At least once a summer of late, Marvel Comics has produced a giant blockbuster film that eclipses various previous box office records. Only this time, and in spite of Guardians of the Galaxy or reruns of Pirates of the Caribbean, the real eye-opener this summer seems to be Wonder Woman. While there certainly are some good female super-characters in the Marvel Universe, there is none quite like Wonder Woman, not least because, originally, and in this films— she fights alone, not part of a consortium of the buff. And it is clear that Warner Brothers realized that DC characters had to raise their game to compete with the best of the Marvel movies. Consider the box office battle joined. Wonder Woman the back story and movie, set in WWI, with Gal Gadot and Chris Pine in starring roles, is quite good. Not perfect, and some of the battle scenes are over long, but nonetheless, excellent summer box office fare. The certified 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes won’t hurt the cause either.
The movie is clearly enough an adult movie, though there is no cursing, no nudity, but once again a lot of violence. The acting is good, and there is a difference between a caricature and being truly in character. You actually care about Diana as the back story is told, and the message that love is greater than hate, and a better solution than violence to human problems is a good one. The beautiful islands scenes are courtesy of the Amalfi coast of Italy.What I liked about the movie was the interaction of the Greek mythology with the real human scene of WWI. The notion that there is super-human influence behind human evil, and this requires a divine response, for the mere human response will not be adequate to deal with supernatural evil, plays well in this film. Not only so, the film lets us see both tragedy and triumph as part of the human experience, which is certainly true to life. Along the way there are in addition some enjoyably humorous characters— a laughable Scot, a wise Turk, a funny but redoubtable British secretary, and of course the usual Nazi villains.
Finally, there is also lots of irony in the film. The rhetoric about a war to end all wars, is just that— mere rhetoric, full of sound and fury (not Sgt. Fury however) and signifying nothing. And the notion that violence can put an end to human violence, that guns and bigger weapons are the solution to our problems is laughable. But there is plenty of courage on display in this film, and some pathos as well. In short, this is not just another vapid comic book movie. This is a movie not just for pleasure, but for pondering. And nowadays, that’s all one can ask for in a summer popcorn flick.