First of all. 5 Stars. I will see it again, probably in the cinema, and I have already pre-ordered it on iTunes.
Before anyone gets at me and tells me how stupid it is to buy it from Apple, blah blah blah I’m not listening this isn’t the point of this post.
Reviews occasionally have spoilers; I’m going to avoid them as much as possible and I’m going to stick mainly to my opinions of characters. I don’t normally like DC movies; even with a fascinating set of characters to choose from they often seem to pick the most boring of them to make movies about or they manage to make what should have been a great movie boring. Just my opinion. I’m hoping Justice League changes that, I really really am.
Back to Wonder Woman. I don’t want to get into a debate about feminism here; I have seen some very strange and somewhat illogical posts talking about because she clings to the first man she sees and follows him everywhere and falls in love with him it somehow undermines the whole ‘girl power’ trip women were hoping for. That’s bullshit. But, I will restrain myself, give a review of the movie, and then afterwards I may have a nice long rant about that. I’ll warn you when the rant is starting so you can read something else if you prefer.
The movie hinges on the development and evolution of the character Princess Diana. She’s the princess of the Amazons and she’s amazing. She’s cast well, she’s gorgeous, she has muscles and curves and she’s not strutting around in a metal bikini, so her armour is actually very practical, considering the fighting style of the Amazons as a race. Not only is she cast well, but so is everyone else. Most of the weaponry/equipment/etc is era appropriate, and the focus really is on her. The men around her are educational tools, not just for her, but for the viewers as well. This isn’t a story about a woman saving the world. This is about a man saving the day so a woman can save the world.
And now I’m going to rant a little bit.
During one of my many anthropology courses at university we covered Wonder Woman as a phenomenon in World War II. She was created to tell women they could be as strong as men. They could do anything men could do. She was all about truth and freedom and the ability to kick butt. She changed the concept of beauty, encouraging women to start exercise regimes that made them curvy, strong, and gave them the ability to do ‘men’s work’. That was why she was created. She was a feminist’s wet dream.
The Diana seen in this movie is the same powerful Princess. She’s just earlier on. This is her origin, which most people won’t be familiar with because that’s something no one focuses on when they think about her. I can’t comment on how accurate it is regarding the comics and stuff like that but as far as origin stories go, I really liked this one.
There may be some spoilers if you continue. You have been warned.
To the people who complain that she falls in love with ‘the first man she sees’, get over it. He is, a) literally the first man she’s ever seen in the flesh and b) she doesn’t fall in love with him straight away. She’s fascinated, like if you saw a unicorn or mermaid, but she’s not head over heels in love with him the instant they meet. It takes a while, and for him to prove to her that he understands the complexities of the war better than she does, for her to start to fall for him, and by then she’s met plenty of other men too. I notice no one got angry when Peggy fell for Captain America, or for that matter when Captain America fell for Peggy. Everyone needs to get over themselves and appreciate that the actors had great chemistry and it was so far from the main plot point that it’s barely worth mentioning. The end, where she finds the strength to become who she really is, and to remain true to her values, yes, that is brought about by words said to her by said love interest, but it’s not a labored point. It makes sense. It re-humanizes her.
And another thing. She clings to the first man she meets because he then introduces her to a world she didn’t even know existed, took her to a country she’d never been to, had to keep her from being impolite in a culture she’d never even dreamed of experiencing and then, to cap it all off, she is one of the most stubborn and task oriented mules on the planet. She kick butt (even when not entirely necessary) and does things the men around her are not prepared to do. And there’s no stupid cliched lines like “No man can do it” “But I’m not a man” (though I love that line in LoTR, don’t get me wrong), because it’s not appropriate. Diana doesn’t think she’s stronger because she’s female. She knows she can do this. It’s not about her gender or the fact that she’s a bit more than human. Even if she couldn’t do it (physically) she still probably would. Her zeal is powered by naivety, and it makes her very strong.
But that naivety changes over time. Her beliefs don’t undergo a radical shift, just a small one, but with information and perspective those naive beliefs turn into a powerful world view that tells her she really can do this, and that humans really are worth protecting.
So to anyone who thinks that somehow Princess Diana’s femininity or strength or whatever they want to call it is dampened, weakened or diluted in any way by the men she surrounds herself with, you’re not fully understanding what’s going on. Her origin story, Just like Captain America’s, is a coming of age. Even when she encounters the sniper who can’t shoot, or tries to soothe him when he has PTSD induced nightmares, or learns that Aries isn’t actually the root of all evil, she keeps going. She grows up and learns about real war, not the war she was told about by her mother. She learns about the fact that people can’t be all one thing. The people she works with are honorable, despite being spies, thieves, and smugglers.
Go on, shoot that one down.