They say that reviews (not limited to movies, of course) ultimately tell you more about the reviewer than they do about the product being reviewed. Perhaps so. It also seems to be true that one can't offer up a review of WONDER WOMAN without stepping into some socio-political maelstrom or another. So... I thought I'd tell you a little more about myself.
As I processed sitcoms from the late 60s and early 70s (particularly THE BRADY BUNCH and THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY) it didn't take me long to grow resentful of the so-called "Women's Lib" movement. I must have missed the prevailing trend where the guys were always showing up the gals and routinely putting them in their supposed place for our entertainment; because I came in right on the wave where the perpetual theme of the day seemed to be haughty, sexist boys getting their comeuppance as their sisters triumphed over them in whatever they put their minds to. (Eventually, I had a little sister of my own to enjoy the programming with me, but of course she NEVER gloated or smirked about such things.) So yes, I built up quite a load of resentment towards the opposite sex...
...still, that was grade school. I grew up, and I'm not interested in apologizing or atoning for any of that now. I only bring it up to point out that not even back then did I have any issues or reservations regarding a woman's 'place' or what she was capable of accomplishing. (With my mother leading the way as an example, for instance, I never once entertained the stereotype that a doctor had to be a man or that a nurse had to be a woman, for one thing). And I never, ever had a problem with female superhero characters. Batgirl was always a welcome part of the team; I enjoyed the failed Cathy Lee Crosby WONDER WOMAN pilot (my father had to express his disappointment that she never used her bullet-deflecting bracelets in that rendition), and the highly successful Lynda Carter show was almost right up there with the immortal BATMAN itself in my book. (Wonder Woman was, of course, also a Super Friend). They weren't there for the sake of "teaching guys a lesson." They were there to fight the BAD guys, and I cheered for the super ladies just as much as I did for their male counterparts.
Still, it seemed to take forever for the DC ladies (in particular) to get their proper due on the big screen. (The less said about Alicia Silverstone's Batgirl, the better, but we'll always have Halle Berry's CATWOMAN as a camp classic to beat the band.) And the new WONDER WOMAN is undeniably an "event." As for the film itself? I'm not ready to put it up there with the very best Batman films of the 80s and beyond, but it's easily the best "new" DC Universe offering to date in my book. Gal Gadot was a welcome and refreshing presence in BATMAN V SUPERMAN, and now that she's been properly introduced, it's time to get the obligatory 'origin' story out of the way.
Naturally, I'll gloss over the details for the sake of time and space. But Diana/Wonder Woman stands out in this new universe... not simply for being female, either. One of my problems with the latest take on DC is that we have been given a dark and angsty Superman to square off against a dark and angsty Batman, with the necessary element of exhilaration leached out of the superhero formula as a result (to the point where SUICIDE SQUAD became a delightful diversion!). Diana, however, sees her purpose at an early age and eagerly trains for it with no thought of sanction. She believes the teachings of her people and looks forward to nothing more than reclaiming world peace by dispatching the malicious Ares with the God-Killer. And when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) arrives on the sacred island and brings World War I with him? There's trauma, there's discovery, and there's purpose.
The setup works beautifully to allow us to enjoy the obligatory "fish out of water" business--but never at the expense of Diana, who quite understandably expresses confusion that Steve can't simply "drop her off" at the battlefront. Why all the extra distractions and diversions? Who cares about the gas formula perfected by "Dr. Poison" (Elena Anele)? Why do they have to go through all this boardroom nonsense and form a secret team? Why does she have to dress in bulky, inconvenient clothing? If everybody would just let her DO HER JOB and kill Ares, that would be THAT, right?
Diana, of course, is in for disillusionment, disappointment and personal loss as she learns the hard way that things aren't that simple. At the same time, however, she's spared the inevitable depression that would have followed... what's an immortal to do with the rest of eternity once her sole purpose is expended? It's this attitude of renewal and constant relevance that keeps Wonder Woman in business... and which helps make her fairly lengthy debut feature particularly compelling and entertaining. JUSTICE LEAGUE has suddenly become that much more worth looking forward to. But more on that when it happens...
Moderator: Chris Slack
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