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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Wonder Woman movie review: women’s work

Wonder Woman green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
Everything about this joyful, sincere origin story feels like a retort — a very welcome and much needed one — to traditional male-centered superhero stories.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): I am desperate for stories about women
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

She’s done it!” an anonymous grunt cheers from the trenches at the Western front after Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Amazonian goddess warrior, has succeeded in crossing No Man’s Land to the German side and taken out the enemy, clearing the path for the soldiers to follow. And I cried tears of joy.tweet Not because of the badassedly heroic depiction of a woman doing a thing women do all the time: come in, assess a messy situation not of her own making, and just tuck in and do the nasty, dirty job that a bunch of dudes had been sitting around avoiding. Though there is that, too. But because her attempt and her success are acknowledged. And not even grudgingly! Not contemptuously. Not in any way reeking of the shame of comeuppance that so many men often express for women who’ve done something better than they could have. But with celebration. With awe.

I don’t think any man can possibly appreciate just how gratifying a movie like Wonder Woman is to women…

It’s such a tiny moment in the film, such a small, almost throwaway thing. Which makes it loom even bigger, that such a spontaneous, impulsive whoop could have such power, because it highlights how rare spontaneous, impulsive acclaim is for girls and women, onscreen and off.

So Wonder Woman is doubly necessary, doubly welcome, and doubly corrective.tweet Not only the big screen but the real world is full of the celebration and cheering on of men, even when they do things that are not worth celebrating or cheering. Yet most of the real-life amazing things girls and women do, we never hear about, and you can forget about mediocre women being cheered and celebrated like mediocre men are. I don’t think any man can possibly appreciate just how gratifying a movie like Wonder Woman has the potential to be, or just how well this one rises to meet the demand of girls and women desperately hungry for the same cultural validation that boys and men take for absolute granted.

When someone asks if you’re a goddess, you say yes (because you are).

When someone asks if you’re a goddess, you say yes (because you are).tweet

Incredibly, Wonder Woman is also a sneaky commentary on how the amazing deeds of awesome women go unheralded in our culture. WW opens in the present day, as Diana Prince (Gal Gadot [Keeping Up with the Joneses, Triple 9], whose boots we are not worthy to lick) receives — at her workplace, the Louvre! — a briefcase containing the original of the photograph we glimpsed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Diana in her Amazon armor surrounded by what sure as heck looks like World War I–era soldiers. The photo looks a century old, too. It was this image that clued in Wayne in BvS that Diana might be, you know, some sort of immortal badass, and now, in the note accompanying the photo, he suggests that someday Diana might tell him the tale behind it. That’s the introduction for the rest of the movie, an origin story that is a long flashback, and one that appears to be playing out only in Diana’s memory. No one else knows this! Superman, in this DC Extended Universe, has a giant statue of himself in Metropolis honoring his heroic exploits, and Batman — as always — is summoned by a spotlight shining out across the Gotham skyline; both men are featured regularly in their city’s media. But Diana’s story is a secret history.tweet

Wonder Woman offers sneaky commentary on how the amazing deeds of awesome women go unheralded in our culture.

Everything about Diana, and everything about Wonder Woman, feels like a retort — a much needed one — to traditional male-centered superhero stories. That No Man’s Land scene is the centerpiece of the film, and it’s where Diana emerges as Wonder Woman: it’s the first appearance of her iconic red, blue, and gold armor, but it’s also the first time she turns her solid sense of justice and righteousness into literal action, racing to save a village on the other side that has been ravaged by the German army. It’s nothing like the conventional first battle for a newly emerged spandex-clad dude with a hard-on for saving a city. There is no oversized cartoonish villain with a bloated ego threatening armageddon; there is no ticking clock to doomsday. There is just… people. Humans. Ordinary mundane mortal men behaving badly in wartime, and in a way that will be happening in many places. (But Diana is here, now, and she cannot let this particular tragedy stand.) It seems like a very privileged straight white man’s idea of the world that there are no real injustices to be fought, so outlandish villains must be invented for a (straight white male) hero to battle… and it seems very much like a woman’s idea of the world that there sure as hell are plenty of everyday inequities and injustices that need a good bashing. (I’m sort of surprised that WW was written by men: the script is by TV writer Allan Heinberg making his feature debut, with Zack Snyder [300: Rise of an Empire, Sucker Punch] and Jason Fuchs [Pan, Ice Age: Continental Drift] contributing to the story. If they can be this woke here, why can’t they be this way all the time? Or maybe they only hit on this accidentally.)

“No Man’s Land, you say? I am no man....”

“No Man’s Land, you say? I am no man….”tweet

The idea of the big bad cartoon villain is toyed with in WW, but only in a way that intentionally undercuts it. The path of Diana’s larger quest, the quest of all Amazons, is to protect the world from Ares, the god of war. She has learned about the Great War in progress from Steve Trevor (Chris Pine: Star Trek Beyond, Hell or High Water), an American pilot and spy who has crashed near Themyscira, and whom she rescues, and she leaves her island paradise and travels to the mortal realm of Europe with him, presuming that if she can find and kill Ares, this War — the injustice and horrors of which deeply offend her — will instantly come to a stop. But she doesn’t even know where Ares is, or even if he has manifested in the mortal realm at all. Things turn out to be wildly more complicated than Diana was imagining, and her charming naiveté must give way to a more nuanced understanding of good and evil… and it’s much the same path we all have to take as we grow up. It’s the precise opposite of black-and-white comic-book philosophy, and it’s an absolutely extraordinary thing to see a comic-book movie tackle.

