Finally, DC managed to put out a good entry in their “DCEU” series. Now when I first saw Diana Prince make her appearance in Batman V Superman, I knew that a solo movie would be coming relatively soon, which was a big concern. See, solo female superhero movies have never really worked out well in live-action form, with Catwoman and Elektra being two of the more recent less than stellar attempts. However, the initial trailer that was shown looked amazing so I ended up getting my hopes up that finally, things would be different. Boy was I surprised when I went to see it in theaters and I decided to pre-order Wonder Woman (2017) as soon as it came out on video so I could enjoy it again and again.
The plot: In the present day, Diana Prince arrives for work at the Louvre in Paris, where she receives a suitcase from Wayne Enterprises. When she opens it, she finds an framed, old photograph of herself and 4 soldiers during World War 1, with a note from Bruce saying he had found the original photo and that he would love to hear the story one day. Diana thinks back to her childhood on the island of Themyscira. Diana is eager to begin training for war like the rest of the Amazons but her mother, Queen Hippolyta, refuses to allow her to train. Hippolyta tells Diana the history of the Amazons, how Zeus had created them to restore peace and protect mankind from the evils inflicted by Ares. As Hippolyta led a crusade to end the wars of man, the gods rebelled against Ares so Ares killed all of them except for Zeus, who was able to strike down Ares, then created Themyscira to hide the Amazons and the weapon he created which could kill a god. Diana sneaks off to train with her aunt Antiope and when Hippolyta eventually catches them, she sends Diana away before arguing with Antiope. Antiope argues that Ares is still alive and Diana needs to be prepared to battle him and Hippolyta reluctantly agrees, telling Antiope to train Diana harder than any Amazon before her. As the years pass, Diana has become a young woman and continues training, defeating the strongest Amazons in combat. As she spars with Antiope, Diana gets the upper hand but when she turns to seek Hippolyta’s approval, Antiope knocks her down and presses the attack, lecturing Diana that war isn’t fair, when Diana slams her bracelets together, causing a shockwave that sends Antiope flying. As some Amazons tend to Antiope, Hippolyta worries about what she has done while Diana apologizes, then runs off after seeing the looks on the other Amazons faces. Heading to a cliff to think about what happened, she sees a damaged airplane piercing the mystic veil protecting Themyscira and crashing into the ocean. Diana dives into the water and rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor, and carries him to shore, unaware that German troops were searching the area for his plane and also discover the island. As the Germans approach the island, Hippolyta and the other Amazons attack them as they land on the beach. Steve and Diana join the battle but Diana, fighting her first real battle, gets distracted by seeing her fellow Amazons dying and is almost shot herself but Antiope leaps in front of her and takes the bullet herself. Grieving over her sisters death, Hippolyta prepares to kill Steve but Diana jumps in front of him, saying that he fought at her side. When Steve refuses to answer, he is brought into the city and tied up with the Lasso of Hestia, which compels him to tell the truth. Steve tells them that he is an American spy working with British Intelligence and had been undercover at a German war factory, where General Erich Ludendorff and his chief chemist, Dr. Isabel Maru, are working on developing a new mustard gas that can eat through Allied gas masks. Steve stole Maru’s notebook and managed to escape the factory, bombing it on his way out, and was attempting to make it back to Allied headquarters but was shot down in the attempt. Diana argues that they should go fight in this war, as it surely means that Ares has returned, but Hippolyta refuses to allow it. After talking some more with Steve, Diana decides to help him leave the island, sneaking into the armory and taking the Lasso and the “Godkiller” sword as well as her armor. Diana leads Steve to a dock where a ship is ready to sail but before they leave, Hippolyta and her guards arrive. Diana approaches Hippolyta and says she has to go and Hippolyta says she knows and allows Diana to leave but as they watch the boat sail away, one of her guards asks Hippolyta if she should have told Diana the truth but Hippolyta says that the more Diana knows, the faster Ares will find her. Meanwhile, Ludendorff and Maru have survived the bombing and set up a new factory to manufacture their weapons but Maru is still not having any luck without her notebook. She gives Ludendorff some gas capsules, which increases his strength, and as he recovers from the effects of the gas, she finds some crumpled notes and realizes she might have the answer to their problems. Diana and Steve arrive in London and Diana wants to head straight to the war but Steve convinces her to let him get the notebook to his superiors first. Steve takes Diana to get some more modern clothes so she can blend in but as they head to the war council, they are attacked by German spies and Diana is able to quickly defeat them. Reaching the council, they listen as Sir Patrick Morgan attempts to discuss negotiating armistice with Germany. After handing over the notebook, the generals try to interpret the book and Diana recognizes the languages the book is written in and is asked to translate it. When she tells them of the new mustard gas Maru is working on, Steve tries to convince the generals that they need to send a team in to take out Maru but they refuse. Diana argues with the generals before Steve drags her out of the room and tells her he will take her to the front, despite being ordered not to go. Steve and Diana head to a nearby bar, where they recruit Steve’s mercenary friends Sameer and Charlie, and Sir Patrick arrives to wish them luck on their mission into Belgium. Meanwhile, Ludendorff arrives at a council meeting, where the other generals are discussing the upcoming armistice. Ludendorff says that he can still win the war but the other generals overrule him and say they plan on telling the kaiser to sign the armistice so Ludendorff has Maru throw a gas grenade in the room, then Ludendorff locks the generals inside with the gas to be killed. When Diana and the others arrive in Belgium, Diana is saddened by the sight of all the injured she sees but Steve tells her they have to keep moving so they continue moving forward. The eventually meet up with Chief, a smuggler who supplies items to both sides of the war, and they make camp for the night. The next day, they arrive at No Man’s Land and when she hears what has happened