Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine
Length: 2hr 21m
“I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves”. Fitting words spoken by Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, mirrored by director Patty Jenkins’ masterful fighting on behalf of DC to rescue the ‘extended universe’ from an early death. With the veritable audience disappointments that were Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman’s strong characters, mind-bending action and unexpected humour breathe new life into the collection of DC films. The film becomes an effective precedent, one that upcoming comic-book films would be wise to follow.
The responsibility of the director, Jenkins, was to bring the origin story of Diana Prince to the big screen, a heavy weight to bear with jaded super-fans on the one hand, and a disappointed public on the other. The final result is neither placation, nor appeasement to the audiences. It doesn’t just meet expectations, but proves to be a rare high-budget film that not only thrills, but maintains its sharpness even by its third viewing.
The story begins with a relatively slow, though expected, introduction, to establish the veritable anthology of Wonder Woman literature, although this slow start is no precedent for the film’s overall pace. As soon as the audience considers themselves well informed on the premise of Diana Prince, the Amazons and their island of paradise, the battle against the German soldiers and a crashed American pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), allows the film to take an exciting nose-dive (pardon the pun) into adventure.
The action within the historical World War I setting proves successful. The settings and costumes are on-form and all contribute to truly immersing the audience in the pages of history, additionally providing juxtapositions between Diana’s open-minded, progressive attitude and the citizens’ more traditionalist attitude within the war-mobilised London.
a shining example of an incredible female-led action film that surprised even DC
However, the real excitement doesn’t come from the high-speed action, nor the well-forged World War I setting, but instead through Diana’s well-written character, executed in an expert fashion by Gadot’s performance. Wonder Woman becomes a rare Hollywood superhero character that is cared for by the audience, one that has a reason for us teetering on the edge of our seats at every turn. The strong female lead provides a much-needed start in balancing the testosterone-fuelled, brooding figures that were Batman and Superman, through Gal Gadot’s incredible performance, and her months of martial arts training that results in genuine dialogue and authentic action. Gadot truly becomes her character and suspends disbelief. Even more unexpected was the incredible chemistry displayed between heroes Diana Prince and Steve Trevor, providing well-placed comedic intermissions.
With a performance as mentioned above shattering expectations for the film, even DC seemed confused with Patty Jenkins’ well-deserved success. The defying of even their expectations was further shown by their reluctance to market the film pre-release. Many caught on to DC executives’ apprehension in the film’s future, with Wonder Woman’s complete lack of publicity, in comparison to DC’s previously high-budget and overkill marketing that even went as far as to disappoint children: favourite breakfast cereals didn’t include a free toy in its sugary contents, though instead included a plethora of colourful sugar-coated marketing materials for Batman v Superman.
However, though fast-paced, the narrative content itself seems relatively thin on its feet, as the film led to a slightly unsatisfying conclusion. The origin story seems to lack complete substance, and though this was not a major disadvantage, it proved salient once all the action subsided and on came an uncomfortable feeling that plot elements were missing or had been cut from the final release. At points the plot seemed flimsy at best, with a lack of depth and predictable twists, thereby highlighting the difficulty in creating a superhero film that successfully balances both action and narrative.
Despite this, Wonder Woman ultimately becomes a shining example of an incredible female-led action film that surprised even DC. Regardless of its weak story and lack of satisfaction in narrative, it’s a fun, thrilling, action-packed film that doesn’t placate audiences. Instead, thanks to Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins and her team, it has completely inverted the fate of DC’s films, setting an impressive bar that upcoming superhero films may have trouble leaping over. If anything, Wonder Woman has taught us that real-world heroes walk among us, and their names are Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot.