Review: Wonder Woman (2017)


Director Patty Jenkins brings DC Comics’ famed Amazonian warrior princess Wonder Woman to the big screen in her first solo adventure and the DC Expanded Universe’s first truly great film.

In 2016, Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment kicked off their shared film universe with 2 of the most-anticipated films of that year: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice & Suicide Squad, following up on the introduction of the latest big screen reintroduction of Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel. Both were met with high hopes by fans and filmgoers and though both were profitable; neither of them lived up the hype and expectations engendered prior to their release. However, one of the bright spots of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was the big screen introduction of DC’s Wonder Woman, played by Fast and the Furious franchise alumna Gal Gadot. Gadot’s charisma and strong performance as the Amazonian hero impressed audiences even given her too-brief screen time in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. When it was announced that Gadot would headline her own solo film in 2017, fans were wary given the dreary and dark world building undertaken thus far in the DCEU. Would Wonder Woman be another morose exercise in grim and gritty superheroics or would Wonder Woman be the film that proved to be the breakthrough film that established the DC Expanded Universe as a place that fans would want to revisit in film. Wonder Woman is that film; a celebration of the classic character that establishes her as an inspiring figure and one with a compelling origin story.

Wonder Woman starts the audience’s journey in the isle of Themiscrya, an enchanted island of fierce Amazon warriors meant to be mankind’s last line of defense against the fearsome god of war, Ares. The Amazonian queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) relays these stories of bygone warrior glory to her young daughter Diana; tales that inspire her and her imagination to be the greatest warrior of the Amazons. To director Jenkins’ credit, this early sequence ignites memories of Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman: The Movie; one could see how a child would be inspired to be a hero the same way Diana is by seeing larger than life heroes around her. The effects behind the sequence explaining the fall of the gods at the hands of Ares are also quite impressive; invoking Renaiisance paintings by masters like Michelangelo and his work on the Sistene Chapel. Diana is forbidden to train by her mother, but her greatest warrior Antiope (played by The Princess Bride‘s Robin Wright) decides to train her in secret, knowing that the presumed dead Ares will eventually find Diana and the best defense is to train Diana to be the greatest of all warriors; so that she might be strong enough to wield a Godkiller and end him.

The resurgence of Ares is made all the more possible when a plane piloted by British/American spy Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes through the invisible shield surrounding Themiscrya. Pine has vital information for the British regarding the deadly gas being developed by the evil German commander Luttendorf (Danny Huston), a poison gas that will make gas masks useless through the use of hydrogen in their war against the Allied forces of World War 1. As Trevor crashes on Themiscrya, Diana saves him from drowning, but the German forces following him in pursuit also make their way through the barrier. Their modern weapons cut down the Amazons despite a valiant and well-shot beach battle. As Hippolyta argues to Diana that Trevor will not be allowed to return to “Man’s World,” Diana breaks him out and takes the garb and weapons that would make her the iconic Wonder Woman with her as they make their way to England via sailboat. Here, the film becomes something of a “fish out of water” tale, not unlike something like Splash or Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, with Diana learning the social constructs of the day and Trevor trying to explain to war that direct action sometimes does not have the effect in ending war as much as a big movement or action that would reach more would. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry is palpable; the two play off each other well and seeing Gadot’s Diana not understand military bureaucracy or the fashions of the day is pure pulp fun. Ultimately, Trevor and Diana hook up with a small band of outlaws and rebels to make a direct attack on Luttendorf and try to end him directly; given Diana’s belief that Luttendorf may well be Ares in disguise and his death may well end “the war to end all wars.”But even this might not be all it seems.

Wonder Woman largely works because its a character driven film and these characters drive the plot; versus the other way around. Like Mad Max Fury Road‘s Furiosa or Pacific Rim‘s Mako Mori, Gadot’s Wonder Woman has an inner life and motivations that drive her actions in a believable way. Meanwhile, Pine’s Steve Trevor is his own person as well. He tries to look out for Diana and understands her need to fulfill her destiny against Ares; but at the same time, his primary goal is stopping Luttendorf and Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) from finishing their deadly gas weapon. There are lots of little moments throughout the film that make it and its characters relationships ring true. Diana reaching out to Ewan Bremner’s shellshocked sniper Charlie that he needs to follow through on their mission because no one else will sing for them if he isn’t there. The character of Diana is our hook in this world much like it is for the rich ensemble cast that embraces her character in the film.


Wonder Woman is one of 2017’s best genre films and one of the better comic book films of the last decade. Check it out on the big screen and support well-written and constructed films like this one so we get more films in this genre that are in the same vein of quality and craftsmanship.