Wonder Woman (2017) Movie Review: Superheroes, Complexity, and Strength

Wonder Woman blew up the box office. I’ve seen so many dazzling reviews and Tumblr analyses that my expectations were high. Thankfully, when I finally saw it, it was everything I had hoped it would be.

I love most superhero movies, but Diana is the action hero lead I didn’t know I needed to see. I loved watching her (and the Amazons in general) fight; I loved her conviction in what she believed in. I loved that she was beautiful and smart and strong, but still so kind and caring. I am so glad an entire generation of girls got to see her.

But for me, the best part of the film wasn’t Diana’s badass fighting skills. It was Diana’s growth and development throughout the film.

(spoilers below the cut)

If I’m completely honest, no matter how much I loved the Amazons or how awesome I thought they were, Diana’s never-ending idealism bothered me. It’s understandable, growing up on a peaceful island separated from the rest of the world, but her view just seemed so narrowminded to me. She saw things as black-and-white, one or the other. Ares is bad. People are good. I can save everybody. I know what I’m doing, and you can’t stop me from doing it.

I still loved Diana. In fact, I loved her even more because her idealism and eventual departure from it made her relatable. I talk about flaws a lot on this blog, and here’s why: they make characters real. Humans are inherently flawed; we are good and bad and we make mistakes. Diana is as complex as any of us, and though she starts off as more than human, the development in her origin story brings her down to our level. It makes her is one of us. We can see her and think I can be like her.

We don’t love Diana just because she has a solid moral compass. We love her because in her darkest moment, she does think about turning her back on the world. We love her because she does struggle, and for the briefest moment, she even gives up. We love her because she’s strong and smart and still has so much love for the world. We love her because her reaction to losing Steve Trevor was heartbreaking and real, because she could grieve for someone and still be just as powerful.

(I don’t want to talk about Steve too much, but having a male lead who saw Diana as equal and never tried to diminish or patronize her was so amazing. Even when he sacrifices himself at the end it’s because he knows Diana has a bigger part to play, not because of chivalry: “I can save today. You can save the world.” Writers, please take note.)

If she was anything else, Diana wouldn’t be so important. The thing is, it would’ve been easy for DC to make her too perfect, to make her a female Superman, good and righteous and pure, all the while looking breathtakingly beautiful, and charge that as feminism. But it wouldn’t feel right. We’ve been fighting for a female hero for so long, and Diana is what we deserve. She is complex and multi-dimensional and flawed, and because of that, she stands up against our favourite male superheroes. She is as good, if not better.

Wonder Woman is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Not only is it incredibly diverse with a lot of strong female roles (including the villain Doctor Poison, played by a Hispanic actress), a Native American smuggler who defies stereotypes, and a witty French-Moroccan man, but it also shows characters with PTSD and a “War To End All Wars” that is anything but glorious. Its main villain, Ares, comes with a surprising twist; he turns out to be a British politician instead of the megalomaniacal German general. And just like the world he wants to take over, he is complex, too: he does not control humans, just nudges them towards their worst desires. Choosing David Thewlis (AKA Remus Lupin), who isn’t exactly what you picture when thinking of the god of war, furthers this: without the chiseled action hero features and bulging muscles, Ares is surprisingly… human.

In all honesty, I’ve always been a Marvel girl. If you’ve read this blog before, you probably already know that. But I loved Wonder Woman. It’s witty, well-written, diverse and feminist movie that had awesome fight scenes, and also almost made me cry. And I can’t wait to see what Diana does next.

My review of Wonder Woman, in which I talk about superheroes, three-dimensional characters, and why Diana is one of the most complex heroes in the genre. #wonderwoman #dc

Disclaimer: I don’t own Wonder Woman, nor am I in any way affiliated with it.

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