Wonder Woman Delivers On DC’s Promise

TFW REVIEW Wonder Woman, Dane

It’s been nigh a decade since DC comics had a movie that exceeded expectations. Since Marvel started their shared universe, DC has been rushing to catch up with the competition, often to the detriment of their characters. Superman is now a dour, morose person who barely qualifies as a hero and Batman is practically a villain. Changing fundamental aspects of the characters hasn’t sat too well with fans, and it’s showed in the critical and audience response to movies such as “Man of Steel,” “Batman v. Superman,” and “Suicide Squad.”

Happily, that losing streak is finally at an end.

“Wonder Woman” exploded onto screens over the weekend, demolishing box office records and heralding what hopes to be a new age for superheros. For a long time, studios were nervous about giving a tent pole action film to a female-led action movie. While the gender gap in Hollywood definitely played a role, terrible movies like “Elektra” and “Catwoman” made sure that the studios that once took a chance were remiss to do so again. Imagine their surprise now that “Wonder Woman” has raked in over $200 million globally.

Introduced to audiences in last summer’s “Batman V. Superman,” Gal Gadot returns as Diana, princess of Themyscira. Raised on the island of the mythical Amazons, Diana is a fierce warrior before she gets dragged from her paradise into the world of man and violence. When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands in the ocean right off Themyscira’s shore, Diana’s life is changed forever. She learns of the War To End All Wars, and the innocents dying by the thousands. A hero born, if not bred, Diana sets off for our world, learning the nature of violence, war, mankind, and love along the way.

I can’t tell you as a comic fan what a huge relief it was when I walked out of the theater with nothing but good things to say about this movie. If you’ve read my other reviews, you know that I am a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Marvel Comics, and have been since childhood. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the Distinguished Competition, though, and seeing them stumble and fall for almost the last decade hasn’t been fun. As a fan, I want to see these heroes brought to life, even the dumb Boy Scout I don’t care that much about, “Superman.” When I see these unrecognizable versions of the character being touted as the true, modern version, it breaks my nerdy little heart. Thankfully, “Wonder Woman” is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise grey and cloudy movie universe.

For once, this is an origin story worth every minute of time devoted to it. Considering “Wonder Woman” hasn’t been a regular pop culture screen fixture since the ’70s, I think it’s fair to say that not too many people are overly familiar with “Wonder Woman” and where all of her powers come from, who she is underneath the star-spangled eagle outfit (done away with in the film in favor of some truly awesome armor). “Wonder Woman” takes the time to let us get to know Diana as her own person before we dive into her heroism and myth-like origins, and the movie is all the better for it. One of the big things critics and audiences seem to agree on is that “Wonder Woman” is a movie with a clear emotional center, with a heart. It’s hard to realize how much that sort of characterization is missed in the wider DC movie universe until you experience it.

Not to be left out, director Patty Jenkins, who won an Oscar for her previous film “Monster” 14 (!) years ago, absolutely destroys the strange Hollywood notion that women can’t direct gigantic blockbusters. With at least three massive action-set pieces, one of which invokes classic scenes from Richard Donner’s “Superman” and Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” the multi-million dollar budget was obviously in very good hands with Jenkins.

It’s hard to accurately express how happy I am that this movie was as good as it ended up being. With every passing DC movie, I had hopes, and each time those hopes were dashed. It’s nice to finally have them met, and to leave with that feeling of giddy excitement that so many fans know so well.

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