I meant to get this written a bit earlier, but this ended up being a much busier (or at least much more tiring) week than I’d originally anticipated. Keep something in mind, though; this is my review after almost a week. So this is after I’ve had time to think about the movie for a while and let it roll around in my head for a bit.
I’ll be direct: I’ve hated almost every DC movie released since 1989. Nineteen eighty fucking nine. The only reason for the “almost”? I never saw Catwoman— because why the hell would you?– and I did not hate Suicide Squad, mostly because I didn’t care enough about any of the characters in the film to properly hate it and Harley Quinn was fun to watch. I got home from Batman Returns way back in 1992 and ranted about it at such length and such volume to my parents that my neighbor actually came over and asked me to cut it out. My parents live in a house. The last several DC films have been so bad that I refuse to even admit that the characters they are supposedly about are even in the movies. Man of Steel wasn’t about Superman. Batman Begins was about some sort of sword-fighting ninja dude who isn’t a detective and doesn’t give a wet shit about human life, and by the time Alien Jesus v. Wing-Rat Psycho came around, he was literally branding criminals so they’d get killed in jail. Fuck that.
That fuckin’ movie actually had the word Justice in the title. Was there at any point any concern with justice anywhere in that movie? Ever? Nah, of course not.
Wonder Woman is probably the best superhero movie since Superman and Superman 2.
Why “probably”? Because I’m not capable of watching Iron Man or Avengers with any sort of objectivity. I need to watch Civil War again; when that came out, I called it the best Marvel movie; I’m not sure it’s held up to me as well as they have. Wonder Woman is so much better than the rest of DC’s film product in the last thirty years that we shouldn’t even refer to it in the same category any longer. It’s like saying that out of this giant pile of shit the carefully plastic-wrapped apple on top is the tastiest. Of course it is; it’s the only fucking apple.
Proposal: that, from now on, the remainder of the DC murderverse films (and those not formally part of the murderverse as well, such as the execrable Superman Returns, which revealed him to be a deadbeat dat) be referred to as murples. Only Wonder Woman gets to be a movie.
Damn near 500 words in, so I probably ought to get to the “why” part. It actually isn’t all that complicated, so don’t blink or you’ll miss it: Wonder Woman is actually a hero in this movie, who does heroic things and whose primary motivation is to save people. The first time we see Diana in full Wonder Woman getup, she’s charging– against the advice of everyone around her— across No Man’s Land straight into rifles, mortars and machine guns to save a French village full of strangers who she has never met. It’s an outstanding moment; the best in the film and one of the best superhero reveals I’ve ever seen.
Why is she doing that? Because they’re there and they need help.
This, you see, is what superheroes do. And what Wonder Woman gets right that literally no DC movies and not enough of the Marvel films have gotten right is that it remembers that its main character is supposed to be a superhero and so she acts like one.
There’s more, of course, but that’s the core of my love for this film and everything else is really window dressing. Gal Gadot is phenomenal; I really wasn’t into the idea of her playing this character (I’m still on Team Gina Torres) but turns out I was at least as wrong about that as I was about Tom Holland playing Spider-Man. The other standout from the movie is Robin Wright as Antiope and, while most of Lucy Davis’ lines were in the trailer, she steals every second that her Etta Candy is on the screen. Chris Pine is exactly what he needs to be and no more. And Elena Anaya as Dr. Maru is creepy as fuck in another role that doesn’t get a huge amount of screen time. The opening bits on Themyscira are fantastic; I want to see more of all of that, Antiope in particular. I mean, c’mon:
(I have, in case it’s not clear, no serious complaints about the film. About the closest I can get is that the CGI could be a bit better in parts. But whatever. Graphics barely even register to me anymore.)
A word about setting the film during World War I instead of World War II: I think it was a brilliant idea. Why? Because Wonder Woman fights against the idea of war itself. Her role is to be as an ambassador for peace before any other moral good. And, much unlike WWII, World War I is a perfect examplar of the utter pointlessness of war. It strikes me every time I read a history book about it: World War I was a war fought for nothing. Literally nothing. Not one person who died during that war died for anything. And yet millions of people died horrible deaths and millions more were wounded. It actually dilutes Wonder Woman’s anti-war message to put her into World War II, because fighting to stop fascism is actually a cause. So as much as I’d like to see Wonder Woman punching some Nazis, I think it was a solid change to make to the story.
The big question, of course, is whether this means I’m going to have to see Justice League when it comes to theaters. I’m still leaning toward no, as nothing I’ve seen from the film makes me think that the word justice is going to belong in the team’s name and there’s going to be more Alien Christ in it. But the fact that Wonder Woman even got me to consider seeing Justice League?
If that’s not a solid reason to see the movie, I don’t know what possibly could be.