Let’s face it: DC Films had a rough couple of years. From the lackluster Batman V Superman, to the highly appalling Suicide Squad. Director Patty Jenkins had the biggest task of resurrecting the DC Universe back to its greatness. The best of her effort skyrockets Wonder Woman as, undeniably, the best DC film adaptation to date.
It is no wonder that the fate of a film largely relies to the capable hands of its director. Patty Jenkins, the woman responsible for Charlize Theron’s Oscar win in 2003 for Monster, uses her unprecedented intelligence and passion for the female psyche in bringing the back story of Diana Prince to the forefront. With rich visual stimuli and nuanced storytelling, Wonder Woman proves to give the audience a well-renowned classic heroine meant for the post-modernity of the 21st Century. It does not only celebrate Wonder Woman herself, but it also pays tribute to the army of Amazonian women responsible behind the creation of the Wonder Woman we all know today. It takes a strong woman to create a strong woman – feminism at its finest.
By now, I guess it is safe to say that the DC Universe is generally dark and grim. That’s just the trademark it chooses to be branded, leaning towards the trajectory that Christopher Nolan begun in his Batman trilogy – Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises – realism meets superheroism. In an actual world, wars and battles aren’t as glossy and vibrant as Marvel sells it (but yes, they sell it good) – DC chooses to hem reality within the fantasy. That brand got somehow lost in translation in Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman as it proves to be too somber, dull and mundane, and yet got overly compensated in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad as it tried too hard to be colorful and glittery, but ultimately empty. Wonder Woman’s greatest strength is the balance of its elements and composition. Yes, it is dark, but it is entertaining, substantial and sharp.
The most surprising element of the film is its unparalleled humor. The film has an understated comic flare, reminding you that superhero films are indeed meant for enjoyment and pleasure. The film takes itself seriously, but never in a contrived fashion; it simply is just a passion project made with a great deal of responsibility and intellect, whilst respecting the tone and hue of the universe it is in. It knows when to be silly, and when to be a smart act. The equilibrium of these contrasting tonalities are beautifully painted by the visionary Jenkins.
I’ve said this before and I shall say it again: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is perhaps one of the best casting choices for a superhero film, ever. We got the pleasure of getting a glimpse of her story in Batman V Superman (yes, she’s the best part of that movie) – and now, a full blown festive entertainment as we get to know everything behind this Amazonian warrior. Gadot is fierce and intense, yet vibrant and luminous at the same time. She carries the film’s balance to perfection. There are moments when she’s Xena: The Warrior Princess, while borrowing the hilarious complexities of the naïve, fish-out-of-water Princess Giselle in Enchanted. Gal Gadot gives everything that Wonder Woman stands for.
A surprisingly refreshing performance from Chris Pine, too. His sublime comic timing serves as the film’s breather in its darker moments. For a character meant to highlight the lead heroine, his performance as Steve Trevor stands on his own without being overshadowed, yet gives such generosity in showcasing the film’s star.
Overall, Wonder Woman is the revamp of everything that DC Films initially hit and missed; after a couple of litmus testing, they finally got the tone right while still being distinctly DC. Thanks, in large part, to the film’s ultimate Wonder Woman, director Patty Jenkins, for bringing the DC Universe back on track.