That sound you heard late Wednesday night? It was me, breathing out a HUGE sigh of relief as I saw a sneak preview of Wonder Woman. After all, didn’t we have reason to be worried, after the back-to-back-to-back disappointments of DC’s last films? Despite her awesome ten minutes of screentime in Batman V. Superman, I still wasn’t sold on this incarnation of Wonder Woman. We’ve all heard the complaints: The costume looks like something Xena would have worn. She’s not muscular or busty enough to be an Amazon. Why is it WWI instead of WWII? Wonder Woman is supposed to have blue eyes, dammit!
Sure, the trailer with its goosebump-inducing electric guitar inspired some hope, but anyone who knows me can vouch that every time I saw it over the past six months I’d quietly whisper, “Please be good. Please be good.”
Well, I am beyond thrilled to share the following news: It’s not just good. It’s really, really good! After 75 years, the most famous female superhero of all time finally joins the ranks of countless major and minor male superheroes with her own movie, and it’s beautiful, heartfelt, action-packed and full of genuine humor. Of course it would be Wonder Woman who finally redeems the DCEU – largely thanks to director Patty Jenkins, herself perhaps the female hero DC really needed.
The basic plot is an origin story familiar to comic readers or anyone who has seen that trailer: Diana, Amazonian daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, regal as always) grows up on beautiful Themyscira, where she is trained in the ways of battle by Antiope (a fierce Robin Wright, erasing ANY thoughts of Buttercup and Jenny) until she learns that mankind is at war and leaves her home to fight for good and justice. The audience is treated to well-shot and truly thrilling battle scenes, as well some comedic bits that feel more naturally funny than anything DC has given us before, all while Diana learns about the good and bad of mankind.
The supporting cast includes a superbly cast Lucy Davis as Etta Candy and a (sadly underused) Danny Huston as our villain. Southern Italy, standing in for Themyscira with shots of crystal blue waters lovelier than any tourism brochure could dream, practically deserves a supporting actor credit itself. The real standout among the ensemble is Chris Pine, endearing and heroic as Steve Trevor, who wins the audience over early on with a near-nude bathing scene – between Wonder Woman’s short skirt and the erstwhile Captain Kirk’s abs, even the eye candy is inclusive!
And as for the Amazon princess herself? Gal Gadot is, frankly, perfect. With impossibly luminous skin and even more impossibly long legs, she’s a stunning revelation -- but even more importantly, she delivers a strong performance with several meaty emotional scenes and still manages to kick ass in action scene after action scene. She captures Diana’s innate goodness in a way I’m certain audiences will find inspiring – My theater certainly did, as the audience broke into applause at numerous scenes.
Comic purists may bristle at a few developments and motivations, and Jenkins relies on the slow-motion a few too many times, but overall it’s exactly what Wonder Woman fans hoped for. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go snatch up ALL the Wonder Woman merchandise on the shelves. And go to the gym. I’m telling you, those legs…