Coming away from the intensely boring, navalgazing battles of Batman vs Superman there was a glimmer of hope. There was within the tedium a character that sparked my interest. She wasn't central to events but interjected herself in a way that made me want to know more.
Thankfully I wasn't the only one so the DC Universe expanded its gaze to Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and with director Patty Jenkins has given us a wonderful and endearing origin story that while not remarkably originals still feels remarkably new.
Diana' story begin on the mystical world of Themyscira a sheltered island paradise where she lives as part of the Amazons, a tribe of warrior women who train in anticipation of the return of Ares (the god of war) so that they may fight to save the world. When an American pilot (Chris Pine) crashes on the island Diana is drawn to him and on hearing tales of the great war surmises that Ares has returned and sets off to face him in order to save humanity.
The premise of Wonder Woman is fairly standard as a comic book movie. An origin story that leads to a big battle with an evil villain is not earth shattering in the comic book realm and yet Wonder Woman has a charm and resonance that exceeds all expectations.
As a male writer I do not want to even attempt tackle female empowerment or how this film may speak to that idea. However, on watching a young Diana stand above a training field of Amazonian warriors it was hard not to imagine my daughters and how in years to come this film may impact them. To have a female led super hero movie that has depth and a message of empowerment is something very unique (apologies Elektra fans). Its importance cannot be mentioned enough.
Gal Gadot is wonderful in the role of Diana. She is strong and yet passive, innocent and brave in equal measure and you can feel her belief in this character seeping out from the screen encouraging the audience to do likewise. Scenes in which she encounters snow and ice cream are wonderfully charming and her 'fish out of water' moments brought back memories of Christopher Reeves in Superman movies of old.
At the core of Wonder Woman is a love story, not just the inevitable love story between her Pine's dashing spy Steve Trevor, but an unexpected love that goes much further. Diana has a profound love for the world and its people. She sees the good in everyone and everything; even when presented with humanity's darker moments. She wants to fight for our world to endure out of a desire for justice to be served.
This desire that fuels her comes from a very spiritual place. The stories of gods she heard in her childhood have formed her character. These tales fire her thinking. These stories give her a reason to exist and fuel her desire for justice. Even when others around her declare these to be simple stories, she still believes and presses on.
So often in the comic book world females are to be saved (Kim Bassinger in Tim Burton's Batman spends a incredulous amount of time screaming in peril) and yet Diana changes the narrative by acting as saviour. Her intention is to save the world from the encroaching darkness of war and death and bring peace in our violence. She does this not for principalities or for self interest but because it is the right thing to do.
She comes to our world to save us from ourselves, out of love that knows no bounds and desires to see evil vanquished. 'It's not about what you deserve it's about what you believe, and I believe in love' states Diana at one point.
Wonder Woman is many things an origin tale, a comic book movie, a wonderful film of empowerment and inspiration. With a saviour who comes not caring for what we deserve but believing in love that can change the world, Wonder Woman may also be the best representation of Jesus on screen we've had in a long time.