When I heard Patty Jenkins was directing a Wonder Woman movie, I was excited. But I wasn’t sure what to expect. DC TV shows kick ass, but the movies have been questionable at best. I’ve loved the character of Wonder Woman since I was a kid. I adore Lynda Carter. I’m still a little mad that I can’t do the spin and *poof* be Wonder Woman.
But sitting in the movie theater, getting to see Gal Gadot as Diana of Themi—Prince, Diana Prince. *ahem*—was a hell of a thing. To say that I had high hope for this movie is not an understatement. To say that this movie blew those hopes out of the water is not inaccurate either. As a woman, there is something incredibly powerful about seeing Diana on screen. This incarnation of her brought tears to my eyes, made me cheer, and left me with hope in my heart.
Yes, you read that right: hope. Gadot is radiant, intelligence, cheerful, and strong. She brings an innocent quality to Diana that is pure. “What I do is not up to you” is a perfect line. She believes in good, for standing up for those who cannot fight for themselves, but it’s more than that. It’s what Diana does—how she acts on those beliefs—that is so magnificent. As a girl, she is defiant from the start, getting Antiope to train her (a powerful Robin Wright, who was nothing short of marvelous—and I loved seeing her kick ALL the ass) against her mother’s wishes. Connie Nielsen was spellbinding as Hippolyta, regal and strong, with a knowing grief lurking beneath her facade. (Knowing she will lose her daughter to the world of men is no small thing.) Honestly, all of the Amazons were a glorious sight. In fact, someone give me a TV show about Themiscrya now please. The training scenes were captivating, and I adore that they used athletes from a variety of badass professions. Glorious as hell.
Diana does not look at the world as see what’s impossible. She sees people who need help and good that needs to be done—and she does it. Whether it’s rushing headlong across a battlefield deflecting bullets, stealing weapons from her own armory, or defeating a god—Diana is a hero who is not cowed by a dark past. She is not wrecked by the things that happen. She is not out for revenge. There is, as the final battle indicates, full of love. Diana spends the entire movie ignoring all the men, often rescuing them, while inspiring everyone who comes across her. That is no small thing.
But as all heroes know, no one does it alone. Not entirely. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is a perfect foil. He’s adorable and not afraid to be comic relief (although, Gadot is rather funny as Diana). He brings enough depth to the character so that the audience cares about his wellbeing. The watch, of course, is Chekhov’s gun. But his death had weight. Even more than that, it had meaning. There was not an ounce of ego to him (the actor or the character, unless you count the “average” conversation in the beginning). He saved the day, while Diana saved the future. And that was a brilliant, powerful thing.
This is a movie with depth and a plot. Things explode and there’s an amazing storyline—darlings, we found a legit unicorn here. The movie has heart, just as much as Diana does. This is not simply a good superhero movie, although it is that. But it is also a good movie, period. It is a movie about standing up for the right thing, even when others say it is impossible or don’t believe. While Steve’s compass does not work in Themiscrya, the one in Diana’s chest is always true and strong. She asks her mother, “But who will I be if I stay?” She leaves everything behind to save people she does not know. In the end, it is not about who deserves to be saved. It is not about humanity being a perfect good.
It is about standing in front of a monster, in front of evil, and fighting it with everything you’ve got. That ending fight scene is something to behold. Then again, so is Diana.
As a woman, this is a movie I’ve been waiting my whole life to see, even if I didn’t always know it. I cannot even articulate the exact why of what it means to me, but it is stuck in my heart. And I am thrilled that young girls have her to look up to. Jenkins is a kickass director, and Gadot is simply…well, wonderful.
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