Wonder Woman reviews hail Gal Gadot's 'revelatory,' 'refreshing' performance
Wonder Woman (1975-1979)
Despite her glorified status as a member of DC’s Holy Trinity of heroes, the character bears a past littered with failed attempts to get her to the screen — the canceled TV pilots, Joss Whedon’s movie pitch, and George Miller’s version of Justice League that never happened. But now, thanks to actress Gal Gadot, director Patty Jenkins, and a screenwriting team that includes an actual comic book writer, Allan Heinberg, Warner Bros. has delivered an installment of its Justice League-fueled movie-verse that the majority of critics are rallying behind.
“How deliciously ironic that in a genre where the boys seem to have all the fun, a female hero and a female director are the ones to show the fellas how it’s done,” EW’s Chris Nashawaty writes in his review.
Gadot leads a cast that includes Chris Prine as Steve Trevor, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Robin Wright as Wonder Woman’s Amazonian aunt Antiope, Danny Huston as the villainous General Erich Ludendorff, Elena Anaya as Dr. Poison, and Lucy Davis as Etta Candy. The film sees a young Diana growing up on the island of Themyscira until Steve, an American pilot, crash lands on her paradise home with warnings of a war to end all wars, World War I. Believing Ares, the God of War, has returned, Diana sets out on a journey that will lead her to becoming the fierce warrior fans glimpsed in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Read some of the first reviews for Wonder Woman, opening in theaters Friday, below.
Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
“It’s only in the movie’s unnecessary final half-hour or so that Wonder Woman finally meets her match: the special-effects imperatives of contemporary blockbuster filmmaking against which even the Germans onscreen seem insignificant. When Diana realizes that the villain she’s been chasing all this time is, in fact, not the end but just the beginning to a line of villains to be trotted out, no doubt, in subsequent chapters, the movie turns into an eye-rolling digital smackdown that mirrors every other late-period DC (and, to be fair, Marvel) movie smackdown. It would be nice one of these days if some heroic editor just lopped off the last 30 minutes of all of these things. But it’s hard to quibble about what’s wrong with a movie that gets so much right, especially when it comes to Gadot’s revelatory portrayal of Wonder Woman. The wait is over, folks. The DC movie you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.”
Andrew Barker (Variety)
“Wonder Woman is the first major studio superhero film directed by a woman, and it shows in a number of subtle, yet important ways. As skimpy as Gadot’s outfits may get, for example, Jenkins’ camera never leers or lingers gratuitously — Diana is always framed as an agent of power, rather than its object. When she finally unleashes her full fighting potential in an extended battle sequence on the front lines, the movie comes alive in a genuinely exhilarating whirl of slow-motion mayhem, and Diana’s personality is never lost amid all the choreography.”
Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Yet as with all comics-based extravaganzas, brevity is anathema to the Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman, and it doesn’t quite transcend the traits of franchise product as it checks off the list of action-fantasy requisites. But this origin story, with its direct and relatively uncluttered trajectory, offers a welcome change of pace from a superhero realm that’s often overloaded with interconnections and cross-references. (A nod to Wayne Enterprises in the story’s framing device serves as a fuss-free tie-in to the upcoming Justice League.)”
Alonso Duralde (The Wrap)
“In the recent flood of superhero movies, several have managed to be quite good — but Wonder Woman ranks as one of the few great ones. Gal Gadot’s turn as Princess Diana of Themyscira was a refreshing standout amidst the sludge of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and she’s as good if not better headlining her own solo adventure. It’s a film that not only improves upon many of the seemingly built-in shortcomings of superhero movies, but also mixes smarts, sentiment and adrenaline in the best Hollywood style. This is a superior popcorn movie, no matter what the genre.”
Mike Ryan (UPROXX)
“Watching Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, I felt that same sense of overwhelming good emitting from Gal Gadot’s portrayal as I did with Christopher Reeve’s Superman. Again, there’s no hint of cynicism coming from Gadot’s Diana (Jenkins, thankfully, doesn’t even try to come up with a reason why anyone would refer to Diana as Wonder Woman, so that title is never spoken) – we just know she stands for good. And, my gosh, is that a refreshing surprise. It seems in this ever-expanding cinematic DC Extended Universe, Wonder Woman will be playing the role of Superman – the true north of DC superheroes.”
Kate Erbland (IndieWire)
“Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman, though no one calls her as such in this standalone feature) made her DCEU debut in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, initially positioned as a possible adversary to Batman before coming on board of what will become the Justice League, and Jenkins’ feature flips back through time to deliver an origin story that functions beautifully on its own while also bolstering excitement for the franchise’s future. This Diana is startlingly pure of heart and clear-eyed in her vision. She’s a neat sort-of throwback to the circa-1978 Superman, which was similarly anchored by a superhero of intense goodness. It’s a fine counterpoint in a franchise so often given over to so-called “dark and gritty” sensibilities.”
Matt Singer (ScreenCrush)
“The film itself might draw some flak from DC Comics fans who prefer the sullen heroes and intense violence of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Even amidst the terror and bloodshed of World War I, Wonder Woman is a notably more hopeful and upbeat film than the previous three entries in the ‘DC Extended Universe.’ It also borrows a surprising amount from Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger (as well as from the movie that heavily inspired Captain America, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death). The war-torn romance and fish-out-of-water comedy both suit the source material, but it may not be to the taste of people who enjoyed the previous DECU films.”
Kelly Lawler (USA Today)
“Wonder Woman falters slightly in its third act, where its climactic battle tries and fails to outdo with big special effects what earlier sequences did with stunts and Gadot’s charisma. It’s only when the film feels the need to check off the boxes of the modern superhero movie that it loses its momentum. Wonder Woman succeeds when it shows us something truly original for the genre, whether it’s examining the bond between mother and daughter or battles where the enemies are human soldiers rather than faceless monsters or even a delightful aside of Diana trying ice cream for the very first time. (It’s wonderful, she tells the vendor. He should be proud.)”
Angie Han (Mashable)
“Wonder Woman the movie does for the DCEU what Wonder Woman the character did for Batman v Superman, offering a different perspective on the franchise that brings its vision into clearer focus. And in doing so, it becomes one of the most inspiring superhero movies since Captain America: The First Avenger. If Gal Gadot’s all-too-brief appearance in Batman v Superman was promising, she fulfills that potential and then some in Wonder Woman. Diana is a tricky character: She needs to be optimistic but not naive, fierce but not frightening, unquestionably good but not tragically boring, intriguingly alien but not totally inhuman. Gadot, with help from director Patty Jenkins and the screenwriters, get this balance exactly right and gives Diana a disarming warmth that makes it impossible not to love her.”