Wonder Woman

You guys. Holy smokes. YOU HAVE GOT TO START WATCHING THESE DC UNIVERSE MOVIES! They are AMAZING! Lauren Montgomery’s Wonder Woman (2009) is so far definitely my favorite, but that may have something to do with the fact that, being the only true female superhero, Wonder Woman has always been my favorite. Mostly? BECAUSE SHE’S AWESOME.

ww badas by you.

Like many of you, I long anticipated the Joss Whedon-helmed Wonder Woman live action movie that would presumably melt my face and will almost definitely never happen. Naturally, even the most obscure male superheroes get huge summer blockbuster releases and multiple sequels, but one of the most important comic book superheroes of all time, a woman, can’t get her name up on a single marquee. Still and all, this itty bitty hour-plus cartoon makes for quite a satisfying substitution, let me tell you. It’s fantastic!

Wonder Woman begins centuries ago in Ancient Greece, when Amazonian Queen Hippolyta (voiced by Virginia Madsen) is battling her ex-lover, the God of War Ares (a chilling Alfred Molina). Ares stupidly sneers a lot of patronizing little slights to Hippolyta, such as, “You seem as eager to meet me on the battlefield as you once did in the bedroom, Hippolyta,” and “Not even a woman scorned can save the world from my wrath!” (I know. Don’t worry. He gets his.)

ares hippolyta by you.

The opening battle is savage, startling and flushed with red. The Amazons are kicking ass and taking names. It’s all very exciting!

pers by you.

hippolyta battle by you.

Hippolyta first beheads her son-by-Ares, Thrax, who betrayed his mother and his Amazonian heritage. Upon Ares’s disbelief that she could kill the son she “gave” to him, she thunders, “I gave you nothing! He was a curse forced upon me by you!” The war continues to rage, and finally, Hippolyta’s sublime valor and talent help her to best Ares. Stoically, she stands, surrounded by thousands of her dead compatriots, and prepares to behead Ares…

hippolyta ares by you.

…when Zeus suddenly intervenes. As that pushy busybody is wont to do. In the most dramatic way possible.

Zeus by you.

He forbids Hippolyta from killing his son, and she’s enraged, as the Amazons demand retribution for the carnage Ares has brought to their people. Fortunately, Hera is much more reasonable.

hera by you.

She offers Hippolyta a beautiful, peaceful island where the Amazonians can live immortal lives, free from the violence and wretchedness forged by men. She also conceives of a punishment for Ares—she binds him with gauntlets that will block him from using any of his powers, effectively rendering him mortal. Only a god can remove the gauntlets; Ares will live the rest of his days as Hippolyta’s prisoner.

ares wristbands by you.

Once the island of Themyscira is established, Hera blesses Hippolyta with one more gift: the ability to create a new life without the messiness and inconvenience of a union with man.  Hippolyta sculpts an infant out of sand, blood from her fingers, and lightning, and the Princess Diana is born!

ww baby by you.

Centuries later, Diana (voiced by Keri Russell, who does such a fantastic job with her strong and stormy voice!) has grown to be one of the fiercest and most talented of her tribe on Themyscira.

diana 2 by you.

Although they have lived for hundreds of years without the interference of bloodthirsty men, Hippolyta insists that the Amazonians train constantly to maintain their astounding battle savvy. Smart lady! The Amazonians are still tough as ever.

amazons 6 by you.

The redhead in front is Artemis (a flawless Rosario Dawson). She was long known as the toughest warrior in their tribe—before Diana came around. She’s still pretty much drenched in hard-core awesome sauce. The redhead behind Diana is Alexa (Tara Strong), the only Amazon who prefers reading to fighting. And the blonde on the left of Artemis is Persephone (Vicki Lewis). We’ll get to her in a bit.

