Tag Archives: Patty Jenkins

My “Wonder Woman 1984” Review: An (Imperfect) Emotionally Charged Wonder

We’re at a point with superhero movies where the bar has been raised to such a degree that we can’t just call them a passing fad anymore. Love them or hate them, superhero movies have evolved. They’ve developed a complexity and nuance that few genres ever gain, regardless of medium.

Plus, they make billions at the box office. Let’s not forget that. It’s why the Bill Mahers of the world won’t stop whining about superhero movies anytime soon.

Forgetting the whiners and petty nit-pickers of the genre, superhero movies have a higher threshold to achieve to be considered successful. It’s not enough anymore than to just put a famous actor or actress in an iconic costume and replay famous scenes from comics. The story, characters, and themes have to be refined and compelling.

That’s a challenge for any movie, but one that felt far more daunting for “Wonder Woman 1984.” After the success of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, which did a masterful job of establishing Diana’s origin and building her superhero persona, this sequel is tasked with building on that foundation.

As someone who loved the first movie and made it a point to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max with my mom on Christmas day, I had high hopes for this movie. I wasn’t expecting “The Dark Knight” level of quality, but I was hoping for a worthy follow-up.

Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ll say without hesitation that it succeeded. This movie was a beautiful, emotionally driven cinematic experience and a worthy successor to the first “Wonder Woman.”

I say that knowing that some reviews were quite scathing in their assessment of the film. As is my general rule, I never read reviews before I see a movie. As I saw withNew Mutants,” that can wrongly color your perspective. As was also the case with that movie, I was genuinely surprised by the criticisms levied against “Wonder Woman 1984.”

However, I’m not going to waste my time responding to those criticisms. I’m just going to offer my take on why I thought this movie was a worthy follow-up to the first. Like any sequel, its primary goal was building on what the first movie established. In that sense, this movie did succeed.

The setup for the movie is a dazzling spectacle. Like the first, we get a brief glimpse of Diana’s youth on Themysicra. We see her living and growing amongst her Amazon sisters, showing the kind of power and potential that lies within her. It’s a true sight to behold and one director Patty Jenkins fleshes out meticulously.

Within that setup, though, is an important theme. It highlights the importance of truth and doing things the right way for the right reasons. You cannot and should not take shortcuts to achieve your goal. Doing so will always come at a price and incur consequences. It’s a simple, but necessary lesson that kids and adults alike often learn the hard way.

That leads us directly to the main antagonist of the movie, Maxwell Lord. Played by Pedro Pascal, he comes off as the very antithesis of this lesson. He’s a con-man and a huckster, always looking for a shortcut to get what he wants. That includes tampering with the forces of the gods, which puts him in direct conflict with Diana.

At the same time, this conflict ties closely to another unfolding with Diana’s new friend, Barbara Minerva. Played by Kristen Wiig, she comes off at first as the very antithesis of Diana. She’s a nobody. She has none of Diana’s power, grace, or skill. She’s basically invisible, only ever getting attention from people she doesn’t like.

This is very much in line with the characterization of Barbara Minerva in the comics. She’s Wonder Woman’s chief rival, but she started out as a friend. She’s even sympathetic to some extent. She’s not looking to become a villain, like Maxwell Lord. She just wants a taste of the power and prestige that she sees in Wonder Woman.

She ultimately gets her chance, as does Maxwell Lord. When Barbara stumbles upon the Dreamstone, a relic imbued with the power from Dolos, the god of lies, that can grant wishes to those who wield it. However, like a typical monkey’s paw narrative, every wish comes at a price.

It closely mirrors the lesson young Diana learned in her youth, as depicted in the movie’s opening scenes. Taking any shortcut to get what you desire will come at a price. You can try to avoid the consequences all you want, but it eventually compounds. The more you try, the worse it’ll get.

Maxwell Lord thinks he has a way to avoid this. He thinks he can get everything he wants by simply making the right kind of wish. That ultimately causes a great deal of destruction. I’d go into detail, but I’d rather not reveal too much. All you need to know is that it’s not the kind of destruction Wonder Woman can stop with her fists and her sword.

What happens with Barbara Minerva is even more impactful. Like Maxwell Lord, she’s unwilling to give up any power she gains. Unlike Lord, however, she’s willing to pay any price to keep it. That’s what sends her down a dark path. It’s also what turns her from one of Diana’s friends into a truly tenacious foe.

These conflicts become very personal to Diana because she too is unable to resist the temptation. She may give so much of herself to others, but she also has desires and wishes of her own. That’s where Steve Trevor, played again by Chris Pine, enters the picture.

