WONDER WOMAN MOVIE REVIEW – “BOOM GOES THE DIANA-MITE”

We welcome Alexander Lee, who will take care of reviewing movie / TV projects related to comics and giving us a couple of tips about what books look good. Needless to say, his articles will include SPOILERS!!!

The DC Extended Universe's newly-minted crown jewel is here.  Looking beyond the undue hoo-ha about a “female hero movie directed by a female director”, the film's merits are clear for all to see.  Finally, it seems, DC's movie arm have found an effective working formula – a simple, (generally) logical, linear plot helmed by a charismatic protagonist with heart.

Buoyed by a crisp and robust script by Allan Heinberg (of Young Avengers and JLA fame), the flick manages to surpass expectations.

The director, Patty Jenkins is by no means an unknown.  Her award-nominated work on Monster and The Killing provide a strong pedigree.  Her work on Wonder Woman is polished and competent.  The focus on her being a female director is therefore sexist and, no doubt, the product of the machinations of marketing teams and the media.  Women in film production have already firmly established themselves, and there ought to be nothing more to say.

What is notable is that a comic book superheroine-helmed film has proved that audiences do not discriminate.  The rumblings of a Black Widow movie were quelled by (alleged) concerns that a superheroine-led movie might be risky business.  The myth (which should have never been perpetuated to begin with) has been debunked.

What audiences do want is a straightforward, entertaining superhero movie with heart.  And that's where the DCEU finally delivers after such a long time.  Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad were almost universally panned and, in my view, utterly shambolic. Audiences lauding the role of Harley Quinn as a purported leading female character in Suicide Squad were categorically mistaken.   In the film, Dr Harleen Quinzel was little more than an over-sexualized, Joker-obsessed crony who ostensibly had some “spunk”.  Diana is so much more than that.  She leads, inspires, and is the firm focal point of Wonder Woman.

The flick is not without its flaws and there is some internal incoherence.  Diana brutally slays Ludendorff only to find that, as Steve Trevor reveals, there isn't just one bad guy out there; cruelty is part and parcel of the human condition and we are creatures equally capable of good and evil.  However, barely minutes later, the marvellously mustachioed David Thewlis reveals that he is none other than Ares.  In a lengthy exposition, he reveals that he has been subtly prodding various players to wage war and wreak havoc.  The issue is that this immediately undercuts the notion that mankind is inherently flawed.  And of course, fisticuffs of a titanic scale ensue.  Nonetheless, Heinberg's plot does manage to salvage itself, as Diana comes to the realization that while people are indelibly weak, they do possess laudable and remarkable qualities like courage and sacrifice in the face of irresistible odds.  Steve Trevor embodies this, as he flies into the great beyond in a tragically poetic moment.

David Thewlis is somewhat wasted, as Ares proves to be not much more than a one-dimensional cut-out villain.  So deliciously menacing in Fargo (Season 3), Thewlis' talents are never fully utilized.  In the earth-shattering battle scenes, there is a surfeit of CG.  And amidst the throwing match of tanks and war machines, some of the conflict is, ironically, lost on the audience.

Themiscrya, such a visual feast, provides a grand starting point.  The amazons are awe-inspiring and noble.  The slight critique therefore is that the producers could have given us a little more of the good stuff.  Robin Wright and Connie Nielson are phenomenal in their aristocratic and imperious roles; equal parts regal and formidable.  Fans of House of Cards will no doubt get a kick out of the ass-kicking exploits of Mrs Claire Underwood as Antiope.

As the key male supporting character, Chris Pine delivers with much panache.  Steve Trevor is Diana's mentor, friend and lover.  In a nuanced performance, Pine doesn't overplay the bravado, nor does he overshadow Gadot (which would, no doubt, be a mean feat).

As a mere mortal struggling to do the right thing, Steve Trevor's role resonates with us and inspires.  The chemistry between Diana and Steve feels gradual and real, the friendship and romance neither forced nor awkward.  Trevor's death is also earned, and a critical step in Diana's personal journey.

And finally, we come to the glorious amazon herself.  Gal Gadot channels innocence, kindness and courage.  Lynda Carter would no doubt be proud.  Gadot manages to inspire beyond her alluring beauty.  Her odyssey of discovery from Themiscrya to the bloody trenches is well-paced.

Of all the characters in the DCEU, Diana may well be the hero we need.  Some have christened Wonder Woman DC's version of Captain America: The First Avenger.  Besides the obvious similarities in the two movies being origin stories and having war settings, the comparison is not entirely off the mark.  Diana manages to become not only a hero, but an icon and a rallying point.

And perhaps, that is the true role of our fictional superheroes – to allow mere mortals to dream and be inspired.

Nowhere in the film is the moniker Wonder Woman used.  That is apt, for we are left to draw our own simple conclusion that Diana is, quite rightly, a Wonder.

Verdict: A-

Speculation Angle

With the commercial and critical success of Wonder Woman, Diana Prince's origin and 1st appearance in All Star Comics #8 (also the 1st appearance of Steve Trevor) looks to appreciate even more.

A 5.0 grade copy of the book sold for around $55,000 in May 2017. Considering that an 8.0 copy was going for just under $57,000 in July 2012, there has clearly been a marked jump in the book's value over the last half a decade.

