It’s no secret that for many, the DC films have had a rough go since Zack Snyder’s 2013 film, Man of Steel. The films have faced critical backlash, as well as a divisive audience reaction to the direction that WB has taken the DC characters. But no matter what one may think of the previous entries in the DC Extended Universe on film, Wonder Woman will wipe away much of the doubt and frustration about the franchise moving forward. Director Patty Jenkins, alongside star Gal Gadot, has crafted what is not only the standout film in DC’s universe, but a superhero film that quickly stands amongst the towering giants in the genre as one of the all time greats.
Gal Gadot broke out last year as Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, stealing the film from the aforementioned heroes. From that point forward, the idea of a Wonder Woman film finally felt like a real reality, instead of a dream after many years of false starts and rumors. The years of patience have finally paid off, and boy was it worth it. Writers Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg have crafted a truly special film that is born out of the adventure classics of yesteryear, that feels more like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Rocketeer, and the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, than just another superhero adventure. The pulpy nature of the story compliments the film’s World War I setting, and gives the film an incredibly grand and nostalgic feel we haven’t seen since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. That feeling of the grand adventure film has been missing for some time, so to have it return is a pleasant treat, but it is even more so when you have such a strong female character in the lead.
There’s really no way around just how exciting it is to have Wonder Woman finally leading her own film, and director Patty Jenkins never misses a step in bringing this iconic character to life on screen. It helps that she has such an excellent lead in Gal Gadot, who truly is Diana Prince. She’s as powerful as she is beautiful, and the two work together to make the character really come to life on screen in her first solo outing. As Diana leaves her home of Themyscira, an island of all female warriors like herself, her innocence and awe at this new modern world is both touching and fun. But it’s also complimented and challenged by the darkness of The Great War, which is something that really gives Gadot time to shine in this role. Diana wants to believe in the good of mankind, but throughout the film she is hurt and lost at the things they do to each other. That humanity is incredibly important to bringing Diana to life, not just having her look the part and performing the action scenes. Gadot has come a long way as an actress, and this role really lets her show that. If we didn’t buy her in the role, this movie wouldn’t work, but Gadot has proved those who doubted her wrong, and she is truly the Wonder Woman people have been wanting.
Though Gadot does much of the film’s heavy lifting, she’s not alone, as Wonder Woman also has a terrific supporting cast. In particular, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, and Robin Wright as General Antiope, truly shine next to Gadot in the film, and stand out. Pine is a perfect pairing with Gadot, and the two share excellent chemistry together. The great thing is their relationship feels real, as well as earned, not something that’s forced in just to have it. Pine is naturally charismatic here as we’ve seen from him in the past, but he’s a bit more rough around the edges in a way we haven’t seen. In all honesty, he feels a bit like Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it’s hard not to want to see him in that role sometime in the future. Wright is just dynamite as Antiope, the warrior general of Themyscira, who trains Gadot’s Diana. The character is one of intensity and pride, and Wright just owns the role, really electrifying the screen whenever she’s there.
Every action scene is intense, fun, and exciting, and Jenkins really threw herself into it. She gives Wonder Woman the chance to really shine in the action beats, with the No Man’s Land scene in particular being the film’s highlight. There’s something about really getting to see this fierce female hero really getting her chance to shine that is so spectacular, and Jenkins makes sure that they showcase it to its full power. The film’s final action sequence, which is a smaller and more emotionally driven finale, is the perfect balance of Gadot’s physicality mixed with her humanity. That mix of action with character moments is actually a big part of what makes this film really shine bright. The film also never feels too long, at two hours and twenty minutes, it would be easy for the film to get lost along the way. But thankfully the film keeps a steady pace, never faltering away from it, making for a really enjoyable time at the theater. Most importantly though, the film’s central message about love being the thing that can bring the world together is something that we need now more than ever. If Diana can learn to see past the darkness in humanity, to find the good, and believe we’re worth it, we should be able to do the same for ourselves.
Wonder Woman is triumph in every sense of the word. Bold, inspiring, heartfelt, and fun, this is everything a summer film should be. Gadot leads with a terrific performance as Diana Prince, really bringing Wonder Woman to life in a way that will really make audiences love her as this character. Patty Jenkins has created a nostalgic adventure film that’s both inspiring and action packed, as well as promises a very bright future for the DCEU. This is not only one of the summer’s finest offerings, but come year’s end, it’ll be hard to believe it won’t be one of the year’s best films.