Wonder Woman review. Photo Source: The Atlantic.
Victoria Brown, Contributor.
A few days before seeing Wonder Woman, I came across a Bustle article titled ‘Why women are crying during the Wonder Woman fight scenes’ and, I’m not going to lie, I scoffed a little. I thought yeah, right, I’m not going to. But as it happens, that didn’t go according to plan.
After fighting for 75 years to get her own film, the world Patty Jenkins has created for Diana is an incredible live-action incarnation of this inspiring superhero that doesn’t disappoint. This film functions as Wonder Woman’s origin story in order to incorporate her into the on-going DC Universe.
It begins with Diana’s childhood on the exclusively-female island of Themyscira, where female warriors created by the gods train to protect the world of man. Diana grows to be the fiercest warrior of them all. A chance encounter with American soldier Steven Trevor, who accidently crashes into the Themuscirian sea, begins Diana’s journey into the heart of the “war to end all wars.” Diana grew up believing the Greek God Ares, the God of War, to be the ultimate cause of evil in the world, and she sets out with Steve to save the world.
As far as origin stories go, this one gets it right. Moving from the ‘campy’ DC depiction of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot’s Diana is a fierce and strong warrior, but also a woman of incredible heart, innocence, and compassion-driven duty. She isn’t a superhero for women, but a superhero for everyone. Her performance alone was almost enough to make me teary. Diana has lived her entire life believing that Ares is responsible for the war and violence in the world. Her journey is one of destroyed innocence, disillusionment, but a final mature understanding of humanity’s capability for both love and horror. In the words of Sirius Black, Diana learns that “we all have dark and light inside us, what matters is the part we act on.”
I’ll admit, I was dubious about how the filmmakers would tackle her costume since, as cool as it is in the comics, it’s not exactly nonsexual. Gadot’s costume, however, is a warrior’s armour. Her boots aren’t designed to draw attention to her legs, although her muscles are impressive, but to protect her feet and shins. Her short skirt is designed for better flexibility in combat, and her corset is designed to protect her torso rather than to accentuate her breasts. The most impressive part of her armour are her arm gauntlets. Diana’s reflexes are incredible and the slow-motion shots of her blocking bullets show the power of her armour.
The soon-to-be iconic No-Man’s Land sequence truly made me cry, when deep in the trenches, Diana comes across a victim from the village that the German’s are terrorising, and she is so affected by the woman’s suffering that she completely disregards the warnings from her friends and ventures into the heart of No-Man’s Land. In a fantastic slow-motion shot, Diana throws off her cloak to reveal her armour and shield, and she makes her way across the battlefield. While the beautiful cinematography of the sequence is enough to make you tear up, it is the reality of what Diana is doing that broke me. Throughout the film references are made to Diana’s position as a woman and how devalued women are in the early 20th century, and her brazen and compassionate duty-driven decision to walk across No-Man’s Land filled me with such a pride and admiration in her that I couldn’t help but cry. It is difficult to describe the feelings the sequence drew out of me. You will have to see it for yourself to understand.
For me, Jenkin’s approach to Diana and Steve’s relationship was both refreshingly modern and wonderfully nostalgic of Classic Hollywood cinema. Their chemistry is undeniable, and their kiss feels both natural and deserved. It is a fantastic allusion to the epic romances of early Hollywood. What is refreshing about their relationship is that despite Diana’s ignorance of the ‘world of man,’ Steve never once scoffs or dismisses her beliefs. He helps her understand this world and opens her heart to a new kind of love. There is a beautiful sequence when they are dancing in the snow where Diana asks him, “What do people do when there isn’t a war?”and Steve replies with “They make breakfast.” Steve has a wonderful way of making the mundane seem epically romantic, and it shows us the beginning of Diana’s understanding of humanity and why, in the end, she chooses to stay and protect them.
The best thing about Steve, however, is that he admires and supports Diana, without strings attached. He is in awe of her strength and bravery but never feels jealous, or that his masculinity is being threatened. Too often superhero films build up one partner of the relationship at the expense of the other, but Steve and Diana open each other’s eyes to new ways of seeing the world, and working together to achieve the same end goal: to be able to make breakfast. They are true equals.
Don’t let a female-led superhero narrative put you off seeing this incredible film. It is a positive step forward for female screen representation. Diana is a hero for everyone.