The first live-action Wonder Woman movie since her first appearance in All-Star Comics #8 in 1941 (created by polyamorous polygraph inventor William Moulton Marston) satisfies as a solo introduction to this character for people who have heard the name, but never knew about Themyscira and other important elements of this story. Really, the only part of this story that connects it to the DC Cinematic Universe is the photograph of her and Steve Trevor that you see in 'Batman v. Superman', delivered to her by an armored car that says 'Wayne Enterprises'. It was a little on-the-nose, even for a DC fan like myself. If they had cut that scene out, having Diana (Gal Gadot) just find the picture somewhere and start telling her story, it would be a little friendlier to newcomers. One minor nitpick and the only sliver of 'Justice League' movie setup in an excellent origin story.
Most of us know that Princess Diana lives on an island of all women, where they were sculpted by clay and given life by Greek gods that you probably learned about in high school. You get a brief Greek mythology lesson at the beginning and then follow this little girl who grows up wanting to be a warrior like most of the women on her island, but is discouraged from this by her over-protective mother. Then, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the first man ever to set foot on Themyscira, crash-lands his plane in the ocean. He is a British spy posing as a German soldier. Diana learns that the rest of the world (Man's World) is wrapped up in a "Great War" (World War I) and is convinced that Ares, the Greek God of War is behind it. She leaves her island for the first time in her life, much to her mother's dismay, believing that if she kills Ares, the fighting will stop.
There is a lot of funny culture clash moments where we see Diana's humorous naivety about the world outside of her island, especially considering it was the 1910's and women weren't allowed to do much. Diana is from an island where women run the whole place. She's not going to listen to Steve telling her to stand outside while the men discuss how to proceed. But Steve is always on her side, we see their relationship grow over time. Gal Gadot is great in this role. So is Chris Pine. All of the performances are top-shelf, including the feisty little girl who plays young Diana, admiring all the soldiers who are training and pantomiming them blocking stuff with their bracelets. And the action scenes are also top-notch. They don't detract from the story at all, but Wonder Woman does kick some German butt all over the battlefield, whipping people towards her with her lasso and kicking others through stone walls.
You may remember that the first season of the 'Wonder Woman' TV show took place in World War II, not WWI, which was appropriate to when she was created in the comics. I think the change was made for this film to avoid comparison to 'Captain America: First Avenger', but the WWI setting does add more intensity to one aspect of the story. You see, (in real life) WWI was truly a leap forward as far as mankind developing more destructive weapons for war. Yes, that took another leap forward in WWII with the atom bomb, but the savagery of Man' s World developing new weapons is an important part of the story. It is why Diana thinks the God of War is behind all this, so the period setting is appropriate to the tale and one of the movie's strengths.
It is truly the best film in the DC movie universe, partially because of the humor and the humanity shown through these characters, something that both 'Man of Steel' and 'BvS' (which I liked) lacked. Check out my review of 'Suicide Squad' to see why I am not mentioning it and hoping it goes away.
Taking one half-point off for unnecessarily shoehorning "Wayne" into this movie just to sell 'Justice League', 'Wonder Woman' was an excellent film with humor and heart that truly did the character justice. William Moulston Marston and his two wives would have been proud. 4.5 tiaras out of 5.
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