His death and heroic sacrifice in the first “Wonder Woman” movie was so powerful. That whole movie really sold the love that blossomed between him and Diana. Even as the years go by, his death still burdens Diana. She cannot let go of that love. She wants nothing more than to have it back.

It’s sad, but understandable. If ever someone deserved a consequence-free wish from all her heroic acts, it’s Diana. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it. She still tries. She gets her chance to be with the love of her life again. As with everything else, though, it comes at a price.

That’s the biggest theme of this movie. Getting what you want by breaking the rules or cheating will always come at a price. Even if you’re willing to pay that price, it does cause damage to yourself and others. It’s a painful lesson and one that gives “Wonder Woman 1984” so many emotional overtones.

It’s because of those overtones that this movie works so well. Wonder Woman, by her nature, is a very emotionally driven character. Her love, compassion, and heart are among her greatest traits. They’re as strong as her fighting spirit. The first movie revealed this and “Wonder Woman 1984” builds on that.

Her greatest struggles always have an emotional weight to them. It’s not just a matter of her beating up the bad guy to save the day. One of those foes was once her friend. Another is someone she can’t defeat simply by beating him up. She has to use that uncanny compassion and heart to win the day. That’s what makes her Wonder Woman.

I would argue that’s the most important aspect of her character and this movie captured it perfectly. I really did feel for Diana as she went through these emotional upheavals throughout the story. It brought out her greatest strengths, as well as her greatest weaknesses.

Now, speaking of weaknesses, this is where I also have to levy some criticisms of my own against “Wonder Woman 1984.” I promise they’re not nearly as petty or overblown as some of the other reviews to this movie. Some have complained about the length and tone of the movie. I honestly think that sort of criticism is misguided.

I’ll still say outright that this movie was not as good as the first “Wonder Woman.” This movie was not as concise and polished, in terms of story. There were a number of “and then this happened” moments that made the story seem a bit jumbled at times. In some cases, it relied too heavily on contrivances and suspension of disbelief to move things along.

I get the sense this was done to keep things moving forward from a plot standpoint. I also think there were some difficulties in revealing the ins and outs of godly magic, which is considerably harder to do in a movie when compared to a comic.

None of these shortcomings kept the movie from working overall. Gal Gadot once again carried her role as Wonder Woman with grace and grit. She, Steve Trevor, and Cheetah all had well-developed characters that played their roles well throughout the story. In terms of the most important elements to a good Wonder Woman movie, “Wonder Woman 1984” got them right.

If I had to score this movie, I’d give it a 4 out of 5. It has some noticeable flaws, more so than its predecessor. However, Gal Gadot is still an amazing Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins is still a great director, and this world they explored together was full of dazzling wonder.

For a year that has been so bleak and dire, it’s just what we needed. For that, I thank “Wonder Woman 1984” and all those who helped make it happen.

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Filed under DC Comics, Movie Reviews, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman

Disney Investors Day Announcements: The Five Shows/Movies I’m Most Excited For

It’s almost over, people. We’re almost out of 2020 and the end of this global pandemic that has hurt so many is finally in sight. For that reason, it’s okay to start looking forward to 2021. As long as this year doesn’t bring us a new pandemic or an alien invasion, it should be better by default.

We should all be excited at the prospect of the world getting back to some sense of pre-pandemic normalcy. It’ll never be the same, but it’ll be nice to sit in a movie theater or go to a restaurant without having to wear a mask. The world will recover and many are looking to ride onto that wave of recovery.

Chief among them is our Disney overlords. It’s no secret that the pandemic has hit Disney harder than most. Once the envy of the entertainment world, this pandemic hit it with a gut punch that would down the Hulk.

However, those predicting the fall of Disney are exceedingly premature. This is a company that has navigated dark times before. They have too many resources and incentives to just give in, even in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

They’re already making the effort. A while back, Disney had their big Investors Day presentation in which they pitched their future plans to investors and the public. Among those plans were a host of movies and TV shows from.

It was ambitious, even by Disney’s lofty standards. I even dared to let myself get excited again. There was so much to take in, but for the best possible reasons. It made surviving 2020 that much more paramount.

Of the many announcements made during the call, a few stuck out to me. Here are just a few of the shows and movies that have invigorated my spirit once more. For that, I thank our Disney overlords.


Ms. Marvel

Don’t act surprised.

Seriously, have I not made my love of all things Ms. Marvel clear enough?

