In March I was referring to “Wonder Woman” as “Wonder Woman: Love in the Time of Spanish Influenza,” expecting DC and Warner Bros. to submit another exercise in Sturm und Drang. “Wonder Woman” flew into theaters Thursday and I was thrilled to discover I was wrong. This is the hero movie women and girls have been waiting for, and the boost that the DCEU slate of films and fans of the DC heroes all needed.
For the first time since 2013, I didn’t need to play DCEU apologist and instead left the theater feeling optimistic and inspired. Now this isn’t to say that our new hero was absent from the action in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” because we did catch a glimpse of her. She was the one bright spot in the #BvS theatrical cut. In “Wonder Woman” she is let loose on WWI era Europe in all of her innocent glory.
Gal Gadot is a delight; she owns her role in a way that nobody has for DC since the first two times Christopher Reeve portrayed Clark Kent. She is Wonder Woman and she balances goodness and compassion with traits and violent actions that have sullied DCEU and Nolanverse films. My fear that her lack of experience would hinder the film was groundless. Gadot imbues Diana with a warmth that makes you feel she enjoys being a hero, it makes it impossible for you not to love her.
Chris Pine delivers the charm, depicting what can only be a Hayley Atwell and Margot Kidder inspired Captain Steve Trevor. His good-humored banter is occasionally shaded by the weariness of man who has seen too much warfare. This blend of fatigue and a genuine kindness allow us a window into the curious place that is Themyscira. His chemistry with Gadot makes you believe the characters genuinely fall in love, a difficult admission for someone who has been dissatisfied with the relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
The hidden island of Themyscira is a revelation in and of itself in the DCEU. It has a rainbow palette and breathtaking vistas that were eschewed in MoS, BvS and SS.
It’s important to note that the plot as a whole isn’t too complex and is quite reminiscent of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” but none of that matters because the characters are finally more important than their powers in a DCEU film.
Director Patty Jenkins made the DCEU take a refreshingly positive step forward!