It’s a spectacle for the ages. Antiope, played by Robin Wright, and her army of Amazon women charge into battle, ready to fight German soldiers who have suddenly washed upon the shores of their hidden island home.
The armor clad and expertly trained warriors give a glimpse as to what the rest of the film will showcase; badass women doing badass things. Diana aka Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, is on the beach as well, equipped for battle alongside Steve Trevor, a soldier who she had saved from a plane crash only moments before, played by Chris Pine. The film is first an origin story explaining how Wonder Woman grew up as Diana, Princess of the Amazons, and then a narrative of bravery and sacrifice as Diana and Steve head out to stop World War I.
But on the island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons, men don’t exist. Their society is equal and harmonious, only fighting to train for when a battle occurs elsewhere. Sexism is rampant in war torn Britain though, and the tone and script make a shift once the story moves there. Diana is always referred to by her name on the island but once she travels to England she is called ‘woman’ most of the time by most of the men she meets. They doubt her abilities and feel threatened when she outsmarts them, which happens more often than none.
This stark difference in societies is lightened by Trevor, who seems to usually encourage Diana and root for her to win. While he is her love interest, he plays the part of the ‘damsel in distress’ well, a trope usually filled by a superhero's less-than-able girlfriend who always has to be saved. But even though gender roles are largely reversed, his character is still much more layered and self-sufficient than any hero girlfriend I’ve seen in a film.
The scene on the beach is a whirlwind combination of fast cuts and aerial shots, showcasing the female warriors' fierce training. Those same midair flips and kicks are gracefully executed by Diana throughout each of the film's carefully crafted battle scenes. Most of the sequences focus solely on Diana as she’s fighting against human soldiers. They make for a strangely unequal set of opponents, but their huge machine guns are no match for her bracelets and demigoddess super strength.
In terms of female encouragement, "Wonder Woman" gives its audience a healthy dose. It’s about strong women doing what they need to do. The film is superhero fun in its simplest form, with its layered and dynamic characters and fast paced action sequences.
And even more so, it's a vital step forward for films with female leads and female directors. Diana as a character is the ideal role model for young girls, as she truly believes in justice. Her intentions, only to save humanity, are mostly void of the cynical undertones present in other heroes, and her desire for true justice transcends the screen; I feel glad knowing that generations of women, young and old, will see this film and know they can do anything. "Wonder Woman" is a good - and important - film.
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