To say the deck has been stacked against Wonder Woman is an understatement. Never being treated to her own big screen adventure, Gal Gadot stole the show when she was introduced as the beloved Diana in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Almost the best part of the movie — Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman was equally impressive — her solo outing garnered major attention after Warner Bros. and DC brought in director Patty Jenkins.
So, not only is Wonder Woman getting her first Hollywood blockbuster, but a woman was getting the chance to direct a huge franchise film as well. Now that the dust has settled and the film has finally been seen, the hype was even bigger. Does it live up to the monumental expectations of comicbook fans? Wonder Woman delivers. If not without a few caveats.
Beginning in the established DC Cinematic Universe, Diana is delivered a package from Wayne Enterprises. Inside is a copy of the original photo Wayne discovers in BvS of Diana during World War I. Bruce has included a note stating that he hopes to one day hear her story, which, of course, means the movie can begin! Diana lives peacefully on her invisible home island Themyscira, where she longs to learn how to fight alongside her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). Much to the chagrin of her mother Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen).
Diana chooses to spend her child/teen years under Antiope’s tutelage, until one day, fate comes calling in the form of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). As a spy, Steve has stolen the notebook of Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), aka Dr. Poison, aka Germany’s number one baddie, working on a powerful gas alongside the nefarious Ludendorff (Danny Huston). Together, they plan to unleash hell upon their enemies. But not if Diana, Steve, Steve’s secretary Etta (Lucy Davis), and Sir Patrick (David Thewlis) can stop them first. It wouldn’t be an adventure without a colorfully rowdy set of helping hands including Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock).
Make no mistake, Wonder Woman is by far the best DC Comics film outside the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s perfect. It may manage to hit all the right buttons along the way, but director Jenkins, and screenwriter Allan Heinberg, clearly had no idea how to live up to the first two hours. Full of fantastic camaraderie, the cast play off each other whether on the mythical island or in dingy old England. But then along comes the finale and Zack Snyder’s — producer/story credit — fingerprints shine brighter than ever.
Thankfully, the overuse of CGI in the last 20 minutes isn’t quite enough to kill the buzz, but it sure does make you wish they’d spent just a tiny bit longer working out the screenplay. Sneaking in a last minute plot twist definitely doesn’t help either. However, Wonder Woman strikes the perfect balance of fun, wit, brains, and brawn to help carry it to the finish line. It also helps that Gadot is spectacular and proves the drought of female led superhero movies is all too real. Wonder Woman may have its share of imperfections, but there’s no lasso of truth necessary to say that it’s the real deal. The first really really good summer film has finally arrived. Now let’s see how Warner Bros. and DC follow up with the rest of their Justice League films. They’re finally on the right track, let’s just hope they can follow through on what they promise here.