Though it stumbles at the start, Wonder Woman‘s mature handling of the period and interesting characters help propel the film to heights never before reached within the DC Extended Universe.
The beginning of the film is (arguably) its weakest moment. It has the unenviable job of establishing this Greek fantasy setting of Themyscira, kingdom of the warrior women known as Amazons. It has to introduce a different side to a universe that we’ve seen before in previous films and make it understandable to the audience. Unfortunately, while the movie succeeds in doing all of this, it crunches it all down into the time allotted for the prologue, leaving the pacing of the prologue something to be desired. There was so much information crammed into the first half hour that I was left without a real connection with any of the other characters.
Ironically, for me, it was when they finally left the bright and colorful island and entered the dreary and dark real world that the movie started to pick up for me (wonderful use of color there; don’t think I didn’t notice). The World War I setting is unique and absolutely works for the story they wish to tell. I have to tip my hat to the film for handling the subject matter with such deft precision. How do you set a superhero movie in probably the darkest time in human history? By never shying away from the dark but offering us the light that may be too hard to see. Which is what Wonder Woman is here for.
At her heart, it’s not her Lasso of Truth, or her demigod status that makes her stand apart from the other superheroes. It’s her ability to feel the pain and suffering of other people around her and to channel that pain into righteous fury. She doesn’t care for the bullets aimed at her, all she cares about is destroying the ones causing suffering. Which is what a hero is supposed to do.
The theme also works to explain the dynamic between the two leads. Gal Gadot as Diana has an unshakable faith that mankind is a beautiful and good race while Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, a Captain who has been fighting the war for a long while, isn’t so sure. It all fits beautifully together to the point where a wonderful thing happened, the first time in a DCEU film: I actually cared about the characters on screen.
Some of the lines of dialogue are a bit too on the nose but I didn’t care because I cared about the characters. Some of the lines are also a bit cliche but I didn’t care because I cared about the characters. The CGI might have been distracting but I honest to god didn’t even notice them because I cared about the characters. They might have even used that freezeframe slowmotion thing a bit too much during the action scenes but I didn’t care because I cared about the characters.
You can have the biggest budget in the world, the greatest actors in the world and the greatest director and everthing, but none of that matters if the audience doesn’t care what happens to the characters on screen. And by god, I did care. I was absolutely invested. I was so invested, I nearly cried at the end.