served — another few scenes on Themysicra getting an understanding of their way of life wouldn’t have gone amiss — the allies she takes on after reaching British shores all shine.
Ewen Bremner’s crazed Charlie offers emotional depth not usually found in comic book movies, Eugene Brave Rock’s The Chief is integral to showing the compassion and forgiveness of man, Saïd Taghmaoui’s Sameer provides someone for Diana to test her comedic chops against while Lucy Davis’ bumbling secretary Etta steals every scene.
And a word for Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, the spy who stumbles into Diana’s world and sets us off on this grand adventure, he’s truly a damsel in distress and he knows it. Hopelessly smitten by Diana, he’s along for a ride that he never asked for yet never shies away from the action or the right course of action. Maybe most importantly, he never threatens to take over the movie.
For all its positives though, Wonder Woman still falls foul to the pitfalls of its predecessors. As is often the case with superhero movies, any idea of logic is often scrapped entirely while the villain is weak and their minions even weaker.
Yet its biggest problem lies in the climactic showdown. Once again we have to endure an uninspiring jumble of fire and metal, fire and metal until a big old wave of some unexplained force puts you out of your misery. You can’t help but think that maybe Heath Ledger’s Joker was the best we’ll ever get.
With all that said, the latest in DC’s attempt to establish a cinematic universe is a positive experience, even for the most cynical of film fans. It provides not only hope for them that Geoff Johns and everyone else at DC Films might be able to produce spectacles on a par with Marvel in the near future, but also offers a message of hope for anyone struggling to see the light in the gloomy world we currently live in. Let’s hope Wonder Woman is right and love does conquer all.