I have to be honest, I have found films from the currently developing DC Cinematic universe to be a bit of a chore to watch.
I don’t know what it is in particular; the overblown plots or the humongous scale of the CGI sepia toned action I sit through for an average two hours. ‘Man of Steel’ was a decent start, but it didn’t leave much of an impression. All I thought was “I guess that’s the new Superman film.” And then came ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’, which was an epic blow. I remember when I was ecstatic to go to my first viewing of it in IMAX 3D glory. Mum told me to not be surprised if it was all a load of rubbish – and how right she was. Then ‘Suicide Squad’ was a marriage of both bold reinventions in costume design and marketing aesthetic, and the lack there of cemented in a lazily written plot and poor dialogue. If ‘hot mess’ doesn’t describe it in its entirety, I don’t know what else will.
So no, I haven’t had the warmest introduction to these new DC movies. We got flashes of the debut of Diana Prince a.k.a Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) within ‘BvS: Dawn of Justice’, which intrigued me nonetheless but I was apprehensive. I wasn’t about to be swindled out of cinema money like all the other films. Spectacle filled montages over epic orchestral music in trailers were not enough to make me see the Wonder Woman movie in the cinema.
But as expected, give or take a month a DVD quality version of Wonder Woman leaked its way online and after watching it, I genuinely didn’t know how to feel. The social commentaries that had sparked upon social media since its premiere did not help either. Some claimed that Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman wasn’t just a win at the male lead dominated box office, but a win for the current feminist movement. Others argued that Wonder Woman was in fact, the sexualised opposite of what feminist figures in film should be. I watched Wonder Woman three times. Once with my Mum, who roused that “I’d have been annoyed if I went to the pictures to see that. Hopefully, the sequels will get better.” I watched it on my own twice, just on random days. I just sat there and took it for what it was and honestly? I don’t know why people feel the need to over politicise this film’s fairly simple story, characters and message.
In Wonder Woman, we are taken to the secluded all female nation of Themyscira, of Amazonian warriors all brought to life by Zeus. Before she was Wonder Woman, she was always Diana, a young Amazonian princess who is protected whilst trained to become a warrior. However, when the Themyscira falls under attack from man, and Diana learns the harsh truths about war on Earth from Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Diana ventures out into the human world alongside him to put an end to the World War.
What I saw in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was the origin story of one of the most prolific female superheroes in pop culture. This did what many other well approved superhero films do – it laid out the foundations of what is the essence of Diana’s morals and values and expands on them. We see her come of age, grow curious, struggle, rebel – why does Diana feel compelled to help others first and foremost? Why is she willing to make sacrifices? Those questions are all answered within the course of events throughout the film; by the end we meet the strong Diana Prince we all know.
This film is far from faultless though. The villains are cliche as ever, and they even at one point did an evil laugh – I thought we were past those times now. I admired how well Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and Diana always bounced off each other, especially in scenes where they were curious about Amazonian vs Man’s customs. I could tell they were set out to have a romance from the beginning, and predictably it did fall down that path. However, I didn’t feel a romance there, more like a curious friendship to me? Nonetheless, I think the most stunning imagery I will take away from this film is the magnificence of Themyscira itself. I’m so glad they went all out on that one; strong, athletic and independent Amazonian women of all races on a secluded lush island with blue skies and blue waters? I think I need to relocate from South London.
Wonder Woman did what it was supposed to do, and for me it was the strongest of the DC Universe thus far. It’s far from the best movie ever, and in a time of Superhero movie franchise madness, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman still has a charm that might make me take a sneak peek at her appearance in the next DC film of the franchise, Justice League. But I don’t know – I’m still holding onto my coins and notes. The Superhero fatigue is definitely settling in now.
Articles referenced: Burnett, Becca. “How Wonder Woman Succeeds As A Feminist Film.” The Mary Sue, 2017, https://www.themarysue.com/wonder-woman-feminist-film/
Cauterucci, Christina. “I Wish Wonder Woman Were As Feminist As It Thinks It Is.” Xxfactor, 2017, http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/06/02/i_wish_wonder_woman_were_as_feminist_as_it_thinks_it_is/
Photo from Sebastian Vital