Wonder Woman is a good, simple superhero film with a coherent plot, defined supporting characters and a strong protagonist that learns and evolves.
This instalment in the DC Extended Universe is an origin narrative, showing Diana leaving her mythical island home to find and destroy the Greek God of War, Ares. She does this by helping an American pilot uncover a German plot during World War I. As she fights and sees the brutal consequences of war, she discovers her powers and becomes Wonder Woman.
The film is focused on telling Diana’s story. Unlike Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman, no subplots establishing storylines for upcoming sequels are shoehorned into the narrative. There are little to no references to the DC Extended Universe in Wonder Woman, the film is standalone.
Now I wouldn’t call Wonder Woman ground-breaking or perfect as it is just another origin story like Thor, Dr Strange and many other superhero films, but it’s the first DC film in a while to get the origin story right and its thematic question of whether anything is worth fighting for knowing that humanity will inevitably be violent, makes Wonder Woman a little more original.
Diana is the archetypal superhero protagonist. Like Peter Parker in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man she wants to help people. She hopes to achieve this by killing Ares, which will rid the world of pain and suffering. However, she encounters obstacles in the form of man’s tendency to wage war. She sees these obstacles in vicious detail as she travels across the Western Front. She overcomes them, gradually growing stronger and wiser, learning the causes of war. I felt invested in Diana. Whenever she won or lost a battle I felt something and I definitely can’t say the same in regards to Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman.
The supporting characters are also strong. They all reflect the various outcomes and consequences of war. For example, Steve Trevor, the American Pilot, accepts war as an inevitable phenomenon. He fights to reduce as much suffering as possible, rather than trying to stop war and pain all together. Another good example is Charlie, a Scottish marksman who accompanies them to the front. While he seems to be just as enthusiastic about fighting as Steve is, we see that war has scarred him mentally.
The plot of Wonder Woman is easy to follow and has a clear predetermined goal. We learn that the German army are developing a deadly gas bomb. Diana, along with Steve and his team, try to infiltrate an army base and destroy the bomb before it is used. No subplots or supporting villains clutter the story, the film is always focused on Diana’s journey and struggle.
I do of course have a few issues with the film, the main one being the pace. The story takes a while to get going. A lot of time is spent on Themyscira, Diana’s home, at the beginning. I know it’s necessary to establish the world and mythology but, without getting into spoilers, there are a lot of scenes showing Diana with her family that I don’t think add much to the story.
I think the climax could’ve been shorter as it went on for so long it got to the point of getting boring. I know some people have problems with the climax and the villain but, once again avoiding spoilers, I don’t think the climax is inappropriate, not in thematic terms. The villain’s method made sense and was set up beforehand. If a few scenes were cut from the first act and the climax I think the film would’ve been more engaging.
Overall Wonder Woman is the best film in the DC Extended Universe to date. It is the archetypal origin story we all know but the historical setting and thematic question regarding war and suffering are original qualities. I recommend it.
I give Wonder Woman a strong 7 out of 10.