Why Everyone's Talking About This Movie
"Wonder Woman Set to Become Top-Grossing Live-Action Film Directed by a Woman” reads a headline from The Hollywood Reporter, the latest in a slew, heralding the latest film from DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment. But it’s certainly not the first or the last. Right out of the gate, good things were being said about this film. The buzz started before the pre-screenings were even close. Then celebrities who got to see it early on loved it and most fans-in-waiting said they wanted it to be good, but were nervous. Why though? Why were they nervous? Because until the Patty Jenkins helmed movie starring Gal Gadot the DCEU* had let the majority of fans down.
This film is groundbreaking, and proving it by smashing records left and right. But let’s back up for one quick second and look at Wonder Woman historically. Created in 1941 as an answer to mounting criticism of the comic industry, she became the first female superhero. She has gone through basically every iteration you can imagine, some less dignified than others. Although they aren’t as easily accessible as Superman or Batman, Wonder Woman has been made into live action versions before. Most notably the 1970’s Linda Carter television series. But there has never been a live action telling of her story done so well on screen until Patty Jenkins made 2017’s Wonder Woman.
I’d like to get this out of the way, because I’ve seen some people online hating the film just to hate the film. It’s good for a DC film, no - it’s a great comic book film and really good movie period. You’re just saying it’s good to be a feminist, nope - while it is a huge step forward in that respect you can’t boil this down to simply gender politics. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, yes - it really is. Because we’ve never seen this story from a strong woman’s point of view done so well. And that’s insane! Wonder Woman, also known as Diana Prince, has been around for 75 years, only Batman and Superman were created before her. And in that time we have had no less than nine Superman films, ten Batman movies, and besides the 1975 show there have been no successful versions representing the first major heroine created.
There are MINOR spoilers ahead, so if you want to avoid those please close your computer, go watch the movie, then come back...
It was really good, right? I know.
So there are some flaws with the movie. Namesly the villains are almost paper-thin and I spotted the surprise reveal literally as soon as I saw the actor on screen. But for reference I would say most comic book movies have a villain problem, it’s a known problem among us geeks. Also there’s a few moments having to do with the plot that hurt the film’s believability. I think that definitely falls squarely on the shoulders of what I’d call studio involvement. Which means Warner Bros., DC, and Zack Snyder told the screenplay writer, Allan Heinberg, to get from A to B, but also include G H F J K and X in that order, oh and have it make sense. But all things considered he did a great job since his only other credits seem to be Scandal, Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy, and The OC.
The main things this movie did right: balancing action, heart, and dialogue with a character that has been challenging even for some comic book creators. Gal Gadot, who I was nervous about, really owned the character here, delivering much more than just her cameo in BvS. Jenkins gave the film a style all its own and made wise choices in exploring World War I from an outsider’s perspective. It plays like your typical action movie and even has a love interest in Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. And even though the “typical” gender roles are flipped for this movie, I was impressed that it still felt honest and natural to the story. Focusing on Diana trying to rectify her narrow exposure to the world with what she sees during the war makes for touching moments and some satirical ones as well - humor - something that is severely lacking in the rest of the DCEU.
Obviously as a thirty-something white male I can’t sit here and say I experienced this movie in the same way as a woman, nor would I try to. However, as the father of a clever and brave five-year-old girl who has actually had boys ask her to stop hitting them so hard with her lightsaber, I would like to say I appreciate that this film will be inspirational for my daughter. Being able to see someone like you winning box offices globally is so important and we need more of that diversity. So if nothing else Wonder Woman has hopefully started us down a long overdue path in the entertainment industry, a path long fought for and hopefully here to stay.
Thanks for reading,
+ Colin Carlton
Colin Carlton is a local author and freelance writer.
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Photo Credits: Wonder Woman photo from the Wonder Woman Film page on Instagram