Here’s the thing, I’m not much of a feminist. I’m not about doing away with men or reducing them to sperm donors whilst I IKEA my home to the bitter end, all by my tough independent lady self. BUT, there’s something about finally getting a leading female superhero film in amongst all the Thor’s and the Captain’s and the Hulks that had my bra strap twitching.
In memory of the amazing 7os series which I must have watched as reruns as it only lasted three seasons and ended in 1979. I would have been at least between 7-10 for Wonder Woman to have an impact on me. But I remember all the girls in school wanted to be her. With her snazzy red, blue and gold outfit, princess tiara and magical weapons. The casting of relative newcomer, Israeli model Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a shrug shoulders for me, she’s pretty and dark-haired, didn’t have the curves of Lynda Carter of the original series, nor the comic version for that matter, wasn’t entirely convinced by the trailer but I was hopeful and decided to avoid the hype of press and commentary until I’d seen it.
The premise – Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.
Okay so all the bits where we see young Diana living as a child Amazon on the island of Themyscira before she becomes Wonder Woman, are great. Great establishing of the back story. Great turns by all the women – Robin Wright taking a break from being a bad bitch in House of Cards, is Diana’s aunt Antiope, and Connie Neilsen (The Good Wife) is great as Hippolyta, Diana’s mother and Queen of the Amazons. Diana is in awe of her aunty Antiope and wants to be trained in the ways of the Amazon much to her mother’s reluctance. The power struggle between Antiope and Hippolyta for the development of their niece/daughter is great. The Amazonian warrior training scenes with truly formidable women also great. Shout out to British Blacktress Ann Agbomo who plays one of the prominent Amazon Warriors Philippus, she also gets a few lines. (We’ll soon see Ann in new sci-fi series Krypton). Gadot gives an accomplished Wonder Woman, she’s endearing, handles comedy timing well and is believable in her action scenes, even when the CGI gets out of hand.
It all went pear-shaped for me the minute Steve Trevor (Pine) somehow manages to break through a portal into the seas of Themyscira – a spy on the run from Nazi Germans. Who, by the way, also manage to slip through this portal into Themyscira. Thus, of course, Diana now a grown woman who saves Steve from the Nazis but also has to experience battle at the hands of men bearing guns – things she’s never seen before only read about, realises there’s a bigger world out there. She also decides it’s her duty to save the greater world from war and itself.
Taking us away from the beauty of Themyscira into the dull greys of London and Berlin during the Great War, is where I was like, ‘really?’ Maybe I’m not progressive enough but I wanted the shine of the 70s series, and actually of all the recent Marvel films. I wanted full on American glitz, some fight scenes through Times Square and I dunno an all American blockbuster. But no. Though we do get some great characters which help Diana evolve into Wonder Woman, like Etta Candy wonderfully played by The Office (UK’s) Lucy Lewis who appears as a very British fuddy duddy, providing much comedy relief. Etta will eventually become Wonder Woman’s best friend, it’s not really clear in this instalment how or why she’s part of the crew. We also have the rabble of friends – Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) and Charlie (Ewen Bremner) who Steve rallies together to help he and Wonder Woman on their mission to stop the German warlord Ludendorff (Danny Houston).
A few great fight scenes and quips amongst the crew aside, what was really disappointing was although this film is billed as Wonder Woman, much of it hangs on Steve. Wonder Woman is relegated to supporting actress; Sexy Warrior Eye Candy. The story isn’t really about Wonder Woman, yes we see her having to grow up and understand the way of the world but it’s kind of through the lens of her ever so rapid love for Steve. I really wish this story was framed differently and that they had trust in Gadot to dominate on her own. Maybe with the $100 million budget burning through her pocket, Wonder Woman‘s female director Patty Jenkins thought better not push it too far?
Maybe I’m biased because I’m not the biggest fan of World War I & II films. So my disappointment that this is the focus of Wonder Woman would never be appeased. It’s not bad. It definitely takes DC out of its run of failures. I just can’t wait for the dust to settle on this introduction movie, and for Wonder Woman 2 to tell the proper story where she’s solely the central focus without depending on a dashing male to steal her thunder.
Wonder Woman is in UK cinemas now