Wonder Woman, the origin story of the iconic superwoman, is DC’s long-awaited comeback after their disastrous 2016 films. Batman vs. Superman was so brooding and uninspiring that it averaged a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. Suicide Squad, the pathetically bad result of endless reworks, earned a mere 25% rating. In contrast, Wonder Woman is refreshing, well-directed, and funny. Wonder Woman comes close to being as entertaining and well-made as the Dark Knight trilogy and will be preserved in the history of DC Comics as such.
Born on the isolated island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons, Diana (Gal Gadot) spent her younger years being trained by the world’s best fighters. The Amazons are unaware of the war that rages beyond the safety of their island until World War I pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands offshore and is quickly pursued by the German navy. A stunning fight scene (executed by director Patty Jenkins and fight coordinators Wayne Dalglish, Allen Jo, Rudolf Vrba, and Ryan Watson) during which the gracefully powerful Amazons and their traditional weaponry clash with the Germans and their harsh, new bullets is Diana’s introduction to the dark reality of mankind. Nonetheless, inspired by her belief that Ares the god of war is to blame, she leaves with Trevor to find and kill the god.
Diana is an immediately likable character. She has a simple, selfless goal to defeat Ares for the benefit of the humans who have just warred with her people. Despite Diana fighting the first world war, she never sees the battle as an unwinnable fight. She does not offer a reason to Trevor as to why she cares for mankind, but her charm distracts from this script oversight. As Diana and Trevor get to know each other, there are many funny moments as he attempts to explain the intricacies of societal norms to the naive Diana. He occasionally drifts into patriarchal waters, attempting to control her actions, but she quickly and repeatedly proves herself to be much more capable than him or any other person she encounters.
Part of what makes Wonder Woman so compelling is Diana’s confrontation with the darkness of mankind. She begins the film under the assumption that humans are the puppet of an evil god and that they would live in peace were it not for him. Her personal development from a naive vigilante to an experienced superhero is intriguing to watch. At one point, she stands within trenches among the dead and dying; it is during moments like this when she is forced to realize the possibility that mankind is flawed not because of a god, but because of its own inherent evils.
Wonder Woman will be remembered not because the plot is well-developed and the script is well-written, but because it seeks the source of humanity’s worst evils and, in turn, encourages audience introspection. It’s more than a flashy superhero film. It has a question to ask and no clear answer to offer — Wonder Woman leaves the audience to decide if we are forgivable for the evils of our history.