The world has waited a long time for Wonder Woman and she’s finally here, ready and willing to pick up the pieces of DC’s fragmented cinematic universe with a film driven by hope and humanity.
Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is raised on the secret island of Themyscira by the Amazons; a race of warrior women tasked by Zeus to kill Ares, god of war, should he ever show his face and cause a ruckus.
The idyllic life of these ferocious ladies is interrupted when pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-lands on the island. Diana learns of the horrors of World War 1 raging beyond her paradise home and hypothesises that only Ares could be responsible for such a conflict.
She then steals a god-forged arsenal and hightails it to London with Steve to fulfil the duty her sisters are reluctant to. Thus the movie truly begins.
Happily it is, as advertised, Wonder Woman’s story and it’s alternately heart-warming/heart-breaking discovering the world of man through the eyes of her naïve idealism.
I admit that I was sceptical after her cameo in Batman v Superman, but Gal Gadot truly shines in a role that could have fallen apart from a lesser performance. She embodies all of Wonder Woman’s noteworthy characteristics, being at once sensitive and strong, iconic and sympathetic.
Throughout the film there are some great moments, all with Diana at the heart of them and ultimately it’s these that sustain the audience through any shortcomings.
Don’t worry gentlemen, the boys get to do stuff too: Steve and his friends contribute meaningfully to plot helping the titular heroine navigate towards her goal. Director Patty Jenkins has mercifully not relegated the unfairer sex to the role of gentlemen-in-distress (though Wonder Woman does save their bacon quite a bit) as Hollywood so often does to damsels.
Those expecting a feminist masterpiece may be slightly disappointed as it is primarily a superhero movie and does end up reducing the complex evils of gender inequality, racism and general human awfulness to physical terms so that Wonder Woman can conveniently pummel them into submission.
The movie isn’t perfect (it’s somewhat bookended by a cartoonish first and final act) but it shares a lot of what made Marvel’s Captain America: the First Avenger great. This is a character at the beginning of her cinematic journey and you’ll want to be there for it.
Wonder Woman (PG-13) is directed by Patty Jenkins (who also directed 2003’s Monster) and opens nationwide on Friday 2 June.