Hey ho, Ben the nerdy superhero-fan / movie critic here. I already wrote a blogpost about Wonder Woman, the critically acclaimed, financially successful DC superhero film from earlier this year. But, even so, here is another one.
No movie, even a popular one, is loved by everyone, and lots of people have offered various criticisms of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, pointing out what they feel are glaring flaws. Some of them are indeed glaring flaws, but others are bizarre criticisms that I can’t really understand. Maybe others do, but I don’t, and they annoy me, so I decided to rant about it a bit here.
Criticism #1 – Diana is all about her looks; she’s an anti-progressive character because she is all about being beautiful and sexy and nothing else
Um, no. Diana is beautiful, of course, and sensibly, people acknowledge this fact. It’d be a bit ludicrous if her stunning appearance wasn’t mentioned. But the truth is, Diana herself never really stops to think about it, and indeed never does anything to trade on those looks (with the possible exception of when she infiltrates the fancy party, but even then we never actually see her purposely use her beauty to distract people, etc). Instead, what we see is Diana speaking up for her values, sacrificing her comforts for her values, fighting for the well being of others, showing humor and compassion, and beating the ever-living snot out of a lot of bad guys with some incomparable fighting moves. She’s got lots going for beyond her beauty.
Criticism #2 – Diana is too perfect; she’s flawless!
Err, have you actually seen the movie? Clearly, Diana is flawed. She’s completely and utterly wrong for the majority of the movie about human nature. She naively believes that people are only capable of brutal atrocities because they are controlled by a war god. And then, when she realizes the truth, she is bitterly tempted to discount all humanity as a result. It’s the very fact that she’s got so much room to grow, but still has such a good heart, that makes her so likeable and makes the movie as satisfying as it is.
Criticism #3 – Diana and Steve’s romantic relationship is abrupt and out of nowhere
Well, to be fair, this is sort of valid: their romance does come reasonably quickly if it was all real life. But as far as most action-adventure films are concerned, the idea is pretty well-developed. Quite a bit of screen-time is spent allowing them to get to know each other and to discover each other’s values and each other’s worlds. When they do hook up romantically, it comes at a point in the story where they have been through a fair bit together and the idea is pretty plausible.
Criticism #4 – The movie lacked the sort of intrinsic ties to the rest of the DC Extended Universe that would have helped to build a strong, coherent shared cinematic universe
I read someone’s comments that what would have made the movie better if there’d been an appearance by Aquaman and Atlantis, because both Atlantis and Themyscira are mythical worlds. No no no no no. That would not have made it a better movie–that would have distracted from a pretty decent story in order to try to service a franchise that in the end of the day is going to stand or fall on its films individual merits, and not on how many cameos and references it can squeeze in.
Criticism #5 – The movie is overly mired in DC Extended Universe continuity and should have been allowed to stand alone without the baggage of supporting the rest of the (inferior) world of DC movies
What?! The only connecting point that is obvious at this point is a short framing sequence in which an off-screen Bruce Wayne sends Diana a photograph and a note. That’s it, and it’s well-integrated into the story, reminding us what we’ve already seen of the character in Batman v. Superman without actually taking us out of the story.
Criticism #6 – The movie is a rip-off of Captain America: The First Avenger because it takes place in a World War and features a guy called Steve sacrificing himself in an airplane
Well, they also both feature famous superheroes–does that make them the same movie? By this logic, Spider-Man 2 is ripping off Superman II because they both take place in a version of New York City and feature a hero who temporarily loses his powers. The Incredibles and Big Hero Six rips off of The Incredibles by featuring an animated team learning to work together by fighting robots. Elektra rips off Catwoman by featuring a female lead and being atrocious.
Basically, Wonder Woman has some similarities with First Avenger, but they are superficial. Even a quick overview of each movie’s plot makes that pretty obvious.
Now, in the interest of impartiality, I’ll also quickly list a few criticisms of Wonder Woman that I think do have merit. A few of these I’ve already mentioned in my original post:
Criticism #7 – Diana speaks 100 languages, but doesn’t know what marriage means.
Here’s the challenge: come up with 100 languages that don’t have any word for this concept.
Criticism #8 – Steve & Diana seem to sail by magic from Themyscira to London
I know there’s some lip service explanation given for this, but it all seems to happen while Diana is sleeping.
Criticism #9 – One of the guys who attack Steve in London avoids Diana’s magic lasso by committing suicide, but as far as we see, none of the other few guys do.
Why didn’t they just interrogate some of them?
Criticism #10 – Steve’s “band of brothers” are a bit too close to being racial caricatures.
I think on the whole they avoid this, but only narrowly so.
Criticism #11 – David Thewlis is a good actor to play an ineffective British diplomat, but not a vengeful mythological god of war
This did not at all help the movie, which already had problems with the ending.
Criticism #12 – In the third act of the movie, all the nuance and thoughtfulness is suddenly lost in favor of a Zach Snyder-inspired cataclysmic beatdown with over-the-top CGI effects and stupid dialogue
I don’t know if it’s fair to point out Zach Snyder as a particular culprit here, as we’re talking about a trope that’s well established in other recent superhero films directed by the likes of David Ayer, Kenneth Branagh, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Alan Taylor, and so on, but the point still stands.
There, that’s out of my system! That, I hope, will be my last word on Wonder Woman.