The Infallible Fish Reviews: Wonder Woman (2009)

Blog Wonder Woman Review Title

All the world’s waiting for you, and the power you possess. In your satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old Red, White and Blue. Wonder Woman! (Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.)

As you can probably guess the next movie in my DC Month extravaganza is Wonder Woman. People say that Superman is hard to write, and while that can be true, I think Wonder Woman is harder. It mostly comes down to her dual nature. On the one hand she’s an ambassador, she represents compassion, love and peace. On the other hand she’s a fierce Amazonian warrior who baths in the blood of her enemies. It’s kind of hard to reconcile those two halves.

Mostly the problem comes down to the origin idea. Diana is Amazonian. In her origin the Amazonians are represented as a peaceful utopian society. In Greek mythology they’re the bad guys who are a clear indicator of why women shouldn’t be allowed to think for themselves (The Greeks were many things, pioneers of science, mathematics, medicine, great philosophers and apparently a bunch of jackasses. How could a people thought of for their democracy get it so wrong?) Anyway, this is where the conflict with Wonder Woman’s character comes from, and it takes a great writer to find the balance to portray Diana properly. Luckily this film has some fantastic writers, so let’s see how they do. What’s the story?

We start at some point in the past where the Amazons are fighting the forces of the God of War, Ares. It’s a truly epic, and also brutal, opening. We get two decapitations in five minutes (well the kids aren’t going to be watching this), but the action is fantastic. We get to meet several Amazons who will be relevant throughout the plot, and although we never go too deep into their characters, we learn enough to get a handle on their personalities. We also get to meet the Queen of Badass, Hippolyta, who manages to subdue Ares. Unfortunately Zeus isn’t too keen on the idea of a third decapitation in the opening, so stops he her. Hippolyta is royally annoyed, she came here for bloody vengeance and now she can’t get any. Hera offers a consolation prize of immortality and a fancy invisible island where the Amazons can live in peace. Also Ares is stripped of his godly powers and given to the Amazons as a prisoner, and he doubles as a handy demonstration of the evils of men.

Eventually Hippolyta wants a child, so wanders off to the beach to mould a baby out of sand and let lightning strike it (as you do), thus Diana is born. We finally move to the present day where Diana has grown up into a skilled warrior, though longs to see the outside world (almost makes her sound like a Disney princess, that’s a joke, but at the rate that Disney is buying up franchises I’m not so sure…). Anyway, the outside world decides to send Diana a present, Nathan Fillion! Sorry, that’s Steve Trevor, a U.S. fighter pilot who crash lands on the island. Diana and Steve’s relationship gets off to a good start, when he hits on her and she beats him up.

Of course this island of women aren’t too happy to have a member of the opposite sex hanging around, he could give them cooties or something. You may have noticed my sarcasm there. I actually really like this version of the Amazons. They have a peaceful society, in all appearances its paradise, and yet it’s missing something important. The Amazon’s, and more specifically Hippolyta’s, hatred and fear of men is robbing them of opportunities and families (not everyone can make a baby out of clay and lightning). Hippolyta’s experiences with Ares are truly terrible and I can completely understand why that has coloured her view of the opposite sex, but she’s taking her opinion of a horrible man and applying it to the whole gender.

This is actually the stereotypical view of a feminist, a man-hating Amazonian, and yet it’s not feminism. Treating someone differently because of their gender is sexism and stupidity. People are people, whether their sex organs are inside or out. There’s nothing wrong with being a woman. There’s nothing wrong with being a man. It’s about regarding one another as equals and communicating more for the betterment of one another. That’s the message I take from this film, and Wonder Woman in general.

Back to the story, while the Amazons hold a contest to determine who should take Steve back home, Ares is freed from his prison (and look I know the guy’s mortal now and has limited powers, but really? You just stick him in a cave with a couple of guards? Arkham Asylum has better security than this).  Now Diana, having won the contest, not only has to get Steve home, but also has to track down Ares and stop him before he starts a war that will wipe out most of humanity.

I suppose this is a good as time as ever to talk about some of the other characters who I adore in this film. For starters there’s Steve who is played perfectly by Nathan Fillion. He has just enough likable charm that you can put up with Steve’s attempts to hit on Diana, and he has a brilliant delivery with every one of his jokes. In the beginning he’s exactly the kind of guy that Hippolyta thinks populates the world, yet through his time with Diana he grows up a little bit. I think his big moment comes when Diana has become disillusioned with the world and no longer believes it possible to bridge the gap between the Amazons and the rest of the world. It’s a tiny little moment, but you can see Steve realise just how much he’s unintentionally hurt Diana and he wants to make up for that.

The only other supporting characters of note are three of the Amazons. As I said earlier, we never truly go into detail about them, but in the brief time we spend with them we get to see them shine and they have their own little arcs too. Artemis goes from being a bloodthirsty warrior to actually sitting down an attempting to read a book. Alexa is a bookworm, yet gets to prove that the brain has a place on the battlefield, as well as having a triumphant moment leading a charge of Amazons. Persephone is actually a really interesting one. She’s the traitor who frees Ares. At first she’s depicted as a fool, tricked by Ares for his own ends, and while I doubt that Ares has any genuine feelings for Persephone, in the end she’s shown as a more tragic character illustrating what’s wrong with Themyscira.

All in all this is a terrific film. It’s funny, action-packed, well written and well thought out. The characters are great and the animation is amazing. This is one of the best films DC has put out, and if the live action Wonder Woman movie is even half as good as this, we’re in for a great movie.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday. 

2 comments

  1. Troy Troodon · February 19, 2017

    Certainly already better than the 2017 live-action film coming.

    Like

    • neverarguewithafish · February 19, 2017

      I’m hopeful, I mean this universe of films has to have a good one eventually, right?

      Like

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