The DC Universe (DCU) has had its fair share of ups and downs over the last decade, but one film that garnered widespread acclaim is “Wonder Woman.” Director Patty Jenkins successfully brought the Amazonian warrior to life on the big screen, doing justice to the iconic hero, with one notable exception.
It’s rather astonishing how long it took the DCU to introduce Wonder Woman. Regardless of how one views the DC movies in chronological order, the fact that Diana Prince didn’t make her film debut until 2016 is hard to justify. It wasn’t until 2017 that she finally received her own solo superhero movie.
Fortunately, both Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot rose to the occasion. Gadot impeccably embodies Diana’s kindness and unwavering moral compass, while Jenkins adeptly navigated the contrast between Themiscyra and our own world. One of the most beloved DC characters rightfully took center stage, and the portrayal was commendable, up until the third act.
For a significant portion of the film, set against the backdrop of WWI, Diana confronts the harsh realities of armed conflict. Alongside pilot Steve Trevor, she finds herself amidst the brutal trenches of Belgium, culminating in her iconic crossing of no man’s land – a standout moment in superhero cinema.
Time and again, Diana is confronted with the assertion that humans are inherently inclined to inflict harm upon each other, and that rectifying war necessitates a transformation of our very nature. She resists accepting this bleak outlook, but the reality of our capacity for suffering is glaring. There are no easy solutions to be found – until the climactic showdown where Wonder Woman confronts Ares, the God of War.
The narrative takes a sharp turn into a CGI-laden brawl, a common trope in blockbusters of the last 15 years or so. Despite some less-than-perfect effects, the most disappointing aspect is that Diana’s triumph (spoiler alert!) results in an armistice, as Ares had been manipulating humanity into perpetual conflict.
So, a film that grappled with our inherent imperfections and the complex nature of finding solutions to our woes concludes with the hero putting an end to the war by defeating a single entity. It’s a jarring note to end on. Of course, placing blame solely on Jenkins or Gadot wouldn’t be fair, as both were working within the confines of a massive studio production.
Perhaps the producers aimed for a straightforward victory to wrap up the film. However, it’s worth asserting that audiences are capable of handling nuance when presented with the right narrative. Up until this point, “Wonder Woman” was a testament to that. It’s regrettable that the film’s excellence is somewhat overshadowed by the arrival of Ares in the final act.