Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in the action adventure movie "Wonder Woman." (Clay Enos/ TM & DC Comics)
Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman” does not disappoint. Sweeping the weekend with $223 million, boasting the biggest-ever opening for a film directed by a woman, it’s already created box office history.
I agree with all the buzz: It is everything you want a Hollywood action and superhero movie to be. And it’s even more. (Warning readers, there are spoilers).
Perhaps its plot is a bit old-fashioned, as it borrows from the ancient Greeks: When god first created men, they were good and fair and lived together happily. But Ares, son of Zeus, became jealous and corrupted humankind. The gods then created the Amazons to protect humanity from corruption by Ares. Defeated in a deadly battle with other gods, Ares laid in wait for his chance to destroy humankind again. It became the Amazons’ mission is to prevent this from happening.
The theme is beyond refreshing.
Within this classic set up, a completely new story unfolds. We meet Diana (eventually Wonder Woman) and see her childhood in the stunningly beautiful paradise island, where she grows up in Amazonian graciousness and ease, becoming a mature, charming, strong, and fearless young woman—with superpowers, ready to save the world.
Then a plane bursts through the invisible shield around the island and crashes into the sea, in front of Diana’s eyes. From this moment on, everything changes, and she must do what she was born to do.
You’ve likely heard of the plot by now. The pilot of the crashed plane escorts her back to the human world into the setting of World War I—the war an instrument Ares is using to destroy humanity.
As the first headlining female superhero in many years, the character of Diana surpasses expectations. She is wise yet innocent, has a big and compassionate heart, with firm faith and tremendous courage, and believes in her mission to such a degree that she charges out to complete it without doubt or hesitation.
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in the action adventure movie “Wonder Woman.” (Clay Enos/ TM & DC Comics)
In fact, she is everything good. Devoted to compassionate love, she chooses to forgive “Doctor Poison” who has created mustard gas with an intention to kill millions.
Goodness itself becomes an all-powerful weapon. At the end when Ares tries to convince Wonder Woman to give up, because humankind does not deserve her, she walks towards him with determination and declares, “They are everything you said, but so much more. It is not about being deserving. It’s about belief, and I believe in love!”
Inspired by an act of self-sacrifice by Steve, she defeats Ares who so far has been untouchable, even with her magic god-killing sword.
Thus, apart from a good story, “Wonder Woman” has a clear and completely positive and righteous theme, clear from beginning to end.
This theme is beyond refreshing. In an age when many artists are not sure what to depict, and some of them have gone so far as to portray ugly and negative things, a completely positive message from “Wonder Woman” is more than needed. We are starving for it.
A Perfect Style to Match the Theme
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in the action adventure movie “Wonder Woman.” (Clay Enos/TM & DC Comics)
Director Patty Jenkins has thankfully adopted a very traditional and realistic style to depict the movie’s positive message.
As Richard Brody put it in his New Yorker review, “Wonder Woman” “comes close to the realistic style of no style, as if in fear that a heightened or aestheticized one would ultimately contradict the point of the film and serve as a glorification of the very violence that it repudiates. It’s a superhero film with almost no excess.”
Exactly so. Throughout the movie, the pace and structure has been controlled in such a way that nothing feels too long, too short, too heavy, or too boring. Extensive battles have been interjected between soothing, relaxing scenes, as well as romantic moments, all moving the story forward so that you feel everything is just about right.
There is no artistic pointing to the director’s hand, there are no abstract moments leading to audience confusion—the message is clear and the means clearly tell it.
If we take a serious look at the world today, we might find things are much worse than they were during World War I.
So, “Wonder Woman” offers much needed relief: refreshing, true beauty. Combined with its theme of compassion, it brings a completely positive experience, especially for those who love Hollywood classics.
On Saving the World
The theme is uplifting, the style complements the movie’s mission, so what more is there to say?
(L-R) Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Gal Gadot as Diana, Eugene Brave Rock as The Chief and Ewen Bremner as Charlie in the action adventure “Wonder Woman.” (Clay Enos/TM & DC Comics)
When Diana first leaves paradise and arrives at the turbulent, hideous human world, she saves women and children who have long suffered in the war. She shakes off her human clothes, emerges as a superwoman, and heroically charges toward the German army and a hail of bullets. The magnificent music, the epic-like battle scene with Wonder Woman as the sole, center character, armed with her sacred mission, her heroic determination and courage…everything worked together and it made me cry.
Because she represents the millennial-old concept of a truly purehearted being saving people, the scene moved me to tears.
And, the character of Steve Trevor is, in some ways, even more remarkable. The American soldier and spy breaks into Diana’s world and takes her away to the war to end all wars. He is, in a sense, only supporting Diana, and just an ordinary mortal man, though “above average” in his own words.
However, as a soldier who seeks peace, Steve, out of his sense of honor and responsibility, fights shoulder to shoulder with Wonder Woman with as much courage and determination. In the end, he chooses to sacrifice his own life to save many, many others.
Diana is lying on the ground nearly dead, and has almost lost her will to fight for men who “don’t deserve” her, when she sees the explosion and understands Steve’s sacrifice. She murmurs his name, and suddenly gains enormous power. In myriads of golden rays she jumps up, rises in the air, and resumes her battle against Ares, ultimately defeating him.
In our troubled times it’s not hard to see why a film about salvation, a theme prevalent in artworks through the ages, should appeal to us now. If we take a serious look at the world today, we might find things are much worse than they were during World War I. Now would be a good time for worldwide salvation to unfold, actually.
So, I considered, would God’s emissaries who might carry out that mission look like Wonder Woman, who can freely fly in the air and stop bullets effortlessly, or would they look like Steve, mortal and ordinary, but with momentous visions leading their hearts.
Were such emissaries dispatched today to save the world, the attributes that would most compel us would not be their superpowers, but their sense of responsibility, their courage, their willingness to sacrifice, their persistence, and in that persistence, their determination to hold onto their mission for the good of humankind and to charge forward no matter what.