Wonder Woman Soars as Superman and Batman Sink.
A his n her review by Shirley Samson and AlexanderBacigalupi
Shirley: Oh my goodness!!! That was spectacular, and not a dull moment from start to finish! The Amazonians looked in their element from the start, which was really awesome. According to Entertainment Weekly, it’s no wonder, as they were all professional warriors. I really liked how balanced Diana and the Amazonians were, as their education and training included fluency in many languages (both modern and ancient), philosophy, dancing, varied literature, as well as combat and athletics, so it was extremely well rounded. What we would call geeky interests are what they considered basic educational norms for their society, and it made sense if they were to be the peacekeepers of the world. It made me think of what the basis of a UN should be, which would be full of understanding and critical thinking, as well as egalitarian views.
Alex: It took multiple failed attempts but DC Comics finally got something right. Over the last few years, DC Superheroes both in the comics and in the movies reflected a world that many of their fans were not happy with. Bright and vivid colors were traded for muted and dark hues. Stories of love, hope, and whimsy replaced with darker, grittier, more “real” stories. Movies like Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman showed us a world where Batman and Superman kill without any type of moral conflict. So there I was in a theater hoping I hadn’t thrown away my money on DC’s new Wonder Woman movie. Within the first 5 min, those worries washed away. Wonder Woman is a wonderful movie. So radically different and well constructed… it might as well be a Marvel movie.
Shirley: I thought Gal Gadot was well-cast even from the trailers, considering she served in the Israeli Defense Forces (Israel has a mandatory draft of most citizens), so she is a natural soldier. She was extremely relatable and real, as a no-nonsense Amazonian warrior with a focus on truth, justice, peace, and integrity, not to mention knowledge. She is extremely pragmatic, and WW1 Era English and European conventions are lost on her, including: men-only meetings, fashions that limit movement but need to be inconspicuous so as women don’t ‘distract’ men, generals who knowingly send their soldiers into battles of certain death and consider these acceptable losses for war, generals who do not fight alongside their troops, and the need to say one thing to superiors while in fact having intentions to do the opposite (or lying overall). In fact, the very concept of secretary as explained to her bothers her to the core.
Alex: The two aspects of Diana’s life, the Island of the Amazons and the world of man, are starkly contrasted and presented beautifully. The cinematography and fight choreography are amazing. Themyscira is presented as a vivid, lush, and vibrant paradise, to contrast the dark, gray mud of the Great War, and the movie does not shy away from the darkness of this war, touching on the near-genocidal level deaths, of not just soldiers but innocent men, women, and even children. Gadot does an incredible job conveying her not-so-silent outrage at what she witnesses, as well as her empathy, and when she finally decides to get involved you can’t help but smile, cheer, or as the woman behind me said, to the agreement of everyone in the theater, “MMMHMMM GET ’EM, GIRL!”
Shirley: Her main villain, she was convinced, was Ares, the god of war and chaos. I was really uncertain about how the concept or character of Ares would be handled in relation to a very real war and what it included. Would or could Ares really be the cause of all the destruction? How would he be portrayed? Will he be portrayed at all? Will others continue looking at her like she is crazy whenever she mentions him? Will Diana have to finally learn that Ares was more of a bedtime story told to her as a child by her mother as a societal myth? I was both happy and relieved with how the this was all reconciled in the plot, and not a moment too soon. Phew!
Alex: But it’s not all awesome action and heroics. The movie touches on other social subjects as Diana learns about “Man’s world” from the racial discrimination, to the patriarchal/chauvinist treatment of women in that era, The different effects wars have on the survivors such as the yet-undiagnosed PTSD. Or the radical acceptance of their American Indian colleague simply known as the “Chief,” who responds to being asked why he’s not in his home country with “Yes, there is a war here, but at least here I am free” With these examples, Diana begins to see how different and complicated this world is.
Shirley: Diana brings out the best in her allies as she leads by example, showing extraordinary strength and unyielding bravery and determination. Her allies each bring an interesting and fun element to the team, and each come with their specific struggles either from life or the battles they’ve faced. They each also come with their particular sets of skills and talents that they bring to the team, both for combat purposes and others. She balances all this with love and compassion for humanity. She believes in them and their innate goodness as she fights to protect them, often from themselves, never compromising her morals.
Alex: This movie made me feel a lot of things and question a lot of other things. When Diana questions why it has to be this way, you find yourself struggling to give her an answer. And I think that’s what a great movie should do. Wonder Woman is just that, a great movie. You have no idea how happy I am to say that. When they announced the Wonder Woman movie… I was highly skeptical. When I saw the trailer, I was a bit hopeful but still very skeptical. When the reports came of high acclaim and positive reviews, STILL I was skeptical. There was no way the DC Comics I currently knew could make a movie this good. No way in hell. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
Shirley: The movie was fantastic and extremely refreshing to see the world from a different point of view, from someone who comes from outside of “man’s world.” We highly recommend you see it right now! Filmmakers, please make us more shows and movies with personable characters like this.
Alex: Wonder Woman was a desperately needed breath of fresh air for the DC Cinematic universe. And I pray this trend continues into Justice League and beyond. All these characters are amazing and they deserve better than what they have gotten so far. Wonder Woman especially, and I’m glad she got the treatment she deserves. So please, go and support this movie. You won’t be disappointed. As for the rest of the DC Movie Universe, time will tell. Wonder Woman has raised the bar… and she set it on Mt. Olympus. Get climbing, DC.
Shirley: *On a very minor and obscure note, I could have sworn Sameer said “denyavaad” in a certain scene in the movie, and that is the Marathi word for “thank you.” I especially appreciated this because it means that even less mainstream languages were represented, including the Indian dialect for Maharashtra State of India. There was no real context for it, but still nice to have beyond his multilingual banter with Diana.
Shirley & Alex: GO SEE WONDER WOMAN! 😀