Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is a rare DC superhero movie that respects its own limitations. Not since Iron Man has an extended-universe spinoff pivoted so effectively on the graph of its new face. On first watch, I enjoyed the film primarily because it followed the disastrously bad DC Universe efforts like Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman. The bar had been set very low. But the second time around, I noticed that there’s actually more to its success than just leading lady Gal Gadot’s undeniable charisma. The film has ‘moments’ – not just action money shots or CGI overloads, but narratively charming moments that appear memorable in hindsight for their innocence and unsuperhero-ish aura.
Here are five such moments from Wonder Woman:
On the hidden island of Themyscira, Queen Hippolyta and her sister General Antiope have been shielding young Diana from her own powers as “the chosen one”. There comes a scene when she accidentally discovers her strength during a training exercise with Antiope. She runs away, unable to process this condition, to the edge of the beautiful Greek-like island. Her child-like curiosity – usually symbolized by an enigmatic half-smile and enthusiastic eyes – is first displayed here. As she sees a World War 1 airplane crashing into the blue water, Diana dives from the cliff into the ocean like an arrow, determined to use her unique powers for good. She pulls Steve out in the dying seconds underwater, even at the risk of putting her own cozy universe at peril. There’s no better scene to showcase that she, like none before her, is destined for bigger things.
Diana makes Steve Trevor take her to the front’ – unaware that the war is much darker and complex than she thinks. On the night at sea, in some great subversion for conventional romantic chemistry, Diana and Steve share an amusing conversation about the birds and the bees. While he is uncomfortable and awkward, Diana freewheels away without being patronizing in the least. She even casually declares that her books have taught her that men are useful for procreation but unnecessary for pleasure. The moment is unwittingly and heroically feminist in the best way possible.
Ice Cream Baby
A bunch of scenes at the warfront in London demonstrate Diana’s twinkle-eyed PK-like fascination with the world outside. Steve struggles to control her curiosity and keep her undercover. The first is when she gets distracted by a baby on the road (the island never had children, except her), veering off the path to play with the infant before Steve drags her away. In a world of destructive adults, that tone of hers softens so audibly only when she senses someone of her own purity. The second is when Steve buys her an ice-cream cone before they set sail for the front. She finds it delicious, sincerely telling the confused vendor that he should be very proud of his work. There were sighs of “awww” in the cinema hall – very unusual for a superhero film set within the confines of dark human history.
No Man’s Land
At the Western Front in Belgium, Diana, Steve and their ragtag team of crusaders are stuck in a bunker at enemy lines. They are being peppered by incessant German firing on the other side of No Man’s Land. In one of the most inspiring moments in superhero films ever, Diana takes off her trench coat to reveal her armour. She opens her hair and marches into No Man’s Land with her shield, tearing a path through it for the Allied Forces to charge forward. The symbolic significance of this moment goes far beyond a woman in no man’s land. The feeling of this scene is second to none.
Diana abandons her human gang, disillusioned by Steve’s lack of decisiveness, deciding to take things into her own hands. She is convinced that General Erich Ludendorff is Ares, the God of War. She fights him and kills him with a sword she thinks is a ‘God killer’, and immediately turns her face expectantly towards the skyline, hoping for the war to magically stop and the sky to clear. Her beliefs are all theoretical, and Steve tries to pacify her by telling her that the war is more than just one person. At that moment, her face demonstrates the distrust of a child in an adult’s dirty world. She can’t believe that she has been wrong, not knowing that her delusions will be validated moments later.
If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman already, read our full review here, and book tickets before the movie leaves cinemas.