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Directed By: Patty Jenkins
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Lucy Davis
It's impossible to discuss exactly why Wonder Woman - the latest entry in the budding cinematic franchise known collectively as the DC Extended Universe - is a resounding success without first diving into what has come before it. And before I do, let me make it clear: Wonder Woman really is that light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who have been frustrated with the DCEU's failings so far, stuck watching helplessly as so much potential has been squandered.
The DCEU kicked off in 2013 with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, a film that introduced the world to its newest Superman while dividing audiences and critics. Personally, though it's far from perfect, I enjoyed it, and up until last night, it was my favorite of the DCEU films if only because its two successors - last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad - were tough experiences to get through, let alone enjoy. Both films have their moments and merits, but there's just too much wrong with both of them that those few bright spots are almost completely hidden in the shadows as a result, and their genuine inability to be entertaining (or even engaging) from beginning to end meant that any excitement I should've had over the future of the DCEU, which includes a Justice League movie later this year and future solo outings for characters like The Flash and Aquaman, was immediately tempered.
When the first trailer for Wonder Woman was released, I was genuinely surprised, but still didn't want to get my hopes up, "just in case." As played by Gal Gadot, the character was one of those aforementioned bright spots of the otherwise boring Batman v Superman, and as a cultural icon, Wonder Woman herself has been long overdue for a big screen adventure all her own. It's amazing that after decades of existence as one-third of DC's Holy Trinity - a mantle shared with Batman and Superman - the character has never headlined a film of her own, while her two counterparts have been brought to life time and again. To put it simply, a solo Wonder Woman film needed to be more than just another entry in the DCEU franchise. It needed to pay off years of patience from fans who have waited far too long to see Diana Prince where she belongs, and - more importantly - it needed to do justice to such a strong, storied female character that doesn't deserve to have her first big screen outing lumped into a category where films like 2004's Catwoman or 2005's Elektra exist.
It truly feels amazing that director Patty Jenkins and everyone involved in bringing this film to the big screen have succeeded on all fronts. Hands down, it is the best DCEU film yet, finally capitalizing on and embracing the potential of the universe's characters, mythology, and history in a way the past films simply haven't. This is a film full of color; a film where warriors leap into battle and are framed as though they're leaping straight out of a comic book panel to do so. It's a movie where Gods like Zeus and Ares actually exist, where positive ideals are cherished instead of buried under pessimism, and where storytelling and character work mostly triumphs over spectacle.
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