“Wonder Woman” soars on screen and in box office

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Clay Enos

Diana (Gadot) enters No Man’s Land in “Wonder Woman.” The film was released on June 2.

Angel Kim, Team Leader

After the previous movies in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), consisting of DC comic-based movies from “Man of Steel” and later, the bar for a good superhero movie from the franchise seemed pretty low. Despite many doubtful- and misogynistic- comments prior to its release, “Wonder Woman” met a more positive reception, and had the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman.

“Wonder Woman” follows Diana’s (Gal Gadot) journey to becoming the hero we all know. But, before she became Wonder Woman, she was a young woman on the Amazon island Themyscira. The movie begins by chronicling Diana’s roots as a fearless and ambitious girl yearning to learn how to fight with the all-female warrior clan, despite her mother’s protectiveness. She is eventually allowed to train under General Antiope (Robin Wright). However, the island is disturbed one day when a World War I spy’s jet crashes into their surrounding waters with its enemies following. Here, Diana meets Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and after learning about the war, is convinced that it is the war god Ares’s doing, and against her mother’s hopes, leaves the island to end the war.

I have not seen “The Fast and the Furious” movies, so I didn’t know a lot about Gadot. But, it didn’t take long to be convinced that she was destined for her role. From the way she conveys Diana’s naiveté when first contacting the rest of the world to her passion- especially during the transformative No Man’s Land scene where Diana first sees the war in person, Gadot crafts an entertaining, multidimensional character.

“Wonder Woman” as a whole found a balance between being dark and humorous, which I found missing from other DCEU and even the Christopher Nolan-directed “Batman” films.

An aspect that stood out to me in “Wonder Woman” was its character portrayals, specifically, of women. Even among the countless shots of Amazons training in combat, no one was overtly sexualized. The women in the movie were muscular, and a copious number of slow-motion sequences highlighted stunts. The way that “Wonder Woman’s” cinematography could have easily been applied to a movie about any other hero was refreshing. The story was written to be told from Diana’s point of view and director Patty Jenkins’s vision brought it to life, so the “male gaze,” exemplified by scenes focusing on women’s bodies or unnecessarily sexual situations mainly tailored to straight men, were left out.

“Wonder Woman” did fall short due to sub-par special effects, especially during the final battle that almost looks like a hair conditioner commercial starring Gadot. This likely could have been improved if the film had a higher budget, being the lowest budgeted out of all the DCEU movies. The color palette choices also seemed too obvious and could have been more dynamic. For example, Themyscira was very saturated and vibrant, and every scene outside of the island involved a dark sky and dull, blue-gray tones symbolizing the cold, prolonged war. Finally, I felt that the movie wasted a chance to show closure with the Amazons, since we don’t see them after she leaves the island at the beginning, by including a frame story involving Bruce Wayne.

Nevertheless, “Wonder Woman” was powerful, and a most definite revival for the DCEU. If nothing else, it’s proof that we need more women directing films about women.