If this had been the only thing Disney announced, I would’ve been excited. Kamala Khan is exactly what Marvel Studios, their Disney overlords, and the world needs right now. We already got confirmation of the casting of Iman Vellani for the titular role. This time, we also got a teaser trailer for what we can expect from her and from this show.

I’m not going to lie. I watched this trailer at least 10 times and I couldn’t stop smiling.

This is a character who endeared herself in the comics with just one issue. This is also someone who channels the same spirit of the fans who love all things Marvel. She’s young and idealistic. She sees superheroes through the same lens as us, the fans. Now, we get to see her navigate the MCU in a world where the Avengers assembled, saved the day, and Tony Stark made the ultimate sacrifice.

There’s so much to explore and so much to embrace. I think this show will do for Marvel Studios what “The Mandalorian” did for Star Wars. After a year like 2020, we need that.


Star Wars: Ahsoka

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, either. I’ve made my love for Ahsoka Tano known before. She’s also a fan favorite among legions of Star Wars fans and for good reason. Her story is so vast and dramatic. She started as the brash, immature Padawan of a pre-Darth Vader Anakin Skywalker. She then became a key player in the secret war against the Empire.

Even though she has never appeared in any Star Wars movies, she has still found a way to endear herself to so many, myself included. That’s an accomplishment worthy of her own show and the timing couldn’t be better.

Most recently, she made her live-action debut in Season 2 of “The Mandalorian.” Played by Rosario Dawson, she’s made her presence known in the emerging Star Wars canon that’s unfolding on Disney Plus. This show will give her a chance to shine like never before.

She’s no longer someone’s Padawan.

She’s no longer some shadowy agent for the Rebellion.

She’s just Ahsoka being Ahsoka. Sign me up!


Fantastic Four (By Marvel Studios)

When it comes to movies from Marvel Studios, I’m in the same boat as most lifelong Marvel fans. No matter what they put out, I’ll likely be first in line to see it, whether it opens out in theaters or debuts on streaming. While we don’t know what the movie theater scene will be like in 2021, we can be certain that studios will keep making movies and those movies will find an audience.

While Marvel Studios has revealed its movie plans before, this event was special because it confirmed what many of us hoped the day we found out Disney was buying Fox. Marvel Studios is officially making a Fantastic Four movie.

Now, I’m tempted to recount all the ways the Fantastic Four have been butchered by previous movies. Believe me, I could spend hours talking about how 2015’s “Fant4stic” was botched at every turn. However, I prefer to look to the future rather than the past.

Finally, Marvel’s first family will be in the hands of Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige. They’ve shown time and again that they know what they’re doing. They love these characters every bit as much as the fans. They will do them justice.

With John Watts from “Spider-Man: Homecomingset to direct, the stage is set for the Fantastic Four to arrive in the MCU. It took a long time and a huge media acquisition, but the wait is almost over. Fantastic things are worth waiting for and I hope this is one of them.


She-Hulk

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Disney is going all-in on streaming. Given the current state of the movie business and the large catalog of content they have, that’s the best route they can take at this point. While I have high hopes for “WandaVision” as Marvel Studios’ first foray into streaming shows, I’m still more excited about She-Hulk.

I’ve mentioned this series before and I stand by my excitement. I believe this show is more critical to the continued success of Marvel Studios than “WandaVision” or even some of its movies.

Since the somewhat forgettable “Incredible Hulk” movie with Edward Norton, the jolly green rage giant has been relegated to a supporting character in pretty much every subsequent story. When he’s not teaming up with Thor or providing muscle for the Avengers, he’s basically just there.

In the comics, Hulk has his own world of sorts and She-Hulk has always been a big part of that. I believe this show can start building that world and with Tatiana Maslany in the starring role, I think this show could be special.

Plus, it’s a show with a beautiful woman smashing things. How can I not be excited about that?


Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

This announcement was an unexpected treat. Among many other Star Wars announcement, this one stood out to me almost as much as the Ahsoka show. Those who didn’t own a Nintendo 64 in the late 90s and early 2000s may not understand, but trust me. Those who did were very intrigued.

There was a time when Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was the pinnacle of Star Wars gaming. This video game essentially ditched the light sabre duels in favor of X-Wings, Y-Wings, and plenty of other exotic spaceships. It involved plenty of space battles, secret missions, and blowing stuff up on alien planets.

Good times, indeed.

