“Wonder Woman”


            Part comic book superhero, part Greek mythology, part “Star Wars”-type good vs. evil conflict, “Wonder Woman” is a surprisingly cohesive narrative.  Though definitely an action movie, it also features a good sense of wry humor, and---how can you be more politically correct?----is all about female empowerment.

            Gal Gadot, the Israeli model-turned-actress, is especially suited for this statuesque, athletic action hero role.  The whole movie is a flashback from the present, in “Wonder Woman”'s guise as Diana Prince, as a way of introducing the viewer to her “backstory,” beginning with her childhood on a sheltered island paradise.

            Here's where the mythology breaks in.  Zeus created man in his image, and man started out good, but Ares, Zeus' son, was jealous of the affection Zeus was developing for mankind, so Ares became the god of war, and caused man to dissolve into greed, avarice, and violence.  Athena counters by creating a race of  (female) Amazon warriors who will keep the peace in the world (similar to the Jedi?), and they spend their lives in training for their important peace-keeping role. 

            Diana knows her mother is the Queen of the Amazons, but her mother is so anxious to protect her daughter that she tells her nothing of her origins, and forbids the Amazon training for her, a command which her own sister disobeys.  But Diana still doesn't know she's descended from Zeus, and is herself a demigod.  Her mother decides she can find that out on her own, when she decides to leave the island “to fulfill her destiny.”

            Enter the handsome World War One flying ace, Steve, played by Chris Pine.  He crash-lands in the ocean just off the coast of the Amazon island, and Diana, now grown (and not a little curious), rescues him just in time for the War to follow him in the form of pursuing Germans (always the bad guys).

            Diana thinks that this “war to end all wars” must be her call to duty, though Steve keeps trying to tell her that the thing is a big mess and no one person can make that much difference.  Diana, though, believes the story book her mother always read to her, that if Ares, the god of war, is slain, then there will be no more wars.

            Naturally, Steve and Diana develop an attraction for each other, but since this is the comics, we're only going to suggest any lovemaking.  We're too busy trying to save the world here.  Literally.

            OK, what sounds like a convoluted mess of a plot actually isn't, because award-winning Director Patty Jenkins maintains a tight pacing, and is smart enough to spend most of the camera time on her two big stars, and keep everyone else secondary.  It's fast-paced, it's fun to watch, and it preps us for more Wonder Woman appearances in future superhero films.  Girl power, anyone?


Questions for Discussion:

1)                  Who's your favorite comic superhero?  Why?

2)                  Though our heroine participates in violence in an attempt to stop the violence, at the end, she says, “It's love that wins.”  Do you agree?

3)                  Wonder Woman also has a magic lasso that compels anyone bound by it to tell the truth.  If you could have one of those, how would you utilize it?


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association