Today’s workout is brought to you by scaling the slick face of the armoury tower with nothing but your bare hands. In a skirt. With a smile. Captain America may not skip leg day, but for Themyscira’s Amazons every day is leg day, and arm day, and fire an arrow using peripheral vision day. When your society doesn’t have things like time, weekdays, or brunch, the schedule suddenly opens up for a lot more badassery. Not that there’s anything wrong with the killer batch of French toast I devoured yesterday morning.
Hidden away from the rest of the world, Themyscira is a paradise island with blue waters, soaring cliffs, and shimmering waterfalls. Plus, it’s just an evening’s boat ride from central London. The island is populated by Amazons, women created by Zeus to restore peace and good will to all men – before they recognized a lost cause and peaced the hell out. So Zeus built the Amazons a hidden paradise in which they could hide and thrive, waiting for the day when Ares, the catastrophe-loving god of war – also a buzzkill of a man – would try to cleanse the earth of the human disease. Diana (Gal Gadot) is the last daughter of the Amazons and their beloved princess. She lives for strength and battle, but has no chance to test her skills until one day in 1918 when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane just offshore. He brings news of a great war and its countless casualties, informing Diana’s sisters of the enemy’s top secret plans to poison scores of civilians. Obviously this is Ares’ doing, and Diana leaps into action to stop the god before he kills them all.
Really, ‘leap’ is an understatement. Diana is stronger than a hundred men, can stop a bullet with a wave, has no fear of talking smack to a British general’s face, and goes absolutely gaga over babies. Just because a hero is strong, brave, self-sacrificing, and determined doesn’t mean she can’t empathize with lost children and hungry mothers. Wonder Woman is about one person who is completely removed from modern society, fighting for the good of all people not because their achievements are worth protecting, but because all lives must have some redeemable value.
Except maybe the Axes. Wonder Woman is happy to let its heroes plough through enemy lines like Vin Diesel in a muscle car, but it carefully avoids any meaningful blood splatter. The enemy simply falls. Not that Diana and her Amazon sisters don’t look totally badass while knocking them down. The foundation of Wonder Woman stands on the shoulders of a group of women built like posts who charge the situation and slay it in perfectly captured slow motion. More of THIS, please. Guns are convenient, sure, but I would take a single Amazon with a stick and a bit of dirt in her hair any day of the Attic calendar. Their outfits may be a little less modest and a little more but-flap-y, but they make it all the easier to high kick an opponent in the face while mounting a horse at the same time.
Sure, Slightly More Than Average Steve thinks Diana is a little nutzo; but what are you going to say to a woman as beautiful as a Caribbean sunset who can liberate an occupied village before second breakfast? Diana’s quest to find and destroy Ares is a little outside the box and leads to a finale held up by the power of “belief” and “love” – but Diana’s assertiveness and fortitude are an overall huge plus. She makes the whole Wonder Woman experience both fierce and funny, with Steve jogging along in her wake screaming, “Diana, no!” as she stomps through barbed wire like it’s a field of daisies. It should be noted that Chris Pine is magnificent in his role as Regular Human #1, and will leave a lasting legacy on the Wonder Woman franchise. But Gal Gadot is simply spellbinding. She’s like a mighty banana, with a thick, flexible outer layer and a soft, sensitive core that can melt you with a smile.
Not only does Wonder Woman make me want more Wonder Woman, it makes me want to go back to the theater for more movies in general. It was a very smart decision to place this story in WWI, where women were starting to make a little noise and the other Captain Steve America had yet to put his stamp on WWII. With recent flashy movies like Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, where all we get are gruff, emotionally wounded men flattening 7-Elevens, Wonder Woman is a relief and I firmly believe it has saved DC from its awkward teenage years. Wonder Woman is a battle-ready 9/10.