Rating 3/5 – Let’s get this part out of the way first. Wonder Woman was good. Not great on a Winter Soldier level, but in step with Captain America: The First Avenger. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the best either. It had some good parts and some bad, which is typical of a mid-level movie. It wasn’t the best super-hero movie of the year, so far. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 hold that spot so far. It’s also has a lot of weight to hold on its soldiers. People were waiting to see if Wonder Woman would be the first DCEU movie that didn’t suck. It beat everyone in being the first blockbuster level movie with a woman as it’s central character. That last one is the first thing I want to talk about.
Wonder Woman: When “Okay” is Your Best.
Patty Jenkins has exactly two movies under her belt. Monster and Wonder Woman. Monster is a really well known and successful movie on many levels. Charlize Theron won an Oscar. Monster made over 7.5 times it’s budget. It introduced Patty Jenkins to the world. And it saved Christina Ricci from being type-cast by the Wednesday roll. (Well, almost.) After Monster Patty Jenkins seemed to vanish from theaters movies altogether. She directed two episodes of The Killing, won an Emmy for the pilot, and did a few TV movies. You hear Patty Jenkin’s name pop-up as being sought to be after for a couple of interesting projects. Marvel signed her to direct Thor but left in a very public battle over creative differences after two months.
Then Warner/DC signed her on to direct Wonder Woman and now that it’s earned over $200 million in its opening weekend she considered the savior of the DCEU. That’s an interesting problem in and of itself. First of all, the issues with the first three DCEU should not be forgiven or forgotten just because Wonder Woman didn’t suck. The previous movies still suck on too many levels. You can’t get away from the comparison because this is the nature of movies right now. Thanks, Marvel. In any other time, Wonder Woman would be considered good but not great. In today’s world, Wonder Woman is Frodo carrying the ring to Mt. Doom on every level.
First Female Big Budget Super Hero Movie
Stealing from John Oliver I’m going to ask, “Is this still a thing.” As a black male I find myself listening to discussions on racism where one side claims things are better and the other actually pays attention to what’s happening in the world. I cannot imagine how this is for women when it comes to sexism. There are too many examples of great actresses, and a growing number of female directors putting out quality. Yet Hollywood is still treating woman as if they are secondary to the Hollywood default. The Hollywood default is cis-white-male. The question of if a female lead movie can be successful is an ignorant question. It’s also a sexist question. The same goes for black lead movies. Listening to a white writer or director or Hollywood mogul claim that such movies do not draw crowds has been proven bullshit for decades now. And yet, Hollywood keeps acting like it.
Let’s not let Marvel off the hook on this one either. I’ve listened to all excuses from all sides on why Black Widow didn’t get a movie and I’m calling bullshit on everyone. Marvel made Ant-Man a success. ANT-MAN. I want you to mull that one over in your head. If you’re a comic collector you know exactly what I’m saying. if you’re not into comics, ask yourself if you ever heard of Ant-Man outside of a Saturday Night Live sketch from 40 years ago. In the scheme or super-hero hierarchy, Ant-Man rates far below Black Widow. So why the fuck is Marvel dragging its feet on making that Black Widow movie?
However, if you had to have a first female lead super-hero movie, fuck yeah it should be Wonder Woman. She was really the first major female super-hero. Her creator was a pretty much a feminist even if Charles Moulton (or William Moulton Marston) never actually called himself one. More importantly, Wonder Woman is a major pop culture icon. Thanks to the popularity of her comics, Super Friends and the Linda Carter series, Wonder Woman is one of the most well known Super Heroes on the planet. When written correctly, Wonder Woman can kick Superman’s ass.
I am on the “Gal Gadot can’t act” bandwagon. Let’s be fair, very few of the Fast and Furious cast are going to be Oscar winners. No one goes to a Fast and Furious movie for the acting. Ronda Rousey did not do a better job in Furious 7, but the lack of belief or conviction in Gal Gadot’s lines was memorable. I did not see Keeping Up with the Joneses and I’ll agree on the part when Wonder Woman got into the fight with Doomsday in Batman v Superman was pretty cool. (All five minutes of it.) Being fair, Gal Gadot carried the role of Princess Diana well, and the actions scenes in this movie were all cool from set-up to finish.
The rest of Wonder Woman’s cast from Chris Pine to the DCEU version of the Howling Commandos were pretty good too. Patty Jenkin’s found time for some better than average character development for everyone.
So About the Big Bad
I have no problem with the whole “blow shit up, have big fight” at the end of Super Hero movies. When you have human beings that can through a bus or punch through metal walls like they are paper, you want to go out on a high note. Sometimes the big scene is done in a clever way. For instance, the last part of the Matrix. Sometimes it’s just Rockem-Sockem-Robot action, like at the end of Iron Man. Sometimes it succeeds. Sometimes it fails. Depends on the actors, the writer and, most certainly the director. It felt like Patty Jenkin’s was trying to subvert expectation with the twist on the main villain. I’ve heard more then a few critics complain about the twist. Some were saying they saw it coming. The on thing I do agree on is the how I’ve always seen the big-bad from comics and animations is not the one they picked, so it felt off. I honestly cannot say if it felt off because I’m used to the comic and Justice League Unlimited version, or because it just was a little off. And there is a totally Wonder Woman being a badass moment in the last scene that, in my mind, saved to entire last scene.
Wonder Woman: The Verdict
Patty Jenkins is a story teller. She’s about characters getting from point A to Point D, and how events change them while they change events. If you have not watched Monsters, you need to. It just happens to be a pure work or art. Wonder Woman is an Origin story, and in this case, it works. It’s about Diana’s journey to becoming the Wonder Woman we met in Batman v Superman. Unlike Marvel, DC did not shy away from the magic or Greek mythology. I personally don’t like her not being able to fly, but the way she leaps effortlessly into the air was done is too many cool ways for me to really complain about it. The movie made great use of her powers and weapons and stuck to the core of the character. (Gee, DC, took you long enough.) Did Wonder Woman save the DCEU? Well, that’s a little too much to put on this movies shoulders, IMO. It’s best we wait for Justice League that has some hope for it now that Joss Whedon’s involved. For now, I’m going to go with what I first said. Wonder Woman is good enough.