Wonder Woman might be the best comic book movie of all time. Let that sink in for a minute. A movie that “no one wanted to watch.” A movie that “wouldn’t make any money.” A movie that just wasn’t “going to work in 2017.” Well… people did, it still is, and it’s just what 2017 ordered. And there were eight major reasons why this film was, is, and is continuing to be a box office smash hit.
First of all, the characters. Every character, from small to large, big name to rising star, male to female, is portrayed perfectly. Some are over-the-top but slightly updated for a modern audience. Some are completely fleshed out and developed to even the harshest critics’ liking. And some are a happy mixture of both. In fact, most are a happy mixture of both. Every single time a comic book nerd can stay silent throughout the film and not have to turn and say, “but in the comics,” a film is doing two things correctly: following the source material, and more importantly, making an entertaining film that might have flaws, but they are either so nitpicky or minute that no one with half a brain cares.
Another thing that Wonder Woman nailed was the “Cap” moment. You know. The moment that I wanted in every single moment of Captain America and the Avengers films but never got. Diana is simultaneously all of the Avengers wrapped in one (bye, franchise) and something that the Marvel films just don’t seem to get is that these characters can be complex and realistic and fun at the same time. There are jokes, but at the heart of this movie, and even the marketing campaign, is a story about war. Yellow is one of her colors, sure, but it’s also the color of mustard gas. When Diana hops over the trenches and pretty much single-handedly changes the course of the war, you would have to be dead inside not to feel a little inspired. If not completely so. Cap’s a soldier. Thor’s a god. Hulk’s a monster. And Iron Man’s a futurist. Wonder Woman is all of those things, and then some.
I’m a sucker for good writing. This script is flawless. There are recursive themes throughout, repeated dialogue that doesn’t seemed forced or heavy-handed, and a narrative sequence that actually works quite well. It also breaks the three-act structure that kills even the greatest comic book films. I didn’t feel cheated at the end of the film, nor did I want more. It was well-crafted and cut accordingly. The writing team deserves accolades for not wasting a single moment.
Then there’s the special effects. The first Avengers film already looks dated. And though I loved Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, there were still some scenes that sort of reminded me I was watching a movie. This felt real. Which is ridiculous. And awesome. And sort of the point of a movie.
The respect for history was also impressive. I feel like part of this film is a war movie, which was a very welcome surprise when I saw it the first time. The second time, I also realized that it’s a really well done love story. But not in the traditional sense. Yes, Steve Trevor and Diana Prince have undeniable chemistry. And yes, for once, Chris Pine didn’t annoy me… in fact, he’s quite heroic. But the battles, the names, the locations… it all seemed to work. Research can only go so far, and yes, there is the whole “but in real life” part to every one of these stories, but this one just played out correctly for me. The cinematography and the costume departments should also receive an abundance of credit where it is due.
And how about Ares? I won’t give away the “big reveal,” just that it made me really happy. His look. His story. And his dialogue made me feel like a real threat was on the horizon. I would be okay with him being in a future installment or even a larger film for the DC extended cinematic universe as it moves forward. Preferably portrayed by this actor in particular.
It also makes me happy to see world-building done correctly for the first time in any comic book movie. Man of Steel set the tone, but Dawn of Justice could have easily been three epic movies. And Suicide Squad should have been a whole TV series. This movie, on the other hand, gave us character development, built a mythology, and expanded (not just previewed) upcoming attractions. Take note, all future comic movies. Jenkins and crew know what they’re doing.
And last but not least, there’s the soon-to-be legendary Gal Gadot. She is perfect. She is beautiful. Her accent, her poise, her facial expressions, and her ability to inspire… If you would have asked me ten, five, or even one year ago, I would say that the movie could be “good.” The best? Not in a million years. Well, thanks to Gadot, I stand very happily corrected. Go see this film. Gal Gadot has turned in a performance that will inspire little girls all over the world to not just be a member of a superhero team, but to lead one. Or just be one all by themselves.
My Rating: 5/5