‘Wonder Woman’ Review: One of the Best Superhero Films…Period.

Wonder Woman Review: One of the Best Superhero Films…Period.

There was a time not so long ago when seeing a superhero on the big screen felt like a truly special experience. As of late, I have been feeling what many have deemed “superhero movie fatigue” because Hollywood has gone overboard with these movies. Each year, there are at least four (usually five or six) superhero films released and while I always go to see them, rarely do I walk out of the theater with a sense of awe.

This brings me to Wonder Woman which marks the first time in over a decade that a major studio has released a female-lead superhero film based on a popular comic or graphic novel. Wonder Woman tells the story of Diana, Princess of the Amazons, played by Gal Gadot. When we first meet Diana, we learn that she is the only child on this sheltered island that was created by her father Zeus in order to help protect his people. Diana spends most of her life training alongside her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsenand Aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). Hippolyta and Antiope spend years training Diana to become the greatest warrior on the island. But when a jet pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands near the island, Diana comes to his rescue. While recovering from the accident, Steve ignites Diana’s desire to leave the island. Diana joins Steve as he returns to London to help put an end to the war that will supposedly end all wars.

Wonder Woman is a wonderful character-driven film that is filled with emotion, humor, and heart. It is a superhero film that stands out from the others because the story shapes and develops the characters first instead of simply throwing them directly into battle. Wonder Woman spends a lot of time creating a backstory for its characters and giving the audience a reason to care about them. Therefore most of Wonder Woman‘s runtime is spent building and bonding the characters before ultimately becoming a superhero film. This is one of many reasons as to why Wonder Woman works so well narratively.

Steering this female-driven ship is Patty Jenkins, who is honestly a breath of fresh air when it comes to a genre that is typically directed by men. Jenkins, who comes from an indie background and also helped earn Charlize Theron her first Oscar, is someone who I always greatly admired as a storyteller as well as a filmmaker. While Jenkins didn’t write the screenplay this time around, you can tell she had creative control over a lot of what was going on in the film and telling Diana’s story. Jenkins was the perfect choice to help bring the Wonder Woman story to life and she knew exactly how much time was needed to make audiences connect with the characters before the action kicked in.

While this is without a doubt an origin story, it feels fresh and different. Allan Heinberg‘s script, which was based on a story written by Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs has a lot going on but unlike a lot of other superhero films, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. There are several characters throughout the film, but the focus always seems to be on Diana and how what was going on affected her. It is so refreshing that a superhero film worked so hard on grounding its characters in reality even though some of them are not of this planet. I truly believe that strong character development is one of the main reasons why so many people loved Nolan’s Batman trilogy because it was all about developing the characters first and then building the drama and action around those characters. The same thing can now be said about Jenkins’ Wonder Woman.

However, unlike Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Wonder Woman isn’t afraid to be light-hearted and fun. There is no question that a lot of Diana’s story is serious and emotional but it’s nice that Jenkins and the writers weren’t afraid to add in some much-needed comedy here and there. A lot of the comedy occurs between Diana and Steve trying to discuss their “attraction” towards one another. While most of these jokes didn’t make me laugh out loud, they do lighten the mood and will more than likely get quite a few hearty chuckles from the audience.

There is a great scene between Diana and Steve while they are on the boat traveling to London. In this scene, Diana and Steve have a conversation about sleeping with each other and Diana takes a jab at men and how they are unnecessary when it comes to pleasure. This moment is awkwardly amusing because you can tell Steve is somewhat scared of admitting his feelings towards Diana. The most comedic scene in the film involves Diana trying on various outfits at an upscale London boutique. While trying on clothes, Diana is most interested in the ones that are the most practical if she has to burst into battle. This scene was so much fun and hilarious to watch unfold.

