Wonder Woman was going to be my litmus test for whether I should be excited about Justice League … and it passed. Normally I would try to build up to my overall feelings on a movie in the opening section, but considering the past of the DCEU … I felt this needed to be cleared up at the start. Most recently, the Oscar winning Suicide Squad was a mess. I do not believe there was a positive aspect aside from Will Smith returning to a cheeky action star, which hopefully he continues since that is where he shines. I haven’t seen the director’s cut yet, but the theatrical cut of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was horribly thrown together. I am certain if you ask almost anyone what their favorite part is, they would quickly name Wonder Woman. Last up is Man of Steel, it got mixed reviews and started things off on a different / shaky footing than most people anticipated.
So how far above the low bar does Wonder Woman rate? I would give it 7 “uses for a lasso of truth” out of 10.
FOR THE UNITIATED
Wonder Woman follows Diana, Princess of the Amazons (Gal Gadot). It starts in modern time when she receives a gift from Bruce Wayne, the original photo of her in World War 1. We flash back to her growing up hearing the stories of the gods and the godkiller weapon that Zeus bequeathed to the Amazons before dying so they could kill Ares. Diana trains to become the best warrior of all the Amazons and finishes up training right as Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes. After learning about the horrors of war, Diana accompanies Steve back to Britain with two missions: 1) Kill Ares to remove the hatred from man’s heart to end all wars and 2) Return a notebook from Dr Poison that details plans Ludendorff (Danny Huston) has for winning the war.
The standout aspect is definitely the action centered around Wonder Woman. If you appreciated her role in BvS, then you are in for a treat. It is similar to how Captain America manhandles everyone, except Wonder Woman one ups everything aside from throwing her shield. I got antsy thinking I was in an lackluster action prequel, but once everyone gets to the trenches it kicks up several notches. If it would have been a non-stop movie of Diana fighting an entire war this could have been a 10/10!
Sadly, the other side of the coin is that she wasn’t given any worthwhile adversaries! She fought old men or someone with a gun at every turn. I was expecting her to fight someone that looked the part of a supervillain. As fun as it is to see Diana mow down a whole platoon of people, she needed a fair fight so we can see her perform on multiple levels.
The other equally upsetting aspect is the lasso of truth. I admit that I haven’t read any Wonder Woman comics, but the lasso of truth is something that seems very dated. Patty Jenkins (director) leaned into it and used the lasso every chance available. Which could have been fine, but the CGI for the lasso was horrific. It seemed like a yellow squiggly line and not like a rope at all.
The obvious comparison will be to Captain America: The First Avenger. They are prequels, have a superpowered person, takes place in a world war against the Germans, and both characters are pretty naive. Wonder Woman is a much stronger movie and excels in every aspect aside from the villain. The next point is how it sets up for the ensemble movie, Justice League in this case. Both are the movie just before, even though The Avengers had more movies to set it up which were as a whole much better. Wonder Woman has me much more excited, especially since it showcased her powers more than Captain America. It is worth catching in theatres if you like superhero movies or want to see Germany get womanhandled (if that is a word) in the Great War.
My recommendation would follow a different parallel, but is another similar movie – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It follows a woman in a male centric franchise who shows just as much potential as the male counterparts. Rey is a perfect mixture of Luke and Han (Similar to Wonder Woman being a counterpart to Captain America and Thor). Surely you have already seen it, if not … REALLY?