To understand my thoughts on the 2017 Wonder Woman movie, you need to understand my journey through the DCEU.
I grew to hate Man Of Steel, mostly after reading a few reviews (specifically Mark Waid’s), so I refused to watch Batman Vs Superman in the theatre. When I did see it (on blu-ray), I loathed it so much I refused to watch Suicide Squad at all.
Of course, I refused to watch Wonder Woman. When I saw the trailer, I got sad. “This looks like a good trailer,” I said, “for a terrible movie.”
All this came with a caveat: I would’ve watched BvS in a theatre or Suicide Squad if I’d heard the right things from the right people.
When Wonder Woman came out, I quickly started hearing the right things from the wrong people. It didn’t make me want to go, but my ears pricked up. Then I started to hear the right things from the right people; and, well, I went.
I was amazed. I remembered watching The Wolverine and the twist (spoiler): Despite previous evidence, it was actually good!
This movie has the same twist.
It was fun. It was bright. It was colourful.
I’ve heard people say there are many colours in every scene – that’s not true, and there’s still a lot of the old orange-and-teal, especially in London, but this movie is several steps towards getting us out of that madness.
The DCEU have made a fun movie, one where the hero is heroic. She cares about people, she’s trying to save lives and help people. She’s actually likeable. I was beginning to despair of DC doing this.
This Diana doesn’t mind killing when she has to. Normally, I’m against superheroes doing this, but here she’s less a superhero and more a soldier fighting a war; killing comes with the territory.
I liked the supporting cast (Steve Trevor and Etta Candy especially; not so much Charlie, or ratboy as I call him). Etta even has her own fun little Marvel One-shot on the blu-ray.
It isn’t perfect; there are a few little plot holes, but they’re minor: little things like Dr Poison noticing her diary is missing. She looks up, points at a crowded factory and yells ‘Stop that man!’, implying not only that she knows which of the many men walking around the factory took it, but that everyone else knew exactly who she meant. Steve took said diary before she perfected her formula; and yet it contains the secrets of that formula.
How is Themyscira within so close to mainland Europe, yet has remained undiscovered for thousands of years?
These aren’t important things, but they do niggle at my mind.
Also: I can’t talk about this movie without talking about the weird relationship it has with Christianity. Because I’m me.
It is based in a worldview of many gods, which is off-putting to me.
At one point, there’s a long talk between Steve and Diana which comes across as a takedown of marriage – an institution many Christians hold dear. It actually doesn’t make sense, either; Steve describes it as ‘two people go before a judge’ (this is 1917; I can’t believe anybody would say ‘judge’ rather than ‘man of the cloth’). Diana doesn’t even know what marriage is, though she’s been reading books from outside Themyscira. Later on, she, who lives in an isolationist culture, knows what smuggling is – but not marriage? What books has she been reading? The only way that works is if there’s a deliberate move on the island to censor all mention of the topic. I don’t think the filmmakers were going for that.
At one point, Diana (she’s never actually called ‘Wonder Woman’ in the movie, btw) breaks into a building to take down a couple of soldiers. A few minutes later (screen time), she does the same thing at a church – only this time, she smashes up the steeple. I can’t believe that wasn’t a deliberate image; this symbol of paganism smashing a symbol of Christianity.
So now you’re expecting this to be a big whinge-fest all about how horrible this movie is for Christians.
Nope. I told you the relationship is weird; for a movie steeped in Greek mythology and “gods”, this movie seems to draw a lot of inspiration from the Christian faith. For one thing, they’re not shying away from the ‘our-hero-as-Jesus’ metaphor; Diana is effectively (symbolically) a virgin-born innocent who comes from a paradise to help the sinners of our world.
During the inevitable sacrifice scene, she does the crucifix pose, and even box art has a distinctly cruciform lens flare on it:
The movie tells the Judeo-Christian Creation story, with only the names changed to protect the innocent; God is played by Zeus, Satan is played by Ares (not Hades, who usually gets lumbered with that role in these things), Adam and Eve become all of humanity. (Which, of course, they were at the time, but in this version there are a lot more of them.) This is different to the mythological Greek story.
A major theme is the depravity of man, a Christian belief which is unusual to see in Hollywood. (Then they run into trouble; by taking out the Christianity, they don’t offer any real solution except some vague talk of ‘love’ (which isn’t particularly backed up by the movie).)
The movie also contains one of the best summaries of the Christian faith I’ve ever seen, although they’re talking about something else entirely: “It’s not about what you deserve; it’s about what you believe”.
That isn’t what this review is about though; it’s about whether it’s a good movie:
For me, whenever I watch a movie, I always have one question at the back of my mind: ‘Will I buy the DVD?’.
The blu-ray is sitting next to me as I type.
Likeable, relatable heroes, a good story, people saving people…
See, DC, you can make entertaining movies again!
I highly recommend this movie to people who remember when superheroes were meant to be fun.