Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DC Finally Connects With Wonder Woman

The DC Cinematic Universe inadvertently began with Man of Steel back in 2013 and it was an OK movie with some flaws.  Then last year came Batman v Superman which had even bigger flaws that I've gotten into many times already.  Finally there was Suicide Squad, which seemed dumb in the extreme:  a witch is trying to destroy the world so let's put together a team of an assassin, a psycho chick with a baseball bat, a guy who throws boomerangs, a weird crocodile guy, and one guy who actually has superpowers because that's what you'd do, right? (Ugh.)  While all of those movies made money, none of them garnered the kind of critical support that most Marvel movies have.  It sadly looked as if DC's universe were going the way of the Transformers universe:  horribly stupid and yet somehow making enough money to keep pumping them out.

Then along comes Wonder Woman, taking the best part of BvS and putting her into a solo movie.  And not only is it a financial success (so far) it's also a critical success.  Finally after three tries DC/WB get it right--more or less.

In BvS there was a picture of Wonder Woman and some dudes in World War I that she was desperately trying to get back.  This provides the framing device for the movie as it starts in Paris, where Diana Prince is working and receives the original picture from Bruce Wayne.  And then she thinks back to 1918 to before the picture was taken.

Her origin combines the 80s George Perez "made of clay" and the more recent "daughter of Zeus" origin.  Diana grows up on Themyscara or Paradise Island, where she's the only child amongst a bunch of warrior women.  Like Luke Skywalker or many a movie hero, she wants to be a hero and see the world, but of course none of that is going to happen until a plane falls out of the sky and into the ocean.  She rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor (played by new Captain Kirk Chris Pine) but some Germans are on his trail and storm the beach, leading to a fight with the Amazons who have literally taken bows and swords to a gunfight.  Despite that the Amazons destroy the invaders, though at the cost of their greatest warrior, Robin Wright who gets third billing though she and her vague European accent are only around for the first 20 minutes or so.

(Plot Hole #1:  So this island is sitting in the Mediterranean or Atlantic for thousands of years and to this point no one has wandered into their space?  I mean other than some fog there didn't seem to be anything keeping people out so wouldn't at some point a ship have gone through there?)

Using a magic lasso, the Amazons get Trevor to confess that he stole some information on a new German gas weapon that he needs to get back to England.  So Diana defies her mother, arms up, and sneaks Trevor onto a boat.

(Plot Hole #2:  The Amazons know English?  When Tevor asks Diana dismisses it as "we know hundreds of languages."  Yet they've had no contact with outsiders for thousands of years, right?  Long before English was even invented!  Because everyone still spoke Greek and Latin when they left, right?  Which going back to Plot Hole #1, did someone who spoke English turn up before?  Or did a Webster's dictionary just wash up on shore?  Some kind of magic babelfish thing would have made more sense.)

They get to England incredibly fast, like in the span of half a night it seems like, which is a hell of a thing for an ancient sailboat; the Vikings wish it were that easy.  Then the movie gets to have a little fun with the fish-out-of-water angle of Diana being in "man's world" for the first time.  She tries on clothes and tries to figure out a revolving door and has to not punch out a lot of stupid, sexist men.

Eventually though Trevor enlists some companions to take her to the frontlines in France so they can track down "Dr. Poison" and a German general.  Soon enough Diana uses her powers to break the siege of trench warfare and save a village--temporarily.  That's where the picture is taken from BvS/the beginning of the movie.

(Plot Hole #3:  A villager takes the picture but then the next night the village is wiped out with poison gas.  They didn't exactly have one hour photo processing in 1918.  Sure he probably could have gotten the photo developed, but who would have found it and kept it for almost 100 years?  And how did Luthor get a hold of it?)

There's a ball where Trevor keeps Diana from killing the general and Dr. Poison; instead they go to a German base for the final throwdown.

For the most part I did really like it.  You can probably make the case it's the best DC-related movie since The Dark Knight (though I'd say since Watchmen) though this of course does not quite have the realism since there are gods and people throwing tanks like hand grenades.  The acting was mostly fine though I think Gal Gadot is still a little wooden at times.  She has decent chemistry with Pine, though that won't matter going forward, will it?  Like a Marvel movie the villains aren't all that much here.  They do a good job of keeping Ares a mystery, but when it's revealed he looks kind of disappointing for a God of War--at least until a little later.

(Plot Hole #4:  So why exactly did Diana decide to go home after the war?  And when exactly did she come back?  Are we ever really going to address this, like in a sequel maybe?)

(Plot Hole #5:  No mid-credits scene?  Come on, you've got Justice League coming up in 5 months!)

Mostly though it's a relief to see someone finally realized what I've known for a long time now:  the key to making a female superhero movie is to make a female superhero movie.  As in:  just make it the way you'd make a male superhero movie.  It's no different.  I hope studios (including Marvel) will take notice of that.  And since Patty Jenkins did a good job, maybe they'll take notice that women can direct a blockbuster movie just as well as men.

For those who've always been more on the DC side than Marvel, it's good to see DC score some major points here and if Justice League doesn't suck (which maybe is more likely now that Joss Whedon is stepping in for reshoots) the DC universe might finally get on solid ground.  They've definitely stolen some of Marvel's thunder by having the first big female superhero movie.  Of course they could have done it sooner if they'd just listened to me 4 1/2 years ago!  The first half of my version is pretty close too, though mine was set in present day.  Still, why is no one calling me?

1 comment:

  1. It seems plot holes can be forgiven if viewers like the main character, which is what have must've happened. Anyway, I hope to see it soon.



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