While there are a lot of characters in Wonder Woman, this is without a doubt the Gal Gadot show. She owns this film and disappears into the role of Diana. Gadot’s performance and character are such an inspiration to women of all ages. I love that the film isn’t afraid to poke fun at males while also showcasing how smart and strong-willed Diana is despite being an outsider. Diana has a lot to say and isn’t afraid to say it no matter who is around. There are several scenes where characters including Steve tell Diana that she can’t do something but Diana turns around and does it anyway. This is so inspiring because while Diana isn’t always right, it shows that she is capable of making her own decisions and goes with her gut instinct. There is something powerful about watching Diana take charge and does what she believes is right.

The film takes place during World War I which wasn’t exactly the era of feminism. However, Wonder Woman’s story tackles the whole lack of respect shown to women that occurred during that era and in some ways is still happening today. I absolutely adored seeing Diana fighting against the government and in one of the film’s finest moments, Diana stands up to the General after he mentions that soldiers sign up for war and are aware that one of the consequences of war could be death. Diana responds this by stating that he should fight to help them instead of doing nothing and watching them die. It is such a powerful moment and one that shows the ethics of Diana, even though she was raised as a warrior.

There are at least three incredibly emotional moments in Wonder Woman that got me a bit choked up. I don’t want to spoil any of these scenes but one involves Diana going into War, another involves Diana’s Aunt Antiope, and the last one, involves Diana seeing the aftermath of war. These scenes are truly special and sparked so much emotion within me. The scene where Diana springs into battle for the first time is truly special. I couldn’t help but get goosebumps while watching this scene play out. These same goosebumps also occurred several other times throughout the film’s runtime as well.

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine have wonderful chemistry and bounce off one another rather nicely. The scenes where they bicker back and forth is entertaining but when they argue about what is right vs. what is wrong, it is very emotional and honest. I think these two work well together and have totally different personalities. Gadot and Pine work so well together and their characters moral rationale helps to really shape their actions in the film.

The main supporting cast includes Connie NielsenElena AnayaRobin WrightLucy DavisDanny Huston, and David Thewlis. All these actors and actresses bring their A-game to this film. It is so amazing to see so many great actresses given meaty roles and being a part of a huge summer blockbuster. All the female characters outshine their male counterparts with the exception of Chris Pine, who as I said earlier, embraces every scene and plays off Gadot with such ease. The male characters aren’t bad at all, so don’t get me wrong, but they just don’t shine as brightly as the women. This is perfectly fine with me since this is the Wonder Woman movie after all. 

I can’t end this review with discussing the few minor shortcomings in the film. The third act definitely feels a bit too much like most of the other superhero movies released in recent years. It’s strange saying that the film works better when it isn’t a superhero film but its honestly the truth. I also thought it would have been a little more impactful to the story if the audience was able to spend a little more time with the villains. While I understood what they were doing and why I just felt like the film could have had about 5 to 10 more minutes of screen-time with them to build up their mission a little bit more.

Filled with humor, action, and a whole lot of heart, Wonder Woman is the cure for superhero movie fatigue. Wonder Woman is a game changer because it is not only the best film of the DCEU but one of the best superhero films ever made. While I will never understand the whole Marvel vs. DC. nonsense, I will say that DC did it first and set the bar pretty high for any upcoming female-driven superhero films. Even with Captain Marvel being announced and starring one of my favorite actresses, I think Wonder Woman‘s grand entrance on the big screen will be hard to top. Needless to say, Wonder Woman‘s big screen debut is everything a superhero movie should be and more. It is exactly what I wanted from a movie like this and I think it will be incredibly hard to beat as 2017’s best superhero film.

Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Wonder Woman is a 9.5 out of 10.

Written by
Born in New Jersey, Scott "Movie Man" Menzel has been a film fanatic since he was three years old. Growing up, he watched as many movies as he could and was highly influenced by Tim Burton, John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Scott has an Associates Degree in Marketing, a Bachelors in Mass Media, Communications and a Masters in Electronic Media. He has been writing film reviews under the alias of MovieManMenzel since 2003 and started his writing career as a contributing critic at IMDB.com and Joblo.com. In 2009, Scott launched MovieManMenzel.com where he posted several of his film reviews but in 2011 decided to shut down the site when he launched We Live Film.com, which he founded. In 2015, We Live Film became We Live Entertainment. The domain name changed occurred after months of debate but was done so that he and his fellow staff members could write about anything and everything in the world of entertainment.

