Hey! Wonder Woman was all right!


For a comic book movie, anyway. There were inconsistencies that bugged me, but didn’t detract from the main story. Like, where is this mysterious island of the Amazons? We know that the good guy got there by stealing a Fokker E.III from the Germans in Turkey and flying out to sea, which puts it somewhere within about 100 miles of the Turkish coast in either the Mediterranean or Black Sea. But then they leave the island by sailboat, and after an overnight trip, are sailing up the Thames to London. Just magic, I guess.

It was also extraordinarily annoying that a major plot issue requires that Wonder Woman’s mother had, for mysterious reasons, refused to tell her important facts about her history that would have come in awfully handy in the climactic battle — instead, she gets them from the villain’s monologing.

Dr Maru, one of the bad guys, is seriously underserved. She’s terribly scarred, but there’s no explanation why she is making horrible poison gases. Her ending is unresolved; Wonder Woman refuses to drop a tank on her (again, mysterious reasons), and we don’t know what happened to her after that. Wonder Woman II?

The story is framed by scenes of Diana Prince working in a museum (?) in modern times, archiving an old WWI photo. That leaves an awful lot of story to be filled in, all of 1918-2017 (she looks awfully good for a centenarian), which promises opportunities for many interesting period pieces. Unfortunately, just before the movie started, we got to see the preview for the Justice League movie, which looks terrible, another dark, murky, grim ensemble story where it rains constantly and everyone is bashing bad guys at night. Please don’t chain the Wonder Woman story to that awful Snyderish mess!

I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that. There were things that annoyed me, but you can see that they were mostly peripheral to the story. Which is, basically, that Wonder Woman is a badass social justice warrior who hears about this big war in which millions of civilians are dying, and she decides she needs to leave her idyllic island paradise and end the war, which she thinks she can do, because her head is full of this mythic nonsense that leads her to believe that all she has to do is kill one Big Bad, and everyone will lay down their weapons (see maternally willful ignorance, above). She is instead going to learn that humans are miserably complicated, both good and evil, and that killing the monster she thinks is the sole source of evil isn’t going to solve every problem.

There is also much heroic charging of machine gun nests, batting away artillery shells with her shield, stabbing of German soldiers with pointy god-killer sword, crushing of snipers by hitting towers so hard they explode (hey, she’s pretty devastatingly brutal at points, so why the hesitation to smoosh Dr Maru? Probably because she has no problem slaughtering faceless mobs of men (misandry!) but sees a toxic mass-murdering damaged woman as deserving a little sympathy), and essentially turns combat into ballet with tracer fire and explosions.

So that was fun.

Undermining the comic book movie trope that beating the one big bad guy will solve all of the conflicts was also nice to see. There’s potential here for a series that contains some moral complexity, spiced up with explosions.

And, of course, the real treat was to see a woman acting heroically, with the men in this story scampering along behind, dazzled by her confidence and strength. That’s a stock role for a comic book story, but usually it’s filled by a heroic manly man.

Turns out a woman can be a hero, and do the job well. But you knew that all along.

Comments

  1. nomaduk says

    must every comic book heroine wear armor or a costume that lifts, separates, and enhances her boobs?

    Yes.

  2. lb says

    “must every comic book heroine wear armor or a costume that lifts, separates, and enhances her boobs?”

    I know, it’s silly. But I think she carried it off in a way that worked. And at least her boobs weren’t larger than her head, which is what I normally see in comics these days.

  3. blf says

    @3: And they should wear only chain-mail trunks / loincloth (plus sandals / boots).

  4. brucej says

    Just search&replace every instance of the phrase ‘mysterious reasons’ with ‘sequel fodder’ and it all becomes crystal clear :-)

  5. regcheeseman says

    If she wanted to intervene in a war where millions of civilians were dying why did she bother with WW1? And why did she join on the side of the repressive Imperial Rusian regime? And why did she wait two years?

  6. regcheeseman says

    If she wanted to intervene in a war where millions of civilians were dying why did she bother with WW1? And why did she join on the side of the repressive Imperial Russian regime? And why did she wait two years?

  7. iiandyiiii says

    Just saw it — thought it was great for a superhero movie. Ending battle was dumb, IMO, but few superhero movies have a good ending.

    The rescue-from-drowning scene early in the movie was just great, and wonderfully reversed the trope of the male hero swooping in to save the damsel in distress at the last moment. I had tears in my eyes.

  8. Cartimandua says

    So it was pretty much a naff Hollywood movie where women are physically presented as sexualised tropes – regardless of the feministic window dressing.

    What a surprise. And Gal is still a racist bigot who supports the fascist IDF and Zionist state.

    As does, implicitly, anyone who supports this movie with their silence.

    But I am confused. How does the depersonalisation of women via fetish dressing count as a “minor nitpick”. We all know who at least half the target audience for this movie is …

  9. The Mellow Monkey says

    If she wanted to intervene in a war where millions of civilians were dying why did she bother with WW1? And why did she join on the side of the repressive Imperial Rusian regime? And why did she wait two years?