After living in peace (and boredom, in some cases) for centuries, things shake up when the invisible field guarding Themyscira from the rest of the world is temporarily lowered, just as present day fighter pilot Steve Trevor is shot down in a long Top Gun sequence that results in his landing on Themyscira.

steve 4 by you.

Steve is uproariously voiced by Nathan Fillion, reuniting with Keri Russell from their Waitress days! After disembarking from the plane, he explores the beautiful island, eventually stumbling upon a picturesque waterfall filled with several beautiful bathing women. He ogles and makes obnoxious comments and the whole scene is rather aggressively fratty.

steve 3 by you.

And then Steve is awesomely, deservedly and suddenly overtaken by dozens of powerful and ferocious warriors! He bolts, but Diana quickly catches up to him and efficiently dispatches his fratty ass. As she tends to do.

diana steve fight by you.

Steve falls for Diana at once, and he persistently flirts with her as she brings him back to Hippolyta. Diana’s annoyed, as are we, but honestly, it’s pretty cool to see a macho fighter pilot attracted to a woman who’s taller, stronger, and more adept than he is. He’s got no qualms about her decisive fortitude, and I like it.

steve hippo artemis by you.

So back at Hippolyta’s place, Steve is tied to a chair and subjected to the lasso of truth in a hilarious bit of cringe-worthy interrogation. I’ve got to say, all of his lines are really funny, and although Nathan Fillion sort of Mals his way through it, he did a great job and consistently cracked me up. Particularly because every time he says something sexist, fratty or objectionable, one of the Amazons punches him. It’s a terrific conditioning technique I’m thinking of adopting.

steve amazons by you.

So Diana requests the task of escorting Steve back to his world (Steve: “Seconded!”), but Hippolyta decrees that the Amazons will host a contest of skills to determine who is the most worthy for the dangerous task. Diana enters, and she wins EVERYTHING. I mean, everything. These contests aren’t exactly the egg-on-the-spoon relay races to which I’m accustomed. More like, “use your metal gauntlets to deflect hundreds of arrows flying rapidly your way. Or else you’ll die!” Hippolyta is proud of her daughter’s immense skill and strength, and allows her to accompany Steve back to his world. She bestows upon Diana the lasso of truth and ceremonial garb in the pattern of the American flag so that she may serve as ambassador, as well as an unbreakable crown and gauntlets.

amazons 2 by you.

Meanwhile, back in Ares’ prison where Persephone is on guard duty, she initiates some actions that I won’t spoil for you, but they result in her allowing Ares to escape. Turns out they’ve been lovers all this time. Persephone? Sucks.

persephone by you.

Pers and Ares escape, and Hippolyta tells Diana in a surprisingly composed manner that she now has a second task in the outside world—returning Steve, and locating Ares. Diana emerges in her full ceremonial garb, and for once I have to agree with Steve when he whistles obnoxiously. Because seeing Wonder Woman for the first time in her full costume? YOWZA.

first full costume by you.

All of that makes for a seriously cool opening, and the rest of the film takes place in our world, as Diana and Steve track down Ares, and Diana comes to terms with a world full of men. It’s empowering and enlightening to see our world through an Amazon’s eyes. When Diana sees a young girl pouting as she’s forced to sit on the sidelines while her brothers fake sword fight in a park, she asks why the little girl isn’t playing. “They said I’m a girl, I can’t sword fight.” Diana scoffs, “Well, neither can they. They’re doing it all wrong.” She locates a sharp stick and gives the girl a lesson in real swordsmanship, then sends her on her way to wreak some pint-sized havoc. (Steve: “Aww, that was nice, the way you taught her to disembowel her playmates like that.”)

Diana is further disgusted with Steve’s assistant Etta Candy, who pulls the “little old me” routine to flirt with Steve and asks him to use his big, strong arms to pull up her desk so she can grab her favorite pen. After easily lifting the desk for Etta, Diana seethes to Steve, “Remarkable! The advanced brainwashing that has been perpetuated on the females of your culture. Raised from birth to believe they’re not strong enough to compete with the boys; then, as adults, taught to trade on their very femininity!” Yeah. I may have rewatched that 7 or 8 times, applauding clamorously and pumping my fist in the air. I love you, Diana!

ww mean by you.