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  • Donaldv

    Thanks for the great review. Waiting for this movie with great expectations. I’ve been a long time fan of the character since the George Perez run. A woman solo superhero film is long overdue. Marvel could have done it first with an awesome Black Widow movie if they would have had the nerve. Go Wonder Woman! 🙂

    • Scott Menzel

      I completely agree. Marvel missed the boat on this one. I think Wonder Woman has set the bar and rather high, I might add, for female driven superhero films. I can’t wait for Captain Marvel. I love Brie Larson but right now, Gal Gadot is my favorite female superhero among all that we have seen so far.

  • Rom c

    so what you saying that WW is as good as TDK?

    • Scott Menzel

      They are totally different types of films. I don’t think many films can top the Nolan trilogy but lets just say in comparison to most others, its one of the best.

      • Rom c

        Will see I’m going tomorrow night to see it. The one thing the dark Knight did for me as a movie fan is it turn me against a lot of CGI. In the comic book world you’re going to need CGI but seening they didn’t use as near the amount of CGI in TDK if proved you can make a great comic book movie without a ton of CGI. You’re right they were two different movies and I will always believe that TDK is not only the best comic book movie ever it’s one of the best movies period

        • Scott Menzel

          Nolan’s movies were more grounded in reality minus the last one. They felt like a rich man, hired an inventor to make up Batman as a costume. Its so different here. I absolutely agree with the CGI stuff. It becomes so distracting after a while and honestly every new film tries to one up the last. I think there will get to a point where the technology won’t be as wowing. I mean, after Doctor Strange, I don’t know if Visuals can get any better than that.

          • Rom c

            Scott I went and seen wonder woman with my son and nephew I thought it was a good movie. When we Left the theater we were all in agreement that the ending pretty much a good part of the third act was not that good. As I discuss with you before I think movie producers today particularly anything that that has to do with comic books and sci-fi producers like Michael Bay Zack Snyder they go overboard with CGI. And at the end of wonder woman there was just too much of it if they could have nailed the final act I would definitely agree with you that’s one the top comic book movies ever but the end just didn’t do anything for me. My nephew said something very interesting but true why do film producers Directors trying go for these big dramatic endings and usually that ends up ruining a movie. I’ll give you a prime example the the man of steel was a good movie up until they destroyed metropolis that’s a movie a could easily scored very well with the critics. But Zack slider decided to destroy metropolis which we know by all the superman movies we’ve seen superman’s DNA would not allow him to have destroyed and put the people of metropolis in danger. There’s an old saying sometimes less is more sometimes you can finish a movie without trying to go huge overboard to get that dramatic ending sometimes just a simple Smart ending we’ll complete a great movie. Well that’s my opinion we know what opinions are like I thought it was a good movie to step in right direction better than the man of steel better then Batman versus Superman and better than suicide squad just clean the ending up stopped depending on so much damn CGI

      • Mike Magnum

        There Both Superhero movies. So there not totally different.

  • Spudo

    So its good cause its female driven super hero movie?

    • Donaldv

      It’s good for being a higher quality and funnier Superhero movie

      • Scott Menzel

        Right on the money.

    • Scott Menzel

      No, not at all. It’s good because it’s different and character driven rather than special effects and action.

      • Jack Smith

        Are you talking about Wonder Woman or Logan. Really how much did WB pay you.

        • Jon Snow

          Logan wasn’t even a good* superhero movie. The best superhero movie would be Watchmen

  • JackTson101

    I am happy this film is getting great reviews. I am looking forward to seeing it!

    • Scott Menzel

      I am as well. I saw it again tonight for the second time and it still held up

  • harunist

    Well written article, I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time and I was certian it was going to get bad reviews never been happier to be wrong.

    • Scott Menzel

      I think people wanted to shit on it but Patty Jenkins proved she is just as good as a blockbuster director as she is a indie director.

