Warner Bros. and the DC Extended Universe have had three chances to establish their footing in the cinematic realm opposite of Marvel: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Now, if we were playing baseball, Warner Bros. would’ve struck out after those three. Luckily, we’re not, and director Patty Jenkins has essentially saved the studio and hit it out of the park with Wonder Woman.
Gal Gadot reprises her role as Diana Prince in the first live action theatrical film of the comic book character. Set during World War I, the film chronicles how Diana left her home of Themyscira to help mankind in the war to end all wars. Guided by Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, Diana must decide whether mankind, corrupted by the real world, are worth saving or if they are doomed.
Going into this film with both an open mind and no real knowledge of the DC character, and knowing full well what transpired in the previous DCEU films, it’s safe to say that Wonder Woman was amazing. Gadot’s performance as the Amazon princess solidifies herself among the top echelon of superhero actors, such as Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans and Margot Robbie. While Gadot had brief moments in the spotlight in her previous appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, she takes full advantage of starring in her own feature film and nails it. Wonder Woman’s burning desire to help everyone around her in the film is contagious and never feels overplayed or forced. From the moment she leaves Themyscira, you witness Diana’s innocence slowly deteriorate as she makes her way through the real world. On one hand, it’s depressing to see Diana’s hope in man repeatedly questioned, but the end payoff makes it even more satisfying.
Gadot’s supporting cast did not disappoint either. While Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor was a major catalyst in steering Diana down the path of righteous, the amount of screen time Pine received sometimes made it difficult for me to fully appreciate a superhero movie headlined by a female. However, his inclusion in the film and relationship he developed with Diana was essential due to her having never been in the real world.
Up until this point, the DCEU has had a difficult time trying to nail down the tone of their movies. Marvel established the notion that their movies will be somewhat whimsical and sprinkled with some witty banter, but still deliver a serious enough plot. Warner Bros. has been ridiculed by critics and fans alike that the first two films were too dark, and then Suicide Squad just didn’t know what it wanted to be, either humorous or dark or a general riot. Wonder Woman avoids this problem and successfully finds the perfect middle ground that Marvel has built its empire upon. It was the right mix of comic relief by the supporting cast and Diana’s overall ignorance of the real world plus the seriousness of World War I and mankind’s pending destruction. Jenkins and the writing team did a tremendous job of conjuring up the right moments for an entirely silly moment, like Diana trying out outfits, to moments of sheer dread and despair. The transitions between these moments were flawless and never felt like they were put in the film just for the sake of having them; each scene was needed to tell a complete, comprehensive story. Wonder Woman is the gold standard for what all future DCEU films should try to emulate, and could be the much-needed jump start that Warner Bros. and DC fans were wanting for.
Wonder Woman crushed it at the box office, earning $103.1 million in its opening weekend, which was the fifth-highest opening weekend among superhero movies. The DC film beat the likes of Iron Man ($98.6 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy ($94.3 million) in their respective opening weekends. In addition, Wonder Woman became the biggest opening ever for a female director, surpassing Fifty Shades of Grey ($85.2 million).
Final Score: 9/10