Now, we find out Disney is making it into a movie. On top of that, they tapped Patty Jenkins, the woman who brought “Wonder Woman” to the big screen, to do it. I love everything about this. The same woman who tapped Wonder Woman’s wonder is now in charge of a fleet of X-wings. What’s not to love?


Besides, we’ve already had plenty of Star Wars content involving light sabers. Why not focus on elaborate space battles? I know my excitement for all this still assumes that 2021 will be less chaotic and more functional than 2020. At this point, assumptions like that are risky. However, I’m choosing to embrace hope and optimism once more. This past year has left my spirit broken, but I’m ready to start putting the pieces back together. These movies and shows can only help in that process.

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Filed under Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, superhero comics, superhero movies, television

wonder-woman-cheeta-kristen-wiig

How’s this for timing? A few days ago, I write an article about all the reasons why Cheetah should be the main villain in “Wonder Woman 2.” Earlier today, director Patty Jenkins announces that Kristin Wigg will play Cheetah. I’m not saying my article had anything to do with this news, but some coincidences are just uniquely satisfying.

CBR: Patty Jenkins Confirms Kristen Wiig For Wonder Woman 2

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March 9, 2018 · 11:04 pm

Why Cheetah Should Be The Main Villain In Wonder Woman 2

It’s been a while since I talked about Wonder Woman, DC Comics, or developments surrounding the planned sequel to her first movie, which I praised to no end last year. Even though a sequel was announced shortly after the movie’s historically successful debut, not much news has come from it.

There’s a reason for that, albeit a distressing one. The news surrounding anything related to DC’s movie universe has been pretty grim since “Justice Leagueunder-performed at the box office. While I enjoyed the movie and gave it a glowing review, I can’t deny that it’s perceived shortcomings have caused all sorts of problems for the DC movie universe.

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Those problems aside, Wonder Woman is still seen as the lone bright spot in a bleak outlook, especially as Marvel keeps raising the bar with their movies. To date, “Wonder Woman” remains the highest rated, highest grossing DC Comics movie. That makes the success of the sequel, still only known as “Wonder Woman 2,” of paramount importance to the future of superhero movies.

To date, there hasn’t been much news surrounding “Wonder Woman 2.” The only official details we have thus far are that Gal Gadot will continue to play Wonder Woman as only she can and Patty Jenkins is once again set to direct it. According to Jenkins herself, it will to be a very different movie compared to the first one. These are her words:

“We’re actually making a totally different film with a lot of the same, similar like things that we love, but it is its own movie completely, so it’s not ‘two’ to us. It’s an entirely new adventure together that we couldn’t be luckier [to do].”

I’m certainly excited about it, as I am with all things related to Wonder Woman. However, there’s one element that I believe will determine whether “Wonder Woman 2” is a “Dark Knight” level success or a “Batman and Robin” sized disaster. By just referencing “Dark Knight,” I think most superhero movie fans know where I’m going with this.

Image result for Heath ledger joker

It’s all about the villains. Regardless of the studio making the movie, the heroes involved, or the sex appeal of said heroes, the movie often succeeds or fails by how compelling or forgettable the villain is. Nobody will ever forget Health Ledger’s Joker in “Dark Knight.” Conversely, I’m pretty sure everyone has already forgotten Steppenwolf in “Justice League.”

Wonder Woman” may not have had an iconic villain on the same level as Heath Ledger’s Joker, but the combined narratives of both Ares and Dr. Poison worked because they supplemented Diana’s journey towards becoming Wonder Woman. Since the core of “Wonder Woman” was built around that journey, she didn’t really need a villain of Joker caliber.

However, she’ll need one for “Wonder Woman 2” and that’s where Cheetah comes in. She has already been rumored to be the villain of the movie. She’s no Joker, but she is probably Wonder Woman’s most well-known villain. The fact that she isn’t an embittered child of Zeus, a story so old that it pre-dates movies, comics, and the printing press, makes that status all the more remarkable.

Image result for Wonder Woman Cheetah

From a pure comic book stand point, Cheetah makes the most sense as the main villain for “Wonder Woman 2” because she’s also one of Wonder Woman’s oldest foes. Her origins go all the way back to the earliest, and also kinkiest, era forged by Wonder Woman’s creator, William Marston.

Like many other classic villains, Cheetah’s persona mirrors Wonder Woman’s in many respects. In her earliest incarnation, Priscilla Rich, she’s an aristocrat woman born to a powerful family. Her mother isn’t a queen, like Diana, but just being in that privileged position from birth puts a great many expectations and temptations on her. It brought out the best in Diana, but it brought out the worst in Cheetah.