      • harunist

        if not better.

        • Scott Menzel

          Monster was pretty amazing but this is a game changer for the genre.

  • Daniel Aquino

    Why is it, so far, when people ask if it’s better than The Dark Knight a reviewer will say that they’re totally different movies? They’re both super hero movies aren’t they? The tone of the film might be different but to say they’re different movies is incorrect. Since I haven’t seen it I can’t make assumptions as to whether or not this film will be better than TDK or the top tier Marvel movies (GOTG, Winter Soldier, Avengers, etc.) but I’ve seen these reviews before for both BvS and Suicide Squad and obviously those didn’t hold water.

    • Scott Menzel

      I actually had a conversation about this today. Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight felt more like crime dramas than superhero films. They had Batman in it but they felt grounded in reality. Nothing that Batman did in either of those films felt rather superhero like. Wonder Woman feels like a superhero movie because she has this super strength and when you learn her origins, you know that she isn’t just an average woman. Its a lot different. The Marvel movies all feel like superhero films as do the other DC films and this one. Nolan in my opinion with the exception of the Dark Knight Rises, didn’t make superhero films.

    • Mike Magnum

      Not to mention that Logan just came out a few month ago. I doubt this is better than that.

  • Giannis P

    solid review

    • Scott Menzel

      Thank you.

  • Daryl Ligon

    Well written article Mr. Menzel, as others have stated. I am glad I did not see the Pirates movie after reading bad reviews. My wife and I will certainly see “Wonderwoman” based on the plethora of positive reviews. It sounds like the acting is “superb”. Excellent choice of the writers to develop the characters first, before throwing them into battle.

    • Scott Menzel

      Thank you so very much. I really did love Wonder Woman and I saw it twice. It’s nice having well developed characters in a film like this. Also, I have to be honest and tell you that I adored the new Pirates film. I think most critics were far too harsh on it. It was a lot of fun especially if you are a fan of the franchise. It was the best since the original.

  • FatAlbert1020

    Just watched the movie, and I disagree with this review on so many levels. I know I’m in the minority with this (look at all the positive reviews!), but this was an absolute let down. It literally follows the same 10 year old Marvel super-hero recipe that every DC movie has failed at, and man this one failed the hardest. Not because it was the worse, but because it had more potential than all the others and squandered it.

    Its impossible to say everything wrong in a decent length comment, and I’d be happy to go into detail if asked. It literally had EVERYTHING it needed to tackle to be taken seriously- downtrodden feminism, injustice, race issues, war crimes and their aftermath (God knows they marketed these things). But it just shot itself in the foot trying so hard to stick to the formula. In no universe is this even close to the best super hero movie.

    My brother summed this up pretty well: This is the movie the DC Universe needed, but not the one they deserve.

    • Derek

      Agreed. These overwhelming positive reviews made me go in with ultra high expectations. This was a CGI laden borefest. Gal Gadot took a backseat to Chris Pine, there were so many logical inconsistencies its hard to list them all off, the “bad guys” were cartoonishly bad (maniacal laughter and all). Gal Gadot seemed like she wasn’t given much to work with other than to walk around looking innocent and getting oogled by men, and then lots of “bad ass” looks when you’re fighting between the over the top slow-motion fight sequences. It all was Zack Snyder/DC formula with a different gender lead character. To call this the greatest superhero movie of all time is a HUGE stretch.

  • Jonathan Aftergood

    LOL i mean its good. But better then Christopher Nolans Dark knight rises??!?!?!?! Are you fucking mental? sure, ill say second best DC movie of all time… but in no way holds a candle to Dark Knight rises.

    • Rom c

      It’s not better than any of the dark Knight movies. Not just the dark Knight rises but it’s much better movie than suicide squad or Batman versus Superman

  • stellabystarlite

    Do not say “as of late.” You can say “of late,” or “lately,” but NOT “as of late.” And why didn’t you punctuate correctly? It’s “Wonder Woman, which…” You need a comma before a non-restrictive clause.

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