Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins put the ‘Woman’ in Wonder Woman

 Official movie poster. Photo credit: DC Comics

Official movie poster. Photo credit: DC Comics

{Review by Madison Ward, Intern}

Taking in around $103 million in domestic gross at the box office, about 30 million more than what was expected, Wonder Woman has broke the record for best opening weekend for a female director, Patty Jenkins. The movie has not only a female director, but a female lead - a female superhero lead - the first in both DC and Marvel’s movies. Diana Prince is right up there with Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent in revenue and ratings, an A Cinemascore and Rotten Tomato rating of 93 percent.

 Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot on the movie tour circuit.  Photo credit: Marvel.

Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot on the movie tour circuit.  Photo credit: Marvel.

The Amazonian was equally kind and hardcore, which resulted in a nice combo; her display of honorable strength snared every viewer’s attention and awe. It helps that the lead actress, Gal Gadot, is insanely gorgeous and actually knows how to do many of the  amazing stunts she did in the movie. Some people, including me, suspect she may actually be Wonder Woman in real life, from her background as an Israeli actress, model, martial artist, Miss Israel 2004, and - oh yeah - she also served in the Israeli Defense Forces for two years, along with the training she did for her part: swordsmanship, two types of Jiu-Jitsu, and Kung Fu kickboxing. Gal Gadot performed all her own stunts and on top of all of that, she was five months pregnant.

This film was impressive, not just in the strong main character, but also with the complete culture and society that was built. Patty Jenkins created a beautiful and developed world, one divided by innocent fantasy and harsh reality. The beaches of Themyscira versus the grey London and the dark No Man’s Land add a layer of confusion and reluctant doubt to Diana’s hopes of saving the world from Ares, the god of war, and the truth of susceptible humanity. These contrasting scenes and colors demonstrate a shift of emotion that is deeply felt, and the sharp architecture and design of the characters clothing was equally enthralling. Jenkins wove a modern story into a past existence in a way that World War I was more of an extension to her story, then her story an extension to it. The timelines just happen to correspond, they happen to take place during the same period and it doesn’t take away, or drift away the focus from her journey in the least.

The film reeled us in the most with the profound themes and conflicts Diana underwent that eventually led to the understanding and acceptance of herself, her experiences, and human nature in general. These themes include realism v. idealism, cynicism v. optimism, and just v. corrupted. Legend v. truth and/or mythological v. historical were also dilemmas leaned heavily upon throughout the film when Diana was convinced Ares was real while others thought he must be fiction. An enhanced simple plot governed Wonder Woman: man v. man, or in this case, woman, woman v. (her)self, her powers, and her strength, woman v. nature, the nature of humanity, of good v. evil and the line at which it is acceptable and/or not acceptable.

This was a story of growing, of learning, and of accepting. It’s a story of firsts and lasts, of love and love lost.

Diana’s story did include tragedy, like most stories do. Her love may have lost the ground war, her childhood may have been turned aside in order to follow her stubborn responsibility to protect and help others, leaving behind her culture, her family and the only reality she had ever known, and her innocent mindframe and endless faith may have been frayed, but Diana also benefited from this experience. Throughout the film, she underwent many losses, but she did grow and learn that life may be harder than she originally assumed and the cause isn’t perfect, but then there were opportunities to discover blinding love and new connections, new motives and new hope. She took from her sorrows new insight on humanity and and her godly power, knowledge about real, 3D love, rather than those 2D books from which she learned romance. Diana finally understood the pain and the dark shadows that seep into humans’ souls and came to understand the reality of what good and bad are and how there is an in between and that is just something one must live with.  

She did leave her family and some of the people she left them for may have died, but she was lucky to have met and befriended the people she did during her mission, because their sacrifices made it worth it. By the end, she knew that all the anger and desperate despair, the vengeance she so craved, would not bring the dead back. Diana gained control and a new kind of hope that told her leaving her homeland had been worth it, and she was a new woman to have not stayed and to have fought for something that no other could. All these new experiences turned to new metaphorical ‘windows’ of opportunity opening up to her government job later on in her life and, finally, to her partnership with none the other than Mr. Bruce Wayne himself.  

 Can Wonder Woman live up to the hype?  Photo credit: DC Comics

Can Wonder Woman live up to the hype?  Photo credit: DC Comics

I want to say that I am more of a Marvel girl than DC. I have already invested so much of my time and my heart into each character, my attachment growing even further watching them all develop and intertwine with each other, but after watching this movie, I appreciate these DC Warner Brothers Pictures in a way that is completely new and refreshing. DC films, so far, have been relatively funny - nowhere near Marvel in regards to humor - but DC’s use of extremely independent main characters and, in this reviewer’s opinion, weak side characters to narrow our view point, along with following a strict storyline, is more demanding of my attention in certain ways compared to Marvel’s casual and ever flowing nature. Casual v. striking. They both entertain me. I like how Marvel is so humorous and warm, but I also respect the reality and hard plot and culture that DC relies upon. 

Wonder Woman is a strong film, especially for one that never once mentioned her being called Wonder Woman. It had heart and it had backbone. There was Diana and her cause and I think every viewer could feel that current of desperate energy that they conveyed together. Batman and Superman, honestly, haven’t done much for me, but Wonder Woman has made me a big fan of this growing DC universe.

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