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*Nothing too specific, but there are some spoilers for Wonder Woman ahead*
We’ve been nothing but excited about it for quite some time, but Wonder Woman has been under way too much pressure from the moment it was first announced. If it was only okay, as plenty of superhero movies have been, it would have been because “men won’t go see a female led movie” or because “women just aren’t interested enough in comics to see it” or some such nonsense. It’s incredibly unfair. Thankfully though, everyone involved in making Wonder Woman can give a big sigh of relief, because they did it. It’s a damn good origin story, and it’s on track to make a ton of cash.
The film begins in the present day, when Bruce Wayne sends our heroine Diana Prince an old photo from her past, and the audience is then taken on the journey of learning how she came to be Wonder Woman. Diana grew up on the island of Themyscira, where her mother molded her out of clay and Zeus gave her life. It’s an island populated entirely by Amazons, female warriors, and every single one of them is badass as hell. Seriously, go up against an Amazon and you’re going to get wrecked, it’s as simple as that.
Enter Steve Trevor, whose plane crashes into the sea right off the coast of Themyscira. Diana dives in to save him, and is a little bit amazed by the first man she’s ever seen. (In her defense, Chris Pine is not too shabby.) Steve is a soldier fighting in WWI who is trying to get very sensitive weapons information to the British. He’s dashing, charming, and he and Diana have lots of sexy banter. We can tell he’s a good guy because he wears a turtleneck and actually pulls it off, a near impossible feat.
We already know that their relationship is going to have at least some sorrow, since she’s an immortal demigod still alive in present day and he’s a mortal man from the early 1900s. This is even more disappointing since they’re one of the better pairings I’ve seen in comic book films.
Steve’s realism plays well off of Diana’s overly idealistic view of the world. She grew up believing that the god Ares causes men to go to war with each other, and that if she can simply destroy him then man can go back to being their naturally peaceful selves. She comes to discover that that might not be the case, and discovers that humans sometimes do bad things all on their own. Her other realizations are much more humorous, such as when she has to go shopping for clothes and when she tastes ice cream for the first time, but it’s a testament to the way it’s written and the way Gal Gadot plays her that we never mistake her naiveté for stupidity.
The supporting cast includes Robin Wright as Diana’s aunt Antiope, the greatest warrior Themyscira has ever had who teaches her how niece how to kick ass, and David Thewlis as British government official. I thought the standouts were Lucy Davis as Steve’s secretary Etta Candy and Saïd Taghmaoui as his soldier buddy Sameer, as both provided some humor when it was very much needed.
As much as I loved it, the screening I attended was not without its ridiculousness. When the movie ended and people were filing out, I heard some guy behind me turn to his friend and say, “I don’t know, man…” Yes, you do. You just don’t want to say so. I’m not saying that if this isn’t your favorite superhero movie ever then you’re a sexist pig, but Wonder Woman has a lot in common with both Captain America: The First Avenger (the wartime setting) and Thor (the stranger in a strange land element), so if you don’t like it at least as much as those, you’re going to need to think about why that is. If it’s because you had a hard time relating to the hero because she’s a woman then that’s a problem. Men are seen as universally relatable characters all the time.
One of the most popular moments from the trailers is when Diana steps out of that trench onto the battlefield, and when it happened in the movie I literally started crying. Watching her not only go out there but to see the entire group of men behind her realize what she’s capable of and go out to fight beside her got to me. Steve and his friends take orders from her without question because they trust her skills. It’s one of the biggest action sequences in the film and I sat there all weepy. I make no apologies, this is why representation matters to people. I’m jealous that no theater in my area is hosting female only screenings because it would have been amazing to watch something like that surrounded by only women.
Patty Jenkins was originally going to direct Thor: The Dark World, but left the project due to creative differences with Marvel. Only the people involved can know what they were, but after seeing Wonder Woman I can safely say that it’s not because Jenkins couldn’t handle the material well enough. This movie is part mythology, part action, part war movie, part comedy, and she balances is all perfectly. There will undoubtedly be a sequel, and I can’t wait to see what she continues to do with Diana’s story. I’m not nearly enough of a polyanna to pretend that the success of this is somehow going to completely right the extreme gender imbalance that exists when it comes to Hollywood directors, but it’s certainly not going to hurt.
Grab every woman you know and go see Wonder Woman when it hits theaters later today. Then come tell us what you thought of it in the comments!