From a purely thematic standpoint, that’s an important component for Wonder Woman’s journey. In the same way characters like General Zod embody the kind of person Superman might have become, Cheetah shows Wonder Woman the much darker path she could’ve walked.

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That path already has a very lengthy gap for Patty Jenkins to work with. The conclusion of “Wonder Woman” and the events of “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice” reveal that Diana had been secretly living in the modern world since the end of World War I. That’s a lot of time for her journey to take many turns, some of them darker than others.

That significant breadth of time actually plays to Cheetah’s advantage because her title is not tied to one person. In some instances, it’s a legacy that others take on. In others, it’s a curse that gets transferred from one person to the other. In every case, though, Cheetah embodies a persona that directly clashes with everything Wonder Woman’s stands for.

Wonder Woman fights for compassion. Cheetah fights for herself.

Wonder Woman believes in blessings. Cheetah believes in curses.

Wonder Woman is deeply empathic. Cheetah is exceedingly callous.

Wonder Woman is loyal to her friends. Cheetah betrays them.

Wonder Woman believes in love. Cheetah is driven by hate.

These contrasts were best embodied in Cheetah’s earliest incarnations, but it’s actually her more modern persona in Barbara Ann Minerva that, I believe, has the most potential for “Wonder Woman 2.”

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Like other Cheetah’s before her, Barbara is a privileged woman from a powerful family in which she has all these expectations thrust upon her. As a result, she shares many of the selfish, arrogant, neurotic traits of Priscilla Rich and every spoiled rich brat that ever lived. However, what makes Barbara’s story more compelling is that in her most recent incarnation, she started off as a close friend of Diana.

It’s an element to the villain’s journey that makes their story more entwined with that of the hero. By starting off as a friend, it makes the inevitable clash that much more dramatic. Given the high drama we got in Diana’s final battle against Ares in “Wonder Woman,” it makes sense to take a similar approach with “Wonder Woman 2.” Diana, as we’ve seen, is at her best when drama and passions run high.

Image result for Wonder Woman fights Ares

The Barbara Ann Minerva that Diana knows in the most recent comics can come off as a spoiled brat at times, but she has a genuine fascination with gods, mythology, and the divine. In that context, it’s only natural that Diana would start out as an ally and a friend.

For Diana, especially after how her first movie ended, she would need a friend. After losing Steve Trevor, she would need someone to connect with in a world that is still very new to her. Conversely, Diana can give Barbara the connection she seeks to the world of gods, demigods, and magical lassos that make for hilariously awkward moments.

These two women have everything they need to forge a powerful friendship. At the same time, though, they have everything necessary to create a bitter rivalry as well. In the comics, Barbara’s ambitions and bad choices are what turns her into the feral, villainous Cheetah. It’s those differences in choices doesn’t just make their clash dramatic. It makes it genuinely heartbreaking for Diana.

Image result for Wonder Woman vs cheetah

To some extent, making a new friend and seeing them become an enemy would be even worse than losing Steve Trevor. It would also provide a legitimate explanation as to why Wonder Woman remained hidden from the world for so long, up until the events of “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice.”

Cheetah can do for Diana what Killmonger has recently done for Black Panther. She can give Wonder Woman an enemy that forces her to confront the harsher parts of a world that is still new to her. Back home on her paradise island of warrior women, she was sheltered from all these hardships. Now, she’s all alone in having to face them. That struggle is what will forge her into the iconic female hero that we know and love.

Image result for Wonder Woman vs cheetah

This is, of course, my own personal sentiment and I understand that doesn’t account for much. I’ve already made a wish list of all the things I want to see in “Wonder Woman 2” with the understanding I’ll probably only get a fraction of it, at most. After the first movie, both Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins have done plenty to earn my trust.

It’s simply my hope that a sequel to such a wonderful, ground-breaking movie will find new ways to raise the bar for superhero movies and female superheroes, in general. That bar is still rising and I believe a character like Cheetah can help raise it for Wonder Woman.

 

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Wonder Woman

My Wish list For “Wonder Woman 2”

I know it’s been a while since I talked about Wonder Woman. In my defense, there have been a lot of distractions between the holidays, the response to the “Justice League” movie, and recent news stories to which I just couldn’t resist responding. Make no mistake, though. I haven’t forgotten about Wonder Woman or the fact that she had a breakout year in 2017.