The idea of the big bad cartoon villain is toyed with in Wonder Woman, but only in a way that intentionally undercuts it.

Ah, Zeus, but I’m making Wonder Woman sound so serious and so solemn, and it’s nothing of the sort! There is so much humor and joy here — a surprising amount, perhaps, considering the inevitably grim WWI setting — plus a lovely old-fashioned sincerity and a refreshing lack of cynicism.tweet (I love snark, but it’s nice to take a break from that once in a while, and to be reminded how nice pure idealism feels.) There is no tempering of Diana’s fiery decency and thirst for fairness and honesty, no quarter given to doubt or hesitation. Diana’s relationship with Steve is smarter and richer and more subtle than we typically get between a male hero and his female love interest: the movie doesn’t just nod to their relationship as one of equals but actually lets that play out onscreen. (That’s pretty typical for women-centered movies: their male supporting characters are almost always more substantial than the female supporting characters for male protagonists.) There’s a wonderful female baddie in “Dr. Poison” (Elena Anaya: The Skin I Live In, Van Helsing), a German chemical weapons designer — no one, not even her military superior (Danny Huston: Big Eyes, The Congress), seems to think there’s anything odd in a woman doing that job, which is absolutely bracing.

“You look great, hon, but I’m not sure this is the best time for your Celtic priestess cosplay...”

“You look great, hon, but I’m not sure this is the best time for your Celtic priestess cosplay…”tweet

But there is no doubt that the very bestest thing about Wonder Woman is how director Patty Jenkins (Monster) depicts Diana: as a person whose physical strength and physical beauty are undeniable, but also just mere matters-of-fact. One way in which WW is very much like all those other superhero movies is that Diana is treated with awe by the camera, but also with respect. She is shot to show off her power; she is shot to show off what her body can do, not to show off what her body looks like. Unlike the vast majority of women onscreen, even those who are ostensibly strong both in personality and physique, Diana is depicted as a person who belongs to herself, not to the viewer. (All of the Amazons onscreen, including Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta [Connie Nielsen: 3 Days to Kill, Nymphomaniac: Volume 1], and military leader General Antiope [Robin Wright: Everest, A Most Wanted Man], are regarded in the same high esteem.) We may certainly find Diana beautiful — it would be difficult not to, in fact — but the camera does not insist on it. Which is how women onscreen should be seen far more often.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2017’s other theatrical releases.

green light 4.5 stars

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Wonder Woman (2017) | directed by Patty Jenkins
US/Can release: Jun 02 2017
UK/Ire release: Jun 01 2017

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate violence)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Oracle Mun

    I so need to see this.

  • Mark Faamaoni

    Been waiting for your review, and it didn’t disappoint. :)

  • Dale Snow

    I agree! I’ve read other reviews while waiting for yours, and you have done the best job of pointing out what is done really well in this movie: the portrait of an idealism both sweet and inspiring, which emerges even more clearly against a backdrop of garden-variety evil committed by ordinary persons. Who needs a cartoon villain, indeed?

  • susmart3

    Loved the review, loved the movie. Even loved that the gold in her armor is more muted and tasteful than flashy, like a the men superheroes seem to like.

  • Bluejay

    Wonderful review, and worth the wait! Thanks.

    Your observation on how the film is a sneaky commentary on women’s work going unheralded (as opposed to Batman’s or Superman’s public presence) is incredible. None of the many reviews and thinkpieces I’ve read have mentioned or seemed to notice it – and I certainly didn’t – but it seems obvious in hindsight.

    It’s the precise opposite of black-and-white comic-book philosophy, and it’s an absolutely extraordinary thing to see a comic-book movie tackle.

    I would say that many comic-book movies fail to do justice to the philosophy found in actual comic books. Diana in the comics has often been shown mediating between armies of regular people, tending to the downtrodden, and even serving as Themysciran ambassador to the United Nations and engaging in peaceful diplomacy. The best Wonder Woman stories depict her as having (or evolving) a deep and nuanced understanding of the complex mix of good and evil impulses in people, and show her consistently extending compassion, empathy, and love to even her vilest opponents. If you love how Diana is characterized in the film, you have the comics writers to thank for making that interpretation possible. (Though, yes, for a mainstream blockbuster film to embrace comics-Diana’s philosophy of love DOES feel truly radical.)

    “If you need to stop an asteroid, you call Superman. If you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But if you need to end a war, you call Wonder Woman.”
    – Gail Simone, WW comic writer

  • Danielm80

    I largely agree, but I hope the sequel makes the effort to show how Diana actually goes about creating social change (as some of the comics have done). The movie did a good job of pointing out the central paradox of the character: She’s a fierce warrior who’s working for peace. It was very bad—sometimes almost incoherent—at explaining the details:


    “I’m going to show that I’m opposed to violence and killing by killing this guy violently. And I’m going to show that I’m compassionate by releasing the person who wants to kill scores of people.”

    I’m really curious what Diana did in between WWI and the present day. Was she just working quietly in the museum all that time? Was she campaigning peacefully for social reform? Or was she engaging in warfare to bring an end to bloodshed? I’d really like to know how she carries out her philosophy in the real world. We need more role models if we’re going to be good SJWs.

  • Bluejay

    Re the spoilers you mentioned: Yes, I wish the film had gone even further in embracing the comics: comics-Diana has a bright red line against killing, and it’s rare and a really big deal when she does.

  • I LOVED Wonder Woman. Like you, I LOVED the “No Man’s Land” run. A brilliant moment. I’m now debating weather this or the Chris Reeve Superman is my favorite superhero flick. http://nolongerslowblog.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-wonder-of-wonder-woman.html

  • Bluejay

    Did you catch the awesome homages to the Superman movie?


  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Diana is the OG neck-snapper

  • Bluejay

    Rare and a big deal when it happens. As I said.

  • the fandom in particular has been exploding over Robin Wright’s appearance as Antiope, mostly because it’s Buttercup from the Princess Bride 30 years later (“All my princesses grew up to be generals”, with Carrie Fisher’s Leia in the same photo).

    Despite what you think about the male screenwriters, they are working from the comic book sources of a number of key writers/artists – including contemporary Gail Simone who wrote a heralded WW run – especially her creator William Moulton Marston whose take on feminism was a bit wonky but genuinely receptive of matriarchy, and George Perez whose work after the 1980s Crisis reboot was lauded for its feminist take (and director Patty Jenkins mentioned often that Perez’s version is what she filmed).

  • KingOfGuinness

    When Steve was explaining No Man’s Land all I could hear in my head was Eowyn from LOTR … “I am NO MAN!”

  • Matt Clayton

    Such a wonderful movie, and your review didn’t disappoint. I’m glad you saw more into the film than I did.

    Some people argue that “Wonder Woman” has the same framework “Captain America: The First Avenger” used, but I think it does it one better. I liked that Diana and Steve Trevor were fleshed out, but that Hippolyta, Sameer, Chief, and Charlie had personalities themselves.

    It has more replay value too, I’ve seen it three times already.

  • How many times have Superman and Spider-man’s stories been told — literally the same stories! — and no one complains about that? We’ve just had our third telling about Spider-man’s origin in the 21st century!

  • But that doesn’t mean that the male screenwriters necessarily understand feminism when they see it, or know how to translate it to a new medium. In particular Zack Snyder seems to have an “understanding” of feminism that is pretty pornified and lacks an appreciation for women’s perspectives (see: *Sucker Punch*). So I’m not ready to give him too much credit here.

  • I would say that many comic-book movies fail to do justice to the philosophy found in actual comic books.

    Yes, that’s definitely true. But this is a more nuanced movie than even the Avengers flicks, which have up till now been the most nuanced.

  • I know about Snyder, which is why I think there’s more to do with the original sources (and Jenkins’ directing).

  • Matt Clayton

    I know! I’m glad the first cinematic solo film for Wonder Woman turned out this good.

    God forbid we’ll have another origin story for her in 10 years’ time….

  • Bluejay

    Robin Wright is amazing. I think the fandom has been excited about the Amazons in general. The athlete-actors are all incredible:


    As are their personal stories:


  • Bluejay

    I think they’re comparable. There’s a lot of complicated stuff to unpack in the Captain America movies about the nature of patriotism, guilt and personal responsibility, and the cost of vengeance. Let’s just say that comic-book movies can do nuance if they really want to! :-)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I know, I just like pointing that out. Also that she didn’t even feel bad about doing it. :D

  • Ranting Swede

    I wouldn’t give Snyder too much credit either. Christopher Nolan has a story credit on Man of Steel and who thinks he spent that much time on that movie?

    Here’s a long convoluted description of how the writing evolved. Geoff Johns and Patty Jenkins, along with Allan Heinberg who has actually written some of the Wonder Woman comics, were crucial and reading between the lines, I think they are ultimately to credit for the success of Wonder Woman.

  • Baba

    I just saw the movie. I loved it.

    But, as far as I’m concerned, this just represents a female’s fantasy to fight and protect like a man would. It sends the message that to be a strong woman, you have to act like a man. A sword, a shield and go to war, like men have done for ages.

    That very masculine. That’s not lady-like. At all.

    Unfortunately, there was never truly a time on earth where the value, strength and beauty of the feminine energy was truly understood and cherish.

    Fighting and going to war like that is manly, not womanlike.

    Anyhow, it’s not sexist, it’s just not in the nature of women, even in real life, to fight like that. Of course, WW is a goddess in a superhero movie, which is fine and entertaining, but to showcase WW as a sign of female strength ? I don’t think so.

    Ya’ll should read the book’s by David Deida to understand what I mean. Sadhguru also speaks of it and various other authors talk about the differences in man and women.

    The feminine energy is passive, nurturing, submissive, supportive and being at the receiving end. In the same way that a woman spreads her legs, is juicy, to receive the pumps of penetration. The feminine energy embraces the world, it doesn’t fight. It nurtures, it heals.

    The feminine values love above all else. Not war and destruction, that’s the masculine force. There is nothing wrong with the qualities of the feminine sexual pole. As a woman, imagine, what will you nurture ? Fear or love ? Justice or injustice ? Peace or war ? Submissive ? Well, will you submit to love or hate ? With you submit to following the rules ? Will you submit to the truth of your heart, of your intuition ? Being submissive is only wrong if you submit to things, people or ideas that abuse you or hurt you. If you submit yourself to a strong, loving and caring man, what’s wrong with that ? If you submit yourself to peace and love… what’s wrong with that ? What will you support in your life ? What will you allow to receive from the world, man or yourself ? Basically, will you spread the legs of your heart and soul, so to speak, to love or fear ? I’m very graphic I know, but that’s just natural to spread your legs. Nothing to be ashamed of, that’s just the way it is. I get an erection, you get moist. That’s life, that’s biology.

    Anyhow, from Shiva to Shakti, ying and yang, there are various ways to understand the differences between man and women, masculine and feminine.

    Fighting and going to war is a very masculine thing. Even today, the vast majority of female soldiers don’t go to the frontlines, not because they aren’t allowed, but because they don’t want to. It’s less in their nature to want to do so.

    I don’t see WW as a movie that exemplifies womanhood. At all. I just see it as a fantasy women have to compete with men and that’s not entirely okay cause the feminine and the masculine are in competition with each other, they are dancing and making love with each other.

    We complement each other with our differences. Anyhow lol that being said, I loved the movie. WW is a Goddess, so of course she can defeat anyone, but natural and mortal women, do not have the physical capacity to go head to head against men. It’s not our fault if we as men we are 5 times to 10 times stronger than women. That’s just the way we’re built. Natural and mortal women do physically what no man on earth can… give birth. It is a wondrous affair to give birth, to nurture a child. Creating life in your belly… it’s magical, it’s beautiful. No woman should EVER undermine her god given gift to create life with her own body. No man ever can do that. Your body is created to give birth, not only that of course, but your vagina, your uterus is made to create life and deliver it with your breasts to nourish the baby. That is BEAUTIFUL and should NEVER be disrespected or undervalued or discarded. You body was created for motherhood, not to physically fight men. Only 1 woman in a million or so can actually go toe to toe with a man and that’s if she’s lucky. Sorry lol

    WW isn’t about the feminine or motherhood that women embody as physical manifestations of the creative aspects of God, Life or Mother Nature. WW is about a woman fighting like a man and women thinking that kicking the ass of men makes women more… women like. Which, I’m sorry gals, in reality it’s absurd. As a fantasy in a movie, sure, it’s awesome !

    This is not an easy topic and I am aware many of you will not like what I said, especially you gals ;)

    I just don’t like when women, men or the world, don’t truly appreciate everything that being a woman has to offer to the world. The magic, the value that women have is beyond amazing. As a man, I am in perpetual awe and admiration every single day by the beauty, grace, energy, sensitivity, openness and kindness of the so many women in my life, from family, friends, celebrities, historical figures or just strangers I cross in the streets.

    The value of women and their feminine energy… WW barely talks about it. Only at the end, when she says that LOVE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD. She is totally and completely right.

  • Robert P

    Fun, at times awkwardly silly, sometimes spectacular movie with some laughably glaring plot, logical and philosophical flaws. One massive hole you could sail the Pacific Fleet through is the solemn declaration that it’s the sacred duty of the Amazons to protect the world….except they’ve completely isolated themselves from the world and have -0- awareness of what’s going on anywhere else. They didn’t have a clue that the world had been involved in a horrific war, only finding out by random accident. And the first impulse of some of the world-protecting Amazons is to kill Steve Trevor?

    I thought it was jarring that she was so quickly about to give up on mankind because of the actions of a particular segment – what happened to that sacred commitment?

    Unfortunately a single entity like Ares isn’t the problem, it’s bad ideas such as Nazism, totalitarianism, anywhere that Islam or any religion has held force of law, etc.

    If they’d actually thought to keep abreast of world events maybe a contingent of Amazons could have joined the American Republican party and helped them in their quest to force the Democrats to cease and desist their practice of slavery.

  • Radek Piskorski

    I should probably note that this movie is also very gratifying for gay men.

  • Radek Piskorski

    I was very impressed with Robin Wright’s general character. I want to follow her around all day while she delivers honourable, badass one-liners.

  • Bluejay

    I’m really curious what Diana did in between WWI and the present day.

    Here’s an attempt at explanation:


    Frankly I think it’s a bit of a stretch to think that Diana would have remained completely incognito throughout all the horrors of the 20th century. Given how the film defines her character, does anyone really believe she wouldn’t have stepped in to, say, liberate the Jews from the concentration camps, or prevent the bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

    What this really is, I think, is the DCEU folks painting themselves into a corner by introducing Superman to the modern world as the first publicly recognized superhero (“because of course Superman comes first,” although there’s really no reason why he has to). Doing that means having to subsequently explain why Batman is still at least partly an urban legend, and why a millennia-old Amazon hasn’t made a splash in the public consciousness until she’s conveniently needed for the Justice League. If they’d just thought to START the movie universe with Wonder Woman to begin with, they wouldn’t have to deal with all this pretzel-twisting.

    (Of course, as MAJ observes, Diana’s “secret history” now serves as commentary on unrecognized women’s work, which thematically enhances the film.)

  • There is all that. But the villains are still cartoonish. Even Hydra as a stand-in for the Nazis has supernatural elements to it. The only supernatural bad guy in WW steps back and cannot claim responsibility for the evil around him.

  • One massive hole you could sail the Pacific Fleet through is the solemn declaration that it’s the sacred duty of the Amazons to protect the world….except they’ve completely isolated themselves from the world and have -0- awareness of what’s going on anywhere else.

    Is that a plot hole, or is that a deliberate illustration of how people get hidebound and fail to recognize their own hypocrisies, and then a youngster (in this case Diana) comes along and points them out?

    Unfortunately a single entity like Ares isn’t the problem, it’s bad ideas

    And that was the point of the film!

  • In what ways?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    This does bring up a bit of a head scratcher for me. Diana was pretty adamant, while in Themyscira and London, that the war was entirely Ares’s fault, that the Germans didn’t know what they were doing and can’t be blamed. She then goes out and kills a whole bunch of those same blameless (and faceless) Germans. I mean, it was all pretty bloodless too, so maybe she didn’t actually kill them, just bruised them up and they wandered out of Belgium back to Germany?

    Not that this is a unique problem for Wonder Woman (the character or the film). Most of the Marvel movies solve it by keeping the fighting one-on-one, or team-on-team, or heroes-vs-robots/aliens. (Justice League figures to go the same route.) But Steve Rogers did have a part in a helicarrier crashing into a DC building. And of course Man of Steel had its own massive collateral damage problem. And it’s a very tough for this genre to crack: how to let your heroes get superphysical while still being superheroic.

  • Eric T.

    Wonder Woman was good, not great. I wanted more time exploring her “origins” than her entering the “real world.” I did not like the tired, constant slow-motion effects. It would have been much more fun to see the action at its regular speed (think John Wick).

  • Bluejay

    But the villains are still cartoonish.

    That’s true for the most part. I suppose I’m thinking mostly of Zemo in Civil War, who is the least cartoonish MCU villain to date, with the most human motivations. And arguably WW’s human villains, Dr. Poison and General von EvilGerman, are pretty one-note and cartoonish themselves. (They even cackle when they lock the other generals in the room with the poison gas bomb!)

    The only supernatural bad guy in WW steps back and cannot claim responsibility for the evil around him.

    Yes, that was pretty strikingly different and philosophically important. I do think that point was a little muddied when Diana finally killed him – and suddenly the sun broke out and all the soldiers stopped fighting, removed their helmets, and stood blinking and relieved. Or did I misread that scene?

    (As an aside: if it isn’t clear, these quibbles are coming from a place of love for the film. I think it got much of the important stuff right.)

  • Robert P

    One massive hole you could sail the Pacific Fleet through is the solemn declaration that it’s the sacred duty of the Amazons to protect the world….except they’ve completely isolated themselves from the world and have -0- awareness of what’s going on anywhere else.
    Is that a plot hole, or is that a deliberate illustration of how people get hidebound and fail to recognize their own hypocrisies, and then a youngster (in this case Diana) comes along and points them out?

    I just took it for the same kind of writing & production I’ve come to expect of movies in general where nobody makes it their business to care about the flow of logic which is why the only films I watch in theaters anymore are big splashy sfx movies.

    Another was the scene in the alley which was obviously a reverse take on the similar scene from Superman. Steve tells Diana to step back…really? After he’s seen with his own eyeballs what she and her warrior sisters can do? The whole reason she’s there is because of her superhuman kickass abilities.

  • Bluejay

    Steve tells Diana to step back…really? After he’s seen with his own eyeballs what she and her warrior sisters can do?

    Up to this point, he hasn’t seen that Diana has the ability to deflect bullets (this is the first moment she ever demonstrates that skill onscreen). What he HAS seen, with his own eyeballs, is that Amazons can be killed by bullets. It’s reasonable for him to assume that Diana wouldn’t fare well with multiple guns firing at close quarters. He’s being brave and protective, and it’s entirely reasonable and in-character for him to do so.

  • Robert P

    ~shrug~ He’s aware she’s far superior to him physically, he’s already seen her take out numerous gun-wielding soldiers in close combat, they plan on wading into a war – the idea of assuming she needs “protecting” seems silly. What would make more sense would be to team up – in line with what was their ultimate plan.

    What I would see as a better way to go would be something like:

    [Four German operatives surround Steve and Diana in an alley]

    Steve: Oh, it’s the uh, bad guy convention. Now would be a good time for some of those Amazon moves!

    Bad guy 1: [points gun at Steve] Give us Dr. Maru’s notebook.

    Steve: Where did I put that thing.

    [After feigning looking for the notebook, Steve head-butts bad guy 1, bad guy 2 pulls gun – Diana is on bad guy 2 instantly, deflects/breaks his arm, shot goes wild, takes him out, deflects shots from those still standing while advancing on them, Steve takes out one who is distracted and bewildered, Diana takes out the others – in a sweeping motion grabs one in each hand and smashes them against each other/against brick wall.]

    The line “Anything else you want to show me?” is just silly – as if he’s forgotten what he saw her do on the beach. How about – “You’re really….a wonder to behold!” or something.

  • Danielm80

    I think the Amazonian philosophy was something like: The world of men isn’t worth fighting for, but one day there will be a great battle against Ares that will end all war, and we need to prepare for that battle, because we need to win. We’re fighting for what will come after that battle.

