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Wonder Woman – Hope Returns to the DC Cinematic Universe

When I saw Wonder Woman last week, I know I wasn’t alone in imagining myself in her role after leaving the theatre. Countless fan videos and blog posts have been uploaded to the internet, rhapsodizing about how this woman, extraordinary in so many ways, changed the game completely for the DC movie universe.

*Major spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Gone is the broody intensity of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The self-hating recrimination and loathing that dog Batman and Superman’s steps are nowhere to be found. Diana, Princess of Themyscira as played by actress Gal Gadot, has no time for doubt about her mission. It is, from the first scene to the end credits, a clearly defined goal. Ares wants to destroy the world, and Amazons were created as passionate, wise, just, good defenders for the humans who share the world with them.

Diana trains to defeat Ares her entire life-at first in secret and strictly in the name of defending herself until later when she’s allowed to train openly. She trains 5 times harder than any Amazon before her. She is publicly tested, her skills pitted against her friends and family members. And finally, when a fleeing spy and German WWI soldiers bring war to her isolated island home, Diana leaves without a second thought in the company of a complete stranger to save the human race by killing Ares once and for all.

What makes the movie even more amazing isn’t just the laser focus she has on completing her mission. It’s the relationships she has with people around her. Diana works hard to help the people she sees suffering. And the allies she surrounds herself with definitely don’t live up to the standards of her fellow Themyscirans! One man is a smuggler, while another is a morally ubiquitous con artist. Steve Trevor (played by Star Trek alum Chris Pine) the sophisticated spy, doubts that Ares is even real. As if he didn’t have enough to deal with, dragging this Amazon warrior through London as she lunges and coos at babies on the street (no babies on Themyscira), demands entrance to men-only meetings, scolds the generals casually sacrificing young men on the battlefield, and openly mocks the fashions of the day that keep women in encumbering skirts and airless corsets. The nerve of that woman, flouting accepted rules of the time. But after a few days in her company, these smugglers and snipers and spies find themselves embracing hope. They help their fellow man alongside Diana, motivated only by her leading example. She inspires them to choose to be better than the level this war has dragged them down to.

Eventually Diana defeats Ares at great personal sacrifice, and then promptly strides into the background of history, demanding no adulation and slowly fading from memory. For a while, she lives as a normal human. Whether haunted by grief, weary and homesick, or a combination of both, Diana steps out of the public pages of history for quite some time. Eventually, whether prompted by Bruce Wayne’s sly reminders of her past or simply ready to take up her sword once more, Diana begins to live her role not only as Princess Diana of Themyscira, but as Wonder Woman.

At times the movie borders on corny, and there are gaps in the storyline that can be confusing. The motivations of the villains weren’t personal enough for their specific roles, and the tantalizing glimpse we see of minor villain Dr. Poison as healthy and beautiful only raised more questions. But overall, this is something you need to see. Take your older kids with you! Let them sit and glory in a superhero movie that inspires its viewers with unwavering belief in the side of Right. Show your girls that director Patty Jenkins chose Olympic athletes to portray strong, brave, cooperative Amazon women living in harmony with government, medicine, education, knowledge, and training to occupy their days.

You don’t want to miss this movie.

~ Shiera Carter ~

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