In many respects, Wonder Woman was one of the best parts of 2017. She didn’t just amaze audiences by proving that there is a market for female superheroes, even after “Catwoman.” She raised the bar for the entire genre, both in terms of critical and commercial success. That bodes well for other female-led superhero movies.

While other female superheroes play catch-up, though, Wonder Woman is set to continue rising the bar. She’s Wonder Woman. That’s what she does through Gal Gadot’s charisma and she does it with uncanny grace. Shortly after her movie came out, a sequel was announced to the surprise of no one. At the moment, “Wonder Woman 2” is slated for release on November 1, 2019.

While that date seems so far away, some details are already starting to trickle in. Director, Patty Jenkins, has already started teasing details. At the recent Palm Springs Film Festival, she indicated that the sequel would be a very different film compared to its predecessor. Naturally, she didn’t give too many details, but it’s enough to get Wonder Woman fans excited.

Since I consider myself among those fans, I already find myself contemplating what a “Wonder Woman” sequel will entail. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve contemplated such things, either. While it’s too early to know or even speculate what “Wonder Woman 2” will bring, we can still hope and imagine the wondrous possibilities.

In that spirit, here is a brief, but basic wish list for what I hope to see in “Wonder Woman 2.” Granted, if Ms. Jenkins is serious about this being a very different movie, chances are not much on this list will apply. I understand and accept that. This is just the giddy Wonder Woman fan in me daring to imagine how wonderful this movie can be.


Wish #1: Establish More Villains (And Make It Personal)

If Wonder Woman has any flaws, beyond those that assholes and trolls point out, it’s that her list of villains isn’t quite as iconic as that of Batman or Superman. For much of her history, Wonder Woman’s greatest battles have been tied to those of the Justice League or those of her fellow Amazons. She’ll be a major force in those battles, but they rarely have major personal stakes.

Wonder Woman 2” presents a golden opportunity to change that because there are a few villains with strong personal ties to Diana. While Ares was more built up boss battle in the first movie, villains like Cheetah can test Diana’s heart, as well as her skill.

The recent Wonder Woman comics have done an excellent job establishing the deep personal struggle between Wonder Woman and Cheetah. While there are multiple women who have gone by Cheetah, the overall theme is the same. She is Diana’s rival, but there was a time when she was also her friend.

Having to fight her friends is an agonizing challenge for Wonder Woman, which we saw play out in the “Justice League” movie. It brings out her heart and her passions for all the right reasons. A more personal villain can only help expand that appeal in “Wonder Woman 2.”


Wish #2: Maintain A (Very) Distant Connection From The Other DCEU Films

While I stand by my statement that “Justice League” did not deserve the negative reviews it got, I don’t deny that the “Justice League” movie has become somewhat of a toxic brand. It’s not quite on the same levels as “Batman and Robin,” but at this point there’s just no way to salvage the backlash.

It’s for that reason, among many others, that I hope “Wonder Woman 2” maintains an extremely distant connection from the larger DC Extended Universe. I’m not saying it should cut itself off entirely. Even the first movie made it a point to establish that this movie was part of a larger world. The sequel should reflect that.

However, the events of “Justice League,” however big they might have been, shouldn’t be a major driving force in the narrative. Whether it takes place in the modern day or in the past, like the first movie, it can’t be too beholden to the events of other major DC movies.

A big part of the success of “Wonder Woman” was its ability to stand on it its own, apart from the rest of DC’s main superheroes. “Wonder Woman 2” should build on that and I imagine Patty Jenkins isn’t going to want to be too constrained by the burdens of other movies. For Wonder Woman, despite her kinky past, there can be no such restraints.


Wish #3: Build On The Amazons’ Mythology (And Diana’s Family Ties)

There were a lot of positives in “Wonder Woman” and I went out of my way to acknowledge them in my review of the movie. However, if there was one flaw in the overall narrative, it had to do with the limited exposure of the Amazons. That’s because in nearly every medium, Wonder Woman’s story is inherently enriched by her Amazon heritage.

The first movie did enough to establish who the Amazons were, why they are so important, and how important they are to Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much more than that. After Diana left Paradise Island, we didn’t hear from them again. That’s why I hope “Wonder Woman 2” takes the time to expand on the story of the Amazons.

They already showed how badass they can be in “Justice League.” I sincerely hope they get more opportunities in “Wonder Woman 2.” Between Diana’s mother and her more notable siblings, there’s a wealth of material for Wonder Woman to build on. It further raises those personal stakes I mentioned earlier, which can only help expand the appeal of Wonder Woman’s world.


