To say that Patty Jenkins felt a little pressure after she signed on to direct Wonder Woman would be a tremendous understatement. A female director who is far from a household name – the only feature film on her resume is her 2003 debut, Monster – she was given the heady task of bringing the first major studio comic book film adaptation led by a female character to the screen, in a climate where many are expecting it to fail just because the bubble on this particular genre has to bust at some point.
Sorry fellas, you’re gonna have to keep waiting, because this is one fun flick.
Gal Gadot (the Fast & Furious franchise) is more than capable as Wonder Woman, an Amazon warrior who leaves her homeland to travel across Europe during World War I on a mission to expel the evil that she feels has befell humanity. While her guide, Steve Trevor (Star Trek’s Chris Pine, continuing his recent streak of grand performances), understands that there is a little more nuance to the current predicament that the various militaries of the world find themselves mired in, he nonetheless escorts the superheroic princess through battlefields in search of the mythical Ares, God of War.
Gadot’s performance is revelatory, showcasing degrees of talent that were never allowed to be seen in previous action films she has found herself in. The character of Wonder Woman walks a tightrope of near-naivety and innocence, the early 20th century setting allows for a refreshing change of pace from the last few years worth of product baring the DC label, as the film is able to eschew the ironic grime and grit of Suicide Squad for a world that causes WW to come of age by witnessing the psychic toll that every citizen was dealing with at the time.
Screenwriter Allan Heinberg’s script offers Gadot multiple opportunities to shine a spotlight on multiple facets of WW’s personality, with comedy and romance intertwined expertly with the action needed for a film of this magnitude. Along for the ride is director Jenkins, whose female perspective is a breath of fresh air for the world of comic book movies. Her female warriors have different strengths than their male counterparts, but Jenkins captures their feminine battle formations in a way that makes one wonder what that 300 sequel from a few years back would have looked like if she had been calling the shots. I’m guessing there would have been a better shot at the franchise surviving, at any rate.
Wonder Woman feels like both the film and the character that we all really needed to see on a big screen this summer. Never cruel, able to still be shocked by the evil found within the world, and a force for good who is willing to sacrifice for the goodness that they still believe is found within the average person out there.