I didn’t know what to expect watching DC’s animated Wonder Woman film (for the first time too, forgive me), but hearing the first line of dialogue left me laughing in confusion. The film starts with a fierce battle between the Amazons and Ares’ army, and Queen Hippolyta is filled with rage against Ares. This monster betrayed her and she wants him dead—pretty intense, right? So imagine my surprise when the first line in the film comes from Ares himself, saying, “You seem as eager to meet me on the battlefield as you once did in the bedroom, Hippolyta.”
Did he really say that, I thought, in the middle of a battle, of all places? From that point on, it became obvious that I should prepare myself for whatever one liners as a standard, but for some reason this animated version of Wonder Woman’s tale gets away with it—at first. Maybe it’s because it is an animated film and we tend to suspend our disbelief more often with them but this film gets major props because the thought of imagining that line in a live action movie is enough to make me cringe.
It’s interesting because a lot of these silly lines of dialogue come from the men—especially Steve Trevor, but we’ll get to him—and it ties into Hippolyta’s negative viewpoint on men and the outside world in general. When Diana is finally introduced, we can tell that she wants to explore and put her Amazonian training to good use. She’s not alone either; her sisters think communication with the outside world is important but Hippolyta is still scarred over the damage done by Ares.
Hippolyta’s hate for Ares rubs off on Diana because she’s naturally untrusting of men. Steve’s introduction doesn’t help that either. When Diana and Steve meet, she beats him in a fight and he can’t help but to call her “an angel.” This guy is corny and he doesn’t stop. From kinky comments to telling Hippolyta that Diana has a nice rack, Hippolyta’s disdain towards men is completely justified. Nonetheless, the lasso of truth reveals that Steve is—surprisingly—a good guy; he’s just a womanizer.
His constant jokes do get repetitive to the point of being juvenile and compared to the overall subject matter of Diana’s mission, it does feel like a clash between tones. It isn’t until Diana calls him out on being immature that things (including the tone) start to change for the better. Intentional? Maybe. Nonetheless, Steve’s apology is genuine and he does realize that he often comes off as brassy to women. It just doesn’t work on Diana because of her mother’s warnings, but it wouldn’t hurt for her to lighten up either.
Although this is an origin story, the message that’s most prominent throughout is that communication is key. That’s the reason why Diana has to travel to the outside world in the first place—after Hippolyta defeats Ares, he’s imprisoned at Themyscira. Keeping him locked up and alone with one Amazon guard—Persephone—led to him manipulating her into betraying her sisters to free him and escape.
Diana is teamed up with a man, who also happens to be the first man she ever met, and there’s clear miscommunication between them. This is something that could’ve been prevented if Hippolyta didn’t shelter both her daughter and the Amazons and while you can’t blame her after what she went through, the solution is that communication between the opposite sex is important because not every man is evil like Ares.
Despite the message, I couldn’t help but feel conflicted by it because of the dialogue. Diana has a revelation after that confrontation Steve and they come to the understanding that they’re equals but when Diana fights Ares during the last act, she taunts him by saying, “How do you expect to beat Zeus if you can’t even beat a girl?”
What? Did I just imagine that major conservation she had with Steve that progressed both of their character arcs? And even before that, when she gets to Earth the first interaction she has is with a little girl who doesn’t think she’s good enough to swordfight with the boys so Diana teaches her and she promptly kicks their asses. While that line is an obvious joke, it was still jarring and frankly, it contradicted that turning point in the film with Diana and Steve. How can she verbally throw herself under the bus right after realizing that neither sex is better than the other?
I can’t say I didn’t have an enjoyable time watching this. The action is great, the interaction between the Amazons showed how strong their sisterly bond is—whether that means fighting (physically and verbally) or agreeing with each other—and the message itself is what’s most important. While the contradictions make it difficult to like this take on Diana’s origin, it is a good precursor to the live action Wonder Woman film that we’ll be getting in just a few days.
Featured Image: Warner Home Video