Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman was damn great. Perhaps it’s because of the messy, often times misogynistic political climate, but I found myself more inspired than ever after watching this superhero film. Usually, I snooze during action sequences, but golly, wow, Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, can kick butt in a really dignified and venerable way. It’s not too far-fetched to suggest that the battle scenes are allegorical devices for emotional strength. I began tearing up in one of the earlier scenes where Diana trained with the Amazons on the island. Her trainers and mentors push her to work harder to get the respect she deserves and they grow weary when they suspect that she lacks self-confidence. The island feels like an idealistic “safe space,” for a lack of a better word, where women support and develop one another. When Captain Steve Trevor and his men come to attack the island, it feels very invasive, almost morally injust, to witness them desecrating this paradise.
The script was funny and clever when it wanted to be through dialogue. This facet seeps through in the interactions between Diana and Steve. For the most part, the film focuses on Diana’s trust in her intuition and her sense of justice. The situation is hauntingly reminiscent of real society—a woman, Diana, believes that something is seriously wrong but isn’t taken seriously by her male colleagues. To be fair, it does sound pretty crazy—Diana truly believes that Aries is behind World War II, but Steve and his companions simply roll their eyes and trudge on with the war. Also, where Steve and his colleagues are jaded, Diana is refreshingly clear-eyed and compassionate. In Veld, for example, Steve and his troops are on the brink of giving up. Diana single-handedly infiltrates enemy lines and liberates the village of Veld, refusing to let women and young children be cast aside in the name of war. This particular scene incisively explores the dynamic between brute, ego-driven “masculine” desires for conquest and the more traditionally “feminine” sensibilities of compassion and love.
That’s what Wonder Woman is really driven by—love. And her moral clarity—yes, clarity as opposed to purity—is astounding. In the final battle scene between her and Aries, Diana is not fueled by hatred. The fuel for her battle against Aries was her love for Steve’s memory and for, more broadly speaking, mankind.
Wonder Woman is an important piece of cinema literature in a generation where hope is more necessary than ever for women everywhere who are disparaged and disenfranchised. It’s a manifesto, a prayer, a call-to-action, all in one beautifully executed two-hour film.