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I find myself a little stymied on how to proceed in breaking down this latest Wonder Woman trailer. As we barrel towards the June release date, I find myself more and more confused by the growing optimism surrounding the film. Actually confused isn’t the right word- I know why people are psyched for the movie it’s just that at this point the anticipation is starting to feel more like lower expectations and whistling past the graveyard.
I don’t mean to sound negative, it’s just that the Wonder Woman trailers haven’t promised the second coming that so many are regarding it as and this latest trailer serves as a perfect example of that feeling. Actually, the true embodiment of my feelings on Wonder Woman is the atrocious theme by Hans Zimmer.
Zimmer hasn’t really done anything impressive this decade but the Wonder Woman theme is easily his weakest modern piece, a confused medley of electric guitar and vaguely Mediterranean riffs that feels completely out of place for this character. Maybe this is because Zimmer’s ‘Now We Are Free’ from Gladiator is already the perfect theme for Wonder Woman but still, the new theme lacks a clear identity and is just too much of a heavy war tune to fit the ambassador of peace.
And yet I still see people praising it, individuals who were actually condemning not too long ago now saying it’s a great ending to the trailer and not a completely out of place button. It all makes me wonder what exactly it is nervous Wonder Woman fans want from this movie, until finally it hit me: they want Wonder Woman to be awesome, and that’s okay.
Let me take a step back here- I don’t dislike the Wonder Woman trailers, in fact, they do send out some pretty good signals. I like the look of Themyscira, the action seems well directed, it’s not mired in the dirt spectrum like the rest of DC’s output, Steve Trevor seems like a lot of fun, and the World War 1 setting affords the film a unique and unexplored era to play around in. I’m still not sold on Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, but that’s more to do with his curiously flat affect than anything else.
She’s got this strangely emotionless and ethereal vibe that does work to give Diana a sense of otherworldliness, like a true being of myth, but can leave her decidedly adrift in some of the “comedic” scenes. Actually, any and all of the comedy sequences in this trailer tend to fall flat on their face, mainly because they seem to be based entirely around monocle popping at the idea of Wonder Woman stomping around London in the 1910s. Still, the comedy isn’t really what’s being sold here so even if none of the jokes land I’m betting there’ll be enough fantasy adventure to hold things together in the final product.
All of this makes me think the movie will be at least entertaining but there are still some heavy elements holding me back from fully embracing it. Firstly, Paradise Island looks like an incredibly cool location that we’ll probably only see for a little bit before departing entirely, much like Asgard in the Thor series. Additionally, Steve Trevor may steal every scene he’s in but “Steve Trevor was great” isn’t really the kind of praise you want to give to a Wonder Woman film any more than you’d want to say Alfred was the best part of a Batman movie.
There’s also a curious lack of fantasy elements outside the Amazons. That could work given the weird science angle, but it just seems a bit of a shame that a movie with all of Greek myth at its fingertips is content not to use it. I mean, Dr. Poison looks infinitely more impressive than any Golden Age Wonder Woman foe has a right to look, but it’s still hard to be that impressed compared to the Frost Giants, Destroyer Armor, and Casket of the Ancient Winters that popped up in Thor.
Speaking of Thor, that brings my nicely into my more overwhelming issue with the film, namely that it doesn’t feel like a very unique creation to Wonder Woman. If I were going to boil down all the trailers and things to a single sentence, it’d be “like if Captain America: First Avenger and Thor were the same movie.” That’s a decent pitch for a film but feels like it inherently misses what makes Diana an actually unique hero.
It’s the same attitude that says things like the Lasso of truth should be relegated to the background of her trailers and appearances while her sword and shield take prominence. I mean, the sword basically got a whole trailer dedicated to it this time around and the shield was the centerpiece of the first trailer’s image of Wonder Woman advancing across no man’s land, but the lasso constantly remains an afterthought.
For me, this all comes back to a difference of opinion on what makes Diana unique among the pantheon of modern heroes. For a lot of fans, the answer seems to be “that she’s a woman,” which, while certainly true, just feels like an excuse to make everything else something we’ve seen before. Scenes of Wonder Woman fighting the Cyclops or the Germans would play out almost exactly the same if we swapped her out for Thor or Hercules or Gilgamesh or Captain America or Sif. I understand the desire for a badass fantasy heroine, but that’s why we have Xena and Red Sonja and Artemis. I always thought what made Wonder Woman unique was that she was a living covenant between the Gods and their creations.
She’s mankind’s emissary to a world of incredibly powerful beings who view us as ants, with the fantasy she most embodies being one of faith rewarded, this going all the way back to her origin. The idea that she’s a sculpted ideal of a perfect daughter brought to life by divine intervention has always been a strange pitch but one that fit her unique wish-fulfillment fantasy, which makes it a shame that it seems to have been scrapped here.
This is mostly speculation at this point but this latest trailer’s opening moments discussing Diana having some secret origin appear to imply the whole “statue brought to life” angle won’t be a big part of the new movie. It was referenced in the comic-con trailer but I wouldn’t be surprised if that origin was just a lie pushed by Diana’s mother and Diana’s real origin is that she’s the daughter of Hippolyta and Ares, God of War.
I mainly suspect this because Ares is still very much THE Wonder Woman bad guy, the setting of World War 1 would imply his influence, and it was confirmed in interviews the Amazons teamed with Ares to kill Zeus sometime before the film started. Given all of that and the typical structure of these films, I could totally believe Diana is the daughter of Ares and Hippolyta formed out of the bargain the two struck to kill Zeus.
I could believe it but I would totally hate it. Look, even taking out everything I think about Wonder Woman’s role as a wish-fulfillment figure making her the daughter of the bad guy would be massively cliché and generic. Father issues in a superhero film are absolutely a dime a dozen and given the Greek setting this would basically turn Diana into Kratos from God of War. What’s more, Ares’ presence at all completely upends the actual conflict at hand. If Zeus really did breath life into Diana than the plot is actually just a revenge story as Diana goes after the man who killed her father or it’s about her rebelling against her evil father.
All of that having been said I do at least understand why people would be willing to settle for “a good blockbuster” as a mark of quality instead of “a good Wonder Woman movie.” What I mean is, Wonder Woman is already being tasked with proving the viability of women led superhero films and is the first ever woman superhero movie to not be tied into a pre-existing hero like Supergirl, Catwoman, or Elektra.
And even after all that there’s the hovering question of whether or not we’ll actually get more Wonder Woman movies after this, which is by no means a certainty. Given all the goals already stapled onto this film demanding it be a full realization of all Wonder Woman is, and her unique aspect within the superhero pantheon might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
I mean it wasn’t until Logan that we had a Wolverine film that got Wolverine and we’re still waiting on Batman to get there in my humble opinion. Sure, Superman 1978 arrived fully formed as did the Captain America trilogy but constantly expect perfection and disappointment is all you’ll ever get. Maybe Wonder Woman is just the latest iteration of Force Awakens identity, a film where it’s more important to be good enough than actually great so long as there’s the promise of better things to come.
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