to the nearby village of Veld, Diana decides to help the villagers. Heading up out of the trenches, Diana makes her way towards the German line and Steve and the others, inspired by her bravery, follow after them. They are soon able to take out the German soldiers in the trenches and make their way into the village, taking out all of the soldiers there and liberating the people. After posing for a photo, Steve makes contact with his secretary, who tells him that Ludendorff is hosting a gala close by to the village but Sir Patrick tells him not to go to the gala, as it will disrupt the armistice treaty. That night, the villagers celebrate their newly won freedom while Steve and Diana dance and end up getting closer to each other. The next day, they head to the gala and Steve tells Diana not to go inside before he heads there in disguise with Sameer, but Diana steals a woman’s dress and makes her way in. At the gala, Steve begins speaking with Maru and attempts to persuade her to work with him but he gets distracted when he sees Diana enter the room. Diana makes her way to Ludendorff, whom she believes to be Ares, and the two discuss the war and the Greek gods while they dance before Ludendorff takes his leave. Diana moves to kill him but Steve stops her and argues that it won’t help them find the gas and tells her she might be wrong. As the two head outside, they see Ludendorff ordering cannons to fire at the village and Diana rushes back to the village and Steve follows her, telling Chief and the others to trail Ludendorff. When she reaches the village, Diana finds everyone inside dead and she blames Steve for their deaths, believing his preventing her from killing Ludendorff allowed this to happen. Steve sees some nearby smoke and tells her to follow it, as it is Chief and the others telling them where Ludendorff went. Diana heads out and finds Ludendorff at a nearby airfield, where the gas is being loaded onto a bomber heading for London. Diana starts fighting Ludendorff and eventually kills him but is shocked to discover that the Germans are still loading the bombs onto the plane. Steve arrives and tries to convince Diana to help him stop the Germans from using the gas again but Diana is too confused by what is going on and wonders if mankind is even worth saving, so Steve and the others head out on their own. Suddenly, Diana sees Sir Patrick appear and realizes he is Ares and goes to confront him but when she attempts to stab him, the Godkiller sword is destroyed. Diana looks on in horror and Ares tells her that she, not the sword, is the Godkiller, being the last child of Zeus that he left behind to be used as a weapon against him. Ares attempts to convince Diana to join him but she refuses so he begins attacking her. Steve and the others discover the gas being loaded onto the plane and make plans to disable the plane when they see Diana and Ares fighting. Maru orders the plane to take off and Steve comes up with a plan, telling the others to clear him a path to the plane. When Diana is knocked back by an explosion, Steve goes up to her and starts talking to her, though she can barely hear him as her ears are still ringing from the blast, and he hands her his father’s watch before running and getting on the plane. After knocking out the pilot, Steve pilots the plane as high as it can before setting off the explosives, sacrificing himself in order to destroy the gas in the explosion. Diana, who had been trapped by Ares, sees the explosion and cries out in grief over Steve’s death, enabling her to access more of her power, which she uses to attack the Germans attempting to kill Chief, Charlie, and Sameer. Ares tells her to use her powers to help him kill mankind, offering up Maru for Diana to kill. However, Diana thinks back to what Steve was telling her before he got on the plane and how he loved her, and realized that despite the evils some men may show, there is good in mankind. Ares attempts to attack her again, using lightning this time, but Diana is able to absorb the lightning with her bracelets and uses it to kill Ares and the soldiers end up laying down their arms. Back in London, Diana and the others see a memorial to various soldiers that died in the war and Diana touches Steve’s picture on the memorial before turning and walking away. Back in the present, Diana places the picture back in the suitcase, along with Steve’s watch which she still had, then sends Bruce an email thanking him for the picture before hearing sirens in the distance and, donning her armor, heads out to save mankind once again.
Wonder Woman was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot’s charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.” Gal Gadot was 5 months pregnant when she had to do reshoots for the film so the crew made a costume that included a green screen around her belly, which they removed during post production. The movie was a box office hit, earning $821.8 million off of a $149 million budget, and set several box office records; including being the highest grossing live action film directed by a woman and the highest grossing super-hero movie with a female lead.
There were a few flaws, but this was a great movie and worth the praise people were giving it. The acting was really good, with Gal Gadot doing an amazing job as Diana, while Chris Pine (Steve), David Thewlis (Ares) and Danny Huston (Ludendorff) were equally good. I also thought that Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta) and Robin Wright (Antiope) were fantastic as Amazons (seriously, Buttercup became a real bad-ass) while Said Taghmaoui and Ewen Bremner made for some pretty good comedy as Sameer and Charlie, while Eugene Brave Rock (Chief) did a good job being the straight man for them. The plot was one of the better origin style movies to come out in recent years. Yes, I know that in the comics, Wonder Woman appeared pre-World War 2, not World War 1, but I think the different setting helped set it apart a little more (and might have also helped keep some of the regular movie-goers from trying to compare it to Captain America: The First Avenger. On a side note, I literally LOLed during the scene where Diana is eating ice cream for the first time, as that was almost identical to a scene in the animated movie, Justice League: War. The special effects were really good, with the battle in No Man’s Land being exceptionally well done and choreographed, as was the Amazon’s battle against the Germans. The only mild drawback for me was the final battle between Diana and Ares, as it felt like the went a little too overboard on the special effects during parts of the battle, when a “less is more” approach might have been better. All in all, DC finally got their act together and made a good live-action movie. Hopefully, they can keep this up.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5