Wish #4: Let Wonder Woman Address Social Issues (In Her Own Unique Way)

Given Wonder Woman’s iconic status as a female icon, it’s unavoidable that she’s going to provoke discussions about social issues. These days, that leads to many heated, hateful, and downright counterproductive conversations. However, that’s exactly why I still want Wonder Woman to address those issues in “Wonder Woman 2.”

Gal Gadot has already shown that she gets the unique spirit of love and compassion that Wonder Woman espouses. Sure, she is prone to making a few controversial remarks, but overall she gets what Wonder Woman is about. She even showed this in the first movie, having Diana navigate the very patriarchal world of the early 20th century, but without using that as an excuse to hate it.

Like it or not, there are a lot of social issues going on in the world. For the most part, we do a poor job debating those issues, as a society. Wonder Woman, with her emphasis on compassion and love for all, is the perfect antidote to that.

I don’t know how she’d go about it in “Wonder Woman 2.” A lot of that depends on the setting, the time period, and the conflicts involved. Whatever form it takes, though, I think it’ll be good for the audience and for the superhero genre to see Wonder Woman confront these social issues as only she can.


Wish #5: Expand The Emotional Stakes (And Let Gal Gadot Channel Her Passions)

This is more of a broader hope for “Wonder Woman 2.” While there are quite a few specific things I’d love to see in this movie, I think it’s more important that it embody the necessary theme that makes Wonder Woman so endearing. Like with some of my other wishes, those themes revolve heavily around the emotional stakes of Wonder Woman’s journey.

We didn’t see too much of that in “Justice League,” but we saw plenty of that in the first movie. Every battle she fought was an emotional struggle. That struggle gave Gal Gadot the opportunity to emote in a way that would make any Amazon warrior proud. Wonder Woman has never just been about fighting injustice or kicking ass. That is always secondary to her heart.

Some of the best moments in “Wonder Woman” just involved her taking a moment to smile, explore, and share herself with others. Whether it was making Steve Trevor feel awkward or making friends with Etta Candy, we got to see Wonder Woman share her passions with others outside the battlefield. That helped make her endearing on so many levels.

Wonder Woman is already a very likable, very passionate character. She’s the kind of person that men and women, alike, can rally behind. Any successful sequel will take those themes and run with them. There’s so much to love about Wonder Woman and how Gal Gadot brought her to life. If “Wonder Woman 2” can build on those themes, then it already has the most important ingredient for more wonderful success.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Wonder Woman

My (Spoiler Free) Wonder Woman Movie Review

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I’ve been obsessing over it. I’ve been anticipating it. I’ve found any possible excuse to talk about it on this blog, including those involving hidden BDSM undertones. If you still weren’t convinced of how excited I was about the “Wonder Woman” movie, then I can’t help you and neither can Superman. Well, after years of waiting and agonizing over the failures of lesser female heroes, it happened. The “Wonder Woman” movie has arrived.

I’ve been following this movie since the release of its first trailer, making it clear along the way that this is one of the most important movies of the past decade. It’s not just an important step towards making us forget about “Catwoman.” It’s an overdue, understated milestone in the growth of female superheroes and female characters in general.

Wonder Woman is, by most measures, the most iconic female character of the past century. She is the standard by which all female heroes, and many female characters in general, are measured. She embodies the ideals of womanhood, generating hope for some and conflict for others. For her to have waited this long to get a movie while Ant Man of all characters got one is a travesty.

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However long it took and whatever controversy emerged along the way, including those involving armpits, doesn’t matter anymore. The movie has arrived and I made it a point to see it, despite the crowds and overpriced candy. That leaves just one pressing question that doesn’t need the lasso of truth for an answer.

Is the “Wonder Woman” movie actually good?

Well, I’m here to say as part of my official review that yes. It is good. It’s every bit as good as its Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic score would indicate. This is not a “Dawn of Justice” type scenario where critics and fans don’t see eye-to-eye. The consensus is clear. “Wonder Woman” is a damn good movie.

What makes it good, though? Well, that’s where it helps to understand the challenge this movie faced, as well as the scope of the story it told. Unlike Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman’s origins aren’t as universally known and again, I’m not just referring to the BDSM elements.

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Most people know she’s an iconic female superhero. Most know she’s a warrior princess from an island populated solely by women. Few people actually know the details of that story or the emotional undertones behind it. Even fans of the old Lynda Carter TV series only ever got part of the story.

This movie doesn’t assume that the audience knows the core of Wonder Woman history or what makes her who she is. Patty Jenkins, the director tasked with deciding which assumptions to make, made a concerted effort to explore both who Diana is and where she came from.

