How Wonder Woman Reminds Us How “Super” a Superhero Film Can Be

Here’s the final trailer that Warner Bros. has put out for the film:

Every since the Marvel Industrial Complex started pumping out a hundred superhero films a year for the past decade, it’s become harder and harder with each one to care about the ever growing pantheon of characters. While every once in awhile we get a Guardians of the Galaxy or a Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we have to trudge through a lot more mediocre films than I’d prefer to, just to get something that’s actually good. So when something does come out that I enjoy, I feel it’s worth promoting to others so we can all share in the experience. Wonder Woman is definitely one of those good movies.

What strikes me most about Wonder Woman is that there were a lot of things stacked up against it. First off, DC has had a rough streak ever since they decided to play catch-up to Marvel and run with Zack Snyder’s continuity. Although Snyder has a fantastic eye for aesthetics, his failure to tie scenes together and put together a watchable theatrical cut really put a damper on what could have been a fantastic few movies. Luckily for Snyder, none of his films were box office failures, actually quite the contrary, thus giving DC enough funding to carry on to make a Justice League film. A Justice League film means we need backstories for the heroes, thus the Wonder Woman film. Another aspect that could’ve messed with the films success was the relative lack of experience its director, Patty Jenkins had in terms of blockbusters. Jenkins’ claim to fame was a low-budget indie flick, and since then hasn’t done much on the big screen. To jump from that to a multi hundred million dollar budget blockbuster with an all star cast and pull if off? Kudos to Jenkins. The final hurdle I saw this film having to overcome was making people care about this character. While not impossible, (Guardians has made us fall in love with a talking tree and a racoon) Wonder Woman just wasn’t in the cultural lexicon as deeply as someone like Batman or Captain America was to draw attention and fill theatres. Luckily, great marketing, a fantastic cast, and most importantly, universally positive word-of-mouth helped give this movie the push it took to make it financially viable.

Moving on from the hurdles this film had to overcome*, I wanna talk about all the things this film does right, and trust me, there’s a lot of them. Right off the bat I wanna say that I think this is one of the few movies in modern times that gets both female empowerment and tonal consistency right. While I could write a whole other blog about how I think this  is a perfect example of a feminist film, my brief summary of what elevates this movie above others is that Wonder Woman is constructive, while other so called “feminist films” are destructive. What made 2016’s Ghostbusters such a blunder was that its male director doubled down on spite and venom, forcing all-female leads, a dumb “him-bo”, and a broken, sexist script down our throats, telling us to accept it as art and the new norm or else we were all sexists. This was not the way to handle this, and the poor box office and negative legacy of the film reflected that. Wonder Woman meanwhile does such subtle yet obvious things, that just nail what it’s going for. Chris Pine’s character in the film, British spy Steve Trevor, manages to totally retain his masculinity and dignity, while still clearly being the sidekick to the physically superior Diana. The film also comedically picks out negative aspects of the world’s more sexist past, questioning things as simple to dancing and clothing, to things as complex as love itself. By having our main character Diana be an outsider, we are able to view our world through an innocent, pure, and objectively good lens, allowing positive and constructive attempts at social progression, and not aggressive and negative ones. I’m avoiding spoilers, but there’s a scene where Diana’s new found human teammates physically boost her to take out an enemy, and as she does this, Steve watches her in awe. There are other moments in the film where Steve marvels at Diana, with a look that signifies not only mutual respect, but pure love as well.

Speaking of love, something this film also nails is its ability to allow Diana to retain her femininity, like running off to see a baby or taking a second to enjoy ice cream for the first time, while also being the strongest, coolest, and most morally correct character in the room. Diana, played by the lovely Gal Gadot, isn’t sexualized like every other female superhero. Something Marvel suffers from is its need to immediately pair off every single female character they have with a male partner. Think about it. Meanwhile, yes, Wonder Woman talks about love, romance, and dating, but it’s done in a way more innocent and empowering way, partly due to the fact that it’s clear that Diana is truly the one in power in any situation. It can’t be understated how refreshing it felt having walked out of a blockbuster, and being genuinely happy with the way every character was treated.

A final big thing this film handled well was its ability to pace. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered from this immensely, feeling like one unconnected and boring scene after the other, until we got to the poorly justified conclusion. Wonder Woman meanwhile perfectly hits narrative beats that land so well, I was actually in tears or in laughing fits through a solid portion of it. The action scales and feels justified, so although the beginning, middle, and end of the film are in totally different places and at totally different levels of risk and stake, as a viewer you never feel taken out of the film. That right there is called good filmmaking.

I could go on forever about how much I love this movie. I think that it’s not only an empowering and well made blockbuster, I think it can be a teaching tool for films that come after it. If future movies follow in the path of positive feminism and non-sexual female empowerment, I can get behind it hands down. Do yourself the favor of watching this movie in theaters as soon as you can, you won’t want to miss this. If you’ve already seen it, go watch it again. I know I will.

Recommend: Of course.

Rating: 9.5/10

Theater or Digital: Multiple Theater Viewings

Let me know below how you all end up liking the movie, and how you guys like this review content. I’ll be doing this every time I see a new film in theaters, and maybe even going back to review some of my favorites I think people should check out.

*A political hurdle that is worth mentioning is that Wonder Woman has been banned in Lebanon due to lead actress Gal Gadot being an Israeli who has served in the IDF. While Lebanon doesn’t make up a significant chunk of the box office, this example of anti-semitism in 2017 is worth pointing out to those unaware.

One thought on “How Wonder Woman Reminds Us How “Super” a Superhero Film Can Be

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.