We all saw Gal Gadot onscreen as Diana, princess of Themyscira, demigoddess and Amazonian warrior, in Man of Steel 2: Batman vs. Superman last year, but she didn’t really get to shine until she got her own movie this summer. The box office revenue speaks for itself, Wonder Woman is set to be the highest grossing film of the summer, it’s breaking records like gangbusters, and it’s still in theaters. Still, the impact of Wonder Woman is possibly as of yet unknowable- it’s pretty amazing seeing a Jewish woman playing the warrior princess of legend, and a woman taking center stage in any superhero movie.
The beginning of the movie is just beautiful, Themyscira is an untouched island of pure magic, populated by strong, powerful Amazons. This picturesque setting provides a perfect contrast to the smog-filled London streets and western front, which show the difference between the morally black-and-white world of Diana’s origin and the world of men and women, where there are gray areas. Diana’s character arc is partially based in her acquiring the understanding of a moral spectrum, and of the complications inherent in humanity. She sees Steve Trevor, and she sees an unquestionably good man, but his decisions confuse her, his choices seem out of character to her. She sees the gang of misfits they employ, and she sees that they contain their share of good, and does not understand how they can be so dissolute. In getting to know them as a proxy for all of humanity, she sees that they are morally complex, existing on a continuum of good and evil, not a binary. Selling goods at the war front, acting, and shooting people from behind are at first inscrutable to Diana, but she grows to understand. Her ability to empathize with others is her greatest asset, and she grows so much during the course of the film, as she takes on the world.
The supporting actors are no less extraordinary than Gadot or Pine, both of whom are obviously wonderful in their roles, Robin Wright in particular being a standout. She conveys the love and concern of an aunt, while mentoring her young charge with the necessary pragmatism. Sacrificing her own life to save Diana is entirely within character, and her loss is a moving moment in the film. The inclusion of actors and characters of color is clearly deliberate, and it works. I have almost no complaints about the film, though it seems as though it could have easily been written by a female, rather than a male screenwriter. I know seeing the movie with my mom was an amazing experience, and I don’t doubt thousands of little girls out there had the same awe-filled reaction as I did.