Wonder Woman (2017) Review: Saving the Day and the DCEU

"Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman." -William Mouton Marsten, creator of Wonder Woman

By Abigail Morran

DC's newest movie hits the big screens this weekend and it is already garnering great reviews from critics everywhere, for good reason. Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman previously appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and was, in my opinion, the best part of it. The same awesome energy she brought to that film was carried over to Wonder Woman where the audience is treated to 2 hours and 21 minutes of action, adventure, romance, and excitement. The action scenes, the witty dialogue, the character dynamics, and huge explosions are a delight to watch and the tender moments between Diana and the people she came to save might be powerful enough to make even the most stoic audience member feel something. 

Wonder Woman tells the origin story of one of DC's most iconic and oldest characters and how she came to leave her home to live among humanity. The origin of her birth is complicated in the comics as DC opted to change it with the New 52, sparking an upset among some of her most diehard fans. This movie takes from both sides and I believe it manages to find a compromise. Set during World War 1, after witnessing a plane crash in the ocean Diana saves the pilots life and in doing so meets the first man she has ever seen- Captain Steve Trevor. She then joins him as he returns to his people in an attempt to help stop the war that ravages across Europe.

Wonder Woman begins with her early life growing up on the secluded female-only populated island of Themyscira as she learns how to fight from other formidable Amazon women, most notably their greatest warrior and her personal teacher Antiope, played by the powerful Robin Wright (House of Cards, The Princess Bride). Some of the best scenes in the movie occur during this first act with amazing performances from every single one of the Amazon women as well as one of the best fight scenes I have ever seen onscreen.

The endearing performance by Lily Aspell as young Diana is a delight and her eagerness to learn now to fight and become a hero might resonate with many other movie-goers who may have felt the same as a child. Connie Nielsen especially stands out as Diana's mother Queen Hippolyta, a powerful, loving, and wise leader who wants for nothing but the safety of her daughter and her people. She leads by example and loves Diana with everything in her. The strength she embodies and that of the other Amazon women is evident in Diana throughout the rest of the film showing that behind every strong women is a group of equally as strong women who helped her learn the tools she needs to succeed.

Moving on from Themyscira, Jenkins keeps things interesting with some really great action scenes. By interspersing some of the fight scenes with slow motion we are treated to a better look at the breathtaking abilities of the world's greatest hero. Almost every fight scene was new and exciting

You can't talk about Wonder Woman without talking about feminism, she was literally created for this reason, and Director Patty Jenkins honours this legacy with ease. Wonder Woman pokes fun at a few stereotypes in a few funny scenes as Diana Prince wanders around London with Steve Trevor unaware at first of the cultural differences scandalizing a number of men who are shocked that a woman would dare do the things she does. Wholly-framed in a humorous way it is a great commentary on how women today are still treated and that is exactly why this movie is so important.

Superhero movies are one of the biggest genres in popular culture and although women make up just as much of the fan base as men, if not more, there is still an extreme lack of female superheroes, never mind movies where they're the lead. The last time a female hero lead a superhero movie was Elektra in 2005 and since then there has been over 40 superhero movies released from DC and Marvel alone, every single one of them lead by men or a team of men with one or two women. Let that sink in.

Back to the film: At its heart Wonder Woman is a love story, as it should be. Diana is the heart and soul of the DC universe and the compass who keeps the Justice League in line, traits which are only made possible by her own purity of heart. Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, and Diana Prince have a chemistry that is beautifully tender but the love in this movie extends far beyond that of a traditional love story to include the love between families, friends, and even those who may not deserve it because that's what Wonder Woman is all about. 

She is also about hope. When I left the theatre I couldn't stop smiling. It was such an amazing feeling to see my favourite hero on the big screen as more than just an accessory and to see a woman take the lead without much argument from her male companions because they recognize and respect her worth. And the fact that it was also a genuinely good movie was a much appreciate added bonus. Unfortunately not even Wonder Woman can escape without a few flaws, the villain being one of the main ones. The third act feels out of touch with the rest of the film and relies more heavily on explosions and fancy CGI than I would have preferred but it was nothing major enough to stop me from happily going to see it two days in a row. 

In conclusion, even if you are tired of superhero movies I would encourage you to go see this one. Wonder Woman just might save the DCEU. And if you know any young girls looking for something to do this weekend bring them along because not only is it a good superhero movie it is also a good movie in general and I would really love for it to succeed and for it to inspire a new generation of kick ass little girls who take after Diana of Themyscira, who recognize their own agency, and who will help us save the world.