That time Wonder Woman became my new favorite superhero

Like many people, I thought the first trailer for Wonder Woman looked really good. I loved the music and her theme that plays when the logo is shown at the end. But, like many people, I was hesitant to believe this one would be good.

Remember how we were fooled into thinking Suicide Squad would be good? To be fair, that movie should’ve been great, and I think there’s a great movie buried somewhere in it, but it’s really garbage. Even Batman V. Superman seemed promising, even through the opening scene showing Bruce Wayne’s perspective of the showdown from Man of Steel.

Essentially DC promises a lot but so far hasn’t delivered. Until now? We’ll see.

Basically the plot is simple. Diana (Gal Gadot) and the Amazons live in a paradise called Themiscyra where they endlessly train for the return of Ares because he wants to destroy the world and it is their sacred duty to protect it. One day, a plane crashes through the protective wall and Diana rescues the pilot – a very dashing Chris Pine – named Steve Trevor. The Germans are following him and bring a brief battle to the island, and while the Amazons win, it is not without casualties. Upon learning of The Great War (WWI), Diana realizes she most go and help, seeing as it’s likely Ares orchestrating everything.

Before I get into spoilers, I’m going to say this is the best DC movie so far. It wasn’t perfect, but it also wasn’t a steaming dumpster fire like the others. More importantly, I think it gives hope that this universe can be a good one, contrary to what its predecessors have tried to prove

Ok.

Spoilers.

Stop if you don’t want to know.

For a long time I rejected Wonder Woman being my favorite hero because it felt so on the nose for a feminist and also I hadn’t really seen a good Wonder Woman in my lifetime. Until now. Gal Gadot’s portrayal made her my favorite. Not only is she a total BOSS, she’s kind and empathetic. She believes in the good of humanity and more importantly, love.

Yes, I know the latter is a lesson she learns after great loss and her faith in humanity is understandably questioned, but it’s still there. Steve gives her perspective when telling her it’s not because people deserve being saved, because humanity doesn’t under any circumstances. But you still have to try.

As a Christian, I loved looking at the flaws of humanity and how yeah, we don’t deserve a savior, but it’s never a question of what we deserve, any one of us. That is the definition of our actual Savior and while obviously this movie (featuring Zeus mentions), doesn’t follow that route, I liked it nonetheless.

Quick thought but Chris Pine must have it in his contract to always randomly discover an out of place motorcycle he can ride. I’m not complaining, but it’s definitely a thing.

Now back to love. Diana easily has the best luck in meeting an attractive and brave man her first time out. I’ve been trying for years with no luck, but whatever. She had also never seen a man before, so maybe she deserved it more than me. Moving on. I really enjoyed how their relationship played out. There was obvious instant attraction, but the movie didn’t really shy away from it. She sees him naked and just looks and he just kind of owns it without quickly scrambling to cover up.

I think this is an important point because while the movie hit the points of propriety at the time, you never felt that between Diana and Steve. Diana was raised in a world where the women are warriors and hardly dressed and yeah Steve is respectful, but he’s also really cool with Diana not following the norms of his time.

The entire scene on the boat, where they discuss a lot about relationships and sex, was improvised, allowing the audience to feel the chemistry behind a genuine interaction.

After saving a village on the other side of No Man’s Land at the front, the townspeople are celebrating with their liberators and Steve decides to show Diana how to dance, or as she calls it, swaying. They share an intimate conversation about regular life and you can feel the heat between them. But not as much as what happens in the next scene.

You see a lot of actors on screen together who maybe make you feel the passion or maybe you feel it’s strange or rushed. That was not the case with Pine and Gadot. I think the movie did an excellent job of setting up their relationship without making it strange.

I nearly blushed at the passion they created.

It happens after the dancing. He walks her to her room where they’re staying and goes the walk out and shut the door. He looks back and she looks VERY expectant, but in too many movies this would turn into the male lead stumbling over his words, panicking and leaving. Honestly, it’s what I thought would happen.

Instead, he walks back in and closes the door behind him. He walks over to Diana and this is where my blushing began. You can just feel how badly they both want to be together. At first, they just stare at each other and do the face touching thing until finally and perfectly, they kiss. We don’t see what happens next, but it shows us the room from the outside and as adults we can assume what happened next.

Obviously, as I’ll discuss in a moment, time was of the essence for their storyline, but I still loved how it wasn’t so drawn out. In The First Avenger, Steve and Peggy play the will they won’t they game for way too long with stupid plot points separating them. They were two people who clearly liked each other and they went for it without worrying about one being in danger or complicating anything. Life is too short for excuses.

