As I walked out of the screening for Wonder Woman among the sea of viewers largely complimenting the film with overall satisfaction, I had to refrain from turning to them and exasperatingly asking: “Why don’t you see that Wonder Woman deserves more than this!?”
I’m not mad, guys, I’m disappointed.
Before I dig in, I will concede this: I don’t know a ton about Wonder Woman. But I do know enough. I know the thoughts behind her creation and the hope that she would inspire the girls of the 1940s to expect more of themselves. To be powerful, to be their own hero, to be proud of their gender. This movie has that too. But just as the original Wonder Woman challenged females to be more than what was expected of them, I challenge the filmmakers to demand more of their hero. Because as is, this movie didn’t deserve her.
When we first meet Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman, we see all that she is capable of. She’s here to defend the world against one of the greatest threats to humanity, a creature capable of killing Superman. And she stands her ground, going toe to toe with Doomsday. Now that is a superhero I want to see more from. But instead, like many video game sequels that take away the powers a player spent all of game one developing, Wonder Woman reverts back to a familiar story that tries too hard to be faithful to the character’s origin instead of taking advantage of what this version of the hero has shown to be capable of.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good origin story. And I loved seeing this origin story in Captain America: The First Avenger. Ok, obviously I’m mostly joking seeing as there are some major differences between the two, but I couldn’t help but feel as I watched the movie that this isn’t a job for Wonder Woman, this is a job for Captain America. This is a job for a mortal hero because a human, super strength or not, would be challenged by soldiers; there would be stakes and danger. But the product of the Greek gods is threatened by none of that. There’s a reason that the comic writers for Superman didn’t send him into World War II back in the 40s: he would be capable of ending the war in one day, belittling the threat that real men were struggling against. Wonder Woman didn’t get that memo. She’s here to end the war (World War I this time) during her quest to find the God of War, Ares (who may or may not exist), deflecting bullets with her wrists as she goes.
And man does she deflect a ton of bullets, which turns out to be not that exciting. Nor is the action when they only send a handful of soldiers to fight her. I’m not saying they need to send a sea of Mr. Smiths to wash her away, but come on, this is Wonder Woman! No amount of slow motion is going to turn a one on one fight against a soldier with a fraction of her strength exciting! Give the girl a challenge! And give the girl a better CGI model!
Most of all, give Gal Gadot a challenge. As much as I will complain about the movie, I do love Gadot as Wonder Woman. She plays up both the comedy and confusion of a person experiencing the human world for the first time, in a time of war, no less. She handles all that is asked of her, but the filmmakers should’ve ask more from her. I think Gadot is up to the challenge. Instead of just asking her to wade through the dead horses that continue to be beaten after drowning in the drool of men reacting to how gorgeous she is (there is literally an “I am both scared and aroused” joke in this film) give her more emotion to play with. We get glimpses of a great story in her naïveté of what man is capable of in a world that lacks black and white explanations, but just as the action does, this emotional depth falls short of its true potential before being completely washed away by an extra inning ending.
As much as I wanted to love Wonder Woman, I find myself struggling to compliment it as easily as everyone else seems to. It’s a fine movie, but we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen better than it before. But I guess I just expected more of this film than everyone else. We deserve better than this. Wonder Woman deserves better than this.