    She became involved when she became aware of the war–her island is magic and not really part of our world, which is also how it could be close to Turkey and the Thames at the same time. And she sided with Americans because her first encounter with outsiders is an American spy who defends her and she naively assumes this means Americans are good and everything they do is good. She does have this naivete challenged later in the film, as one American atrocity in specific is brought up.

    It’s got some plot holes, but there’s a light gloss over most of them.

  10. Michael says

    My main nitpick is the first battle on the beach – Spoiler alert. A German is about to shoot her in the back, so her mentor takes the bullet for her. Yet later in the film, she is fighting Germans completely surrounded, deflecting bullets from all sides, which negates the need for her mentor’s sacrifice. I suspect that unlike the 70’s tv show, in which all the Amazons could deflect bullets, that only Diana could and so her mentor didn’t realize that she wasn’t in any real danger. Aside from passing on the tiara, I’m also not sure what her mentor’s death did to move along the plot.

  11. tkreacher says

    Michael #13

    She wasn’t aware of her full capabilities while she was still on the island. Further, she didn’t even know what bullets were, at that point.

    When she blocked the bullet in the alley was the first time she realized she could do it.

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    Diana Prince working in a museum (?) in modern times, archiving an old WWI photo.

    That photo was sent to her by people with a Wayne Enterprises armored car and Wayne Enterprise briefcase.

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    (she looks awfully good for a centenarian)

    In case the villain’s monologuing didn’t make it clear, Diana is a god, ar at least a demi-god. After all, she is a daughter of Zeus. Probably you noticed supporting details, such as that she is not like the other Amazons, being the only child on the island.

  14. kome says

    I walked out of the theater loving how well this movie treated such an iconic comic book character. The translation of Superman and Batman (to just stick with the DC trinity for comparison’s sake) to movies has been rather… tough on both characters. Batman in particular just gets re-invented all the time, with the only real comic book nods being background objects or references in throwaway dialogue. The character never really feels like Batman does in the comics or the cartoons/animated movies. It’s kind of frustrating, to be honest.

    But Wonder Woman was treated with such respect that I believe many of the writers, producers, and/or director of the movie are genuine fans of the character. It was all the little things, and by far my favorite was Diana’s response to eating ice cream for the first time. That scene alone is enough to make me want to see the movie again.

    That said, as much respect as the movie treated Diana with, the plot itself was kind of dull and predictable, and unfortunately the story as told completely removed the possibility of exploring so many fascinating sides of her character. The action scenes were pretty cool and I really appreciated how the camera work managed to completely avoid objectifying Diana during those scenes. The only other comic book character to be treated this respectfully in their movie is Deadpool, and that was only after how horribly the character was botched in Wolverine Origins. Overall, yea, Wonder Woman was a pretty solid movie.

  15. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    So it was pretty much a naff Hollywood movie where women are physically presented as sexualised tropes – regardless of the feministic window dressing.

    What a surprise. And Gal is still a racist bigot who supports the fascist IDF and Zionist state.

    As does, implicitly, anyone who supports this movie with their silence.

    But I am confused. How does the depersonalisation of women via fetish dressing count as a “minor nitpick”. We all know who at least half the target audience for this movie is …

    Would you like a moist towelette?

  16. says

    “…armor or a costume that lifts, separates, and enhances her boobs?”

    I thought she was an Amazon, so shouldn’t that be
    “…armor or a costume that lifts, separates, and enhances her boob?”

  17. karpad says

    Wonder Woman refuses to drop a tank on her (again, mysterious reasons)

    I don’t think it’s really that mysterious. She, from a position of power, looked down at a person who, evil or not, is powerless and terrified of their impending murder, and realized she didn’t want to be a cold blooded murderer even if you can make a rational case for that murder as preventing future deaths, or that all those dudes she killed previously were just as much of a non-threat to her with their guns, even if they were in the middle of attempting to kill her.

    I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of questionable motivations in the film, or plenty of plot holes. But someone heretofore represented as morally good choosing not to kill a helpless person isn’t one of them. (Where Dr. Poison goes after being not-squashed certainly is, though.)

  18. blbt5 says

    Superheroes across the board routinely balk at killing supervillains, citing an absolute moral code. Notwithstanding the countless innocents claimed by the supervillains in ways innumerable, gruesome and gratuitous. And notwithstanding unsurprising escapes from custody of said supervillains to, again and again, rack up mountains of violence and gore. And notwithstanding the most abject honor and respect accorded by superheroes to soldiers and police, who day in and day out dispatch ordinary villains without a second thought. Obviously then the moral code argument is just a cover for a disgusting kind of class alliance between supervillains and superheroes, a timeless metaphor of the superhero/villain as the 0.1% wealthy, who in real life exercise superpowers every day. Pretty much done with superheroes.

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