I was going to just do this on Facebook, but the more I thought about it, the more space I realised I needed, so here we are: a full on blog post.
One thing to get out of the way first (in the interests of full disclosure): I’ve never really been a DC kind of girl. I grew up on Marvel. The X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Spiderman and Friends. I saw some of the DC properties – the 50s Superman; the 60s Batman; the 70s Wonderwoman; the 90s Flash – but I never really connected with them. I’m not a fan of Superman. I don’t get the fuss over Batman. By rights, I ought to like both of them – the whole secret identity/crime fighting/vigilante thing is normally my catnip, but for some reason, the DC characters have never attracted me and often out-right repelled me.
Second thing to state, up front: I didn’t hate the Wonderwoman film. It was well done. Many of the characters (I’ll come onto this) were well drawn and the fight sequences were well put together. I may have rolled my eyes at the love story aspect, but from a character point of view, it made sense and they faded to black (metaphorically speaking) rather than gratuitously showing what happened next – which is a refreshing change.
I also very much liked the way the film showed the multi-ethnic, multi-national mix of soldiers (the Sikhs with bicycles unreasonably amused me). I’d have to watch the station sequence again but it left me with the impression that they’d managed to include everyone who’d actually fought in some way. Too often that sort of thing gets missed. And, for that matter, the village of Veld and the casualties and the Trenches were all well done without being gratuitous. Well researched, well shot and just generally well done. (I’ve little doubt there are historical goofs in there somewhere – nobody’s ever perfect! – but they’re small and this isn’t, at the end of the day, intended as a historical drama.)
Thirdly: by necessity here be spoilers. If you haven’t seen it and want to remain unspoiled, nope out at this point!
So, caveats done, I can safely say that I have some pretty big issues with the film.
First and (probably most minor) was the choice of using a real World War I German general as one of the primary antagonists. Everyone else (give or take) was fictional, so why involve a real person? Especially a real person who not only survived the war but played an unfortunately large role in helping to cause the next one?
Second: a missed opportunity. I’d pretty much pegged that Sir Patrick was not a good guy so I wasn’t especially surprised by the revelation that he was actually the ultimate bad guy. But. I think a more interesting story would have been if Ares had actually turned out to be Dr Poison. It would at least have given her a bit of an arc and agency – that she was actually the one pulling all the strings. As it was, she was just a mad scientist with no particularly compelling reason for why she was doing what she was doing.
Third: the overall story. You have a gang of rag-tag misfits, going into occupied territory, going up against a mad scientist with a facial disfigurement, who just happens to have a plane loaded with a deadly weapon that one of the party has to some how bring down without killing anyone on the ground. And there’s a gentle love story between him and the woman of the group. I could be describing Wonderwoman, or I could be describing Captain America: The First Avenger. You decide.
There are, obviously, differences. It’s a different war (WWI for Wonderwoman, WWII for Captain America), Peggy Carter isn’t out in the field with the Howling Commandos – except for during the actual climax of the film – and, as I’ve already noted, the mad scientist isn’t even really an antagonist in Wonderwoman. Beyond that, play spot the difference.
Fourth: pacing. This can be summed up in a DC-appropriate fashion. Holy Info Dump, Batman. Any time you tell an origin story, it’s a trap you’re liable to fall into (Iron Man partially fell into it; so did Antman; Captain America came close, with the exposition about Red Skull, but by virtue of both Stanley Tucci and brevity, it just about dodged the bullet) but in the case of Wonderwoman it felt very much like every time it happened, the film came to an almost screeching halt. It would have been better if they’d actually structured the movie to properly show the final battle with Ares – it could have even been worked in as Diana’s bedtime story, with them coming out of the battle and showing Hypolyta and very-young Diana. They could have even dropped a few more hints about who/what the God Killer really was.
Fifth: enough with the training montages. I know I said the fight sequences were well done, but when your first twenty minutes is almost exclusively a training montage that doesn’t even slightly advance the story, you are DOING. SOMETHING. WRONG.
Sixth: Boob armour. Do I really need to explain what’s wrong with this?!
Seventh (and this is not a gripe with the film so much as it is with the general world wide educational standards): WWI did not feature Nazis. Yes, I know the Allies were fighting the Germans (and the Austro-Hungarians, and the Ottomans), that still doesn’t mean they were Nazis. No, it doesn’t count if people who later became Nazis featured because (read this carefully) Nazis did not exist prior to 1920. WWI ended in 1918. You see how that works?
So that’s my rant done. I will buy the DVD when it comes out and I wish it well at the box office (because, just maybe, if it does well Marvel will give us the Black Widow movie we’ve been wanting since she kicked Happy’s butt in Iron Man 2), but it’s not going to be a favourite of mine and it’s not made me even slightly interested to see the Justice League (or any of the other DCEU movies).