It’s silly that a movie like Wonder Woman has to be considered semi-controversial in a modern era that has backslid into a sort of proud misogyny. I might be incorrect, but I feel like if this movie had come out ten, twenty years ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem. There would have been virtually no conversations about the fact that it’s a woman-directed film starring, egads, another woman. Perhaps because the superhero film genre that’s exploded is such a boy’s club? I don’t know.
Anyway, that said, I’d like to forever ignore such idiocy. Wonder Woman is a character who’s been around for ages. She’s been beloved for generations. Making this film is a fucking no-brainer, so I’m going to discuss the film and ignore the titty-baby pleas of MRA children-men.
It seems strange to have a laundry list of complaints such as I do for Wonder Woman considering how much I enjoyed it. I probably liked it a little bit more than the original Iron Man back in 2008, the film that started the MCU that created the DCCU in response and led to all this nonsense where every movie needs to be part of a shared universe. Every year there are entirely too many superhero movies. It’s become a genre unto itself… no longer just an action movie, but to be divorced entirely from it and just be a superhero movie. Hell, who knows? Maybe in the future, superhero movies won’t even need to have any action in them, they’re becoming so prolific. Making action-free movies might be considered bold and innovative.
My main problems with Wonder Woman stem from nitpicky areas. Chris Pine, as Steve Trevor, the sort-of love interest to Wonder Woman, is not necessarily miscast, because he performs the duties of the role as well as he possibly can. It’s that he doesn’t fit in with the movie. He’s a bumbling, insecure hunk and it makes you wonder how he possibly held his own as a spy. He can barely lay down next to a woman without having an aneurysm, so it strikes me as odd that he had the courage to lead a double-life. Also, he’s very much a product of today’s era. He belongs in 2017. I never for a moment believed that he was from World-War-One-era America. His mannerisms, colloquialisms and manner of style were far too modern.
For a film as long as Wonder Woman was, it felt surprisingly rushed. Some revelations occur back-to-back without giving us a moment to digest them or breathe. I feel like the time the film spent building up needless plot points could have been spent, instead, giving us more character development—something Wonder Woman was actually quite adept at. I enjoyed spending time with the characters and I hated seeing some of that squandered on a late third-act-twist everyone saw coming from a mile away (whenever a late-career British thespian is introduced, expect him to be duplicitous). Her ragtag team of warriors to explore the trenches of Europe are the kind of fun characters I miss in action movies.
Now that I have my bitching out of the way, I do want to say that I enjoyed the film quite a bit. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman handles herself capably. She’s quite good in the role and whatever the role requires of her—she’s great in the physical action sequences, she’s believable when delivering moments of pathos, such as when she realizes the horrors that men are capable of, as she explores the world of WWI.
The WWI setting was a great choice for the movie. Usually when I’m watching a movie, the question in the back of mind is always the same: Does the movie have something interesting to say? In the case of Wonder Woman, yes, it does. It explores violence in a unique and interesting way and allows us to view the violence, bloodshed and horror from the eyes of an outsider, a relative innocent. The horrors of war are rendered bleak and as senseless as they are in reality. She, from another world, can’t make sense of ours.
I’d like to see the next Wonder Woman step out from the shadow of the generic superhero formula. Don’t get me wrong, within that template, Wonder Woman handled itself and exceled. But somewhere within Wonder Woman, I could sense another movie dying to get out. I could sense the potential of not just a better-than-average superhero film, but a game-changing great one somewhere in there. With the financial and critical success Wonder Woman is receiving over many of the D.C.-universe entries, maybe Warner Bros. will be smart enough to realize that it’s this film that should define their creations, not the dreary, joyless exercises in mayhem. It’s a movie with emotional context to ground us, instead. Whatever happens next, I want to see Wonder Woman shed the pre-established conventions of the genre, subvert and recreate them, and move forward onto her own.