Diana and Steve are tasked with keeping Ares from asking his uncle, Hades, to remove his Gauntlets of Impotence. But at the critical moment, Steve chooses to save Diana from certain death over keeping Ares from entering the gates to the Underworld. Diana is seriously pissed, fiercely maintaining that Steve would have acted differently were she a man. She’s an Amazon, prepared from birth to die in battle! She doesn’t need to be rescued from some…guy.

steve ww by you.

But Steve makes a compelling point when he says that the Amazons have cowardly cut off contact with the rest of the world for centuries, “like less communication between men and women is what the world needed.” He defends his decision, saying that not every action taken by man is to further a misogynistic agenda. “I didn’t save you because I thought you were some damsel in distress. I saved you because I care about you, Diana, and I’m not going to abandon a friend in need, man or woman.” Here the fellas should feel free to do a little air-fist-pumping of their own. 

Meanwhile, back in the Underworld, Ares makes his case to good old Uncy Hades. I won’t spoil this great scene for you, but Oliver Platt makes the most deliciously debauched Hades EVER. Such creepy-good voice acting there.

 Hades

So anyway, the movie climaxes in an epic battle between good and evil, Amazons and Ares. On the mall of the Lincoln Memorial. With the President of the United States watching on in holy terror. 

amazon battle by you.

It’s reeeeally freaking cool. And as the US Government retaliates against the mysterious threat with increasingly forcible tactics, Ares absorbs all the violent energy and becomes reeeeally freaking scary. I mean, he was scary before…

ares 3 by you.

but now? YIKES.

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I love watching the Amazonians battle! They’re graceful, composed, and vicious. The film peaks in this titanic bloody ballet and it’s nothing less than beautiful to behold.

amazons 4 by you.

artemis by you.

On its surface, Wonder Woman is a really great romantic comedy, a fish-out-of-water/opposites-attract story that works perfectly with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion’s undeniable chemistry and a downright hilarious script. But more than that, this movie is complex and substantial. Wonder Woman is not afraid to examine the capacity of woman in a world run by men, as well as in a world where men haven’t existed for centuries. Hippolyta is vehemently independent, scoffing at the notions of love, sex, men, need. That lady has got it FIGURED OUT.

hippolyta by you.

On the other hand, Persephone is no two-dimensional traitor. She rails against Hippolyta for sentencing the Amazonians to a world, to a life without children or family. Is she weak for falling in love? For wanting children, a husband? Or does she have as much right to choose those things as Hippolyta does to eschew them?

pers 2 by you.

And Diana is a proud and principled medium between the two. Still fiercely independent, she wants to bridge the world between men and women, to become an ambassador for peace in a world that has long turned to violence as a matter of course. Which is exactly why the world needs Wonder Woman. 

ww lasso by you.

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4 Responses to “Wonder Woman”

  1. Cool. Thanks for the late night read on the road. Is this in theaters right now?

  2. Nope, but you can Netflix it, and you definitely should. Kick ass in San Diego!

  3. ooooh ooh oh i am DYING to see this!! and reading yr review made me feel so proud of keri russel!! and also, of, you know, girls kicking ass.

    heh, i just cracked myself up picturing wonder woman in felicity’s place and, like, telling noel and ben to quit with the whining and man up.

  4. I will be honest: out of the new DC movies, this is the one I was least excited about. I’m not as familiar with WW as I am with some of the other heros so I didn’t know what to expect. This movie was genuinely awesome and hilarious. I really couldn’t believe how well they pulled it off. As Marla said, it’s laugh out loud funny at a bunch of parts. They really get the tone perfect and Russell and Fillion are perfect in this role. I would watch it again this moment.

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