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Wonder Woman review – a gloriously badass breath of fresh air

Gal Gadot’s Amazonian warrior princess reinvigorates the superhero genre with a shockwave of fun.

“As magnificent as you are, you are still no match for me,” says General Ludendorff (Danny Huston, veins throbbing with evil) to Diana (Gal Gadot). He’s a pudgy middle-aged man who has recently snorted something that makes him feel invincible; she’s an Amazon warrior princess who has just punched her way through the roof of a watchtower to tackle him. But let’s face it, it wouldn’t be the first time a man has underestimated the potential of a better-qualified woman.

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He’s right about one thing though. As Diana of Themyscira – the Wonder Woman sobriquet is not used, saved for a later instalment no doubt – Gadot is magnificent. And I know, superhero movies are for everyone, yadda yadda. But as a woman, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of ownership over the first female-led superhero flick since the lamentable Catwoman in 2004. And it’s impossible not to feel a warm swell of relief that she is such a glorious badass, one who wears her femininity with the same pride and poise that she wears her armour-plated bra.

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The masterstroke of this origins story, ably directed by Patty Jenkins, who previously made the Aileen Wuornos film, Monster, is that it accentuates and celebrates Diana’s feminine traits. Her secret weapon is not the bullet-repelling jewellery; not her swordplay; not her ability to fire shockwaves from her wrists. It’s not even her luxuriant, swooshing hair. It is her empathy. 

Unlike the tricky, self-serving Black Widow in the Marvel Universe or the ambiguous Catwoman, Diana is pure of spirit. She is a pacifist mother-protector who fights for an end to all wars. But along with her tribe of elite warrior women, she has been isolated from the human race that she is sworn to protect. This changes when dashing pilot/spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, great fun) crashes into her world, with stories of a war to end all wars (the main body of the film is set at the end of the first world war). There is crackling chemistry between Gadot and Pine – even an “above average” man (as he is at pains to point out) can’t help but wilt a little under Diana’s clear-eyed, curious gaze. There’s just a flicker of disappointment in his eyes when he realises that she is more interested in his wristwatch than she is in his other “equipment”. It’s lip-smacking, flirtatious fun. But, in common with Diana, there is a genuine wonder at work here. We rediscover the tropes of genre through her questioning eyes. And for once, the comic-book movie almost seems fresh again.

Orginally created from here.

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