Wonder Woman: Optimism Balanced on the Precipice of Darkness

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wonder woman
Editor’s Note: Wonder Woman is currently playing in wide theatrical release.

Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot have stepped into history with a monumental accomplishment in Wonder Woman. Hollywood’s gender disparities and deep rooted sexism have made it all but impossible for a woman filmmaker to pursue her vision, especially if that dream is filmmaking on a massive scale. Specifically, in the world of superhero cinema, it is egregious that not only are female directors passed over, but that there is a severe lack of female superheroes, in particular, Wonder Woman.

Jenkins is a truly gifted filmmaker and Wonder Woman is a spectacular achievement in optimism, with a deep love for the planet and its creatures, all rooted in wonderfully dynamic and emotional classicist filmmaking.

Regardless of the film’s quality, the mere fact that this finally exists and that it was crafted by a female director, is groundbreaking. Luckily, Jenkins is a truly gifted filmmaker and Wonder Woman is a spectacular achievement in optimism, with a deep love for the planet and its creatures, all rooted in wonderfully dynamic and emotional classicist filmmaking.

There have been three theatrical Supermen, seven Batmen, and as a tragic reflection of our culture and the industry, now, only one Wonder Woman. But that one Wonder Woman was gifted with the perfect conduit in Gal Gadot. She was incredible in her brief role in the brilliant Batman v Superman, and in her own film, she is tremendous. Gadot exudes physical and spiritual strength; she radiates like a beacon of light drowning out any sense of cynicism or hatred. Gadot as Diana is a force of pure love and commitment to what’s right. Gadot layers Diana with an innocent and naive purity, at once extraordinarily courageous and warm. This is simply one of the greatest bits of casting in any superhero film.

WONDER WOMANEqual to Gal Gadot’s terrific performance is Patty Jenkins’ compassionate, greatly stylized direction. Jenkins extends the complex empathy of her previous film, Monster, from a few individuals to a full planet entrenched in the mass destruction of one another. Unlike Zack Snyder’s excellent deconstruction of myth and heroism in BvS, Jenkins is not attempting a subversion of ideals, which could have easily meant this film would wrongly slip into the muck of apathy. Instead, Jenkins balances the movie on the precipice of darkness, always maintaining the notion that light burns through shadow and hope can endure even in times of horror.

The centerpiece sequence of Diana crossing No Man’s Land is certainly one of the genre’s most spine-tingling intimate displays of character through action.

Visually, the movie’s greatest feat is contrasting the graceful color and beauty of Diana’s island of Themyscira with the grey monotone smog of man’s world. This visual critique of our moral degradation is illuminated completely as Diana’s bright armor, a signal of hope, cracks through the grey, giving us a brighter path, one to correct and change.

The film also has several outstanding action sequences, with moments of slow-motion seemingly inspired by Snyder’s aesthetic. Although unlike Snyder’s use of slo-mo to highlight the consequences of violence, Jenkins uses it to emphasize the beauty of the human form, to capture a goddess’ elegant power. The centerpiece sequence of Diana crossing No Man’s Land is certainly one of the genre’s most spine-tingling intimate displays of character through action. My skin was chilled and I was ready to reach over and start shaking the person in front of me.

What truly makes the film so emotionally resonant is its honest belief in our capacity to become better. The DCEU is incredibly hopeful, understanding that hope can be far more powerful if it survived existing in the dark. Diana, and the film, declare loudly our ability to grow and flourish if we simply trust and love each other. A sincere philosophy often conveyed through humor and naivety. True strength is gushing over a baby, letting snowflakes and ice cream overwhelm you with joy, and still fighting to protect everything that should be protected.

These feeling also blossom from the wonderfully developed romance between Diana and Steve, played with an unparalleled magnetism by Chris Pine. Their relationship transcends the bounds of romance, becoming an equal window into both the realities and possibilities of the world. Gadot and Pine are electric together, a perfect fusion of ideals and the will to propel the world forward.

This joy is certainly not foolish though, with the film understanding and recognizing the world is a well of complications. War is not a conflict of good and evil, there are atrocities committed by more than just one faction of people. Jenkins (and Diana) understand humanity’s capacity for cruelty, but they strongly believe that does not make us undeserving of love. The use of memory as a framing device allows for emotion to bleed formlessly through history, which truly emphasizes that while a utopia is perhaps not possible, continuously rebelling against hate is necessary and worthwhile.

Wonder Woman is immediately iconic, placing itself in film history as a colossal victory for not only female superheroes, but for female filmmakers. We are blessed to witness what will hopefully spark a momentous shift in filmmaking. This movie is truly wondrous and thankfully the DCEU is remaining a platform for unique and powerful visions for what superhero cinema can be.

9.0 AMAZING

Gal Gadot puts in a tremendous performance while director Patty Jenkins is a truly gifted filmmaker, making Wonder Woman a spectacular achievement in optimism, with a deep love for the planet and its creatures, all rooted in wonderfully dynamic and emotional classicist filmmaking.

  • 9.0
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An aspiring English teacher foolishly placing all my hopes into one graduate program. My friends keep me in check, reminding me that my taste in all things is bad.