The Light arrives to save us from darkness
Lovingly crafted, the director makes a wonderful period piece, bringing her rich history to vibrant life.
By Tym Stevens
“Get us out from under, Wonder Woman!”
After the literary apogee of Nolan’s acclaimed Batman film trilogy, DC films sailed straight into the foolish doldrums of Man of Kill and Bat/Supes (B/S). Listening to an angry public repelled by these grungy shooter games, director Patty Jenkins took the august Superman: The Movie (1978) as her template, and this film’s positive result turned the tide.
First Wave feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman seeded the amazonian concept in 1915’s “Herland”, where a crashed plane finds a lost utopia of scientific superwomen. The sequel “With Her in Ourland” (1916) brings back a lone ambassador to the patriarchal era of WWI, offering her prescriptive philosophies of equity and compassion. In that spirit, writer William Marston, his collegiate partners Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne, and artist H.G. Peter were ardent feminists who distilled their egalitarian ideas into an icon whose 1942 debut changed comic books: the antidote to aggro superheroes, Wonder Woman’s cheerful feminism (and subliminal alternate sensuality) reached millions of kids and WWII soldiers through the best-selling color media on earth, a shining ethical champion offsetting the darkness.
Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg reflect the roots of the roots by resetting the film in WWI (parallel to Gilman, while distinguishing itself from Captain America: The First Avenger). And they honor all the best creators, from the idealism of the ’40s founders, to the hyperglam power of her ’70s rebirth, to the complex Amazonia of ’80s George Perez, to Darwyn Cooke’s ’00s gladiator, to the taut edge and backstory of Brian Azzarello and Doug Chiang’s ’10s revisal.
And we got blessed with one-in-a-million twice. First, the perfect Lynda Carter invigorated the amazon with nobility, sincerity, and charm for ’70s television. And now, Gal Gadot: regal as a lion, cool as a sword, sharp as hindsight, tougher than pain. She was the best part of B/S and Justice League, and she’s better here.
Just as Gilman and Marston prescribed a positive antidote to their regressive times, so too does Wonder Woman save us from the dour aggro-verse of bad DC films. Diana was originally inspired by Superman, and this film was inspired by Superman to embrace the positive, the hopeful, the romantic, and the just. She’s everything right, and she’s right on time.
“Change their minds, and change the world!”