Staff Picks: Wonder Woman

“Wonder Woman,” a 2017 live-action film, is an on-screen manifestation of the DC Comics character, who was born in 1941. As the fourth release in the DC Extended Universe, “Wonder Woman” is, at the very least, the best since the first “Man of Steel.” 

One of the more interesting parts of the movie is Wonder Woman’s backstory. The exposition quickly capitalizes on this, explaining Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) and the legend of her people’s creation as Amazon warriors. Viewers watch Diana grow up as the only child on the Amazon island Themyscira, only to become the fiercest  of the Amazons. But, when opportunity presents itself, Diana leaves the island — committed to fighting the Greek god of war, Ares, the enemy of mankind and killer of the other Greek gods — and becomes known as Wonder Woman.

The basic plot is simple: Diana, after growing up on an all-female island hearing creation stories, becomes convinced Ares has returned and she must stop him. It is American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) that spurs all this into action when he crashes his plane near Diana’s island.

Trevor offers more of a comedic aspect, especially as he banters with Diana, whose ignorance of the world outside of the island offers a sort of comic relief of its own. The two also make quite a few sexual jokes and Trevor’s secretary, Etta Candy (Lucy Davis), uses sarcasm at its finest to wrap up this comedic combo.

In the past, Wonder Woman’s outfit has caused controversy with women for being hypersexualized while being presented as a symbol of girl power. In this film, I lean toward the opinion that Wonder Woman is dressed as a warrior, and, though glamorized, her armour is quite visibly inspired by Roman warriors, notably seen with the style of her skirt and her greaves — or leg armor — though, again, hers are sexualized. However, her outfit is functional for combat, especially when compared to past versions. This may be due, in part to the female costume designer, Lindy Hemming.

Fight scenes, essential to any superhero movie, are capitalized on in the most recent “Wonder Woman.” The most impressive of blocks, kicks, hits and evasive maneuvers are in slow motion, impossible to miss and impossibly well-composed with special effects.

While these types of fight scenes are scattered throughout the movie, there is a stark contrast between the resolution, wherein the battle scenes are most intense,  and the first time Diana enters London (and the world outside Themyscira). While most irrelevant to the world-saving focus of the plot, some of the best scenes in the movie are when Diana’s unusual character is expressed and demonstrates her transition from innocence and naivety to wisdom about the world. Scenes that come to mind are when she has ice cream and sees a baby for the first time during the flashback, compared to the few minutes Diana spends outside of her flashback where she explains her growth through the experience in her own words. 

What she doesn’t address, however, is how she never fails to fight back against societal conventions of the World War I-era flashback. Diana is repeatedly and frequently told she cannot do something, such as fight, and is belittled in a male-dominated world, which I felt was another important aspect of the movie, as it contributes to the overall empowering message.

“Wonder Woman” is an empowering movie. Not everybody will agree on whether Wonder Woman is a role model or a feminist icon or not, but the movie is well-produced, thoughtful, entertaining and engaging.

Even with a simplistic plot, this is one of the best movies of 2017 as well as the “highest-grossing superhero origin film” with a box office total of $821.74 million, according to Forbes. With that success, a female director, Patty Jenkins, and costume designer, there is a feminist power behind the recent “Wonder Woman” movie with or  without Diana.

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