Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wonder Woman is the Super-Heroine Movie Marvel Should Have Made Years Ago

When the best thing about Batman v Superman was a powerful woman who comes two hours into the movie and puzzles the two main heroes, it's a sign that finally a good movie about Wonder Woman can be made.

The only question is...can it? Is Gal Gadot, former Miss Israel who appeared in a few Fast and Furious movies, the heir apparent to Lynda Carter? Can a woman direct this project, even if she directed Charlize Theron to an Oscar? Can Chris Pine be a less cheesy Steve Trevor? Most importantly, can it be a good DC movie after the scars left from Suicide Squad?

By Hera, they did.

The best idea was to make a solid origin story, framed by a picture that was part of BvS. It has Diana Prince (of Themyscira), Steve, and two other people somewhere in the First World War in the fall of 1918. Bruce Wayne discovered it, and wondered how Diana could be there. He finds the original glass negative and sends it to her in Paris. He includes a note hoping she'd tell him someday.

Well, he could see this movie and find out. It tells about her early days, her training, her first meeting with Steve when he crashes off the island in a plane followed by a bunch of surprised Germans, and her decision to find Ares  in order to end the war.
It's more than just an origin story. It's how a "sheltered" princess grows up when she learns the world is much bigger than her home, and what she knows may not be the whole truth.
Oh, and she's a brilliant fighter who can face down a German battalion, toss a tank (!), and use a rope as a very deadly weapon.

The toughest part is how to bring Wonder Woman to life. Gadot portrays Diana as someone who may be on Earth but is certainly from another world. She believes in strength and power, being a warrior who can fight when she must. When she leaves her home, she is puzzled by clothes that are too tight to let her fight. She's also horrified by the sights of war and how they affect people. She thinks it's the work of Ares, the God of War, corrupting the Germans who want an eternal war. She'll learn, though, that's it's a bit more complex than that.
She is still someone who has a mission and will see it through. When she and Steve are surrounded by German spies, she stops a bullet aimed at him. He's stunned but he'll go with it. He already knows how good she is as a fighter.  It also means her disguise with glasses is blown, but it doesn't work with her anyway.
The best part is when she crosses No Man's Land, and plows through the Germans with some help from Steve. She also makes quick work of other soldiers at a small town. That section has inspired a lot of fans, and may be a turning point in the DC Verse. We'll know for sure in five months.
Then there's the look on her face when the town she saved gets gassed, and that Steve doesn't believe in Ares. She wonders if anyone is aware what's happening, but she can get confused, too. Gadot is flat out the best super-hero debut since Chris Evans as Captain America and (yes) Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool.

Chris Pine also does a great job playing Steve Trevor as a spy with scruples. He's wise not to take advantage of Diana, but he's also helping in guiding her through an alien world that's basically our world. They also have great chemistry together, even talking about things like how Diana was born without a father (even though she knows how it's usually done), why people need watches, and whether Ares is real, He's also pretty good at espionage, especially when he does some small talk with Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), who's come up with the most poisonous gas ever. She's as deadly as she looks, with a face mask that hides the sacrifices she made for bio-warfare.

The big bad seems to be a German general called Ludendorff (Danny Huston), who wants Maru (aka Dr. Poison) to come up with a weapon that will turn the tide for his country. She's already come up with something he sniffs that's more powerful than a warehouse of  Red Bull.

In the end, Diana is right. Ares is to blame...but whose face the god uses actually makes a lot of sense. It leads to an intense battle that's also typical in these movies, While Ares says mankind isn't worth protecting, someone's sacrifice convinces Diana that it is.
While the Ares reveal is a bit surprising, it would have been better if the real face of Ares was different than the one he used.

Another good thing about this movie is that it can stand on its own. It's not the "first chapter of Justice League" that BvS was, or a jumbled mess with the wrong big bad that Suicide Squad was. This was one hero's story all by itself. Maybe that's why Warner Brothers decided not to add a post-credit scene to tease people about Justice League in the fall.  It would have taken a bit away from her.

Oh, and let's talk about Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, who is Steve's secretary. She's clearly the typical post-Victorian woman but really likes Diana and how she carries herself. Let's hope Etta had great-grandkids, and one of them meets Diana in Justice League or Wonder Woman 2.

The latest word is that Wonder Woman could hit 100 million bucks in its first weekend, despite possible competition from another super-hero, Captain Underpants. It'll get more stiff when The Mummy (who is a woman and even scarier this time around) opens on Friday, followed by Cars 3 on the 16th.
If Wonder Woman can hold her own this month, she can make history. Marvel may have to decide how to match this quick instead of waiting for Captain Marvel in 2019. Maybe season three of Agent Carter at least, along with lots more Jessica Jones after Defenders?
UPDATE:  For obvious reasons, Wonder Woman 2 will happn, according to Comic Book Resources. Gadot and director Patty Jenkins will be back, just as soon as WB gives permission (before or after a massive march of Dianas?). Still want to see Etta's descendant in a cool job.

P.S. Some fans are surprised Diana was brought to life by Zeus, which was done as part of "the New 52", than the original version. Wanna bet if Diana was born thanks to two goddesses a certain news network will be upset, along with the fact she's not American enough?

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