The DCEU badly needed a win and Patty Jenkins delivers big time
Female-led action movies are still having a hard time at the box office. Ghost In The Shell is the recent film to fall victim to such a pattern. These movies make significantly less than male-led action movies and are still considered a gamble to make. With the DCEU’s latest movie streak, they desperately need a movie both fans and critics can agree is good. Wonder Woman is not only the DCEU’s first good movie, it may also be this summer’s best superhero movie.
Wonder Woman tells the origin story of Diana as she becomes the superhero that we’ve come to know her in Batman v Superman. When the first man (Chris Pines) ends up on a sheltered island filled with Amazonians, Diana (Gal Gadot) finds out that there is a war brewing up in the world. Convinced that it may be Ares, the god of war, she sets out on journey to stop World War I and defeat the Germans.
Right from the start, Wonder Woman is a very different movie from Batman v Superman. Firstly, it’s a vibrant and colorful movie replacing BvS‘ bland and lifeless surroundings. Secondly, it sets up actual stakes. A lot of people die in BvS and Wonder Woman but in the latter, Patty Jenkins and her writers take the time to set up the characters as vulnerable people and this creates the stakes. Everyone in the movie feels like they can die at any time. Some of the characters’ decisions rely on their vastly different moral compasses.
Gal Gadot shows her acting ability as the fierce Wonder Woman. Her character is very much extra-human while still clinging on to human qualities. The decision to incorporate Wonder Woman‘s longtime love and compassion schticks turned out to be one of the movie’s greatest strength. These qualities are what delivered some of the best dialogue and character development in the movie.
Surprisingly, Patty Jenkins’ quieter moments are as engaging as the big action sequences. Her ability as a director to slow down after big moments is exactly what made Monster such a gut wrenching movie. Elevated by great writing, she does it again here multiple times without ever slowing the pace.
Wonder Woman‘s compassion for humans also create some of the best explorations of humankind and their ability to turn bad. Talking about war, racism, sexism and even colonization, the film succeeds in conveying how humans can be despicable. Although, it’s not misanthropic as it also shows the good things people are capable of. The whole exploration of this theme is well-rounded making it on par with other commentary-heavy superhero films like Logan.
Its only damaging flaw comes at the very end where an epic final battle ensues. The sequence overuses CGI to portray certain fighting elements and some of the times, it’s undeniably fake because of the overreliance on the CGI and the blue screens. I can’t help but feel that better craftsmanship on the part of Patty Jenkins would have been better on the eyes.
The final product is still better than any other DCEU movie and the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Wonder Woman proves that the DCEU is far from dead and that DC movies have the potential to compete with Marvel. Most importantly, this movie proves that female-directed female-led action movies can be successful.
Wonder Woman hits theaters on June 2.