Feminist icon finally gets her own movie
After some 70 years of existence in comics and a classic 1970's live action TV series, Wonder Woman now gets her own movie. I say it's about time, but it is also a very damning statement, considering that Superman and Batman, the two other male DC icons, have been treated to a myriad of movies, cartoons, live action TV series and even radio shows for about the same amount of time. But I digress, let's see how she's been handled.
The story starts with a massive battle between the Amazons lead by Hippolyta, and the forces of Ares, the God of War, who has not been a very kind lover, to put it really mildly. With his defeat, the gods of Olympus punish Ares for his crimes, and the Amazons, who have suffered tremendous casualties, are appointed his gaolers and are moved to Paradise Island (Themyscira), which is a, err..., paradise, so that they may recuperate and be free from the harassment of man's world. Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons, after all the destruction, grows disillusioned and resentful of mankind, and her outlook borders on misanthropy. However, she finds joy after much suffering in getting a beautiful baby daughter fashioned from clay: Diana.
A few thousand years pass, and Diana is tired of all the same old, same old. When you are the best fighter on the island and have seen and done everything possible there, while your over-protective mother wishes to protect you from the profane filth of man, you tend to get bored after a couple of centuries. Then US Air Force pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on Themyscira. Action and hilarity ensue as Diana takes the mantle of Themyscira's ambassador to man's world to send Steve home (learning everybody's favourite swear-word along the way), and to recover Ares, who has broken out of his prison and preparing for total war.
This movie has a lot of good material going for it. Wonder Woman is played wonderfully (no pun intended) by Keri Russel, whose fearless, curious and assertive nature is a fitting characterisation of comicdom's greatest heroine. Playing as comic relief is Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, a sly and roguish womaniser, but we truly get to see the good in him as the story progresses as the Lois Lane to Wonder Woman's Superman, which makes it all that much more fun. Ares makes for a competant nemesis (after all, he IS the God of War), however, his fate at the end shuts doors to more stories, even while other doors open up.
The film makes good use of ancient Greek mythology, but what interested me more was the feminist critique of society posed by Wonder Woman, and the counter-critique of feminism posed by Steve Trevor, which makes both male and female take a good balanced look at themselves. It also contains a message to master your fears, and to step boldly into the unknown, to try and experience new things.
But no film is 100% perfect, and this film is no exception. I already mentioned my problem with Ares. I also have a problem with Hades, who seems to have really let himself go, and does nothing but inspire revulsion and not menace. I felt some of the dialogue and sequences were a little clunky in a few places, but one controversial topic (especially if you are American) is the amount of violence. To be fair, both Diana and Steve are trained for war, so they therefore have no illusions about killing. It's part of their job description. But at the same time, many Americans may feel uneasy about their great heroine saving lives, yet killing people at the same time. But in these cases, this is war you are considering. To expect that no one is going to die in a war, especially if you are dealing with the God of War, is criminally naive.
All in all, this is a great flick that in many respects does Wonder Woman (and women everywhere) justice, and is a return to the fundamentals that made her an icon. My score? 4 out of 5.