Photo by Zhen Hu on Unsplash

My Career Began With Wonder Woman

I’m sitting on the couch, flipping through the channels, when I started watching Wonder Woman. I’ve seen the movie a dozen times, and the movie always elicits a certain bit of nostalgia. Essentially, my career began with Wonder Woman, at least my career in its current state.

I had been ghostwriting for two years, when I finally decided to try writing under my name, instead of passing my work as a litany of others’.

I had a job writing for a small website. My first couple pieces didn’t get near the response I wanted, and I was afraid I would be going back to being the anonymous scribbler I was so desperately leave behind.

Until I saw and wrote a review for Wonder Woman. Writing for the Internet is a funny thing. Most of the time you release your articles into the ether with little or no fanfare. But, for some unknown reason, this review found its way to the right people, and it garnered enough popularity for me to be taken seriously. It let me write what I wanted instead of reports and business communication.

The reason this happened is quite unclear to me. It is nothing remarkable, it is as thoroughly average as anything I’ve written. But, I’ve learned over the years not to think too much about these things, and to take the successes when they come.

So, I consider this review the beginning of my true writing career.

I’ve reproduced the article below.

Image: Screenshot HBO

Wonder Woman Enter No Man’s Land: Brings Hope the DC Universe

Full Disclosure. Prior to her appearance in Batman V Superman, I was completely ambivalent to Wonder Woman’s place in the DC Extended Universe. I walked into Batman V Superman hoping for a big screen version of my action figure fantasies. All I wanted was to watch a man dressed as a flying rodent fight a space alien. I got that, with much more angst and murder than I would have liked.

The movie might not have been good, but it would serve as an overwrought two-hour trailer for a Wonder Woman movie in which I previously had no interest. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was my favorite part of that film and I have been looking forward to this movie for more than a year. And, I think it’s everything a comic book movie should be. It’s a war movie, but it is never mired down by taking itself too seriously, and in a departure from the rest of the movie universe it inhabits, it’s fun.

The Director

Patty Jenkins, best known for her movie Monster for which Charlize Theron won the Oscar for Best Actress, had an enormous task, and she needed to thread the needle in order to make this movie work. It was equal parts, fantasy epic, period piece, war movie, and comic book movie. She balances each of these movies with a deft hand, especially since there were not many examples of this type of movie.

The closest example would be Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger, but Wonder Woman operates on a much higher level of difficulty. This film had the comic book element, and the period war movie, but Jenkins needed to also fit in an entire Greek mythos into her story, all while keeping the movie a personal story about a woman finding her way in a new place. Also, Captain America was the fifth film of a successful movie universe. Wonder Woman needed to be a hit after Boring Superman, Murder they Wrote, and Hey, Wasn’t Joker Supposed to Be in This? All had subpar critic scores. Instead of the somber tones of the previous installments, Jenkins seems to use Richard Donner’s Superman as a model and makes Wonder Woman into a symbol of hope, and a force for good. In this movie, the superhero mantle is not a mournful duty, but an opportunity for Diana to help those who cannot help themselves.

Gal Gadot

Simply put, Gal Gadot nails this role as Diana of Themyscira. She is funny when she needs to be. She handles the action with aplomb, and she is everything Wonder Woman should be: strong, stoic, humble, kind, thoughtful, and most importantly, good. She leads from the front and even admonishes a room full of British Generals for not being on the front lines. Gadot has a natural charm on camera and it makes up for any tiny shortcoming in her range as an actress. It’s clear Gadot has fun in the role, and she has chemistry with everyone with whom she shares the screen, especially Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. In her first time carrying a movie, Gadot brings endless charm, and she is able to capture the more naive version of Diana Prince, as opposed to more world-weary Wonder Woman we saw in Batman V Superman, who had dealt with a century of conflict.

This version of Wonder Woman is eager to fight, she wants to help as many people as she can. Gadot captures the essential element of Wonder Woman, and frankly the element that her contemporary Superman lacks, and that is being the beacon of hope everyone can turn so they know everything is okay. She is a friend, protector, and soldier and Gadot bring all of these elements in the character. It is also abundantly clear that she is having a blast in her role.

Chris Pine

Chris Pine is this movie’s secret weapon. He plays the Steve Trevor pitch perfect, and after viewing the movie, I cannot think of anyone else in this role. His chemistry with Gal Gadot is unparalleled and his chemistry with the rest of the cast is just as good. He’s a rogue, but he wants to do the right thing. He is also responsible for some of the most important scenes in the movie, but these delve into spoiler territory but you’ll see what I mean.

The single most important thing that he brings this role is the comedy. He’s shown flashes of wit and comedic flourish, but I laughed more times in this movie than I did in Baywatch, which is admittedly not saying much, and that was supposed to be a comedy. His timing with Gadot is great, and their exchanges, especially on the boat, are a joy to watch. This was a movie about chemical weapons in World War I and his scenes bring a levity that helps keep the movie from being too somber.

No Man’s Land

There is nothing much to say about this scene, except that it is exactly as epic as-as portrayed in the trailer. It is easily one of my favorite comic book movie sequences.

Random Thoughts:

Robin Wright was perfect as Antiope. Though watching this while House of Cards made me think what Claire Underwood would do with that kind of training.

The only gripe I had was that villain could have been handled better, but every comic book movie not named The Dark Knight has this problem.

Actually a second gripe, I wished they defined Diana’s powers more. It wasn’t exactly clear what she could do at the end.

I want a Themyscira movie. I want Patty Jenkins to direct it. Actually, I want Jenkins to direct all of the DC movies. Actually, I want her direct all of the movies. Just give them to her.

My schedule allows me to watch movies in the middle of the day. Nearly every movie I see is in an almost empty theater until the local grade schools out. But, I went to see this at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on a weekday and the theater was packed.

I actually feel sorry for Justice League having to follow this movie. I don’t think they will be able to match the highs and merely being good will not suffice.