Rejoice, DC Comics fans.
The movie you have been hoping for from the DC universe has finally arrived.
Sure, the ‘Dark Knight’ Batman movies were fantastic overall, but the DC Universe has languished behind its much more successful (even though more cartoonish) rivals from Marvel. And although my love for the Marvel Universe has not dissipated in the least, I have longed for DC to figure out how to bring their world vision successfully to the Big Screen.
They have finally done it.
After a mediocre but decent attempt with ‘Man of Steel’, and a mostly ridiculous and useless attempt in ‘Batman Vs. Superman’, the thought leaders at DC finally put it all together: a movie that works in its own right, and pays adequate homage to its source material at the same time.
Furthermore, where Wonder Woman exceeds expectations is as a standalone superhero movie. It doesn’t need to stand on the shoulders of its predecessors to excel. It quite possibly could be among the top echelon of superhero movies in the history of movie making…though I think to make that lofty claim, I will need a few more viewings to be sure. But upon first viewing, it is at least in consideration.
The movie begins in the mythical Greek land of Themyscira, a remote and isolated paradise. Diana (Gal Gadot) was, as the comics have written, molded from clay by her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), and brought to life by the king of the Gods, Zeus. As she is raised, the Queen wishes to shield Diana from the rigors of warfare, but the Amazons’ top general, Antiope (Robin Wright) believes Diana must face her destiny…which in her visions is filled with conflict and violence.
When an American spy working for the British during WWI (Chris Pine) crashes nearby and is saved by Diana, she and the Amazons are forced to face the reality of the human world, and the violence and despair it brings, regardless of their wishes to remain isolated in their own Shangri-La.
Diana facing the world as it exists in the beginnings of the 20th century, in an era predating Women’s Suffrage in America, brings the obvious contrast of a female superhero (in this example, an actual Goddess) with the male dominated society of the time. Unlike some other films, however, the political and social overtones are largely subtle, and work with the flow of the story, instead of against it. Some movies make this political statement in a grating way; this movie does not.
The obvious eventual involvement of Diana into the ‘Great War’, and its repercussions, grow greater as she learns all that is involved in the most recent threat to humanity. The placement of this story in WWI is, in hindsight, absolutely brilliant. I questioned the choice initially, but now…it simply makes sense; I can’t imagine this story being successful being placed in any time period, for reasons that become apparent as the story unfolds.
What really makes this movie stand out is the personal story that Diana brings to a world unready for her superiority over all men. This is more than a simple social statement; it is, in many ways, the common thread in the DC movies thus far. In ‘Man of Steel’, Clark Kent is left wondering if he truly has a place in the world of man. In ‘Batman Vs. Superman’, we see Bruce Wayne’s inability to accept that an alien indestructible superhero could possibly care about the plight of the common man, and makes it his quest to challenge that power. In ‘Wonder Woman’, the male dominated society feels the same threat toward a Goddess, a female who has no human challenger.
That said, this is by far the best DC movie in the current universe. It may rival ‘The Dark Knight’ actually, but I wouldn’t go that far until I see this movie several times, and see how it feels after repeated viewings.
But as summer movies go, this is the second ‘Must See’ movie of the season, after the absolutely hilarious ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’. It also significantly raises the bar for the upcoming DC Universe installment of ‘Justice League’.
In short, DC finally put all the pieces together, and it is magnificent.