There are a handful of names undeniably synonymous with the idea of superheroes: Superman. Captain America. Batman. Spider-Man. And certainly not least, a veritable definition and embodiment of female empowerment: Wonder Woman. While the male-centric story arcs have been awash with movie franchises for years, the game has changed with the first-ever Wonder Woman film which premiered to rave reviews (and a few white-man-pain-tears) this weekend.
*This review is spoiler free! Read on, friends. *
This origin story begins on the paradise island of Themyscira. Diana (Gal Gadot) is a princess, the daughter of the Amazonian warrior, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). She’s been raised in a society of seriously badass women who are the best fighters in history—but her mother doesn’t want her to be a warrior. Despite this, Diana trains under the tutelage of Antiope (Robin Wright) and realizes that she has powers none of the other women do. Before she can discover what this means, her life is turned upside down when fighter pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands in their ocean, abruptly bringing chaos and the modern world to their doorstep. Steve reveals that far from their hidden island, multiple countries are engulfed in a massive global conflict, now commonly known in history books as World War I. Believing that the long-lost god of war Ares is responsible for the deaths of millions, Diana resolves to fulfill her duty as an Amazon and protect the world.
I must be honest: I wasn’t sure where to start this review. I saw Wonder Woman on Thursday night, and have been trying to formulate this post for the last two days. How could I explain what this film means for entire generations of girls and women? How could I tell you that it’s the best superhero movie I’ve seen in years without spoiling too many details? In the end, it’s simple. This film doesn’t take any time to explain how or why female representation is important. It doesn’t spell out the fact that Diana is a woman in a man’s world. We as an audience, who have waited and prayed and campaigned for positive reflections of women in media, already know these things. This film is a superhero movie, with a blatant message: war is hell.
War affects everyone. No matter your place in society, no matter your gender, no matter your role. When war comes to your country, your life changes forever. Diana spends the majority of the film trying desperately to stop the fighting in order to save innocent lives, and there is no better setting for this than the turbulent years between 1914-1918. Although the original Wonder Woman appeared in comic strips during the second World War, it is perhaps the Great War that is more fitting for today’s viewer. This was conflict unlike anything the world had ever seen. It turned modern warfare on its ear with brand new technology, brand new weapons, and brand new bravado that meant you didn’t really know who you were killing. This was no longer the type of fighting where two lines of men met each other on an open field. This was the beginning of bombs dropped from planes, of automatic weaponry, of cowardly poisonous gas. In many ways, it is not unlike the wars we face today. And Diana is dropped right into the middle of it.
So why should you see it? Despite everything I’ve just said, it isn’t just a movie about how terrible war is. This multi-faceted film is also about justice, truth, and courage. It’s funny in all the right places and makes you cheer for the perseverance and resilience of women. It gives us a Diana who is naive in a new world without being foolish, strong without needing to prove herself to anyone. It brings life and light to the perpetually dark DC Universe, without shying away from the underbelly of humankind. Wonder Woman kicks ass and takes names. Wonder Woman shows an intelligent, fearless warrior who values love and seeks to bring peace and prosperity to the world. Wonder Woman is complex in its simplicity and beautiful in its heartache. Wonder Woman is the hero we deserve.
What are you waiting for?
Until next time,
The Collected Mutineer
P.S. Already seen the film? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Twitter. Extra points if you share your favorite badass gif of Diana in all her glory!