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Wonder Woman Reigns Supreme

And for good reason, too.

Careful! There may be spoilers for Wonder Woman below!

Wonder Woman lives up to its superhero’s namesake. By now, chances are you’ve heard about the film’s success. The Patty Jenkins directed film is enjoying much success at the box office, and many are praising the film and crediting it with reviving the DC Extended Universe. (How many different multiverses are there, DC?)

What’s different about Wonder Woman, though? After watching all the DCEU’s previous films and Wonder Woman too, the answer is plain and simple: a dash of positivity and hope. Let’s not dwell too long on previous films (because let’s be honest, having watched some of them was dwelling too much.) Wonder Woman is different because her film has so many feel good moments, you’d imagine it was made by Disney rather than the same franchise that offered the gloomy and depressing Batman v Superman.

There is so much to smile about in Wonder Woman. Is that odd when it comes to a film where World War II is raging and a maniacal scientist is working on a poison so noxious it will leave the battlefield covered in fallen soldiers? Perhaps. Wonder Woman does go dark, but as quickly as things take a somber turn, a helpful dash of optimism and comic relief comes. These wonderful additions will bring a smile to your face and are truly what the film needed. As bleak as Wonder Woman’s situation may be at times, she is always positive and humorous. That’s something we need to be reminded of these days.

One thing the DCEU always manages to do well is its casting, and Wonder Womais no exception. Gal Gadot brings an ethereal and otherworldly quality to her take as Wonder Woman. The Israeli actress has an accent that truly makes Diana seem as though she’s from Themyscira. It’s a nice and subtle touch, especially noting that much of the film takes place in Europe, where the comedy could’ve gone a bit too obvious with the British having fun with an American accent. Wonder Woman is too refined for that, especially when it comes to the film’s humor.

Chris Pine is the lovable Steve Trevor. He’s arguably the biggest name of the core cast, and he plays Wonder Woman’s main love interest with heart. When the character of Trevor appeared in 2009’s animated film of the same name, Trevor was pretty misogynistic. The Steve Trevor of Jenkin’s Wonder Woman is more humble and submissive. Trevor is still true to his character, he’s just a more modern-day culturally appropriate version. How would Wonder Woman fare on the silver screen if her love interest wasn’t her male counterpart, but a man who thought he was God’s gift to women? It’s worth noting that while Trevor is less womanizing, the Amazons are far less misandrists than in some previous incarnations, too. There is balance on both ends of the spectrum.

There’s one character in Wonder Woman that will arguably hit you right in the feels on multiple occasions. The Amazon Antiope (Robin Wright) is Diana’s driving force on Themyscira. Young Diana’s mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) is protective and intent on keeping Diana sheltered, but the free-spirited Amazon finds adventure with Antiope who trains her and helps her realize the strength of her powers.

All scenes on Themyscira are breathtaking in their cinematic scope. Landscapes are wide and capture the island of the Amazon’s beauty wonderfully. Careful details make up the land, and the scenic shots are interspersed masterfully with the action shots. From aerial shots that follow a young Diana around Themyscira to the battle the Amazons face against outside invaders, all shots stitch together to create a land that is fully realized and immersive. Themyscira is vibrant, a stark contrast to later shots that take place in the war-torn real world. Even Diana makes a remark as she arrives in London about how bleak and grim things look.

Once in London, Diana has a fantastic rapport with Steve’s assistant Etta Candy (Lucy Davis.) This is Diana’s first time in society, and it quickly shows, making for an abundance of chuckles. Diana arrives in London on a mission, and she takes it very seriously, despite her cultural ignorance. To her, clothing is armor. Carrying her sword and lasso around are not out of the ordinary. Candy does well to play up on Diana’s seriousness, and all the scenes she’s in add a wonderful lightheartedness.

While Diana is in London, the Germans are doing their best to win the war, and their biggest hope comes from Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya.) Her nickname is Dr. Poison, and the concoctions she makes are so potent that if they can be mastered and mass produced, Germany would quickly win the war (and might even plant their flag on the White House Lawn according to one character.) Maru works closely with Ludendorff (Danny Huston.) He’s the one who is pushing Maru’s work, trying to get her poison featured as prominently as possible on the battlefield. While both characters are designed to be villainous, they’re really just flawed and broken rather than maniacal and evil. Both just want their country to win the war, and while their work is dastardly and destructive, their intentions are not as malicious as one may expect. This is something that Wonder Woman herself realizes towards the film’s conclusion as she takes pity on Maru and comes to the conclusion that the world needs more love than hate.

The real villain here is the God of War, Ares. The big reveal as to the identity of Ares is one hell of a jaw dropper. As Ares reveals himself, the movie changes entirely, shifting from what could have been considered simply anti-German propaganda to a message that focuses more on individual evils. The God of War truly orchestrated an entire war, and it becomes all the more satisfying when Wonder Woman kicks his ass. But can she?

Ares puts up one hell of a fight. A previous character’s death felt anticlimactic, and with good reason. Ares will not go down easily, and he gives Diana the fight she deserves. It pushes her to her core, and there’s multiple times in their fighting that she nearly succumbs to defeat. The true climax of their battle arrives when one of Diana’s teammates dies tragically. The intense emotion she feels unlocks powers even she didn’t realize she had, and she ascends to her title as the Godkiller.

The graphic effects of Diana and Ares’ fight are outstanding. The darkened battlefield lights up with Ares’ flames, and Diana’s Bracelets of Submission glow and deflect damage with true power. The battle is heightened by these visual effects, putting Wonder Woman top in its tier when it comes to truly engrossing fights. The stakes are high, and the fight is close. The final battle is taut and meaty. There’s very little filler here to drag out the film’s fight scenes or add any unnecessary gore. Those looking for a bloodbath will be disappointed, but those looking for a truly cinematic and fierce fight will feel satisfied with Wonder Woman‘s final showdown.

Other memorable moments of Wonder Woman include Antiope’s sacrifice, Diana trying on clothes in London, and her leading Trevor and company into war. The latter of the list is probably one of the most satisfying moments of the film. Trevor watched Antiope during the battle at Themyscira, and he pays a great tribute to her, mimicking one of her moves so that Wonder Woman can finish off the battle she started. It was such a feel good moment when Trevor shouts “Diana, Shield!” and she instantly knows what to do, having learned from Antiope. The entire scene was like a rollercoaster, with thrills all around.

Wonder Woman‘s box office success doesn’t come as a surprise to those who have seen the film. The perfect mix of action and adventure, the film never loses sight of the fact that it’s a superhero movie. Even through the doom and gloom, viewers get to enjoy the infectious optimism of Diana, Princess of Themyscira. She’s here to save the day…and the DCEU.

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Written by Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is the creator and editor of POParazzi. He works primarily in Washington, DC. You can contact him at sam@poparazzi.org and visit his portfolio at sam-bennett.com.

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