I am Diana of Themyscira daughter of Hippolyta Queen of the Amazons!
As a unabashed fan of superhero/comic book films, I’ve had much to enjoy in my lifetime; the X-Men films, Nolan’s Batman movies, 300, Marvel studios slate. But there’s been one pretty notable absence all these years; a comic book film centered on a female lead. Which is why the announcement of a movie version of Wonder Woman and having it directed by a woman director Patty Jenkins (who’s last movie Monster won Charlize Theron the Oscar for Best Actress) was one for hopes, but also fears. Warner Brothers’ record for adapting DC Comics has been mixed over the years. What if the studio screwed up with Wonder Woman as they did with Suicide Squad and Batman Vs. Superman? Not only would it be unbearably painful to see such a beloved icon treated poorly, but it would also be harmful to the cause of big budget films starring women in general.
Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (Photo credit: Warner Bros.)
Well, I have good news for you; not only did Patty Jenkins not screw up with Wonder Woman, she hit it out of the park. Like Captain America – First Avenger what we see here is primarily a long flashback telling the story of how the hero(ine) came to be in our modern world. We begin with her childhood on the hidden island of Themyscira, peopled with such unforgettable figures as Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson of Rushmore and Gladiator) and her aunt the great general Antiope (Robin Wright of House of Cards). The Amazons live in a women’s only island of beautiful scenery, millennial old code of honor, and martial training. But one day an outsider and the first man Diana ever sees, Captain Trevor (Chris Pine of Star Trek in his most charming role yet), accidentally breaks through and on his heels are an army of soldiers with guns. Paradise has now been touched by man and with it comes bloodshed and heartache.
Robin Wright (Photo credit: Alex Bailey/ TM & © DC Comics)
The impressive cast also sports David Thewlis (Harry Potter, The Theory of Everything) Said Thagmaoui (Three Kings, Conan the Barbarian), Lucy Davis (Shaun of the Dead), Danny Huston (Children of Men, 21 Grams), and more. But the heart and soul has to be Diana herself. I admit I was skeptical when Israeli born newcomer Gal Gadot was cast in the role; she certainly looked the part but could she act I wondered? Well, it turns out she can. My god, she can. When she’s on screen her every move and gesture…she IS Diana embodying the part more than anyone else has. At the first sight of her in running into battle in her iconic uniform the audience cheered.
Gal Gadot (Photo credit: Alex Bailey/ TM & © DC Comics)
And quite a battle it was! Wonder Woman in the original comics began with Diana leaving her island home during WWII, but the movie pushes it into WWI and it’s actually a brilliant artistic choice. A main theme of the film is Ares and mankind’s dangerous infatuation with war and what better illustration of the senselessness of humanity’s battles than the notorious meat grinder that was the first World War? While there’s a great deal of ‘fish out of water’ humor when Diana first leaves Themyscria for the outside world, there’s a deeper conflict of Diana’s high ideals coming into contact with humanity and all its darkness. Hippolyta flat tells out her daughter, that humans don’t deserve her and it’s hard to argue with it. But it’s not about ‘deserve’ and Diana, beautiful, brave, compassionate, and impossibly strong, is the big screen heroine we’ve all been yearning for a very VERY long time.
Top photo: Gal Gadot (Credit: Clay Enos/ TM & © DC Comics)