This is a DC movie with a soul – a rare occurrence in the Extended Universe as of late, which began with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013). It could be said that DC is trying to keep up with the unprecedented success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but have fallen short over the past few years. This may all be about to change with the arrival of Wonder Woman (2017), directed by Patty Jenkins, the first woman to direct a DC superhero film. Surprisingly, this is also the first female superhero to be given her own movie in either the DC or Marvel franchises. It comes as a surprise to me that it has taken so long for this to happen as there are so many inspirational female superheroes, such as Black Widow, Storm, and Jean Grey, to name only a few. It is also estimated that an incredible 46% of comic book fans are women. DC has finally taken a step toward acknowledging this and I believe the resulting Wonder Woman may be their best film yet.
Where Man of Steel appears to focus primarily on big budget action sequences and an over-zealous use of digital special effects, Wonder Woman counterbalances this with a real narrative and focus on character driven events. There is humour within this film that allows the audience to connect with Diana Prince (the secret identity of Wonder Woman) on a human level, almost forgetting the fact that she is a demigod. One scene in particular where I feel this was well executed is when Diana has only recently arrived in London and cannot understand why it is socially unacceptable to wield a sword and shield in a bustling city street. Having grown up on an island hidden from our world – Themyscira – social cues such as this remain a mystery to her throughout the film, providing many a laugh and light-hearted moment. It is in scenes such as these that a character evolves from a two-dimensional stereotype into a person with real soul who will endure and inspire for years to come. That, I think, is what is at the heart of this film. It is not used simply as a means to showcase expensive digital effects through unrelenting action sequences, but as a platform to address and empower people of all genders and backgrounds. Diana proclaims, “I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves,” which is a very relevant and powerful quote that will no doubt linger in the minds of audiences long after the credits have finished rolling.
This strong female lead is not relieved of all action sequences, however, and she fights just as bravely as any superhero before her. She fights selflessly for a world she does not live in and saves countless victims of the First World War, the period during which the film is set. Her love interest, Steve Trevor, whilst also a strong lead character, is nevertheless saved by our Amazonian hero on many occasions. The first time they meet is when Diana plucks him from the sea after his plane crash-lands in the waters of Themyscira, saving his life. This establishes the dynamic of their relationship for the rest of the film. Steve is a brave, talented, and, in his own words, an “above average” individual, but he still relies on Diana to rescue him just as she relies on him for support. I believe there is at last balance for an onscreen couple wherein the damsel in distress archetype has been eradicated and replaced with equality, giving people of all ages a kick-ass female hero to look up to. Based on these merits alone, Wonder Woman should be on everyone’s summer watch list.
by Hannah Abbott, artist
Wonder Woman will be showing at the Gulbenkian from Friday 7th – Tuesday 11th July 2017