First up, this will have no spoilers aside from Wonder Woman is an Amazon, though I do talk about all of it in terms of story beats from a plot structure stand point.
To start off, I loved this movie so much that it’s hard to be objective about it. I feel like I should get something else out of the way because there are plenty of people who will tell me that “oh, you only liked it because you were a big fan of Wonder Woman before you saw it, so of course you liked it.”
I haven’t read a single Wonder Woman comic ever. Not one (unless you count Crisis on Infinite Earths, which NO ONE DOES). So I didn’t go into this movie as a great big fan of Wonder Woman, and I always thought her character was a little ridiculous (though, I definitely enjoyed the Lynda Carter series as a kid).
I came out of the movie ready to go buy all the things.
The characters were done really well in this movie. A ragtag team is brought together to take on a mission of great importance. Through the movie, I kept looking for the weakness in characterization that’s very common in thrown together movies. It wasn’t there. They stuck to their characters, no asides, no “why would they have done that?” moments.
The only weakness in the characterization is that Captain Trevor only has one line that hints at his past, specifically the past that he clearly feels the need to atone for. With the addition of this one piece, his character would have potentially stolen the show, so it was a delicate balance. I feel like the choices in the movie were made perfectly to keep the light shining on Diana and not get overburdened with any inter character subplot (i.e. romance).
I do find myself wanting to write fan fic about the aftermath though.
WWI is a great setting. The stakes are prenuclear, and weapon featured is very believable for the time (though not from a chemical stand point, alas). The backdrop for much of the action is damaged and destroyed villages in Germany, and the German forest.
A story in Three Acts:
Act I: The early part of the film has some excitement and lots of women doing super amazing badass things, but the stakes are very low which causes for a disconnect between the action we’ve been promised and women talking about things. The conflict here is very low. This section has some great humor gags to ease that feeling of could we get on with it, but it still does a great job of introducing our characters and calling the hero to action. This is a pretty typical Act I complete with the secret, the question of whether our hero can really go to war, etc. This part feels a little slow, but only because we know there’s some amazing action coming.
Act II is both super funny and awesome. There are no pacing problems here, and I love how it very matter-of-factly addresses the inequality between men and women. In Act II we get the midpoint of the movie commonly known as “the bad guys move in” beat, and it is both brilliant and spectacular. Highly enjoyable and visually stunning.
To be clear, I loved this Act as well, but I have spoken with people who did not. Act III features all the same beats we expect in any Act III, “team falls apart,” “the whiff of death,” “the dark night of souls.”
For those of you who don’t study story structure, the dark night of souls is when the main character is made to feel alone and as though the fight is, perhaps pointless. In Harry Potter, the dark night of souls is when Harry realizes that he carries a piece of Voldemort in himself and he has to die for Voldemort to die. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the dark night of souls is when Henry senior has been shot and Indiana has to go along with the bad guys to get the one thing that will save his father. In Wonder Woman, the dark night of the soul beat comes right where you expect it, leading into the final battle, and some people don’t like Wonder Woman’s dark night moment because it seemed out of character to them. I didn’t see it that way at all. It made sense from a character stand point, because she was an amazon and she gave up so much to go on this quest. It makes perfect sense that she would Doubt in that moment. Then there’s the final confrontation which maybe lasted a little too long as our main character has her epiphany.
I loved this movie. I’m super excited about getting to buy the DVD when it comes out.