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99 years before she met Superman and Batman, the heroine that would later become the mighty Wonder Woman, Diana (Gal Gadot) was a young princess living on Themyscira,an island ruled by tough all-female Amazon warriors. When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) an American pilot lands on the island and warns her people about the growing threat of World War I, Diana leaves with him, to bring an early end to the conflict by aiming to capture Ares, the God of War.
Of all of the huge amounts of films made today based on comic book heroes from both Marvel and DC Comics, none have been as highly demanded as Wonder Woman. Created in 1941 by psychologist William Moulton Marston as the first mainstream female superhero and serving the third most significant character of DC Comics behind Superman and Batman, her first live-action film adaptation has a lot going against it due to the fact that not only that previous attempts at female led superhero films such as 2004’s Catwoman and 2005’s Elektra have tanked both critically and commercially, but it also had to overcome the hurdle of being tied to Warner Bros’s attempt at recreating the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe, in which the first three films of this series, Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squadhave been mediocre at best and plain terrible at worst critically. Thankfully, thanks to “Monster” director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg, “Wonder Woman” not only surpasses those films by a long shot, but may end up being the best DC film in the last nine years.
Unlike those last three films that tried desperately hard to recreate “The Dark Knight”‘s success by making them as bleak and complex as possible to point where they became unwatchable for anyone not familiar with the characters, Wonder Woman instead keeps the plot simple, yet interesting enough for both new and old audiences. Retelling Diana’s origin story of her meeting Steve Trevor and leaving her island to man’s world while mixing elements from her original origin story of her participating in a World War and the New 52 version of the Amazon race being tied to Greek mythology, this narrative also stands out by focusing on the themes of kindness and man’s motivation for War as Diana, due to her naive nature, believes that if she kills the God of War, war will automatically end forever, not realizing that humans are not as black and white as she believes them to be, making this DC’s most emotional films in a while.
The production design of both the Greek inspired paradise of Themyscira and WW1 era London look incredible although one does wish that the former had a bit more screentime as the island itself and the Amazon race only appears in the first act. The WW1 stuff is pretty great however, giving the action setpieces a real “Indiana Jones” feeling at times although some uses of slow motion do stand out like a sore thumb.
Gal Gadot, after being one of the few positive elements of last year’s Batman V Superman is great as a more naive Diana and does manage to finally come across as a great visual representation of a kind, yet powerful heroine, after not being given enough screentime to shine last year. Chris Pine is passable as Diana’s equivalent to Lois Lane, Steve Trevor as her guide and love interest, both Danny Huston and Elena Anaya both do well as supporting villains General Erich and Dr Poison and the adorable Lucy Davis does a cute job as Steve’s secretary Etta.
In conclusion, despite a few issues with the use of slow motion and Rupert Gregson-William’s score being forgettable as the film mostly relies on Junkie XL’s Wonder Woman theme from Batman V Superman as it’s main theme, Wonder Woman,after years of pain and struggles with both DC and female-led comic book film adaptations, is a massive triumph for both these genres and for the fans. Expect to hear news in the next few weeks of more female led comic book adaptations being greenlit for development. Until Marvel’s Captain Marvel comes out in 2019, Patty Jenkins deserves the praise of finally bringing the First Lady of superheroes to t,he big screen after over 75 years of publication history and deserves to sit with the likes of Richard Donner’s Superman: the Movie and Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman adaptation as one of the best superhero origin stories of all time.