Deliver us from the evil that is mediocre DC adaptations.
- Given how she was widely considered to be the best/only good/silver lining of Batman v Superman combined with the DC Cinematic Universe’s poor start at coming close to Marvel in terms of audience appeal, people had a lot of hopes that Wonder Woman would deliver the goods. So you can bet that when the positive reviews started rolling in, a giant sigh of relief that could be mistaken for god’s farts erupted across the world. Then said relief turned to rage when a women’s only screening occurred, but let’s ignore that and focus on whether or not “I” personally think Wonder Woman is good. Is it just another cliche superhero origin story, or did Zack Snyder actually make one of these DC dullards interesting again (I know he didn’t direct Wonder Woman, but he had something to do with the movie-making process)?
- Things started out alright with a decently executed, if kinda predictable, origin story for our leading woman as we see her grow from a young girl named Diana into a fierce fighter on an Amazonian island that we later learn is in a different dimension. Oh, and it gets invaded by Nazis, because if we’re going to see Amazons fight male invaders, why not the most evil men on Earth?
- After a pretty cool looking fight scene where the Amazons’ arrows and fighting skills ultimately defeat the Germans’ guns, but not without heavy casualties, a soldier opposing the Germans named Steve warns the Amazons about how WWII is happening all around them, causing Diana to mistakenly assume that Ares, the god of war, is up to some mischief. So she journeys with Steve to the real world, adjusting to the fact that women aren’t really supposed to be carry shields or swords amongst civilization whilst pursuing an evil that her sheltered life hasn’t taught her to fully comprehend.
- At first, I was worried that Wonder Woman was rated highly by people because it just gives us the classic Hollywood superhero origin story that made Doctor Strange so acclaimed despite it being a forgettable piece of shit. It did actually have good action, if a little too reliant on slo-mo at times, but otherwise it was mostly going for light-hearted “women act like this” jokes and Diana showing the mortal men that a hundred of them couldn’t take her on. Especially since she seems to have the power to predict where bullets will hit before blocking them with her arm guards – which I seem to recall her doing in what little I’ve seen of this character in the old Justice League cartoon as well.
- It wasn’t until Diana was led into a No Man’s Land battlefield that things really started to pick up. Because it was there that our hero started to learn about what mankind was capable of doing to each other – although she still thinks Ares is at fault here – and decides to do something about it, only to realize that her superpowers by themselves can’t get past the Germans’ machine guns. But they “can” distract said guns long enough for other soldiers to butt in, and that’s when I thought to myself “y’know, this is what that Izetta anime should have been”.
- Yes, it turns out that Wonder Woman is actually an anti-war movie with the central character arc being how the sheltered Amazon must realize that sometimes, mankind sucks regardless of God’s intervention. With all that mind, should Wonder Woman bother saving them, or should she leave them to their own folly? It’s not the most original twist on the formula, but it works in terms of injecting some freshness that a little kid wouldn’t be able to understand. And while I don’t want to spoil anything, it’s pretty obvious where our heroine ends up standing, and I like the stance she took even though it’s kinda cliche, because JRPGs have made me hungry for happy endings as long as they acknowledge both sides on the journey.
- Actually, when you get down to it, Wonder Woman has more in common with (good) anime superhero storytelling rather than the Hollywood kind. Yeah I know Snyder is a big anime dork and all that, but I mean in terms of how it always keeps the story front and center, even when you’ve got supernaturally strong people taking down faceless thugs. And the story is very clear regarding its goals, even if it takes a good chunk of the screen time for the true main focus to actually show up. But hey, that would interfere with Gal Gadot trying on different outfits, wouldn’t it?
- Thankfully, one thing that can always be counted on even when there’s down time is the action. Because dear god is it good. Yeah the slow-motion can be a bit much, but I’ll take it over the super fast shaky-cam that makes me unable to see where the punches land. Plus the fact that Wonder Woman needs help to fight off the German army even when she has a magic whip really does a lot in alleviating Mary Sue-ish concerns. That’s another thing I like about good anime superhero storytelling by the way: that having superpowers doesn’t mean shit when you’re up against some really powerful humans with really advanced tactics and weaponry.
- The movie gets sort of stupid in the final act when Diana ends up confronting the lead German general, who’s about as shit a villain as they come in terms of personality and motivation, plus he has some kind of drug that makes him as strong as her for some reason, which I just find ridiculous. But then they pull that Luke Cage shit of another villain appearing out of nowhere, and while his motivations and personal philosophy are fine for the most part, his actual characterization is poor due to the limited screen time, and the fight with him ends up being another CG slugfest that I’m not even sure I understand the results of. But then again, I was watching this in the late evening, so maybe I was just tired.
- Wonder Woman is definitely a marked improvement from Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, and here’s why: in addition to not being as overstuffed to the point of tedium as those two films were, I put most of the reason why it was good on how they only had to focus on a single hero this time, the same way Man of Steel mostly succeeded because it only needed to focus on Superman and what motivated him. While I appreciate the DC stuff for trying to integrate serious universal philosophies through their heroes’ actions in the same vein as when anime tries to do superhero stuff, there is such a thing as biting off more than you can chew, and that can backfire badly, as anime superhero storytelling itself has discovered in the past. Large number of protagonists is just hard to pull off in a two-hour movie. I can’t imagine Concrete Revolutio working nearly as well if it had to compress stuff, y’know?
- It’s not the most insightful commentary on war and the inherent evils of humanity, but on the whole, Wonder Woman manages to integrate pulpy comic action and genuine laughs to a decently written character arc that actually challenges our heroine even though we know she’ll do the right thing in the end. And given how I’ve always disliked DC’s heroes for being straight up goody-two-shoes with none of the interesting flaws that made Marvel’s stable relatable, the fact that I really cared about Diana throughout the majority of her two-and-a-half hour journey says a lot.
- While this film didn’t do jack in terms of raising my excitement for the upcoming Justice League movie this year, I am kind of interested to see if the other DC heroes can get a similar treatment with their own solo outing. Because fuck me if I’m watching that Flash show on the CW.
- I’ll review Injustice 2 after Redbox stops renting it out to other people.
- Still not sure how I feel about Joss Whedon being attached to finish the Justice League movie. Snyder may have ugly directorial vision, but Whedon has like none whatsoever.