As you guys have certainly been able to tell from this blog I am a huge fan of the recent Wonder Woman film from Warner Brothers. I’ve seen it 3 times and each time I have loved the film. I am aware of flaws and issues but none of those are dealbreakers that stop me from loving the movie. Naturally when anything these days becomes popular there is the inherent backlash against said property. Most people do this politely and I have no issue with such dissenting views. There are many popular blockbusters I wasn’t much of a fan of such as Rogue One and Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. I try to let people enjoy their films and not be annoying about it but my opinion still remains in the minority. Nevertheless, when I hear these criticisms of Wonder Woman it does make me ask myself- am I just buying into hype? Do I really like it so much? It’s probably a healthy question to ask but I can honestly say- it’s not hype. I really do love it this much.
I have now seen Wonder Woman 3 times and each time I was weeping throughout the film. Not just crying but this is full on public water works weeping. You can ask my brother if you don’t believe me. There is something about this character and her journey that impacted me emotionally. The idea of a woman coming to grips with human frailty and war was very moving for me and each time humans let her down it was devastating. There is a feeling that the humans really ‘don’t deserve’ her. It made me wonder if Jesus or an angel came down would it be a similar experience that Wonder Woman had? That’s moving stuff!
When you have such an emotional connection with a film things like wonky cgi do not matter at all. In my podcast I described it like falling in love with a bald man. Sure he’s not my ideal but I love him. I’ve emotionally connected with him so he is perfect to me. (Bet you never thought you’d hear Wonder Woman compared to a bald man but there it is!). I’ve thought long and hard and I really do believe this emotional response is separate and unique from any kind of hype or publicity. Like I said, I am frequently willing to go against hype or popular films. This is just a case of me happening to agree with the hype.
Part of the problem with hype is when people can’t admit to the problems in a film they love. In the case of Wonder Woman it is true the villains are standard, as well as other things about the plot. However, it did not matter to me because I was emotionally connected to Diana and her journey. In my eyes it took a superhero formula story and told it with real heart and power. Lots of movies do that. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a good movie (in fact, often those ‘original’ movies are awful). There is nothing wrong with taking a tried and true formula and executing it well. That’s what Wonder Woman did.
Aside from just an emotional connection there are aspects to Wonder Woman that make it truly stand out from other superhero movies. While it was meaningful to me to have a powerful female superhero, let’s set that aside for the moment. One of the best things about the movie is the way it tells a feminist message without degrading men. Steve Trevor is a great counterbalance to Diana. He understands the human world and the way things work there. She is clearly the fighter and the emotional voice of the story. She’s the one that pushes him to help people and to fight for good over evil. He’s the military man and she’s the Mother in a way. That’s what made the ending work so well when they both have to sacrifice and fight to get a respite from the war.
Another amazing sequence I will never forget is when Wonder Woman is tired of being told she can’t help people and she ascends the trenches into No Man’s Land. It is in my opinion one of the greatest scenes ever in a comic book movie. I loved everything about it from the special effects down to the music. It was empowering, exciting and everything else.
The opening sequences in Themiscyra were also very memorable. Not only did you see female warriors kicking butt but you saw warriors training and fighting in awesome ways and then when we saw them take on Germans with guns it was awesome! What a great sequence! Throughout Wonder Woman there are real stakes. We lose people we really care about and that more importantly Diana cares about. This is something the Marvel has not been brave enough to do (for the most part). It gave the movie weight and heart it wouldn’t have otherwise had.
I can’t think of a superhero movie that so successfully integrated war in the way Wonder Woman did. Some have claimed Captain America: the First Avenger does but it’s not quite the same. His role is more as a propaganda tool than actually fighting the way Wonder Woman does. If any similarities are problems than pretty much every superhero movie has this problem. Even everyone’s beloved Dark Knight closely mirrors Michael Mann’s Heat in many ways. Is this a problem? No because it executes what it is trying to do well while adding some new elements to keep it exciting.
Some more positives that I think will give the movie legs over the hype is the incredible chemistry between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot. This is far better than any pairing up we’ve ever seen in a Batman movie in my opinion. They had real conversations and we got to know them both in comedic and more heart-felt moments. This is not the damsel in distress or the assistant we so often see in superhero movies. They are equals and the two actors playing the leads worked so well together.
Aside from a brief introduction and closing segment, Wonder Woman is also its own movie. In a world of cinematic universes this is very refreshing. Obviously Wonder Woman is part of the DCEU but you could see it and not have seen any of the other films. It stands on its own as a complete story. This helps movies like Iron Man to last where other films like Avengers: Age of Ultron don’t. Many superhero movies today feel like you are only getting a piece of the narrative but that wasn’t the case with Wonder Woman. It was Diana’s story and so even if the rest of the DCEU continues to suck I will have this film unspoiled. That will help it to last.
There are a lot of other reasons Wonder Woman worked for me. It was funny, sexy, romantic, a war movie, and a classic superhero story. Some may think I have just drunk the kool-aid but I know I have not. I legitimately love it. It’s cool if others don’t love it. That’s what makes film so great. It is a subjective medium open for all kinds of opinions.
So three cheers to Wonder Woman!!! Ra Ra Ra!