Today, I had the privilege of seeing an icon brought to amazing, wonderful life on the big screen; a movie that has been 75 years in the making.
During my tribute to Carrie Fisher, I related a story about how when I was growing up, I had three non-family women I looked up to. One of those women was Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. I was completely enraptured by Diana. She was strong and not afraid to fight, but she was also kind and loving and forgiving. She was different from any heroI had ever seen before.
When superhero movies started becoming big business and we started seeing that the mainstream audience would be accepting of things other than the stereotypical white dude punching things (Seriously… talking trees and gun-toting raccoons?! Guardians should never have been the success that it was), I was thrilled… but I also felt that there was something missing. Where were the girls? People have been agitating for a Black Widow movie almost from the moment she first appeared in Iron Man 2. It seemed like a no-brainer that Wonder Woman and some of the other badass ladies of comics should get their time in the limelight.
Yes… I know it’s been attempted before, but let’s be real here: the most recent examples, Elektra and Catwoman didn’t fail because they had female leads. They failed because they were bad movies. Like seriously bad. Like I wanted to punch someone in the throat walking out of Elektra bad. And even having seen Catwoman only on basic cable years after release, I still wanted that two hours of my life back bad. Part of the problem, I feel, has been that a lot of people seem to have issues with taking the concept of a woman who can go toe-to-toe with a man seriously. Another part is that there is a large segment of Hollywood that seems to think that any time there’s a female superhero, she automatically has to play up the cheesecake T&A and has to play second fiddle to any men in her orbit.
With the history of how women in superhero films have generally been treated, when Warner Brothers announced that Wonder Woman would finally be getting her own standalone film (after appearing in Batman v Superman), I was surprised and deeply, deeply skeptical. DC’s track record with attempting to replicate Marvel’s shared universe with their DCEU has been… problematic, I think most people will agree. While I, personally, enjoyed Man of Steel, it was not generally well received. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad both, in my opinion, came in well below their potential as vehicles for DC’s stable of characters. The universe that DC was building seemed unrelenting grim, desaturated in color, and dark.
When the first trailer for Wonder Woman hit, I was… well, frankly astonished. Bright colors? Smiles? Holy crap…
Still, I maintained my skepticism. I was worried that Diana would be relegated to second-fiddle in her own film. I was concerned that her treatment would be heavy-handed or that they would take away from her unique background. As time went on and trailers came out, I found it harder and harder to moderate my expectations.
By the time the moratorium on reviews lifted and I pre-purchased our tickets for Friday afternoon, I was giddy as a little girl. “Holy s**t,” I thought to myself. “I think this could actually be good!”
I’m here to tell you: It. Is. Good!
More than good. It’s Wonderful.
The Amazons were exactly how I imagined they would be: strong, beautiful, devoted to one another, brave. They didn’t revel in battle, but neither did they shrink from it. It was simply what they did.
Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor was fantastic and confirms to me that with a really strong director, Pine can be very good. This is, in fact, the second roll of his that I’ve really enjoyed him in (the first being in, of all things, Horrible Bosses 2).
Etta Candy was delightful, if underutilized. The rest of the team that Trevor assembles to accompany him and Diana to the front bring a ton to the table in terms of personality and opportunities for Diana to realize how much more complicated Man’s World is than she ever imagined.
But you guys. You guys. Anyone who ever doubted that Gal Gadot could be Diana needs to sit themselves with a nice big serving of crow. Her Diana is fierce and brave, but also naive and wonderfully vulnerable. She stands up for those who cannot stand for themselves and has no hesitation at throwing herself into harm’s way even if she’s not sure she can overcome the odds against her. She embodies hope and inspires others to rise above their fears to do what’s right. That, in my opinion, is the very essence of what makes a hero.
Throughout the movie, there were so many emotions. I laughed. I cried… This movie made me feel like a little girl again and I walked out of the theater absolutely buoyant with joy, and inspired by the amazing spectacle I had just witnessed.
To say that Wonder Woman is the best offering that the DCEU has given us thus far would be putting it mildly. In my opinion, this movie is on par with some of the best that Marvel has given us. If the box office lives up to the speculation (and it looks like it will; her preview day made nearly the same amount of money that the first Guardians of the Galaxy did), we can only hope that DC learns from her success and that this can represent a course correction for the DCEU as a whole and make the rest of the films better.
By and large, I have been a Marvel girl, but I love the old Reeve Superman movies. I really do like the DC characters and want Justice League and the other movies in the pipe for DC to do well because at the end of the day, they are still characters and stories that I enjoy and I want them to do well.
In short… go see this movie. Go see this movie in the theaters. See it multiple times. Talk about it… because that is how we’ll get more like it.
Recommended reading if you liked Wonder Woman:
- Wonder Woman Rebirth – If you want to read Wonder Woman comics, but are unsure where to start, this is a good place. It’s a great entry point, introducing you to familiar characters and concepts from the movie and putting them in a modern setting.
- Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More: Carol Danvers will be the next lady leading her own film, get familiar with her before the hype starts. Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel catapulted the character to one of the most popular in comics, and launched the Carol Corps fan group.
Talaria Press titles you may also like:
- Sekhmet’s Light – My novels have been called “Isis meets Wonder Woman” for good reason. Diana does form some of the basis in inspiration for NuruSekhmet, along with Indiana Jones and others.
- Children of Divinity – If you enjoy the idea of gods and goddesses interacting with modern culture, Garth’s series may be right up your alley as well.