Eppler: Why the "Wonder Woman" success matters

Eppler: Why the "Wonder Woman" success matters

What a relief that "Wonder Woman" is good. It needed to be. It's one of the many feminist challenges: men get second chances frequently (Hey Ryan Reynolds, 'Green Lantern' sucked - here's another shot with 'Deadpool'; Hey Nic Cage, let's do 'Ghost Rider 2' just because!). Women don't get second chances nearly as often, which may be why we haven't seen a female fronted superhero movie in more than a decade.

Although this "Wonder Woman" movie faced an unfair amount of industry pressure, it's tough to overstate how important this picture is for some ladies who have waited their whole lives to see a quality comic book movie where the hero looks more like them. And the fact that it's directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins) adds a fresh perspective to the genre itself. The surprising $100 million take on opening weekend is important validation.

So that's the cultural significance of the movie. It's also well-crafted and a lot of fun with a star-making turn from Gal Gadot as Diana, an Amazon princess with serious fight training and powers she's just discovering.

When her island inhabited entirely by women gets an unexpected visitor in the form of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy in World War I, Diana feels compelled to join him in the war effort. That's right - this is essentially a war movie with Diana on the front lines with her sword, shield and famed lasso of truth.

"Wonder Woman"  goes through all the motions of a typical origin story. It even follows many of the same beats as "Captain America: The First Avenger," but the gender role reversal gives it a freshness.  

Gadot and Pine work nicely together - each with subtle comic timing and giving this movie an emotional center. Director Patty Jenkins proves herself a capable action director, although relying too often on slow motion. Instead, her strength is in the quieter moments which resonate.

I'm not entirely satisfied with some of the movie's conclusions viewed through the prism of feminist theory, and the big showdown at the end of the movie is fairly rote with some unconvincing special effects. But this is overall a solid superhero origin movie introducing a character that's going to be fun to follow. I'm expecting great things from "Wonder Woman 2," and maybe she'll steal "Justice League" from the boys in November. 

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