A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the long-awaited Wonder Woman, which is part of the DC superhero film universe, is the highest-profile comic book adaptation to date featuring a female superhero. As in most other comic-based movies, there's lots of explosive, destructive action violence, as well as fierce hand-to-hand fighting and armed combat (the movie takes place during World War I), resulting in a high body count -- more so than in many other DC/Marvel movies. Some of the deaths are bound to hit viewers hard. There's more romance here than in many of the male-centric superhero movies, including innuendo, brief references to reproduction and being aroused, kissing, characters possibly spending the night together, and a scene in which a naked Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) covers his privates with his hands. Bu language is minimal ("hell" and "damn" are the worst of it), and drinking is mostly of the social kind, though one character does get drunk. Diana/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is often naive, but she's clearly the heroine of the story, and her interest in saving people means she acts bravely and selflessly, setting an example for others. Both starring and directed by women, this is a surprisingly diverse superhero story with strong messages about teamwork, courage, and compassion.
What's the story?
WONDER WOMAN starts off on the hidden Amazon island of Themyscira, where a young Diana desperately wants her aunt, warrior General Antiope (Robin Wright), to train her -- but her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), forbids it. Eventually the queen relents, and Diana (Gal Gadot) becomes the strongest warrior on the island, embracing the Amazons' responsibility of protecting humanity against Ares, the god of war. One day during World War I, an airplane crashes in the sea, and Diana saves the pilot -- the first man she's ever met. He's Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a British spy pursued by the Germans, who soon descend upon Paradise Island and engage the Amazons in combat. After defeating the Germans but suffering losses, the Amazons want to kill or imprison Steve, but after he explains that millions are dying in The Great War, Diana decides it's her duty to help him. With her bracelets of victory, lasso of truth, battle shield, and magical sword, Diana goes to London with Steve in hopes of ending the war. There they team up with three of his friends on a mission to save the world from the plans of the evil German General Ludendorff (Danny Huston).
Is it any good?
Born to play the role of Wonder Woman, Gadot proves that women can be fierce and loyal, as well as empathetic, in director Patty Jenkins' epic, satisfying origin story. Some might be tempted to dismiss Gadot as just another pretty face, but -- as hinted at in her scenes in Batman v Superman -- she rises to the challenge of playing Diana as both ridiculously strong and sweetly naive. She's ready to fight, but she's even more focused on vanquishing evil for the sake of peace. Unlike Superman, Batman, or any of her male DC fellows, Wonder Woman isn't broodingly conflicted about her role or responsibility in the universe; she's hyper-focused on helping humanity and defeating the warmongering Ares. Whether it's Gadot herself or talented stunt actors, she shines in battle -- as do her Amazon relatives, particularly Wright as Antiope, the leader of the Amazonian army.
There's more romance in Wonder Woman than in many superhero movies (which means Pine has a bigger role than superhero love interests often do), but it's understandable given that it's Diana's origin story. It's especially funny that her first sight of a man would be the blue-eyed Steve, who acknowledges that he's an "above average" male specimen. Their bantery chemistry is predictable but sweet; who could fault either of them for falling fast and hard for each other? Steve's secretary, Etta Candy (Lucy Davis), is the funniest person in the film, with her sarcastic one-liners, but it's a bit of a shame that there's not more back story to help viewers connect with Steve's three mates: Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), a Native American smuggler; Charlie (Ewen Bremner), a Scottish sniper; and Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), a polyglot spy. At least the baddies are deliciously, unambiguously evil. And despite the requisite special effects-heavy fight scenes, everything is so personal for Diana that the battles are surprisingly emotional -- in a good way. With Wonder Woman on board, bring on Justice League.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about women's roles in comics and superhero films. What makes Diana a role model in Wonder Woman? How does her intelligence shine throughout the movie? What about the rest of the Amazons? What did you think about the fact that many of them are thin, conventionally beautiful, and wearing brief/tight-fitting outfits?
Wonder Woman, the character, was created in 1941 and has always been very popular. So why do you think it took so long for her to get her own movie? What about today's culture welcomes such a role?
How is Wonder Woman similar to and different from male superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Iron Man?
- In theaters: June 2, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: September 19, 2017
- Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
- Director: Patty Jenkins
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 141 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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