It is common knowledge that Wonder Woman will feature heavily in the in-production Justice League movie, which ought to drive up the value of the comic even more in due course. Gal Gadot has firmly put herself in the driving seat, and will continue to be an important part of the DCEU. This should reinforce and increase interest in the character.

Another key factor is the strength of the book as a mega key. The majority of DC comic collectors would likely value All Star in their top 5 DC mega keys. In particular, the whales with money to spare would no doubt continue to demand and hold the book in high regard.

On a more modern note, clearly buoyed by the success of the movie, EBay has seen a healthy amount of trading on the CGC SS foil variant of Wonder Woman #1 (DC Rebirth) and the movie cover variant of the new 52 Wonder Woman #50 , with Gadot signed copies going at a robust $360 – 420 in the first case and reaching $800 in the second one.

Lest we forget the main villain, Ares, dccomics.com lists his first modern appearance in Wonder Woman #1 (1987). The book is still relatively inexpensive, with 9.8 copies hovering at the $100 – $120 mark on EBay. Nonetheless, given the character's disappointing role in the movie (not to mention his apparent destruction), I wouldn't pick up this one.

10 comments

  • dpiercy

    Great article, thank you! ??

  • accustomfigures

    I feel there’s a lot of pandering going on with this movie, being the first female lead/directed superhero flick. If you liked it, cool. I didn’t. I think Gadot is perfect for WW and really liked her in BvS and in parts of this, and I’m really looking forward to her in JL. However, I felt this movie was poorly directed, the story was lacking and stale, bad CGI, cliche’s that weren’t handled creatively, and a seriously obvious and uninspired villain which lead to a sub-par 3rd act. It was also a bit heavy handed with it’s hair-flowing, superhero posing, slow-mo shots of “girl-power”. She’s a powerful woman, I get it, but just like any issue today, you shouldn’t have to keep telling people how powerful you are if you’re truly powerful.

    I put it above the still steaming pile of crap that is Suicide Squad, but not as dynamic or entertaining as BvS, and multiverses away from MOS.

    • Alexander Lee

      Interesting points here, thanks! 🙂 Imho the DCEU really needed to simplify things. The plot of WW I felt was linear and simple, in a good way. The downside of course is that one can get feel that it is over-simplistic. In contrast, I couldn’t stomach BvS for a number of reasons, including the convoluted and downright illogical plot. Cool that you enjoyed BvS more, but I’d personally put it way below WW for, among others, the aforementioned reason. Thanks again for the views! 🙂

    • I was so disappointed by this movie. I am thrilled that it is doing so well, I’m thrilled for DC and for all the fans that waited so long…but I just don’t get it. The cast is fine except for the villains for the most part but the script is so weak and lazy. The third act has received criticism a plenty but there are so many other targets

      The entire purpose of the Amazon race is to vanquish Ares yet apparently he’s been tooling around Europe and the world in general for quite some time while the Amazons twiddle their thumbs. Were they expecting a gilded invitation? What exactly was the plan?

      Somehow Steve and Diana sail from the waters near Turkey through the entire Mediterranean and enemy infested territory into London Harbour in what is certainly presented as overnight and our Amazonian Princess sleeps through most of it.

      What’s the first thing our Amazonian Warrior does when she hits land???? Coos over the first baby she sees like six year old?

      Why is Steve Trevor working for the British? Does he own Parliament? “cause he walks in and out of it like he does? Was his infiltration of the Turkish lab stolen from a Laurel and Hardy movie because apparently vital documents are always left conveniently on tables by open doors.

      Is “Chief” really an appropriate nickname for a Native American in this day and age?

      It’s no wonder the Germans lost the war if invitations to meetings where high ranking military officials are present are “optional”. This may have been the stupidest thing – why not just find the invitation in the car or in the stolen uniform – to have them bluff their way in was asine and undermined the urgency and importance of what they were doing. Maybe that was from a different Laurel and Hardy movie. Almost as silly was for Steve Trevor to suddenly start speaking English with a German accent to the soldier.

      I guess there wasn’t enough of Dr Poison’s super steroid stuff to hand out to some German troops so they could win the war over the weekend?? That seems like it would have been a much better allocation of resources.

      There’s plenty more. I just don’t get the universal acclaim it’s getting. It’s probably for the greater good but I’m honestly baffled.

  • Topher

    I have to agree. This one was a stinker despite Gadot, a still sexy Robin Wright, a solid male lead and a killer soundtrack. Beyond that if just wasn’t that good. While there were some special moments the end was tough to sit through. Personally I couldn’t get past the mustache but there were other problems. A movie is only as good as it’s ending and this one was a cliched superhero throw down, light on substance and weak in the CGI department. I hope the sequel is better.

  • Dick O.

    Welcome aboard buddy 🙂

    Really enjoyed your review and the spec analysis. Eagerly looking forward to more!

  • Khoi Cakes

    Thanks for the article and welcome to the site!

  • Trey

    Excellent article, thank you

  • Ben Steiniger

    Great write up and welcome.

    TBH, I’m surprised by the people that didn’t like it. My wife and daughter thought it was outstanding, a girl power flick that wasn’t in your face about it. Gadot was infectious. CGI was terrible? Really? Have you seen Hulk? THAT was terrible CGI.

    Can you pick holes in the plot? Of course you can. But you can pick holes in the plot of virtually every movie nominated for an Oscar.

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