The DC Cinematic Universe did not get off to a good start. Following the overwhelming success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the brand decided to follow Marvel’s business strategy – to develop a series of interconnected superhero movies, building toward an inevitable team-up movie. After all, Batman and Superman are bigger household names than Iron Man and Captain America. In our culture of brand-recognition, what could go wrong?
Financially, very little. People will go to see a Batman movie: that’s a fact of life, practically a law of physics.
Zack Snyder is a talented director, but he is a terrible superhero writer. Where DC’s comics are bright, witty, and eye-catching, post-Nolan DC movies are dark and grim, almost devoid of fun. Batman and Superman brood about life, going through motions so well-worn that Hollywood has stopped caring about audience suspense: they stick the entire story in the trailer, right alongside all the best jokes. When you can get as much substance from a trailer as the entire movie, you know something has gone wrong.
…Due to all these reasons, I am convinced Zack Snyder had very little to do with Wonder Woman, a movie brimming with charm, atmosphere, and poignancy. It works as a war film and as a superhero movie, not shying away from the horrors of WWI despite its 12A rating. This presents an interesting backdrop to a tale about evil and its nature – not as a black-and-white dichotomy, but as a chaos inherent to the human experience.
First and foremost, Gal Godot’s acting makes this movie. Her convincing portrayal of the stern, naïve, and increasingly horrified Diana draws you in with fascination, viewing humanity’s largest conflict through the eyes of unbiased justice, witnessing the shortcomings of humanity as though for the first time. We root for Diana, and feel for her when her hope and optimism are dashed again and again. This concept of a ‘strong lead role’ is one unfamiliar to DC writers; but I hope Wonder Woman is the start of their learning process. The supporting cast, too, is highly likeable.
The villains, meanwhile, come off as incredibly cheesy – at first. Without going into too much detail, their stereotypical evilness feeds into the main debate of the movie.
Wonder Woman treats us to some stunning vistas. The island of Themyscira, especially, is bathed in peaceful Grecian beauty. The jarring difference between it and the war-torn Western Front forms the initial conflict of the film: Diana must learn of the horrors that lie beyond her island paradise, and her desire to put things right is achingly pertinent.
If there’s one complaint I have about Wonder Woman, it is the CGI. Many shots just look…fake. When Diana lifts a tank, it doesn’t leave the viewer thinking, “Wow, she’s lifting a tank!” Instead you’ll think, “Oh, that looks like it was made ten years ago.” Other than that…
You should see Wonder Woman. It’s the first good DC movie since The Dark Knight! What else is there to say?