Wonder Woman Spoilers Within
This blog post was originally published on the old Word Foreword on June 5th, 2017.
Wonder Woman is so good. It might be the best DC movie of all time. Yes, I know it’s nerdy sacrilege to down talk how good The Dark Knight is, but Wonder Woman represents a lot more - and I’m not just talking about feminism, I’m talking about the potential for the DC universe and comic book movies as a whole.
Let’s break down what makes Wonder Woman good. First, Gal Gadot. Gal Gadot is Diana Prince in the same way that Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. Gal Gadot was a good actress before this, if a little underrated. But as Wonder Woman, she hits a stride, she carries herself like Diana, talks like Diana, fights, walks, etc. just like you can imagine Wonder Woman doing. Gal Gadot is gentle, loving, compassionate but at the same time she is hard, assertive and fierce. Gal Gadot makes Wonder Woman jump off the screen.
Wonder Woman also stands for something. This goes back to a previous blog post where I discuss what superheroes are lacking these days; standing for something. I truly feel like Wonder Woman is a blessing because it teaches us that you can be fierce, hard but also loving and compassionate. Wonder Woman is a ferocious soldier, but she doesn’t fight for a war because she is entrenched in patriotism or loyalty to one side or the other; she has no concern of what her actions will do to the economy, she doesn’t care if the British win. She cares that the good guys win.
Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman, also achieves a teaching that George R. R. Martin has been trying to say since 1996. Martin has gone on record as saying that A Song of Ice and Fire was written as a way to convey that evil is done through men - not some mysterious and all powerful dark lord. Wonder Woman has a beautiful and powerful moment between Gadot and the male lead discussing the choices of men. Perhaps there is no God of War influencing men and women, leading the armies and killing innocent. Perhaps men are inherently evil. Diana is so shook by this she refuses to believe. It’s later revealed that Ares is involved, but only as an accomplice; and to the British, not the Germans - showing Diana that men are the problem. And it’s done in such an elegant and powerful way that it leaves you wondering; if Ares was involved, why are there wars after World War 1?
Finally, and this may be a bit more technical, is that Wonder Woman is the first literary superhero movie that makes sense. What does that mean? In the world of entertainment, a lot of people perceive pieces of media as either commercial or as literary. Commercial pieces are made to appeal to as many audience members as possible, have serious moments, teachable moments, laughing moments, fighting moments - and they’re all tailored to a particular market. It’s made to pump out and make money. Think about James Patterson novels, the “next big” series that you’ll forget in five years or most comic books now.
The literary, on the other hand, are made slowly. With time and care. They usually cater to a specific market, teach a specific thing or have a specific meaning. Good literary writers can write about a specific thing and make it feel universal. This is largely the difference between the Marvel and DC films. Most of the Marvel films feel very commercial (that’s not a bad thing, just a different thing) while the DC films tried so hard to be literary - until now.
Congratulations Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins and the rest of the cast and crew that worked on Wonder Woman. I look forward to seeing what comes next.