    Diana sometimes agrees with that philosophy and sometimes struggles against it, which is kind of what the movie is about.

  • My thoughts after seeing it this weekend:
    This was a fun, decent, classic(Marvel style?) comic book movie. With all the good and bad that comes with it.

    What elevates it above other DC efforts, and some marvel ones, is the
    killer performance by Gal Gadot, and the use of humor throughout. Too
    many comic movies have forgotten the effectiveness of humor in these
    types of movies.
    Gal is gorgeous to look at certainly, but also just really great in the role. She IS Wonder Woman.
    I preferred the first 2/3 of the movie over
    the last act, which falls victim to the same scenario pretty much every
    comic movie(or even action movies in general?) fall victim to. Crazy CG
    fighting sequences that reduce the “human” aspects of the story and
    pull you out of the movie.
    Also, the movies’ villain is boring and cliche. Been there, done that.
    I’m going into somewhat spoilerish territory for the next few sentences:
    I hated the juvenile sex humor between WW and Steve. Mostly because they did it for a whole scene instead of a one off joke.

    I hated even more the relationship between WW and Steve, and the
    implied sexual trist in the building. WTF was that?! Totally unnecessary
    to the story and makes you remember that this was written by men, not
    women. Ugh.
    Still, it was pretty good overall,
    and I look forward to seeing more WW movies in the future. Not so much
    her appearance in the Justice League, as I think they are jumping the
    gun on that one.

  • Tonio Kruger

    According to a former member of the now defunct Cinemarati site, Wonder Woman has long been considered to be a gay icon. Granted, you don’t see too many gay men referring to themselves as “Friends of Diana” but still….

  • that the Germans didn’t know what they were doing and can’t be blamed.

    Does she say that, though? Or does she believe that Ares prompts humans to war? Does she think that humans are little more than puppets of Ares? I can’t remember specifics, but I don’t recall getting that latter impression.

  • Dr. Poison and General von EvilGerman, are pretty one-note and cartoonish themselves.

    True, but even they are but a tiny part of the overall villain, which is simply the human capacity for doing bad.

    Or did I misread that scene?

    I though they were just relieved that that particular battle was over (and that the plane of bombs had been destroyed).

  • I just took it for the same kind of writing & production I’ve come to expect of movies in general

    Maybe don’t default to that expectation?

    Steve tells Diana to step back…really? After he’s seen with his own eyeballs what she and her warrior sisters can do?

    He’s still operating on autopilot: his first instinct is to protect a woman. It takes a while for him to get over that.

  • Agreed. I much preferred the first half to the second half.
    And the overuse of slow-mo is tiresome.

  • Radek Piskorski

    Oh as a gay man I just love badass women. I always loved fighting games and I ALWAYS chose the female characters.

  • John O’Cane

    You’re right that she never specifically said that the Germans were not to blame or that they bore no responsibility for their evil actions. What she did say (and I’m not quoting her verbatim, just the gist of her statement to Steve Trevor in the sailing vessel) was that, “This is our responsibility, … to stop Ares, … it is why the Amazons exist, and once I have killed Ares, the Germans will go back to being good men again, and the war will end.”

    So it is true that she places the most blame and responsibility for the war (and/or humanity’s warlike tendencies) upon Ares the god of war, but her statements (loosely quoted above), shows that she does acknowledge the fact that humans (in this case Germans) were behaving quite badly. She doesn’t deny or minimize the nature of the evil they’ve been doing, and are still doing, but simply lays the greatest blame and responsibility for their actions, at the door of the prime instigator of war Ares, who she fully intends to stop, …oh yeah, by killing him with her god-killing sword!… And what is supposed to be wrong with that? Even the most peaceful and loving amongst us (e.g. a mother), have to take drastic action when it is required (e.g. a mother may have to spank an unruly child, in order to settle it down, and restore order to her home). Loving peace and hating violence, is not tantamount to being a pacifist!

    I’m not a woman, and as such can never hope to be a mother or to feel what a mother feels, nonetheless I still remember how my mother would hold me to strict account for my misdeeds as a little boy (i.e. I still got the spanking I deserved), but after that she would also go after the older child (or even worse, sometimes an adult), who egged me on to engage in such misbehavior in the first place.

    Clearly Diana believed (during most of the movie) that humans were/are innately good (after all that’s what she’d been told in the creation tale she heard from her mother when she was but a child herself), but that they’d gotten corrupted by Ares. Ergo her seemingly simplistic solution, … namely, get rid of the tempter Ares, and you eliminate the cause of the problem. Surgeons apply this very same solution all the time (even though it sometimes doesn’t work; just as Diana realized by the end of the movie), … namely they seek to cut-out the tumor that is causing the patient’s signs and symptoms, in order to save the patient from the disease/death.

    She shouldn’t be blamed for doing what any other person would do, as the first step in solving a problem that seemingly has a simple or straightforward solution, for you should always try the simple, straightforward, and obvious solution first (i.e. try to excise the tumor), before reaching for more complex solutions. It is only when that first solution (aka “Keep it Simple and Stupid”) doesn’t solve the problem (i.e. the tumor has metastasized) that you take extra (more complex steps) measures, like cutting off infected limbs and parts of organs, chemotherapy, radio-therapy, etc.

    I found this a most delightful film to watch, and have paid to watch it twice. Wonder Woman is a great (I barely managed to stop myself from saying “wonderful”) character, and I must say I like her a lot!

