Is Wonder Woman the best DC Extended Universe movie? Hell yes, by a wide margin. But that’s not exactly a big hurdle, now is it? So is Wonder Woman a good movie? That is a quite unequivocal yes. It’s not a great movie (the finale definitely could have been better), but it is a very good movie and gives us the kick-ass Wonder Woman we deserve. Cue the epic cello riff.
Let’s start with what was completely unnecessary: the opening and closing bits that take place in the present day, the bits that show Bruce Wayne sending Diana the original photograph she was looking for in Batman v Superman. Honestly, I’m pretty sure the only reason this was in the movie was that some studio executive said, “Wait, Batman’s not in this film? Are you sure? Can we at least mention his name?” Hence the giant “Wayne Enterprises” logo on the truck that delivers the picture (honestly, Bruce, just send it through the mail).
But after that (and some meh narration), we get the awesome backstory of Diana as she grows up in Themyscira. Themyscira itself looks breathtaking — and there is a hilarious little scene where teeny Diana goes to see all the women training for combat and copies their movement.
Honestly, the Themyscira scenes are almost the best parts, even after Steve Trevor arrives. The battle scene with the Amazons against the Germans was awesome (a fight! during daylight! WHO KNEW?), as well Steve’s interrogation afterwards. The fun, however, comes when Diana leaves with him to go to the Western Front and find and kill Ares.
Man, the scenes in London are almost as good (if not better) than in Themyscira, since we get introduced to Etta Candy, Diana tries on a lot of dresses, kicks some ass, and then Steve recruits some old friends for his mission. Honestly, this is the part that feels quite a lot like DC’s version of Captain America: The First Avenger — hell, it even features a guy named Steve recruiting a soldiers for a secret mission and the new characters (a Moroccan spy and a Scottish sharpshooter) even seen like they should be a part of the Howling Commandos (thankfully, nobody nicknames them “Easy Company”).
After the first two acts, the third act is a bit of a let down, but it does feature a supremely awesome scene of Diana rushing across No Man’s Land, deflecting every bullet and mortar shot at her, and defeating the German’s on the other side. Her subsequent liberation of the nearby town is just icing on the cake.
It’s the little things, however, that really make this film stand out. Moments like Diana eating ice cream or getting mad at a general for not caring about soldiers dying. Batman v Superman had some good fight scenes, but it failed at the character moments. Wonder Woman doesn’t. It gets the characters right — and Diana nicely avoids the Born Sexy Yesterday trope by knowing things like languages and even sex (she’s read a lot), but not knowing about the fact that sometimes man can be cruel to man simply because. No God of War needed.
And that’s where the third act finally falls a bit: the appearance of Ares. I’ll admit it: I guessed David Thewlis was Ares the minute he showed up. Danny Huston was way too obvious. (I also guessed that Diana herself was the God-Killer as soon as her mother showed hesitation when she asked to see it, but that may just be me being paranoid.) And Thewlis as Ares? Honestly really good. The reveal that while he may have provided them with the ideas for weapons, he never made them use them was nice — I always dislike it when the reason for war is shown as something supernatural and easily defeated — and his whole reasoning behind destroying man was a nice motivational twist.
And then he turned into a giant CGI monster. Honestly, DC, must you end every movie like this? I much, much more would have preferred it if Diana fought David Thewlis in a suit and tie — sure, you would be able to put him in armor or that stupid horned helmet, but it would look much more visually interesting than another CGI battle against a CGI monster. The last fight — the climax of the film — was just a bunch of CGI blah to me.
Also, they had Steve stop an airplane by blowing it up. So I guess that’s another way Wonder Woman is unlike The First Avenger — Steve Rogers stopped an airplane and got frozen, Steve Trevor stopped an airplane and got blown up. Which is...something I guess.
In all honesty, though, aside from a mediocre final fight, the movie was awesome. It got pretty much all of the characters right — from Hippolyta to Etta Candy to Diana herself. Go see it and gaze in wonder.