Revisiting Wonder Woman - Pop Off

In 2017, Wonder Woman proved that a female led superhero film didn’t have to flop. It was DC’s first “win” in awhile, and perhaps more importantly, it was a win for female representation in film. I might not be female but Wonder Woman really empowered me. It gave me confidence and assuredness, I remember walking out of the cinema the first time feeling strong. Wonder Woman is not a perfect film but for what it is, I absolutely adore it.

I really enjoy the dynamic between Diana and Steve. At no point in the film did it felt like they were trying to one up each other. It seems quite often that in female led movies, in order for a woman to be depicted as powerful, they need to tear down a man. What Wonder Woman shows beautifully is that when we stand together, regardless of our differences, can we then excel, learn together from each other, and support one another.

The film conveyed the message that men and women are equal. Whenever Diana does something, it is done because she must. No where was it ever portrayed as “I’m a woman and I can do it too!”. This has been done to death in many films and it honestly is annoying. It cheapens the strength of women because it plays up at the same time that women need to prove themselves to others, or are incapable of holding their own and that they do not believe in their own strength.

Instead, Diana didn’t have to compare herself to any man, she proved her worth by showing that she is capable on her own merits. Wonder Woman shows that females can be strong; whereas in the past, strength in females was almost always portrayed as something annoying, and something to be ashamed about.

Image: Warner Bros.

Diana displays very human traits throughout the film. She is compassionate, sensitive, curious, confused, outrightly righteous. Diana the superhero did not once deviate from her gender and betrayed her very nature as a woman. When she saw a baby, she exclaimed with tenderness which so many women in real life do so. She was appalled when she saw soldiers whipping the horses and expressed her disdain that it was not right to hurt animals like that. Such subtleties that reinforce her character are the qualities set her apart from the other testosterone filled superheroes.

The film successfully allowed Diana to stay close to the qualities of women, without bashing the male ego to prove superiority. Because to have to do so is to, again, simply acknowledge that there is a “better” gender. Diana was not trying to act smart in front of Steve, she was comfortable being herself, confident in herself, understood her strengths, knew exactly what she wanted to carry out yet able to express her vulnerabilities and showing her emotional side.

Patty Jenkins brilliantly uses colour to show the differences between the natural beauty of Themyscira and the drab dreary colours of the world outside. It’s also as if colour was used to show Diana’s view of the world; we start off with incredibly lush and saturated colours, but when Steve arrives and starts talking about the war, we see Diana in darker settings, and as the film progresses the tones get darker still. It shows that Diana’s idealistic worldview at the start was gone as she learned of and witnessed the atrocities of the world. Colour is also used effectively to accentuate powerful moments in the film — such as during the No Man’s Land scene, when the bright colours of Diana’s outfit beautifully contrasted with the dark desaturated colours around her.

Image: Warner Bros.

The Rupert Gregson-Williams score for the movie is heartfelt, powerful, and heroic. He creates variations of the Wonder Woman theme from BvS to tell her story musically. In fact, we never get to hear the actual Hans Zimmer theme until much later in the film. The music, like Diana, starts hopeful, calming, and with an air of innocence. As the movie progresses, the beats swell, getting stronger and louder; more confident sounding if you will, just as Diana does. It is a fascinating parallel.

Action was done fantastically. It is well choreographed and staged. The opening sequence was spectacular, and I genuinely wish it was longer. The second act battle in the town of Veld was so beautiful. Diana’s movements were swift and precise; and the camera just glides along as she moves. Every jump, every turn, every twist, every block, it was just breathtaking. I cannot talk about the second act’s fight without talking about the scene that preceded it — the No Man’s Land walk.

Everything about that scene just screamed perfection. From camera movement, to music, to colour. It was truly a powerful moment in the entire film, if not the most powerful moment. We’ve seen countless of times, the “birth” of beloved heroes like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. To witness that moment for the most historic female hero of all time, was awe inspiring. Awe not only because of the importance of the scene in the film, not only because of the beautiful way it was shot and directed, but awe because Wonder Woman has finally arrived. The film never reaches the high of the No Man’s Land walk again in my opinion, but that is not a criticism of the film, but a testament to the impact of that very scene.

As with origin stories, the villains in the film were under developed. I felt that there was an interesting relationship between Dr Poison and Ludendorff that could, and should, have been explored more — why is she so loyal to him? Ludendorff’s part in the film seems to only be to throw the audience off with regards to the twist.

Image: Warner Bros.

For the first two thirds of the film, Wonder Woman felt so grounded in reality. Or as grounded as a film like that can be. Then comes the third act battle, and suddenly it feels like we are in a completely different film. Everything that kept the rest of the film grounded was thrown away and it went bonkers on CGI. Not that I did not enjoy the battle, it just stood out as a sore thumb in retrospect. The movie up until then was woven so intricate and even contemplative, and the clash of tones between the final third and the rest is incredibly glaring.

Allan Heinberg has not received the credit he deserves for his screenplay. The dialogue is incredibly well written and the story is (mostly) well balanced. He manages to craft a beautiful dynamic between our leads. During the climatic battle, when Steve says “I can save today, and you can save the world”, it only displayed partnership, equality, not who upped the other. It made the sacrifice that much more emotional. And also how he talked sense into her confusion that sometimes there isn’t just one evil around. They complemented each other, not compete against each other. Steve and Diana were not belittling each other but sharing opinions and beliefs without being preachy.

Wonder Woman personifies purity, strength, character, justice, courage, faith & hope. She shows us that only by standing together, and loving one another, are we then able to accomplish greater things and elevate ourselves to be, and do better.

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