Continuing with this series of 47 moments in film that I love (Why 47?), today, for #28, we come to our third out of three superhero films.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Immortal warrior Diana leaves paradise island with the help of US military spy Steve Trevor, intent on stopping the force that she believes is responsible for the world war that threatens humanity: Ares, the legendary god of war.
Steve Trevor agrees to take Diana to the front lines of World War I (as we will eventually call it) because she wants to find and confront Ares, and he wants to stop a deadly new biological weapon from being used. This journey takes them through the trenches by no man’s land. Diana is shocked by the horrors of war–people killed, wounded, displaced and enslaved. Steve is insistent they move on–there is no way they can cross no man’s land, and thus no way they can help the suffering people but to complete their mission and hopefully prevent thousands more from dying.
Diana does not accept that there is nothing they can do. She sheds her outer garment to reveal her battle armor, and places her tiara on her head. She mounts the ladder up the side of the trench, and over Steve’s protests, she steps into open fire. But the bullet that comes is easily deflected, and as Diana strides purposefully across the battlefield, Steve, his companions, and the other soldiers are both inspired by her heroism and protected by her might, allowing them to take back the nearby town that was recently enslaved.
This is the most exciting sequence of the movie, where we finally see Diana putting into practice all that combat training she’s been doing (aside from a brief scene on the beach of her country at the start, but she’s sort of lost in there with all the other Amazons), and it’s pretty spectacular. My daughters were literally cheering as we watched her plowing into buildings and taking out enemy soldiers.
But what makes the sequence really meaningful is how well it represents the conflicting view of Steve and Diana, both well-performed by Chris Pine and Gal Gadot. Really, on every natural level, Steve is right: there is no point in them throwing their lives away in a fight they cannot win; but though they cannot help these particular people, they may be able to help many others if they can just move on and complete their mission.
But Steve hasn’t counted on one thing, and that’s the fact that Diana can do something about the situation; it’s not hopeless as far as she is concerned. “We can’t help everyone,” Steve has said. She has replied, “No, but it’s what I’m going to do.” Because she’s not just a normal person, she’s a superhero. The anticipation that we feel as she climbs the ladder is immense, and the battle that follows does not disappoint.
The victory here makes the bitterness of the loss of this same city a bit later in the movie all the more heart breaking.