The DC Extended Universe got off to a rocky start, with Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad all receiving mixed or negative reviews. A large part of this is due to the fact that DC has a tendency to focus more on CGI than character development or plot. With Wonder Woman, the scales finally start to even out.
In this origin story, Gal Gadot shines as Diana and provides all the warmth and heart that this franchise has been lacking. Her naiveté is a refreshing change from the previous DC heroes, villains and antiheroes who have been far more accustomed to the ravages of war.
Even with her childlike, idealistic view of the world, Diana is always portrayed as strong and capable. The other characters don’t dismiss her concerns about war as stupid or inferior. There’s a strong sense that they’re just as affected by these things as Diana is. Try as they might to impress upon her that war is horrifying, they never tell Diana to grow up and accept it. The focus is just shifted to where help might be most effective.
The chemistry between Diana and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) develops naturally, and their relationship is surprisingly sweet and endearing. Unlike other romantic subplots in action movies, at no point does their mutual attraction become a distraction or hindrance to anything they’re planning; it’s only strengthened by friendship and respect.
There were only two things that left me feeling conflicted. The first was the supporting characters who travelled with Diana and Steve on their mission; I feel like if you took Sameer, Chief and Charlie out of the story, the plot would barely be altered. And with so much time spent in Themyscira, there wasn’t a lot of room left for their characters to be satisfactorily explored.
Given that Diana’s myriad abilities negated their apparent reason for joining the expedition, Sameer, Chief and Charlie could have easily been combined into one or maybe two characters who had more time to develop on-screen.
The other thing I would’ve liked to see more of was Diana adjusting to life in the human world. While she struggled to understand some concepts, there wasn’t really any time spent discovering how Diana felt about her own place in the world. Having grown up with Amazons, was she ever aware of just how much stronger she was than the human race? And did that strength scare others?
On the one hand, it’s nice that everyone just accepted that this woman could do absolutely anything. On the other hand, it seemed strange that not a single person looked at Diana’s abilities and genuinely feared her.
In the grand scheme of things, my issues were relatively minor. This is the first time the DCEU film franchise has managed to produce not just one but several characters the audience can care for. Wonder Woman isn’t just about observing a superhero—it’s a film that recognises the humanity of a character beneath their powers and allows that to prevail.
If DC continues to follow this formula with upcoming films, they may finally be able to redeem their faltering franchise and give their characters the stories they deserve.