In the first hour of the first massively-budgeted movie centered on a female superhero, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) brags about his dick as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) ogles it before he takes her to buy dowdy clothes because her outfit is too “distracting” to men. She also doesn’t know what snow is and concludes her movie in a Sex and the City riff, typing an email to Batman while opining “it’s not what you deserve, it’s what you believe.” Yes, Wonder Woman’s motto is a nonsensical series of words, taught to her by a dude, that may as well be “thinking is not doing, because purple is still a color.”

Written at a fourth-grade reading level by Allan Heinberg, who actually did write for Sex and the City, the script for Wonder Woman is a singular abomination. The entirety of the plot is as follows: Steve is a World War I spy who washes up on the magically concealed isle of the Amazons. Wonder Woman travels with him back to England in order to fulfill her duty by killing Ares, the God of War, who she thinks is behind the global conflict. Along the way, she joins forces with Steve’s squadron of stereotypes, including a Native American who goes by “The Chief” (Eugene Brave Rock), and once squeals “ooh, a baby!”

The script is that special kind of stupid where everyone at an evil German gala, which only exists as a plot point to put Wonder Woman in a pretty dress, speaks in English with a German accent. It’s the kind of idiotic where Steve’s decision at the climax is predicated on him having forgotten that oceans are a thing. The writing is so faux-feminist that the heroine is allowed to beat dudes up while other dudes marvel at the sight, but she never gets to tell them to stop sexualizing her and focus on the goddamn World War they’re trying to stop.

Remember the oft-mocked scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens when Rey swats Finn’s hand away as they’re running? In Wonder Woman, the titular goddess tries to hold Steve’s hand because she’s so naïve she doesn’t understand that’s a sign of affection. Her entire persona is “born sexy yesterday,” a horrifying and common sci-fi/fantasy theme, labeled by the Pop Culture Detective, wherein a beautiful (often super powerful) woman is naïve, infantilized and led around by a dude who gets to feel like a big strong man because at least he knows how the world works. In her own movie, Wonder Woman has less lines of dialogue than her “supporting” love interest, expresses no personality and doesn’t even really save the day; she was trying to kill Ares to end all war and—non-spoiler alert—there’s another World War after World War I!

Gadot, Pine and, especially, director Patty Jenkins do their level best with a catastrophic screenplay content in its achievement of simply not being Batman v Superman. The genre is capable of so much more than this for women, for fans of escapist and optimistic comic book goodness and for audiences seeking more than simplistic platitudes in Amazonian armor.

Grade = D+

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