After a long buildup of anticipation, DC and Warner Bros. Wonder Woman film -- the first superhero movie featuring a female lead -- is finally arriving in theaters, bringing us the origin story of one of comicdom's most iconic characters. Here's what Syfy Wire's contributors who've seen the movie ahead of its release had to say.
Dany Roth: Wonder Woman encapsulates a moment in time. It is, at its heart, a movie about a woman who, despite the voices around her speaking to the past and the future, respectively, decides to take a principled stance to bring hope in the here and now, consequences be damned. And while I don't think it's a movie people will look back on as high art requiring endless rewatches to understand, I'm not sure longevity is its aim. Wonder Woman, at its heart, isn't trying to speak to the past or send a message to the future: It's telling people, but especially women, in 2017 that there is no other moment but now, so now is when you should stand up, be a leader, and do something just. And if you were going to make a film with that aim, I'd say right here, right now is a pretty good time to do it.
Rebecca Pahle: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Wonder Woman was the best part of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. To see the character smiling during the big final fight scene — smiling, like she actually takes pleasure in what she does, rather than constantly wallowing in manpain — made the third act of the film almost tolerable. Well, no, it didn’t. That’s too much. Marthaaaa! But it was a very good moment.
Patty Jenkins brings that sense of joy to Wonder Woman, which — wait for it — has colors. And people being supportive of each other. And hope for the future. And yet, it still feels like part of the DCU ... an alternate-timeline version of the DCU that’s good, like it should be. Let me explain. The DCU takes a fundamentally dim view of humanity. People turn against their heroes at the drop of a hat, and even those heroes routinely find themselves in the position of having to do terrible things for the greater good (see: Man of Steel’s controversial necksnapapalooza.) In Wonder Woman, it’s ... kind of the same thing, honestly, but with a sense of optimism and without the oppressive grimness that hamstrings Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. In Wonder Woman, the tone is light, but at the same time it’s set during World War I — i t’s not exactly Diana, Steve Trevor and their quirky pals on a happytimes Spring Break romp through Europe. And what does Diana learn? What defines her as a hero? That yes, humanity is capable of terrible things. Even the quote-unquote good guys. Morality is shades of gray, especially during times of war. But — pay attention, Bruce — humanity is also capable of grace, courage and self-sacrifice. “The world sucks,” previous DC movies tell us. “True,” counters Wonder Woman. “But it’s still worth fighting for.”
Don Kaye: Wonder Woman feels like the first real superhero movie that has come out of the DC Extended Universe since it officially launched four years ago with Man of Steel. Director Patty Jenkins has crafted a straightforward origin story in which the main character for once accepts and even wants the call instead of refusing and/or brooding about it. Jenkins and Gal Gadot -- in her best on-screen performance to date -- fashion Diana in the spirit of the original comics, with the character slowly opening her eyes to the reality of human nature while embracing humanity with compassion. Gadot's Diana is also a major physical presence, the female superhero we've been waiting for, and she's ably supported -- but never superseded or disrespected -- by Chris Pine's subtly complex Steve Trevor. Some predictable elements remain -- a muted color palette, an unsurprising third-act reveal and an unnecessarily overblown CG finale -- but Wonder Woman still sets the DCEU train back on track. I loved it and was moved by it.
Tara Bennett: I'll admit, I wasn't aware of the depth of my superhero fatigue until I was a few minutes into watching Wonder Woman. Don't get me wrong, I love a great, entertaining superhero story, be it on film or TV, but, more and more, it takes a lot of originality (Legion) or a bright tone (Guardians) to get that tingle of excitement that was usually a given back in the day with the genre for me. So it was a genuine surprise as I watched director Patty Jenkins' version of the Themyscira training ground, led by Robin Wright's fierce yet compassionate Antiope, fill the frame with amazing, talented women warriors, and that's it. These were female characters, learning their skills with no other influence but themselves. Talk about a goosebump moment I wasn't prepared for, and was delighted to see and feel. And that's one of the true genuine thrills of Wonder Woman, watching a very different superhero origin story grounded deeply in honor, hope, compassion and idealism (without being corny at all). Gal Gadot does an excellent job portraying the icon's strength, grace and belief system. Looking at humanity's frailties through her eyes for two hours isn't depressing, as so many superhero adaptations now are, but inspiring and sobering. By the end of the film, you want to be as good as she knows we can be, and as Steve Trevor is. We all may be more Sameer, Charlie and Chief in terms of our human flaws, but Wonder Woman gives us something to aspire to as superhero viewers again. As for the film as a whole, the first two acts are top-notch, with great period pieces, world building, stellar action scenes and a strong hero's journey setup. It's the third act that tempers the greatness of the whole with a very talky reveal, lackluster stakes and a villain that is far too similar to another superhero franchise baddie (to its detriment). It creates a fits-and-starts set piece that ends up negatively impacting an important emotional moment and that vies for attention amongst the din of loud smashing and bashing. It's the one place in the film that feels like executives overly tinkered with what Jenkins might have actually wanted to achieve. Luckily, Jenkins lands a more fitting, graceful epilogue that lets viewers walk away feeling grateful there's a superheroine rightfully ascending to her place of esteem in cinemas.
