My Favorite Movies #8 – Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

2017

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Quick synopsis… Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

  • In spite of her somewhat small role, Wonder Woman was arguably the best thing about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • To tie this movie to that one, we open with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) arriving at the Louvre where she works… maybe she’s a curator?
  • Anyway, she receives an original photographic plate image of herself with Steve Trevor and the rest of their squad during World War I.
  • It comes with a note from Bruce Wayne, inviting her to tell him her story someday.
  • For us, that day is today…
  • We flash back to when Diana was a little girl on Themyscira, the island home of the Amazons.
  • She’s the daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and has a warrior’s heart from an early age.
  • Diana’s aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright), offers to begin training the girl, but Hippolyta forbids it, wanting to protect Diana from a destiny of war and battle.
  • Hippolyta tells her daughter the story of Ares, the god of war, who once took it upon himself to destroy mankind, but was stopped by Zeus.
  • Zeus then gifted the Amazons with a special weapon, a sword that could kill a god, just in case Ares should ever return to once again pit mankind against one another.
  • Diana convinces Hippolyta to show her the Godkiller… which only the fiercest among the Amazons could weild.
  • Hippolyta tells Diana that won’t be her… but the look in the little girl’s eyes says otherwise.
  • For years, Diana trains in secret with Antiope… until Hippolyta discovers.
  • Upset, she sends Diana away, and Antiope argues that Ares is still alive and that training Diana is the only way to truly protect her.
  • Eventually, Hippolyta agrees and orders her to train Diana ten times harder than any Amazon who has come before her… but she must never know the truth of who she is or how she came to be.
  • As an adult, Diana is far more powerful than even she knows, accidentally using that power while sparring.
  • She panics and finds herself alone at the edge of Themyscira when she spots an airplane appear from nowhere and crash into the sea.
  • Being the hero that she is, Diana dives off the cliff and swims out to save the pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).
  • This is the first man that Diana has ever seen, but she doesn’t have time to be curious about who he is or how he came to find Paradise Island.
  • Because he’s quickly pursued by German forces who make their way through the magical barrier that separates Themyscira from “Man’s World.”
  • The Germans attack the island and battle against the Amazons.
  • While the warrior women take some losses, including Antiope, who dove in front of a bullet to save Diana, the German troops are completely eliminated.
  • Steve helps in the battle, witnessing some of the Amazons’ amazing battle tactics.
  • But his help in the battle is not enough to win him points with anyone but Diana.
  • He is interrogated by Hippolyta while being held by the Lasso of Hestia, which compels him to tell the truth.
  • And I absolutely love the way Chris Pine plays this scene… It’s not like he’s in a trance and has to blurt out the truth about anything he’s asked.
  • He’s a spy and he’s trained to lie or keep silent, and he tries his hardest not to reveal the truth to these women.
  • It seems almost painful for him to give up answers about his mission and the Great War that rages on in the outside world.
  • Steve reveals that he was able to steal the journal of Dr. Isabel Maru (aka Dr. Poison) while she met with General Ludendorff of the German army.
  • He needs to get this information back to London so it can be used to stop Ludendorff and, hopefully, the entire war.
  • It’s information that could save millions of lives.
  • Diana insists that this war is the doing of Ares and that it is their responsibility to stop the god of war once and for all.
  • Hippolyta forbids it…
  • But it wouldn’t be much of a movie if Diana simply obeyed her mother, would it?
  • Inspired by the words of Steve’s father, “When you see something wrong in the world you can either do something or do nothing,” Diana decides to do something.
  • Under the cover of night, Diana swipes the sword that her mother showed her as a child, along with a shield, the lasso of truth, and Wonder Woman’s traditional battle armor.
  • Diana agrees to show Steve the way off the island if he will take her to Ares.
  • As they prepare to leave by boat, Hippolyta arrives to confront Diana.
  • But she’s not there to stop her.
  • She’s there to say good bye… if Diana chooses to leave, she may never return.
  • Hippolyta gives Diana Antiope’s tiara, then tells her to be careful in the world of men.
  • “They do not deserve you.”
  • Once they leave, Hippolyta is asked if she should have told Diana, but she says if she knew, Ares would find her sooner.
  • Hippolyta and the other Amazons have hinted at something hidden about Diana that she and the audience are unaware of.
  • On the boat to London, Diana fills Steve in on her mission to kill Ares.
  • She is utterly convinced that once she kills Ares, the German army will be freed from his influence and they will be good men again and the world will be free.
  • She’s gonna be real disappointed when World War II rolls around…
  • Diana also gives Steve her brief origin story after he asks why she’s never met a man, even her father.
  • She tells him that she had no father.
  • Hippolyta formed her from clay, which Zeus was kind enough to bring to life.
  • Ludendorff visits Dr. Poison once more and we see just how brutal he is when he kills one of his commanders in cold blood.
  • Dr. Poison laments that the Kaiser is ready to sign an armistice which will end the war.
  • The general is not convinced that this will come to pass.
  • She presents him with some kind of inhalant that provides him with temporary super strength.
  • A breeze blows through her lab and she discovers a discarded note that gives her an idea for a terrible new weaponized gas.
  • Steven and Diana arrived in jolly old London town, which Diana calls hideous.
  • But… you know… compared to Paradise Island…
  • Diana is a fish out of water and it’s so great the way Gal Gadot plays her scenes of experiencing the world for the first time.
  • Steve’s secretary, Etta Candy, meets Diana to help her buy some clothes to help her blend in.
  • I wish we got more of Etta in this movie…
  • When Steve puts a pair of glasses on Diana, Etta says, “Really? Specs? And suddenly she’s not the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?”
  • Diana and Steve go to meet with his superiors about the book he stole.
  • But on the way, they are ambushed by a bunch of German spies.
  • It’s a scene that’s a big call back to Superman when Clark saved Lois from a mugger… except this time it was Diana that saved Steve.
  • We see Diana’s bullet blocking abilities in full force.
  • She tries to use the lasso on one of the spies, but he ingests cyanide before the lasso can compel any kind of truth.
  • Diana follows Steve into the war room while Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) discusses the armistice.
  • But a woman among all these men is just unheard of…
  • Steve hands over Dr. Poison’s journal.
  • We then cut to Dr. Poison showing off her newest concoction, which will melt and incinerate a gas mask.
  • Diana again inserts herself into a planning meeting, which is good because she’s the only one who can read Poison’s journal, which is written in multiple languages.
  • Steve pushes for them to send troops into Belgium where the factory is, but one of the generals refuses, saying it would look bad to send troops into German-occupied Belgium while also negotiating their surrender.
  • Again, Steve argues that he’s seen what this gas will do… that it will kill thousands on both sides if they don’t stop it first.
  • That same general callously remarks, “That’s what soldiers do.”
  • Diana is appalled and cannot stay quiet, like a good girl in 1918 London was expected to.
  • Steve pulls her out when they are again shut down because the armistice is the priority at this time.
  • Then Diana goes off on Steve… but he tells her that they’re going anyway, without permission from his superiors.
  • They go to a pub to find their reinforcements: Morrocan spy Sameer, Scottish sharpshooter Charlie, and Native American smuggler Chief Napi.
  • Once the team is gathered, they secretly receive funding from Morgan, with Etta running the mission from his office.
  • The next day, before boarding their train, Diana is introduced to ice cream.
  • Her reaction is priceless.
  • Ludendorff interruptes a meeting of German officials discussing terms of the armistice, insisting that one battle could win the war for them.
  • When they tell him it’s too late and the war will end, he has Poison attack them with her new weapon, killing them all.
  • On the way to the front, Diana sees so much of the ugliness brought by war…
  • She also discovers the many shades of gray.
  • She is heartbroken over there being so many people that she cannot help individually.
  • When they reach No Man’s Land, Diana makes the decision to help the people of the nearby village that the Germans are occupying.
  • And this is when we finally see Diana for the Wonder Woman she is.
  • She steps out of that trench, drawing the attention of the Germans.
  • Diana shrugs off bullets and bombs like they’re nothing, giving the English troops a chance to advance.
  • Thanks to Diana and one of the best cinematic action sequences of the 21st century, they retake the village from the German army.
  • Steve calls in to get some intel from Etta, finding out that Ludendorff is nearby at German High Command, where a gala is being held in preparation for the armistice.
  • Diana is convinced now that Ludendorff is Ares and he will never allow the armistice to be signed.
  • However, Sir Patrick gets on the phone and orders Trevor to stay away from the gala, as it could interrupt the armistice.
  • That night, the village celebrates being free once more… Charlie sings… Steve and Diana dance…
  • And they talk about what Steve thinks a normal life without war would look like before spending the night together.
  • The next day, Steve and Diana both infiltrate the gala in disguise, where Ludendorff demonstrates the power of Poison’s new weapon…
  • By firing the gas on the village that Diana just helped to liberate.
  • Everyone in the village is killed.
  • Diana is angry with Steve for stopping her from killing Ludendorff when she had the chance.
  • He insisted that they needed Ludendorff to find the supply of poison… because what if she’s wrong…
  • What if there is no Ares?
  • But Diana thinks that the village could have been saved if she had been allowed to kill Ludendorff at the party.
  • Diana makes her way to an airfield where all of Dr. Poison’s poison is being held in a hangar, awaiting deployment by aircraft.
  • She confronts Ludendorff in a radio tower and fights him as he is enhanced by Poison’s strength gas.
  • So he puts up a pretty good fight.
  • But not good enough, as Diana runs him through with the Godkiller sword, believing that she has finally completed he mission of the Amazons.
  • It takes only seconds for her to realize there is no change.
  • The German army is still preparing to attack.
  • Steve arrives and can’t explain why it hasn’t stopped…
  • “Maybe people aren’t always good. Ares or no Ares, maybe it’s just who they are…”
  • He wishes he could tell her it’s one bad guy to blame… they’re all to blame.
  • We are all to blame.
  • He begs her to help him stop this bombardment, but she’s so disillusioned now that she can’t go with him.
  • He leaves her in the tower and rejoins his men as they make a plan to destroy the supply.
  • Inside the tower, Diana is surprised to see Sir Patrick.
  • He reveals himself to be Ares, the god of war.
  • Diana retrieves her sword as Ares talks to her about the evils of humanity.
  • She won’t listen to him and attacks… but the sword disintigrates on impact.
  • The sword is not the Godkiller… Diana is.
  • In the old story, when Hippolyta said that Zeus gifted the Amazons with the Godkiller, it wasn’t a sword, it was a child who was destined to fulfill the Amazons’ mission.
  • Diana was never formed from clay… she’s the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta.
  • Ares reveals that he thought about crushing Diana when she first arrived, but instead he decided to let her see humanity’s darkness for herself.
  • Then he wanted to convince her to join him in recreating the world… without humanity.
  • He tells Diana he doesn’t want to fight her, but then immediately blasts apart the tower, sending her flying away.
  • Ares begins to show off his true powers and Diana seems to be no match.
  • She’s caught in an explosion, which causes her to temporarily lose her hearing.
  • Meanwhile, Steve realizes someone has to hijack the plane and blow it up in the sky so that the gas doesn’t affect any people.
  • Before he takes the plane, he tries to tell Diana good bye, but she can’t hear him.
  • Diana returns to her fight with Ares, and he subdues her long enough to make her watch as Steve and the plane explode in the air.
  • Heartbroken and pissed, she breaks free of Ares’ grasp, mowing down German soldiers at super speed.
  • Ares seems pleased by this and describes all of the worst aspects of humanity.
  • He presents her with Dr. Poison, and she’s ready to crush her with a tank.
  • But then she’s able to remember Steve’s good bye… and she can hear his words.
  • Diana tells Ares he’s wrong about humanity.
  • “They’re everything you say, but so much more.”
  • Diana chooses to believe in love and delivers Ares’ killing blow.
  • Back in London, everyone celebrates the signing of the armistice, essentially ending the war.
  • I assume Diana comes to understand that Ares’ death and the signing of the armistice is coincidental timing and that mankind is still capable of war without Ares’ influence.
  • Because in another 20 years there’s gonna be another world war…
  • In the present, Diana emails a thank you to Bruce as she looks at the watch that Steve left with her before he took off.
  • Then she heads out to fight crime in Paris as Wonder Woman.

The timing on this movie hitting at #8 on my list couldn’t be better, as the new trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 was just released this past weekend. Want to get excited about the possibility of returning to the movie theaters? Check it out…

Next week’s movie is my favorite Stephen King adaptation of all time. It’s based on a novella that comes from the same collection that The Shawshank Redemption came from. Any guesses?

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