Wonder Woman opened in theaters this weekend. Given the international intrigue, huge box-office projections and the age-old question, “I wonder if women can do stuff too?” I just had to get my tuckus in front of the screen. For all the hoopla, the only question that really matters is: Will this movie be worth $10 to $20 and two hours and twenty one minutes of my time? I have a few complaints — which I will file accordingly — but the definitive answer to that question is “HECK YES!”
I wish I had walked in five minutes late and missed the opening, which I don’t think added anything to the story. Diana (Gal Gadot) walks confidently into the Louvre (she seems to be an employee) and receives a care package from Bruce Wayne, who wants to hear the story behind a grainy photograph. I understand the compulsion to tie this in with the rest of the comic-book universe, but why show me everything will turn out okay? But then, the film got into the really good stuff: a hauntingly animated ancient Greek mythology origin story. I love that they wove this in because it makes me feel like a member of a rich tradition of human history. We all just want to be a part of things.
We meet Diana as a spunky little girl on a paradisiacal island inhabited solely by Amazonian women trying to mimic Gal Gadot’s accent. The island (which is kind of the original Man Repeller, if you think about it) is protected from the darkness of mankind and bad weather by a force field. Young Diana, eager to train, is smothered by helicopter mom Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). “Cool Aunt” Antiope (Robin Wright) sneaks Diana into the forest and teaches her how to throw down. And not a moment too soon, because danger comes knocking when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes a stolen German fighter plane through the force field and can’t unbuckle his seatbelt, which was, of course, a metaphor for the imprisoning nature of toxic masculinity. Diana frees him, and the warrior Amazon ladies battle the pursuing evil Germans in a pretty epic 300-esque battle. I’m ashamed to admit I wanted more gore, but this is PG-13. Later, Diana sees his penis in a jacuzzi and he assures her that it’s big (he could be lying; she’s never seen one before).
Diana has learned that the War to End All Wars (which we in our infinite hindsight now refer to as World War I) is happening outside her bubble. Will she sit idly by and let the killing rage on? I’ll just say that if she did, it would be a pretty boring movie. She and Steve elope on to fulfill their respective destinies on a sexually charged/occasionally funny boat ride toward the western front of the war. We skip past the horrific mass murdering and are treated to a somewhat clumsy fairy-tale creature-meets-reality sequence a la Enchanted or Elf. Diana needs normal human clothes to move about, but can’t seem to grasp that her stylish trench coat clashes with her majestic sword and shield.
I don’t think the filmmakers quite struck the balance between Diana’s naïveté and brilliance, her polylingualism clashing with her incredulity that mankind had managed to make such a mess of things. The lighthearted romance flickering between Diana and Steve at times felt less like a romance blazing doggedly despite the horror of modern warfare and more like a tone-deaf, backseat teen heavy-petting session in disharmony with the mind-boggling human destruction taking place mere miles away.
Men are, by and large, painted as squabbling, petty jackasses steered by their erections (which always perk up when Diana enters the room), though there are a few good apples in the bunch. I did feel a bit targeted by this, but maybe the truth hurts.
I don’t want to spoil any more of the movie. ‘Tis an adventurous tale with twists, turns, a good message and tons of badassery. Go see for yourself! And skip the 3D if you, like me, are prone to motion sickness and fear.