Matthew Jackson: The first thing I was struck by while watching Wonder Woman was how bright everything felt. This was not the muted tones of Man of Steel or the rain-slicked grit of Suicide Squad. The opening scenes on Themyscira just radiated light and joy and energy. I got goosebumps just watching it, and I couldn't wait to talk about seeing the DCEU in a new light, literally. Then something amazing happened. The film got darker with the smoky aura of the early 20th century and the foreboding fog of war, but Wonder Woman didn't stop feeling like a bright film. As Diana and Steve Trevor ventured into the deepest parts of the evil they were confronting, the film's sense of optimism and fun almost never faltered. It flowed from the title character herself, but also from a strong grasp of the power of superheroes that's embedded in the whole film. Wonder Woman is not without its bleak moments, but it wields them differently than other DCEU films. This is a movie with a profound understanding of how to tell a superhero story, and on that level it's the DC Comics film we've been waiting for ever since The Dark Knight. Which isn't to say it's perfect. There are missteps, from character beats that don't quite work to a third act that just sort of ... happens, and then feels predictable the moment the climax kicks in. Ultimately, though, this film's heart far outweighs its flaws. Wonder Woman has now been established as the soul of the DCEU. Her power and spirit -- along with a great supporting cast, well-executed comedy and Patty Jenkins' elegant fight scenes -- make this the best film the DCEU has produced to date. I can't wait to go back to this world, and that's something I haven't said about a DC movie in a long time.
Ernie Estrella: I was blown away by a strong first act in Themiscyra, so much so that I wanted the story to stay there longer because of the treatment of Hippolyta and Antiope. There was also a style of fighting and warfare that was unique to Themiscyra, which I fear may go underappreciated in the glut of action films out there. I wanted to learn more of the Amazons, but I knew that the story needed to move once Steve Trevor arrived. It’s important in superhero films that the main antagonist be well-established, and they went with a safe bet here, which also set up a dreary setting where a beacon of hope can shine. And wow, did Gal Gadot shine as Wonder Woman and Diana. She embodied a tough, confident, hopeful and powerful warrior who was filled with idealism and always wanted to protect the fallen; it pained her to see others suffering and did not have any room for diplomacy or playing the long game because she had the necessary abilities to trigger change. I think these are the qualities many are looking for in a big-screen Superman, too. Wonder Woman never came off as milquetoast. Instead she was fiery and regal, most of all, concerned for others’ well-being. Patty Jenkins and Allan Heinberg rose to the challenge and delivered, making smart choices and, with a charismatic lead, helped Wonder Woman hit many of the important marks. Despite a clunky, uneven third act that fell into some common pitfalls in the genre, there's a solid, entertaining film, here, and a hero for the masses to root for. I think most fans and critics of the Warner Bros. approach to the DC film universe alike should and will walk away satisfied as Wonder Woman is the smoothest entry point into the DCEU and should be a baseline for the way they try to bring other characters to the big screen.
Aaron Sagers: It is a surreal experience to realize you’re part of a moment in history. During my screening of Wonder Woman three weeks ago on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles, I felt it twofold. On one hand, as I watched Diana grow up on Themyscira in the opening minutes of the film, I felt the weight of the character’s debut in her own full-length feature. The movie has heart, optimism, humor and action. It allows Gal Gadot’s Diana to stand on her own as a hero, while receiving the support of Steve Trevor — also a hero adventurer in his own right — as she takes her place as a defender of humankind. For me, personally, the film is also the payoff of a long time talking and watching the rollout of the film. I have interviewed director Patty Jenkins several times, as well as Gadot. I saw Gadot in costume as Wonder Woman on set, and visited the production facility of the film. At the United Nations, I watched as Jenkins, Gadot and Lynda Carter spoke of Wonder Woman as a symbol of empowerment for little girls, and boys, and snapped a photo Jenkins has since told me is one of her favorites from the day. And I grew up a kid watching Carter’s Wonder Woman episodes, loving Diana on the Super Friends and, later, Susan Eisenberg’s portrayal of the Amazon Princess on the Justice League series. In a small way, similar to a lot of fans, I feel like I’ve been on a journey with this character. And this is the film that makes me happy as a fan, not as a concession so much as a culmination. A Wonder Woman movie should have happened a long time ago, and yet, I am happy it arrives now — at precisely the right time when it feels like the world needs a hero like Diana. She can pick up a sword when needed, but is also awestruck by the beauty of the world, and the magnificence of an infant. Oh, and lest you think I’m only caught up with the historic significance, rest assured: It also kicks ass, is a hell of a lot of fun, and is a great superhero ride — and the best offering yet within the DCEU.
What did you think of the Wonder Woman film? Let us know in the comments!