Monday, June 05, 2017

DCEU Scores Its First Real Win with 'Wonder Woman'

At its fourth try, the DC Extended Universe has finally had a movie receiving universal acclaim.  And there’s something exhilarating and amusing about the fact that it was accomplished through the solo movie of, arguably, the least iconic of DC’s “Trinity.”  In this sense, it can be said Wonder Woman bested Batman and Superman!

Kudos to DC/Warner Bros.  They managed to release a Wonder Woman movie first before Marvel could release a Captain Marvel movie (which I thought would happen first since Marvel made an announcement first, and with all the lack of vision going on with DC/WB during that time).  Getting the first major-comicbook-movie-with-a-female-superhero-as-lead out ahead of their rivals is a good win for them.  In addition, it even turned out being the best DCEU movie so far (Suicide Squad is a far second).
Wonder Woman is a terrific superhero origin movie.  It follows the growth and training of Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) in Themyscira – the hidden paradise island of the Amazons – and how, one day, she meets an American spy named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) when his plane crashes near the island’s beach.  After Steve mentions the Great War (i.e. World War I) raging in the outside world, Diana is stirred to lend her hand in stopping it.  She leaves her home and people for the first time, as she goes with Steve to the outside world.  On the battlefield, she gets both disillusioned with and inspired by mankind, leading her to discover her life’s purpose.

Wonder Woman is one of my favorite female characters in fiction.  However, I’m not really a big fan of the sword-and-shield New 52 incarnation, in which the DCEU’s take on Wonder Woman is based from.  I don’t hate this particular version, but I’m fonder of the traditional depiction of Wonder Woman.  No sword, no shield.  Her lasso of truth, bracelet, and warrior spirit are enough to make her a badass.  But that’s just me.  Anyway, the sword-and-shield cinematic depiction didn’t bug me because Gal Gadot proves to be an awesome Wonder Woman – a well-established fact already after her debut in Batman v Superman.

I admit that I was a bit wary of Gal Gadot’s casting at first.  At that time, she had a wiry model frame, a non-Wonder Woman physique.  But she bulked up.  And, now, after two cinematic appearances, I can’t picture anyone else pulling it off.   She has made the character her own.
I was baffled when I learned that the movie changed Wonder Woman’s debut to set in WW I instead of WW II, as it was in the comics.  But if the sole reason was to make that epic set piece happen, then that decision is well-justified, I guess.  I’m of course referring to the sequence where Diana enters No Man’s Land and proceeds to liberate a village.  It’s so fist-pumpingly fantastic!  The movie has other action set pieces – including a bombastic CGI battle with the movie’s big bad which I didn’t really care for – but none of them ever come close of being as glorious as that sequence.  All in all, the action in this movie is top-notch.

As for the story, well, it’s generally good.  It’s a fresh, well-told superhero origin narrative.  However, it’s also choppy a couple of times, and there are a few plot details that I felt are unforgivably dumb and lazy.  I do wish the script was better.  There’s depth, but strands of cheesiness intertwines with it.  Nevertheless, it still manages to be a thoughtful, feel-good story as a whole.
It also helps that it isn’t full of feminism propaganda.  I just can’t stand where modern, extreme feminism is at now.  It’s so mean, bizarre, dumb, and nonsensical.  And if any of that stuff ever got into this movie, it would have ruined it for me.  So with the entertainment industry being dominated by liberal thought, I was half-expecting for the worse.  Thankfully, if it has any feministic message, it’s simply rooted on positive, sensible “classical feminism”, which is what Wonder Woman is essentially an icon for.  The movie rejects the erroneous thought that women empowerment is only achievable when men are depreciated.  Rather, it celebrates men and women, especially through Steve Trevor and Diana’s relationship and respective characterizations, offering the insight that advancing both sexes is not contradictory at all.

I really love this movie, and I think it’s genuinely good.  But I also think it’s a tad overrated.  I think the enthusiasm and praise for it are skewed by the fact that it’s the first live-action Wonder Woman movie as well as the first major comicbook movie with a female lead – an advantage of novelty.  For me, it still retains some of the DCEU’s innate problems.  Honestly, I find it a bit messy.  And I think that, at the most, it’s just as great as the 2009 direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated film.
Nevertheless, Wonder Woman is so refreshing in so many levels overall.  It’s very much worth celebrating.  It’s not a stretch to say that this is the Iron Man of the DCEU.  It seems like Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is doing – and will do – to the DCEU what Robery Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man has done to the MCU.

It excites me to no end that we’ll soon get to see her again later this year in Justice League (which I hope will continue the DCEU’s winning streak).

No comments: