That’s twice now that I’ve been wrong on the hype index: I thought Alien: Covenant was going to be pretty good and Wonder Woman was going to be weak; turns out that it’s quite the opposite. Wonder Woman isn’t a game changer by any means, but it’s a solid and (relatively) fresh entry in the superhero genre.
An origin story through-and-through, Wonder Woman fleshes out the character’s backstory hinted at in Batman Versus Superman. After the titular heroine (née Diana) receives an old photograph of her old World War I squad from a friend, she recalls her journey from Amazon princess to defender of humanity. Truth be told, the plot’s nothing to write home about – it’s just the well-worn hero-realizes-their-potential arc. But Wonder Woman shines in its execution, thanks to a strong script and winning performances.
I’ll admit to having had doubts about Gal Godot’s ability to play the lead, but she’s perfect here, her Diana sweetly naïve and fiercely badass in equal measure. She and Chris Pine are the heart of this movie, with the latter bringing depth and humor to what could have been a generic (albeit gender-flipped) love interest role. A strong group of character actors round out the cast, each lending heart – if not dimension – to their archetypes.
But the movie’s most charming quality is its irony-free sincerity; it eschews the tired winks to the audience that have become a Marvel staple. That’s not to say Wonder Woman doesn’t have a sense of humor – some of its best moments come from the Amazon-human culture clash and Diana’s endearing lack of worldliness. And thankfully, it also trusts its audience enough to advance its girl-power message without ever resorting to eye-rolling platitudes. It’s easy to imagine a far worse version of this movie, one full of pandering shout-outs to modern feminism and instantly dated pop-culture references. Thank god we got this instead.