  • John O’Cane

    @Bluejay and MAJ:

    Both of you are right in some respects, and yet seem to be misreading the final scene in some of its respects.

    MAJ, I really like your take on the overall villain, as being the “human capacity for doing bad,” rather Ares the god of war. For clearly Diana could not (and did not) dispatch humanity’s capacity for wrong doing, merely by giving Ares a good dose of his own lightning borne medicine (as in when she captured his lightning blast with her bracelets, and then redirected it upon him, with her sad (but also very firm) words of dismissal, …”Goodbye brother!”…

    The capacity to do wrong, is not a single person that can be killed, so of course Diana did not, and could not banish wickedness from the Earth. Good Grief! How could she have been expected to do that? Evil had existed even before she was born or sculpted by her mother (Hypolyta) and brought to life by Zeus, or whatever. If Zeus the father of the gods couldn’t eliminate evil (even from the heart of his own son Ares), how in the heck was Diana (a demigoddess merely coming into her powers and into an understanding of who she really was), supposed to succeed where everyone else had failed.

    That was never the point of the story. It’s purpose was to show us how Diana (who is basically still a child herself, since she was born after the last great clash of humans vs humans, gods vs gods, and gods vs men, as enunciated in the origin tale she received from her mom, and was participating in her very first war, and trip outside Themyscira), learns about the true nature of evil, humanity, the gods (oh well she only encounters one god Ares, who she promptly kills, as soon as she realizes who he is, because he’s hellbent on offing her, and all of humanity too), and …oh yes this is important…, herself.

    We cannot deny the fact that there are some supernatural aspects to this movie, just like we find them in any other marvel universe movie, after all it is a super-hero or super-heroine movie, and Diana is the daughter of the father of gods no less, a certified demigoddess. Where gods, goddesses, demigods, and/or demigoddesses are afoot, a-swim, or a-fly, supernatural happenings are bound to occur. So if a supernatural influence for violence, like say a certain ill-tempered god of war called Ares gets boffed by his youngling of a demigoddess and half-sister, certain poor humans under his spell, are bound to be released from his wicked enchantments.

    The relief shown by Diana’s surviving human companions (i.e. after Steve Trevor had sacrificed himself to get rid of Dr. Poison’s chemo-bombs), needed no spell-breaking death of Ares as its cause. However when a formerly belligerent and seemingly spellbound German, suddenly seems to awaken from an enchanted daze, looks around like a man waking up from a nightmare, and spontaneously reaches out to embrace a former enemy, who also turns around to hug him in return, then we can only conclude that something supernatural just happened, and that Diana semi-divine actions, were uniquely useful after all.

    However I don’t feel that this injection of a little supernatural solution, into what is clearly not merely a natural but also supernatural conflict, detracts from the value and/or realism of the story. Once we accept the premise that gods, goddesses, demigods, and demigoddesses can exist and interact with human beings, then we must also accept that such beings can bring their supernatural influences to bear upon humans, without necessarily absolving humanity of all responsibility for our actions and/or in-actions.

  • Robert P

    I swear it sounds like she says “fuck” as she’s bouncing off the wall here. Does anyone else hear it? I saw an interview where Gal Gadot says it’s her favorite curseword. Link goes to the moment just before it.


  • HanTorso

    I disagree with some of the points here and think this was only a decent movie relative to the other DC movies. I’d like to see the movie the review describes, but I don’t think Wonder Woman’s was it. The movie isn’t really antifeminist, it is just that the general incompetence behind the DC movies keeps it from really succeeding at anything. Here are some of my mansplanations:

    1) Wonder Woman’s deeds only really go unknown because she hides her identify, and because the Amazonian have to stay hidden. That seems to be the same thing with Aquaman. If anything, the message seems to be that a society run by women is as far-fetched as a society that lives under the sea.

    2) Wonder Woman is only really a woman to the extent that she is a human, which is one half. Her power exists in spite of this half of her, not because of it. Presumably it’s the woman/human in her that keeps her from being able to do cool stuff like Ares. I just read from Wikipedia that her character originally was formed by her human mother from clay, and then given life by Aphrodite. That sounds a lot better than the bizarre story in the movie where Zeus creates the Amazonian, and then apparently mates with some of them. It also turns out that she was ultimately considered a tool and object by Zeus, albeit a bad assume one.

    3) Dr. Poison was revealed to have been given her genius ideas by the bad guy, Ares. Her only real claim was to being ugly, which makes her more like a wicked steps sterling than a role model for young girls interested in evil. The horrific gassing scenes in this movie also means it is more likely to inspire children to have nightmares than anything else.

  • Reese1379

    “Everything about this .. feels like a retort .. to traditional male-centered superhero stories”

    Wonder Woman, created by a man (Charles Moulton) and the television series most popular with very young girls and middle-aged men :)

  • Danielm80
  • Bluejay

    MaryAnn’s comment was about the movie, not the original creator or the TV show.

    But for what it’s worth, Marston made the character a woman at the suggestion of his wife, and he did create her as a rebuttal to the male superheroes of his day.

  • Robert P

    Lol – some of those are priceless.

