The DC Comics creation that is Wonder Woman, as played by Gal Gadot, briefly appeared in last year’s fairly detestable Batman V Superman, adding to the chaos but stealing scenes from Ben Affleck’s boring Batman and Henry Cavill’s sour Superman.
Here she’s given her own ‘Origins’ tale, something Marvel’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) was never allowed. Reportedly the first superhero outing to be led by a woman since the dreary Elektra (another Marvel character) 12 years ago and naturally being trumpeted as a feminist saga, this elaborate and expensive epic is worth it for star Gadot, who might have a few deficiencies in the acting department but looks so damn much like Wonder Woman that it scarcely matters.
After a brief opening sequence set in contemporary Paris where Gadot’s Diana finds an old photograph and starts flashing-back, we then cut to the hidden island of Themyscira where Amazonian women live men-free due to an expository tale (complete with stylised animation) full of Greek gods. The young Diana (Emily Carey) is told to behave (and be afraid) by her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Neilsen), but she prefers to secretly learn to fight with General Antiope (Robin Wright), her tough aunt.
When a crash-landing plane makes it through the foggy forcefield that conceals the island, Diana saves the pilot and discovers that he’s Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a man, and that WWI is raging beyond Themyscira. This leads her, via some odd logic, to think that the war is to do with Ares, the treacherous son of Zeus whom the Amazons believe is due for a second coming at some point. While Steve tries to stop her, the pair are soon in London and on their way to the Front, no less, so that she can end the war herself.
There’s some humour here from Steve’s friends Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner) and ‘The Chief’ (Eugene Brave Rock), who are forced to pursue Diana as she leaps off to fight Germans at every opportunity. Pine also amusingly switches between being a heart-throbbing heroic sort and becoming a kind of role-reversed damsel-in-distress who must be saved by Diana. Danny Huston sneers away as the very nasty Ludendorff, who develops a serious addiction to a gas that turns the sniffer into a beast, all as somehow developed by the feared Dr. Maru a.k.a. ‘Dr. Poison’ (Elena Anaya, complete with a sort of ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ half-mask), who sorely wants to keep the war going for some villainous reason or other.
However, despite an interest in character (more so than the overstuffed and ugly Batman V Superman) and some real actors, director Patty Jenkins still falls into the expected blow-up-everything-at-endless-FX-length trap into the final act.
But audiences will surely forgive it due to the presence of Gal, a former ‘Miss Israel’ who was surely born to play Wonder Woman. She’s set to play her again in at least one forthcoming Justice League movie, where she’ll be appearing alongside Aquaman (Jason Momoa, already revealed to look more like Namor/Sub-Mariner), The Flash and perhaps that dreary old pair, Batman and Superman. Let’s hope they behave too, as this is one Gal you don’t want to mess with.
Rated M. Wonder Woman is in cinemas now