At the time of Wonder Woman’s release I remarked to friends and colleagues that “Wonder Woman is the hero we need now more than ever.” I have held to this statement and will continue its promotion. Why? That’s easy. Diana is grace. She is courageous. She’s simply marvel…uh…wonderful.
When Gal Gadot was cast as the mighty Amazonian knees jerked so high you thought men were auditioning for A Chorus Line. Gadot didn’t fit the mold of what Wonder Woman is “supposed to be” (read: look like). Keystroke-punching and posting on message boards commenced. Then came her debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The caterwauling subsided. By the time the final act rolls and Diana ditches her formal dress for bullet-stopping bracelets, matching tiara, shield, and a golden lasso, audiences realized that Wonder Woman is more than physique. It’s an attitude.
Move forward one year and the superheroine has her own standalone film. Not since the Lynda Carter television series of the 1970s has Wonder Woman been more visible. Instead of little girls singing Frozen songs as Anna or Elsa they are asking parents to be a different princess for Halloween. Patty Jenkins cracked the code that had the suits at Warner Brothers and DC Comics stumped - how to make a comic-book movie palpable for general audiences. Not to take anything from what Christopher Nolan accomplished with his Dark Knight trilogy, but applying his dark-and-dreary color scheme probably wasn't the best approach in BvS: DoJ. Opening the curtains and allowing the sun to pour in works wonders.
The colors pop when Wonder Woman flashes back from current-day Paris to the Mediterranean island of Themyscira, where the all-female Amazonians live in peace. The all powerful Zeus is the protector of their motherland, but Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her sister, Antiope (Robin Wright), work to ensure the Amazonians are well-trained when Ares, the God of War, makes his return. But what to do with young princess Diana? Antiope believes she can be the best warrior; Hippolyta would rather take it easy with training. Everything changes when Chris Pine is beamed out of the U.S.S. Enterprise and into the ocean of Themyscira, this time as an army captain and Allied spy in World War I. Confronted by Germans, the ladies successfully defend their home as soldiers dispense bullets and they shoot arrows.
I have to give credit to the real dynamic duo here. Gadot owns the screen as Diana/Wonder Woman, and Patty Jenkins does an exemplary job of direction (her first film since 2003's Monster). A Terrence Malick-esque sabbatical from the big screen, her enthusiasm for the material shines throughout. Wonder Woman isn't there to prop up feminism and gender equality specifically, though it playfully addresses gender norms and social customs of the day in amusing fashion. Plus, Diana isn't one to keep silent. Screw men and their patriarchal ways. She will have none of that. Bravo.
The film is far from perfect. Secondary players are underdeveloped or lost completely. Wonder Woman also falls into the trap of most superhero movies: the piss-poor villain. Writers need to follow the Hans Gruber Rule of Villainy. A villain must be every bit as strong a character as the hero. Not in strength. Perception and menace. Regardless if he's wearing tailored suits or wants to tell you how he got those scars, the villain must pose a serious threat to the hero. We knew Diana was going to be victorious so the climatic battle feels deflated.
Nonetheless, this origin tale of the mighty Amazonian clicked with audiences over the summer and proved that she could “super”-cede another Spider-Man reboot and would not answer to “Brandy (You're a Fine Girl).” Having lassoed $800 million while in theaters, Wonder Woman is great to experience in 4K Ultra HD. Never have Chris Pine's dimples look so defined.
The special features are extensive and can only found on the Blu-ray included with the 4K release. The biggest selling point is a deleted scene that serves as a quick epilogue for Steve Trevor's commandos. “The Trinity,” which gives background on Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and “Finding the Wonder Woman Within,” a 23-minute piece where women of different backgrounds (including producer Emma Thomas and stunt woman/actress Zoe Bell) explain questions relating to equality and how to summon courage are two must-see featurettes offered here.
Wonder Woman may not be my favorite film of the year but I can't dismiss its importance. It signals that superheroines no longer need to serve dinner; they can finally have a seat at the table.