Sadly, they had to have their moment because Steve Trevor wasn’t going to make it through. This was one of the clearly telegraphed points found in Wonder Woman, but also a point that was clear as early as BVS. This world had scorned Diana by taking Steve, making her unwilling to step in again. Plus, he was mortal and as we learned, she was an immortal god so it would make certain things a little more complicated.

Early on there was speculation that maybe Chris Pine was actually playing Hal Jordan, or at least a Green Lantern character, which would help solve some of the problems with aging that might plague their relationship (I think). Part of me is sure we’ll see Chris Pine again, maybe as a descendant from Steve Trevor and this time he is Green Lantern, making him a part of the Justice League. His role in this movie was a big one, but it still seems strange to cast Chris Pine with no ongoing plans to use him, so we’ll see.

Anyway, back to his death. While Diana is fulfilling her destiny as the god-killer (turns out she wasn’t made from clay but an actual creation from Hippolyta and Zeus), Steve realizes he needs to fly the plane away and blow it up. He gives his dad’s watch to Diana, says he has to go and wishes they had more time. As he runs away he says I love you, words she remembers in the climax of her fight with Ares.

I’m tearing up writing this. I read spoilers so I knew how he would die, but it still made me cry in the movie. Just like I’m crying now. As you’ll learn, I want movie people to have happy endings. This life is hard enough and I need things to work out in my fictional worlds. It’s the same kind of sadness I felt watching Rogue One. When a movie properly crafts these relationships, you feel the loss.

As much as I enjoyed this movie and loved the characters, there were definitely points that were so obvious.

  1. Diana being the god-killer

It was clear based on all the comments from the Amazons that Diana was not like them and had a greater purpose. I did enjoy how they made it seem her birth was like one of her origins where she crafted from clay, only to learn she was the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, making her a god. I also loved when she called Ares brother right before destroying him.

2. David Thewlis being Ares

I don’t even remember his character name and I’m not going to look it up. As soon as I saw him softly arguing for peace, I knew. There’s no way you cast him for that kind of role. He clearly had a greater purpose. However I did enjoy the realization that he whispers the keys people need for war, like giving Dr. Poison the right formula

3. That German general not being Ares

Those gas pills Dr. Poison gave him were clearly just plot devices so Diana would think he was Ares because he was strong enough to fight him. Both things really annoyed me.

4. This movie was kind of The First Avenger

Different World War, same plot, down to discount Howling Commandos and sacrifice via plane by hero. Saying that, I enjoyed this one way more that the original Captain America film. I didn’t mind the similarities, but they were there.

5. Too much slowmo

Don’t get me wrong – I thought this was a cool effect to really focus on the incredible things the Amazons can do, but it just felt a little overused and back to back in certain scenes.

Most importantly, more than any complaint, I loved the statement this movie makes. Diana is from an island of strong women. Coming into our world in the early 1900s, she’s facing a world where women have little to no rights. Etta even makes a comment at one point about fighting for the right to vote. She distracts an entire meeting of men because she’s a woman and she shouldn’t be there. Despite the fact that she knows the languages to decode Dr. Poison’s notebook, the general still wants her to leave.

While the world is different now, women still face those kinds of situations where what shouldn’t be ridiculous is made that way by backwards people who don’t believe we’re actually equal. Diana doesn’t see anything other than people and it was a really beautiful thing.

One of the high points, praised by people all over, is when Steve is explaining No Man’s Land and how no man can cross it blah blah blah and she just throws off her dress and does it. This is her attitude all the way through, any time Steve tells her to stay. She’s Wonder Woman after all, why should she listen to some man? It was beautiful.

Let’s not forget all the women of Themyscira. I saw this pointed out via a tweet before watching which allowed me to notice it – when the women battle and kill, they live for it. Robin Wright Penn is SMILING in battle. Our other heroes are so hesitant to kill, but Diana and the Amazons don’t care. It’s what they do. I didn’t realize I needed a BA heroine storming into battle with a smile on her face, but now I do.

Most importantly, when this movie went into reshoots, Gal Gadot was FIVE MONTHS PREGNANT. They cut a hole in her costume and green screened her belly, but her being Wonder Woman five months pregnant is such a great representation for how tough women are I can barely stand it.

Basically, this movie made Wonder Woman my favorite and reinforced how incredible women are, a point rarely made in movies. Hopefully this is only the beginning of female heroes we can look up to.

Plus, I have a little more hope for Justice League. Maybe Zack Snyder learned from BVS and is giving this a lighter tone with a more sensible plot. I am cautiously optimistic.

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