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The Wonder in 'Wonder Woman'

Bringing heroics back to the DCEU

Wonder Woman. A name that holds the provocative power of inspiration and awe. And thankfully the film adaptation with the same branded misnomer was able to evoke that same set of emotional gravitas I'd wished (and believed) the DC Extended Universe had inside it all along. And wow, what a breath of fresh air Wonder Woman was.  Like its namesake, the film had an attraction that merited a wonder at how such a refreshing product found its way among the dry hardboiledness of the DCEU. Having all the hallmarks of the heroes' journey, the origin of WW is given believable life via the experienced acting performances of Robin Wright and Chris Pine, with a stream of fresh (and necessary!) blood by Gal Gadot as the titular character and a sans-Snieder directing quality by Patty Jenkins.

The fantastical first act hits home with their hero mythos by introducing the viewer to a utopian world unlike our own, during a time when the history of man was at its worst. Seeing the lush and verdant trees and crystalline blue water of Diana's home Theymiscira, the reality of the planet is a near polarizing facet that the Amazons and most importantly Diana herself must come to grips with. This polarization is the theme that runs throughout the length of the film, placing itself in nearly every plot and character conflict. Diana's outlook on life as black and white clashes with the gray that was World War 1. Her being a woman in a "man's" world with the powers and skill set she has was another polarizing factor, and it is this take on good and evil, black and white extremes that makes Wonder Woman the hero film DC fans have been waiting for. 

Despite the gravitas and world-shaking impact and decisions that is World War 1, WW managed to inject quite a few humorous and well written scenes throughout, which, unlike previous installments in the DCEU allowed for the audience to breathe amongst the wanton destruction and violence that was Diana's world, and show that no matter how grim the darkness is, the human spirit can still make a joke about it. Where WW fell short, unfortunately, was in its climatic third act, producing a whimsical villain with another smeared genocidal worldview.  But WW isn't alone in this regard. Multiple superhero films fail when it comes to the penultimate fight scene, due to the film being about building the hero to the point, to begin with, which WW does in spades. 

Opinions about the thematic skein of the film vary as much as WW's family tree; some will say it's a pro-feminist homage; others it's a Super-powered version of a phallic saviour lifetime movie. But what can be considered truth is that Wonder Woman showed why viewers watch Super films to begin with: to believe in ideals bigger than ourselves, and to see those ideals personified in character, and ultimately, fully realized. And in that regard, it's no 'wonder' why it succeeded.