Wonder Woman ★★★★★

96/100

Only love can truly save the world.

Remember when some trickster claiming to be a former worker from Warner Bros. wrote an open letter saying that Wonder Woman was just another mess of a DC movie, et cetera? I remember how Patty Jenkins responded to that. She tweeted: "Just wait and you'll see".

Honestly, I don't know how anyone could even consider that there was the slightest chance of this movie not being good, and I'm gonna tell you why: this is the very first big female-led superhero movie, in which the title character also happens to be the greatest female superhero in history. If you really think that Patty Jenkins, also the first woman to ever direct a superhero movie of this caliber in a industry where women barely stand any chances to get to direct major blockbusters, would let this movie be anything less than great... You've got another thing coming, mate.

Wonder Woman is a traditional, oldschool superhero movie, but the first essentially feminist one at it, and they couldn't have chosen a better setting to tell this story, or a better character to star in it. The movie's social comments are strong and constantly present, but never forced, because it is only natural: by placing Diana, a princess raised in an island of warrior women, in the middle of the reality of World War I, the absurdities of the feminine role in the world - and so many other human corruptions - automatically come to light. The way Diana reacts to this world raises a great sense of awareness, with a touch of poignant humor to it. There is a very funny subtle arc of her wanting to take out her cloak, but not being able to because her armor is "barely any clothes", hinting not only at society's sexist feminine dressing code - which is still a thing today -, but also gradually adding power to the iconography of Wonder Woman in full costume; this is Wonder Woman's much awaited debut on the big screen in a solo movie, and like Superman and Batman before her, her first appearance needed to be something incredibly striking. Patty knew that, Gal knew that, and they made it happen. Even if we already saw her in BVS, the very first time Wonder Woman walks up in full costume here is undoubtedly one of the most iconic moments in superhero cinema. The whole theater chilled.

Jenkins is extremely devoted to giving Wonder Woman the iconic debut film she deserves, and she nails it - there's quite a bit of remarkable shots and set pieces that let out the same imagetic power as in Donner's Superman, Burton's Batman or even Raimi's Spider-Man, and I must highlight the No Man's Land sequence. It's my favorite part of the movie; Jenkins and Heinberg carefully work on Diana's mindset as she first witness the horrors of human war, not being able to help everyone, horses being hurt so they can move faster, a mother and a child begging for help, and it all leads up to the powerful moment of a woman crossing the land no man could cross - and Heinberg's dialogue doesn't rely on obvious statements such as "fortunately I'm a woman" (I'm looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean), it simply lets the image strike us, because it is powerful enough by itself, and boy did that cause some serious goosebumps.

Speaking of dialogue... It's so terrific, so well written. The exchanges between Diana and Steve Trevor are very clever and funny, but most of all natural. All the characters are also extremely likable; Allan Heinberg's writing knows that not all of them can be given deep development, but nonetheless he gives them stories, personalities and purposes, and that - plus the charismatic performances - makes them very empathetic. The villains are not as remarkable as in some previous DCEU films, but they didn't need to be; the movie doesn't require in-depth arcs from its villains. They have a strong presence when they're in scene and a well elaborated lore, and that's everything they need.

Contrary to the Nordic mythology depicted in the MCU, here we are talking about real gods, true deities, not superpowerful aliens that only strike a similar image - and that also brings a few narrative dangers along with it, after all, it was in greek mythological stories that the concept of Deus Ex Machina first appeared. Heinberg's screenplay, though, makes a few clever twists in that mythology to avoid easy solutions, which adds to the storytelling, the world building and the developing of the themes as well. The lore surrounding the God of War Ares, for example, is not a simple Diabolus Ex Machina as "he influences men to war and if you kill him every man goes back to being good and everything's alright", no, it's more narratively complicated and socially engaging than that.

And Gal Gadot... I'm at a loss for words. I'll confess right here that when she was first announced as Wonder Woman, I was one of the few who were very opposed to that casting. I've never been so wrong in my life, and I've never been so happy about it. She really is Wonder Woman. She's so graceful and adorable, but a major badass when she needs to be. The way she moves, the way she curiously looks at things, the way she speaks, and the way she incarnates Diana's evolving from her naive beginnings to the wise warrior... She's not only an icon, she's a true hero. Comparisons to Christopher Reeve's Superman are being made for good reason.

Chris Pine is also great, he walks perfectly in the line between funny and serious, Steve Trevor is a darling character and his chemistry with Gal is on point. Their relationship is very well constructed and becomes highly emotional by the end - there are scenes that filled my heart with joy, and others that made it ache.

The action is exciting and full of originality, and I like how Jenkins uses slow-motion differently than Zack Snyder. I know that Snyder helped her direct some of the action sequences, which is understandable since Jenkins had no experience with this type of movie, but you can tell it's not the same. In the fights themselves, there's this feel of sensibility to how these people react to Diana, and it's slightly different from the typical "regular people react to superhumans among them" trope. The cinematography is very keen on portraying the difference between Themyscira - an island of colors and natural beauty - and "jolly ol' London" - desaturated and smoggy, a scenario in which Diana's colorful armor shines in a most beautiful contrast -, but I also really liked how the 3D added to it. It's not that absurdly amazing 3D like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; it's very smooth, but constantly present, in the smoke, in the dirt flying around, in snow. I really appreciated those details.

And the soundtrack. Rupert Gregson-Williams made a beautiful score that brings out the best in every scene. It's heroic, very heartfelt, and loyal to the foundations of what makes superhero music so memorable. Gregson-Williams adds new themes to compose Wonder Woman's musical identity, but Hans Zimmer's main theme from BVS still lives, and it plays in some heart-pounding scenes. I love that they're dedicating that much attention to the musical continuity, because amongst Marvel's many qualities, they're doing a lousy job in that area. Wonder Woman's theme is the most catchy superhero theme in a long time, it quickly gained a lot of appreciation and by continuing on using it, Gregson-Williams collaborates to making Wonder Woman the strong cinematic icon she's setting out to be.

The irregular reception of previous DCEU movies also extols the impact of Wonder Woman, as do the distinct styles between the films. One of the DCEU's biggest virtues is that singularity of each film; be it a near disaster movie epic such as Man Of Steel, a complex deconstruction of heroic values such as Batman v Superman, an stylish chaos such as Suicide Squad or a traditional, graceful superhero film such as Wonder Woman, these movies are all in the same universe, and that very fact is an example of its richness. A lot of people will think Wonder Woman is the best DCEU movie to date, some will stick to BVS, others to MOS, but that's the fun of it: we can discuss this forever. Each of these movies mean different things to different people, we're way past simply labelling one as "better" and the other as "worse".

Wonder Woman, however, is not simply a movie about a very strong woman. It's an achievement for every woman. There were tons of girls dressed up as Wonder Woman in the theater, and just seeing how ecstatic they were after the movie brought me joy. There were tons of applause. It's a mark. Be that as it may, Wonder Woman will be remembered as the most impactant superhero film of its time. In 1978, Superman showed to the world how a man could fly; in 2017, Wonder Woman showed to the world how a woman can fight.

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