Revisiting the DCEU: Wonder Woman

With Justice League coming out this week, the staff of Pop Break is revisiting all the films that helped lead to this film’s release.

Today we examine, the 2017 mega blockbuster, Wonder Woman.

Why I Love It (Rachel Freeman)

Wonder Woman is one of the most iconic super heroes to ever exist. In an industry dominated by men, characters and creators alike, Wonder Woman has managed to stand her ground for 75 years (76 if you count her appearances before her own comic title). Though I feel like pretty much everyone knows Wonder Woman’s story, let me give a very short recap: Wonder Woman, a.k.a. Princess Diana of Themyscira and Daughter of Amazonian Queen Hippolyta, was raised on an island of women that was completely isolated from our world. However, during World War II, Captain Steve Trevor’s plane crashes near the island and Diana saves him and eventually goes with him to America to return him home and also fight for justice for the world, as it is the responsibility of the Amazons.

The 2017 movie, starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, pretty much nailed her original origin story (this is comics, and the industry likes to change origins whenever they feel like it), which I really appreciate because as much as I love DC Comics, they tend to totally ruin their characters in movies. You don’t have to change your entire character to make it a good movie. And with Wonder Woman, it seems like they finally figured that out.

On top of her actually having a relevant backstory, Gal Gadot gave an amazing performance as Wonder Woman. While naive to things in the “world of men,” Diana isn’t portrayed as dumb by any means. Really, the only thing she needs Steve for is to explain to her certain customs the world of men has, but he’s not spending the whole movie rushing to her aid or saving her, in fact, she is the one constantly saving him. As it should be. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman also speaks with an accent, again, as she should. Wonder Woman is not American. Being from Themyscira, it is much more probable and realistic for her to have a Greek accent. They really put in effort to make Wonder Woman as accurate, and honestly realistic, as possible.

I love comics. In particular, Batman is and has always been my favorite super hero ever since I was little. Even so, I have to admit that there are certain things Batman comics have never been able to connect with me on. Although Wonder Woman isn’t my favorite superhero, she is still an incredibly important one. She is the epitome of a strong female character, and she is someone who more women and young women need to be exposed to. This movie captures the strength that Wonder Woman emits from her comics.

I do have my minor criticisms of the movie, but none of it involves Gal Gadot or Wonder Woman’s character. In my opinion, this was the Wonder Woman we deserved to see on the big screen. She was strong, she was witty, she was funny, and she was without a doubt the hero of the film (I was genuinely concerned that Steve was going to have to “save her” at some point, but that never happened) and I loved every minute Gal Gadot was on the screen.

Why I’m Middle of the Road On It (Tommy Tracy)

I don’t believe in the word overhyped, but Wonder Woman, while good, is not the greatest thing to happen to superhero films. It does succeed when it comes to acting, visuals and a kick ass heroine but it also fails on one aspect, and no one is talking about it.

When someone says Wonder Woman is amazing, I say “Yeah, until the last thirty minutes.” Everything leading up to the end battle is great. But then we get a very CGI ridden final battle between Wonder Woman and the man we ALL KNEW was going to end up being Aries. There was no twist (even though everyone was somehow shocked). It was literally right in front of you the entire time.

Furthermore, the ending of this film is LITERALLY Captain America: The First Avenger. The man (in this case, Steve Trevor) hops on a plane designed to destroy the world and sacrifices himself by destroying it away from civilization, leaving his one true love alone and heartbroken. Then, the hero is seen in the future, ready to battle evil because that’s all the person can live for. 

Wonder Woman is the step in the right direction for female superheroes women and little girls deserve. But the above reasons are entirely why the movie is just middle of the road. 

Why I’m Not This Film’s Biggest Fan (Alisha Weinberger)

Girl power. It’s great, it’s inspiring, no arguing that. But girl power alone doesn’t make for a great story…because Ghostbusters (2016) happened. Take a closer look at the badass women of the hallowed halls of nerd, and it’s quickly learned what made these strong female protagonists was their humanity and overcoming their human vulnerabilities. Not huge guns or kung-fu grip.

Ellen Ripley? Her tragedy was she followed quarantine. She made a tough, moral call in the face of the few versus the many, and when it all failed, still maintained leadership. Beatrix Kiddo? She was one of the world’s greatest assassins, who made the choice to walk away from it all for her unborn child. So what of Princess Diana of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons? What obstacles did she exactly overcome, other than learn she’s a demigod?

As a woman and an avid DC reader, I will be the first to admit I bought a one-way ticket for the Wonder Woman hype train express. After all, not only was it the first mainstream female superhero movie nearly ever, but it was the first quality DCEU film we got in a long line of let downs. That is not exactly setting the bar high, because under all the gloss (or lack thereof), oddly paced battle sequences, overused slow motion, awkward guitar solos, and charmingly redeeming comedic relief, Wonder Woman was a toothless, contradictory morality tale.

Before people start hurling shields and short swords at my head, I understand that “Oh, she’s a god learning to be human” is her internal struggle. Fine, but the movie completely glazes over any true thematic confrontation. Diana’s whole schtick is she has a very naive sense of good and evil, increasingly becoming disillusioned by mankind by the third act.

The film just really missed the mark with its villains. Wonder Woman, not once, has a conversation with Dr. Poison. Imagine how much more powerful Diana’s internal struggle would be having learned of a fellow woman on the exact end of her spectrum. The monologue between Dr. Poison and Steve Trevor at the gala, should have been between the two starring ladies. Yet, despite having no direct interaction with Dr. Poison, Wonder Woman decides to let the genocidal, head war criminal go, but has no qualms with Steve Trevor and company gunning down enemy soldiers she literally believed were being mind controlled by Aries until the third act of the film?

All things considered, we as an audience have grown jaded of origin stories, and Patty Jenkins didn’t exactly have the easiest time with the executive powers that be. It’s still an integral step forward for the DCEU as well as representation of women in the comic book community. But I refuse to make excuses simply on that basis. On its surface, Wonder Woman was a charming, action-packed thrill ride, fuel injected with 20cc of watered down “girl power.” Dig any deeper however, it becomes unsure what this film was trying to teach us about the Goddess of Truth.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.