The parts about her being a warrior on an island of female warriors is still there. What makes it resonate is how the movie adds emotional elements to the story. There’s an undeniable innocence at first, seeing Diana as a child, running around her paradise island of Themyscira, eager to see more than others allow her to see.

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This establishes and important tone for the story and for Wonder Woman’s character, as a whole. Even on an island paradise run by women, Wonder Woman dares to break with tradition and do more than what others would dare. She’s willing to test the rules of the Amazons and the rules of men alike. She is, at her core, a free spirit who seeks out wrongs to right and will step up when others won’t.

This makes her emergence as a warrior all the more meaningful because it gives her the strength and means break with tradition and fight the battles that no one dares. She doesn’t just become strong for the sake of being strong. Her training, her desire, and her capacity to kick ass has purpose. She makes the audience want her to succeed.

That kind of emotional resonance never wanes as the larger conflicts unfold. This is where Wonder Woman’s supporting cast really shines, especially in Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor.

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It might have been the trickiest part of the movie, handling how Wonder Woman’s long-time companion and frequent love interest, Steve Trevor, was handled. There have been instances in the comics and cartoons where Steve Trevor has been a beta male. There have also been times where he’s just been an glorified nanny to Wonder Woman, trying to keep her on a leash and not in a kinky sort of way.

That doesn’t happen in this movie. Chris Pine’s take on Steve Trevor is one that men and women alike can appreciate. He’s very much his own character who earns the respect of both Wonder Woman and everyone he works with. He doesn’t just show that he’s worthy of Wonder Woman’s affection. He earns it.

It’s probably the greatest accomplishment of the movie. Wonder Woman’s partnership with Steve Trevor and his allies is all about complementing one another, not hindering one another. Trevor isn’t just some man trying to put Wonder Woman in her place. He and his friends try to guide her through the conflict, doing their part whenever they can and letting Wonder Woman do hers.

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Those looking for a movie that shows Wonder Woman attacking male oppression and exposing men for the pig-headed brutes they are will be disappointed. There are heroic men and villainous women in this movie. There’s no gender agenda at work here. There are times when gender dynamics are explored, but it’s never done with the impression that one is worse than the other.

The movie gets the message and the dynamics right. It gets the characters and their personalities right. Needless to say, Gal Gadot gets Wonder Woman right and looks absolutely stunning in that outfit in every single frame. On top of that, the various fight scenes and acrobatics that go with any hardened Amazonian warrior are a spectacle to behold.

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It checks so many boxes. It has so many satisfying moments from beginning to end. There are moments of humor, including those of the crude, sexual kind. Chris Pine even gets naked at one point. Granted, he’s no Hugh Jackman, but I think most heterosexual women and gay men will be happy with what they see.

So are there any issues with this movie? Is “Wonder Woman” the most flawless work of cinema since “Godfather II?” Well, this is the part where I have to be somewhat petty because this movie isn’t perfect. It does have some flaws, but none of them are overly egregious.

If there are any shortcomings, it’s in the limited time it spends exploring Themyscira and its culture. There is some time spent on the mother/daughter dynamics between Wonder Woman and her mother, but it feels somewhat minimized, as do the rest of the Amazons. Many do get to shine in a few fight scenes, but none get a chance to be all that memorable.

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There’s also the matter of the mythology behind the main conflict. Wonder Woman has always drawn heavily from Greco-Roman Mythology, so much so that it fuels a great deal of Wonder Woman’s iconic stories. However, the mythology in this movie is fairly flat and streamlined. It presents a very simple, bland view of the gods that are so integral to the Amazons. It feels like an oversight, but one that doesn’t derail the story.

Overall, I would not proclaim “Wonder Woman” to be the greatest superhero movie of all time. I would still put movies like “Deadpool” and “The Avengers” above it, but not by much. It is still very much in the top echelon of superhero movies. It is also groundbreaking in that it is the first female solo movie that succeeded where too many others have failed.

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It’s impossible to overstate how critical this movie was for DC Comics, Warner Brothers, and superhero movies in general. “Wonder Woman” had so much riding on it from the get go, but it succeeded. It rose to the challenge. Much like Wonder Woman herself, this movie dared to defy convention and do something special.

If I had to score this movie, I would give it a solid 4.5 out of 5. It has all the right elements. It’s concise, compelling, and satisfying. It is a wonder unto itself. It was a long time coming, but like so many things, it was worth the wait.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes