It had been a tough ride for the DC Cinematic Universe up until 2017. Since its start four years ago, while making a noteworthy amount of money at the box office, Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad had failed to win the hearts of critics and were only able to generate mixed feelings from their audience. The films could not capture the critical acclaim, box office success or the hearts of the audience the way Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy did in 2005, 2008 and 2012, those films receiving the Rotten Tomatoes scores of 84%, 94% and 87%, respectively. While this writer can sit back and enjoy aspects of the DCCU films, in no way do they compare to Marvel’s best, like Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians Of The Galaxy.
And then, just when one could think that all DC can succeed in is their animated films and CW television shows, one hero not only stands out, but makes an impact in her debut film. It is only right that this woman also happens to be a goddess.
Wonder Woman came thundering into theaters this past weekend, riding high on positive reviews (still sitting high at 93% certified fresh at the time of this post) and collecting a whopping $223 million at the global box office; just over $100 million in the domestic box office. Not only was this a success for a female-lead superhero film, but it was also the biggest weekend take for a female-directed film. This marks not only a victory for the DCCU as a whole, but also a personal victory for the team behind this film, having dealt with premature critiques and judgments about the steps taken in making this film. Everything ranging from complaints on Gal Gadot’s figure and acting chops, rumors of a state of uneasiness on set, the early change in director and even complaints on lack of armpit hair.
Seriously, though? Armpit hair?
There was nothing more satisfying than being in the newly renovated theaters of Lodi Stadium 12, sitting oh so comfortably in my leather reclining seat with my wife and watching all those rumors and complaints melt away as I experienced the beauty of this film develop on screen. From the second the story began on the Island of Themyscira, my attention was captured by the strength, independence and beauty of the Amazons who inhabit it. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright are wonderfully cast as Hippolyta, Queen and mother of Diana, and Antiope, Themyscira’s greatest warrior. It was no shock seeing Nielsen easily embody this role, having a history of playing royalty (Gladiator), but it is the performance of Wright, known for her dramatic work in Forrest Gump and Netflix’s House Of Cards, that surprised me most. Watching her performance would make one believe she has made a career playing warriors on screen.
And this brings us to Gal Gadot. Previously known best for her role in the Fast & Furious franchise, Gadot had received acclaim for being one of the bright spots in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Even then, there were still those who questioned her casting. Reminding myself of this made me even giddier as I watched her make the role her own. Gadot’s performance was nothing short of genuine and heart-filled. A mix of honesty, strength and devotion that could be best compared to Christopher Reeve’s debut as the Man Of Steel in 1978’s Superman. Her chemistry with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is undoubtable, the two trading off on their own fish-out-of-water experiences in both Themyscira and London. When Diana deals with the restricting female outfits of the early 20th century and does battle with a tricky revolving door, it is Gadot’s honest delivery in those moments that connect the audience with her. You laugh because it’s funny but also see the humanity in this princess who has never had to deal with any of this. Yet, you are reminded of her strength and power when she saves Trevor from a bullet and easily handles four assailants.
No moment symbolizes the selflessness and devotion of Diana than the now famous “No Man’s Land” scene.
Inspired by moments like Clark revealing the S and saving Lois from the falling helicopter in Superman, and Bruce donning the cape and cowl and thwarting Carmine Falcone’s plans in Batman Begins, the “No Man’s Land” scene is the powerful and beautiful moment where Diana reveals herself as Wonder Woman. She not only reveals herself in her suit, but she leaves the trenches and crosses the dangerous territory, blocking every bullet with her braces and shield. This act inspires the soldiers to cross with her and free the village from German occupation. From this moment, we see Diana become the legendary hero she is meant to be.
In my opinion, the pose of Diana crouched, shield on her left arm and her right fist clinched as the bullets go whizzing by will easily be one of the most symbolic and inspiring shots in film history.
With beautiful cinematography, a well-paced story and the vision of Patty Jenkins as director, all these elements together created the successful blockbuster that is now reaping its reward at theaters around the globe. DC and Warner Bros have already confirmed Jenkins to direct the sequel. The DC Cinematic Universe has finally received the big hit they have been waiting for, and it came in the form of their Warrior Goddess; the glue of DC’s Trinity. There is no doubt a new energy surrounding the studio regarding their next release, Justice League, due out this November. One can only wonder if this will lead to continued success for DC.
For now, let us sit back and enjoy the news of the day. We live in a world where the number one motion picture, both critically and financially, is a female-directed film about one of the greatest superheroes of all time, and she is a strong, intelligent, independent (and yes, beautiful) woman.
All hail Princess Diana, the Wonder Woman. The savior of humankind…and the DCCU.
- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.