The Amazing Amazonian
by Aritra Dey
TLR Rating: 8 1/2 Reels.
Any DC comics fan would have been down in the dumps after watching the couple of garbage reels which had released the previous year as a part of the DCEU films. Zack Snyder and David Ayer’s attempts, with a combination of shoddy screenplay and absurd action scenes, were ludicrous at best. With its eternal rival Marvel producing gems like ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan’, the future of the franchise seemed bleak. The fans had given up hope and weren’t too enthusiastic when Patty Jenkins’ ‘Wonder Woman’ was scheduled to be released. A few of the faithful went to the theatres and came out with a mixture of amazement and appreciation etched on their faces. The Princess of Themiscyra had done what the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader couldn’t, excite the audience and touch their souls with a dollop of goodness. ‘Wonder Woman’ is like a breath of fresh air to revive the slumbering DCEU. Spoiler Alert though! Don’t proceed if you haven’t watched the movie.
Genius lies in simplicity and this particular proverb has been proven right thousand times. Patty Jenkins relied on this while scripting about the Ultimate Amazonian. There was no complexity in the plotline and no severely unexpected twists. It was a lucid origin story about Diana, from the protected utopia of Themiscyra, as she faced the battles, both major and minor, in her quest to end Ares and stop all wars. Diana wasn’t called the ‘Wonder Woman’ at any point in this film, but the audience knows who that sobriquet belongs to. Jenkins chooses to make Diana a woman first, and a superhero later. From her very childhood, Diana had been fascinated with the art of war, which the Amazonians excelled at. There were no men on the island, and being the daughter of Hippolyta the queen, and the only child of the island, she was severely discouraged from engaging in swordplay. Her aunt Antiope, incidentally the finest warrior of the land, persuaded the queen to allow her to train. Diana, the warrior was born, and she excelled in it. The history of the Amazonians was narrated to Diana by her mother, in an effort to soothe her raging blood. Her father Zeus had fended of Ares and gifted the Amazonians the island and a ‘GodKiller; which was to be unleashed if Ares attacked again. There was no doubt as who the weapon was, even though Diana believed it to be the ceremonial sword. She was fierce and intense, wanting to be better than the rest of the women.
When the American spy pilot Steve Trevor, accidentally crashed into the blue seas of Themiscyra while escaping the German soldiers, the hidden land was discovered. The Germans followed suit, and after rescuing Steve from drowning, Diana joined her fellow islanders in battling the invading German soldiers. Taken aback by the bullets, several Amazonians including Antiope fell, but the high skills prove too much, and the ancient warriors won the battle. Diana became curious with Steve, the first man she had laid her eyes upon. Patty Jenkins shows them bonding in a mildly flirtatious way which actually felt good. The curiosity on the strange equipment of Steve (A watch, actually) was almost childlike. Diana was mesmerized with the above-average man, and after hearing about the raging World War I, she concluded that Ares, the God of War was behind the attacks. The connection between the Greek Mythology and real world was subtly shown. Secretly aided by Sir Patrick Morgan, Diana followed Steve and his band of misfits to the Belgian border to stop General Ludendorff and Dr. Poison from unleashing a lethal gas. Certain that Ludendorff was Ares in disguise, she killed him, only to find out Sir Patrick as the mask of the demigod. An ensuing battle follows, and while Steve sacrificed himself to prevent the gas explosion, Diana destroyed Ares with her will and bracelets. She remained the unheralded heroine behind the end of the World War.
Female superheroes have always been overtly sexualized by both Marvel and DC, Catwoman and Black Widow being at the top of the list. ‘Wonder Woman’ stands as a symbol of feminism in the universe dominated by men in capes and tights. Diana carries herself comfortably, sporting her armor and the evening gown with the same élan. It is rare to see a woman standing up for her own in the comic world, let alone see a whole army of women training in the art of warfare. Their skills are unrivalled, which the German forces learnt the hard way, and never bowed down before the perceived superiority of men. Diana, like the heroine she is, leads from the front while conquering the no man’s land. Her empathy towards those who couldn’t fight for themselves essentially drove her throughout the movie and compelled her to perform defining acts of heroism. But beneath the weight of the responsibility, she was a woman who felt love. Her amazement at the towering city of London and the clothing of the ‘humans’ was innocent. She was just another foreigner trying to fit in the crowed British city. Her romance with Steve added an ounce of reality, with her previous ignorance of mankind and attraction towards the first man she had seen seemed quite Tempest like.
Steve Trevor was masculine but was quite different from the male chauvinist hero. He was in love with Diana and let her take the lead quite willingly. His care for her was never diminished and carried on his duties heroically. He was the hero no one would talk about, but was the person who instilled trust and love in the shaken daughter of Zeus.
There is only so much you can do with a comic book heroine story. The original storyline can’t be modified according to whims, which will send the comic book faithful into a frenzy. The conclusion to ‘Wonder Woman’ was clichéd but there wasn’t simply any space to add a spicy twist. Christopher Nolan had the freedom to weave Bruce Wayne’s story over the three installments as they weren’t a part of the DC Universe films. Ares had to be destroyed and Jenkins showed it in the good old fashioned one-on-one encounter. Diana fought like a warrior princess, with guts and charisma and won over the sceptics in a glorious fashion.
Solo superhero films are hugely dependent on the leading man/woman. Hugh Jackman had carried the mantle of Wolverine in the Fox Cinematic universe with panache. Gal Gadot’s mesmerizing performance as the Amazonian princess is DC’s answer to the Marvel’s talismanic hero. The long legged Israeli beauty was simply fantastic in the movie. The audience couldn’t help but get drowned in her exotic charm and confident self. She was both the mildly curious foreign girl and the dashing swordswoman. She looked fantastic in the battle sequences, her determined eyes, powerful postures and defying stunts proving her credibility. The fact that she had shot some of the sequences being pregnant makes us wonder who the title of ‘Wonder Woman’ should actually go to. Chris Pine was charming as Captain Steve Trevor and brought out the emotional scenes really well. It was great to see David Thewlis as Sir Patrick/Ares, although a bit disappointing that he wasn’t a ‘good guy’. Danny Huston plays the villain once again in a superhero film after ‘The Wolverine’ and has the audience flummoxed for some time due to his character choices.
Patty Jenkins, director of the critically acclaimed ‘Monster’, became the first woman to direct a superhero film. ‘Wonder Woman’ was a feast for beautifully choreographed action sequences. The World War battles and the final showdown with Ares were quite good as compared to the other films in the DCEU. Hopefully, it is the start for a wonderful series of films which would excite the fan boys and critics alike. The Princess is on a roll and Bruce Wayne knows the antiquities curator all too well. Justice will be served and we can’t wait for it.
The author is a software engineer at Infosys and a passionate film and football buff, with a special interest in deciphering the literature behind the movies.