  • I adored this movie, and plan to see it again with my daughter (we were at the very first showing in our town) as soon as I am out of the hospital. I also really love your review, and in particular, how it keeps the focus on WOMEN. So far, I’ve read one high-profile reviewer, who basically complained the the movie wasn’t male-gazey enough, and an amateur review that says the REAL hero of the book was Steve Trevor, because, you know, he kept his cool, and “his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.” Because, you know, Diana doesn’t do any of this. Seriously, dudes: can’t you let us have this? This ONE FILM?

  • Michael Mares

    amaizing this movie on http://mcaf.ee/4nwxaf

  • Sounds like a grunt of exertion to me.

  • WW may have been created by a man. So what? That TV series may have been “most popular” with those you claim it was (citation for that?), but that was 40 years ago. I am talking about this particular movie version of her story. So what point are you trying to make?

  • Some dudes really cannot abide us having *one* film…

  • Reese1379

    > what point are you trying to make?

    “Everything about this .. feels like a retort .. to traditional male-centered superhero stories”

    Why do you have to reduce everything to the Patriarchal assault on feminism. Whether it’s the Smurfs or ‘Ex Machina’, it’s exploitative, it’s mansplaining, etc. You do seem to have a compulsion to inject your own particular brand of feminist politics into everything you review.

  • Bluejay

    You do seem to have a compulsion to inject your own particular brand of feminist politics into everything you review.

    That’s a feature, not a bug, buddy. It’s called “having a point of view,” and a lot of us here appreciate it. If you don’t like her point of view, go read something else. The Internet is a big place.

  • Tonio Kruger

    A lot of straight guys I know — including my very conservative middle brother — love badass women. Thus the popularity of Xena, Buffy, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Lara Croft, etc.

    As far as I know, they don’t choose female characters in fighting games but apart from that…

  • Tonio Kruger

    Actually I was a teenager when I first discovered the character…

  • Tonio Kruger

    What? No love for Supergirl? How quickly they forget.

  • Bluejay

    I’m sure many of them love Supergirl too. I submit that it’s possible for a little kid to love the Supergirl TV show AND to be blown away by the Wonder Woman movie (and to deserve far more than just two high-profile female superheroes to look up to).

  • Yarberger

    Terrific review of a terrific film. I love this: “…as a person whose physical strength and physical beauty are undeniable, but also just mere matters-of-fact.”

  • Robert P

    Might be. Btw, I had to rewind to figure out what was going on during this fight with the object breaking around her middle at 2:09. She disarms a soldier at about 2:07 by snatching his rifle away under her arm as she spins around and then snaps the rifle in half as she brings her arms forward and the broken fragments fly all over. Pretty neat bit of fight choreography.

  • I know, I’m awful, analyzing films from my own perspective! What is the world coming to, I ask you all? What is the world coming to?

  • Bluejay

    And as of today, after just a month in theaters, Wonder Woman has surpassed Batman v Superman’s total domestic box office.

    It seems to me that Warner Bros. made a big mistake in not locking down Gadot or Jenkins for sequels before now. Now, instead of getting them for cheap, they might actually have to pay them what they deserve.

  • Leela Keshavan

    Yes. Yes to this. Your bvs and mos reviews are spot on.

  • Dan Navarro

    I had wanted to see this movie “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot, but after reading your review I have disabused myself of that notion. Your comments suggest that this is a feminist film to its very core. I despise feminism. Indeed, I was relieved to learn that the Lynda Carter version had very little of that “I am woman, hear me roar” stuff in it. But this Gal Gadot film apparently seeks to prove that women can be as badass as any man. I will probably watch the 2017 “Wonder Woman” when it plays on Showtime or HBO, whenever that happens, but I will not pay overpriced theater prices to watch some dyke beat up dudes.

  • Danielm80

    No one seems to have a problem when Colin Firth or Tom Holland or Liam Neeson, who’s 65, plays an action hero, but when Gal Gadot, who was actually in the Israeli military, beats up a bunch of guys, people suddenly decide it’s unrealistic.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Your loss. My middle brother is hardly a big fan of gay rights and he enjoyed this movie.

  • Tonio Kruger

    No doubt they’ll do that some time after Ridley Scott’s Alien turns a profit and Harlan Ellison finally publishes his last Dangerous Visions anthology. :-(

  • Tonio Kruger

    Tsk, tsk. Stealing lines from Odysseus… Shame on her. And shame on J.R.R. Tolkien for encouraging her…

  • Tonio Kruger

    I don’t remember any such complaints about Xena but I guess they made an exception for her because her character was technically bisexual. ;-)

  • Danielm80

    I’m not sure I ever watched an episode of Xena all the way through. My impression is that everyone who saw it thought it was made just for them. Sexist men thought it was eye candy designed to turn them on. Feminists were glad to see a woman who could take charge. LGBT folks were glad to see themselves represented onscreen at a time when that was less common. People are still writing dissertations about the meaning of Xena.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I suspect that someday they will writing similar dissertations about the meaning of Wonder Woman.

  • You seem nice. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Heather

    Yes, yes, yes: “She’s done it!” has resonated in my heart ever since I saw this film. I live in Japan, and as soon as this comes out on DVD, I am absolutely buying it for my daughter. Now someone tell me where I can find a sword training class.

  • Now someone tell me where I can find a sword training class.

    I would have thought that’d be pretty easy in Japan. :-)

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