Thursday 8 June 2017

Wonder Woman: spoilers on, I have feelings to discuss

This post is a mess. I just sat down and wrote about everything I could think of about this brilliant, brilliant movie. As such, he aware there are a lot of wild, unrestrained spoilers here. There might not be any sort of coherent structure but there are spoilers.

Batman and Wonder Woman: OTP 4EVA

Okay, not really, my OTP in the DC Universe will always be Tim and Steph (its generational) but I love that this whole film is a flashback brought on by Bruce sending Diana a photo her her Steve and the WWI gang. Being Bruce, of course, this sweet gesture is delivered by armoured car in a secure briefcase carried by armed guards because Bruce is the most extra person who ever lived.

I despise the pairing of Diana and Clark with a fiery passion but I have always had something of a soft spot for a bit of Bruce/Diana. I know this is probably not meant to be taken as a romantic gesture because this is Batman on film and he is TRAUMATIZED and CAN NEVER KNOW LOVE and MAAAAARTHA but I can live in hope.

Weeping Manly Tears

I admit it, the No Man's Land section brought a tear to my eye. Every last second of that scene is just liquid empowerment. Its a huge moment not only for Diana but for Steve and the rest of their ragtag little group. Everything from her climbing the trench ladder to demolishing the sniper nest is amazingly directed.

Diana in battle is probably the best thing to point to when someone asks how much having a female director on this film makes a difference. She's always shot in ways that keep her properly centred in the shot and accentuates her actions: the sweep of her sword, the direction of a leap, and so on. There are no scenes shot to give us a good angle on her breasts or her backside. There have been something like five Marvel movies with Black Widow in them and every damn fight scene, I swear...

27 countries

There are certain realities of the First World War that just get... well, whitewashed is a pretty appropriate word. When Steve is explaining the war to the Amazons he makes a specific point of how twenty-seven countries are involved in the conflict. I don't know about you, but wheb I learned about this in school the list was pretty much abbreviated to the UK, Germany, France, Russia and the United States.

There's a scene early in the film with a massive crowd of British soldiers about to take ship for France and in amongst them are Indian soldiers in turbans. There's also a substantial set piece set in the Ottoman theatre, instead of everything being about the Trenches as in just about every other WWI movie I've ever seen.

How cool is Steve Trevor?

The scene where we're introduced to the Lasso Of Truth is a great set piece for establishing Steve Trevor's character. In this version of events, the lasso is something that can be resisted but it causes pain. Steve manages to bite back the truth several times before blurting out that he's a spy. It shows us how strong a personality Steve is and, frankly, why he's worthy of Diana's attention (and, yes, that's the way it works because its her name on the film and he's the love interest).

The conversation about sleeping together on the boat is comedy gold, as well. Too much of Steve and Diana's funny scenes later are cringe comedy where he tries to force her to fit in with a patriarchal world and... I understand why those scenes exist and I like the bit with the glasses but I've never liked the cringe thing.

Oh, and I love the bath scene. I love that for once the guy is naked (and it is no chore looking at Chris Pine shirtless).

I adore Etta Candy

Probably the biggest departure from source material (other than the change of World War) is Etta Candy, here reimagined as an English suffragette with a dry sense of humour. I adore her and I wish there had been more room for her but Lucy Davis squeezes every moment of comedy from her scenes.

Allan Heinberg Returns

Allan Heinberg wrote the screenplay and, for those unaware, Heinberg is a very good screenwriter who sometimes moonlights as a very slow comics writer. He created the Young Avengers for Marvel where he made a twenty-four issue masterplan last six years. He was also writer on the post-Infinite Crisis Wonder Woman which stalled after four issues with a fifth being released something like a year later as an annual. For all that, those five issues were a bold statement of intent for a revitalised new direction... that totally stalled out because a year's worth of guest writers had to leave their options open as to what they were actually following up on.

Still, he had a fine sense of what Wonder Woman was about and I'm glad we finally drew some dividends from that.

BTW, Philippus is in it

I don't think she's named in any dialogue but IMDB tells me that the Amazon played by Ann Ogbomo is Philippus. So, if you were worried Queen Hippolyta might get too lonely with her sister dead and her daughter out in Man's World, well...

Part of me wishes Ares wasn't there

I can't help it. I like David Thewlis and what he does with the role and I acknowledge that there had to be someone about the place at Diana's power level for a final confrontation but...

I prefered the idea that there was no great supernatural conspiracy at work in the end, that the Great War really was just a mess of people being stubborn and shit at each other. That war genuinely was one of the greatest human tragedies in history and part of me feels that that could stand on its own. I'm not sure I'd call it disrepectful, exactly, but there is a part of me that questions the taste.

That having been said, it was a good idea to set the story just before Armistice Day. What Diana is foiling is explicitly the last ditch attempt of a German general to keep the war going when the end was all but a done deal. That means that Diana isn't ending the war all by herself which I think genuinely would have been disrespectful.


Now, I don't doubt I'll have more to say about this movie in time, at the very least I'm likely to see it again with some friends some time next week, but that seems a decent amount to be getting on with. 

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