Film & Water #98 – Wonder Woman


Episode 98: WONDER WOMAN

Great Hera! Rob welcomes back Chris and Cindy Franklin (SUPER MATES PODCAST) to discuss the long-awaited WONDER WOMAN, starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine!

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40 responses to “Film & Water #98 – Wonder Woman

  1. Here’s what I said coming out of the theater: The only good thing about BvS was Wonder Woman. The only bad thing about Wonder Woman was BvS. I’ll explain the last bit: The house style the DC movies have been forced into, that posed, Alex Ross-panel, 3D-friendly, slow-mo CG puppet fights that grind the movie to a halt for me and remind me of Snyder’s work, which I detest. And that’s as much what’s wrong with the climax as anything.

    That said, I was teary-eyed through most of the first two acts and loved Diana, Steve and Etta. Between the last two, they let this movie have HUMOR (Pine has amazing comic timing, that guy’s a celebrity version of Luke Daab), let its heroine actually be inspiring and appreciated (if it had been Superman in the clock tower, the villagers would all be backing away in fear), and every time she opened her mouth to talk about her ideals, or express outrage at Man’s World’s less than noble traits, I loved her so damn much. This was a WW motivated by compassion, and never felt like you could put a man in her place and the script would still work.

    I’m with Rob, it wasn’t perfect, but holy crap did Gal Godot knock it out of the park. I went with most of the Girls and they came out swinging and INDEED “empowered” because they YES saw themselves on screen. Because they already live the feminist ideal, but movies of this type don’t normally put the focus on that. And that’s something we gents simply can’t get.

      1. Yes that’s why I’ve been careful to say my flaws with the movie is when it doesn’t work FOR ME, not that it doesn’t work at all. As a white cis male, virtually every summer action movie for the last 40 years has been aimed at me. I simply cannot appreciate how WW must work for women, since it’s so unique and novel.

        1. I didn’t really say this in the episode, but I’ve rarely seen Cindy as excited as she was walking out of the theater. She was like I was when I walked out of Captain America: First Avenger. I just wanted to grab a trashcan lid and go running through the parking lot leaping over cars. Cindy wanted to turn over those cars and deflect bullets.

          Add in the fact that this is the first TRUE female super hero film (Elektra is an assassin and Catwoman is a thief) and it means that much more to the better sex.


          1. Please don’t forget the Supergirl movie from 1984, the first true female superhero movie (even if it is cringe worthy)

          2. Slater *is* Supergirl, the only bright light in that flick.
            Even Peter O’Toole and Mia Farrow can’t resuscitate it.

  2. Usually when I walk into a movie with high expectations, it is doomed to fail. I went into this with high expectations. It was as if the weight of the DCEU was on Diana’s shoulders. This was their last attempt to show me they could do it right.

    And for the most part they did. I was very very pleased with this movie. Yes, it is formulaic. Yes, it has the mandatory ‘big boss’ fight. But let’s face it, so far the DCEU hasn’t played by formula. The prior movies were meandering messes. So I was happy with the formula. Yes, this didn’t floor me as being ground breaking or perfect. But it was a ton of fun and a great vehicle for Wonder Woman. And that makes it very good.

    But I feel I was only happy with this formula because everybody hit it out of the park individually. Gal Gadot is perfect. She can be strong, tough, determined like in the incredible No Man’s Land sequence. She can be the fish out of water like when trying on skirts, seeing a baby, and eating ice cream. She can be the smoldering love interest like when she and Pine crackle with chemistry on screen. She did it all so effectively.

    Pine works as a tough guy who just wants to get the job done and doesn’t care how. He is deferential to Diana when he needs to be to be effective. But he has the hard job of teaching her how to navigate our ugly world.

    I thought the ‘howling commandos’ were all there to show Diana just how deep the injustices of Man’s World go. It isn’t just war. The ‘good guys’ committed atrocities on Chief’s people. The artist is forced into war because of bigotry. The soldier is broken because of the evil he has done. She has a lot of layers of injustice she needs to attack outside of Ares. They are just as much part of our world as slow dances in town squares. She needs to help bring peace to everyone.

    While the No Man’s Land sequence is clearly inspirational, my favorite scene was her taking out the sniper. When Pine calls the men to help him pick up the metal door, I assumed this was going to end up being his moment. He would use it as a shield to get to the church and work his way up to take out the gunman. I was disappointed that the film makers thought he needed that. But then … WOW … it isn’t his moment. He yells ‘DIana, shield!’ It is him helping her have another moment. And when that church tower collapses and she stands up amid the rubble and the people applaud … goose bumps. Big ones. That showed how great this movie was. A moment that routinely would be done to build up the guy was used to further build up Diana.

    I know this is a long comment but I’ll end by saying that I went to see this with my 13yr old daughter. We gasped, shuddered, and welled up at all the same moments. She absolutely loved it. And interestingly enough, as we were walking out and I asked ‘how did you like it overall’ her first statement was ‘it was way way better than BvS.’

    Thanks for the coverage.

    1. Anj beat me to the punch. Diana, as presented in the film, had a clinical understanding of war and mankind, but she had never experienced either. Since, Pine was the sidekick/love interest, the others existed to teach her lessons about the complex nuances of both. Sameer is denied by the war to persue his dream, a dream which mankind’s prejudice may deny him anyway. Chief is a war profiteer, but she sees that he also gives to those truly in need. Charlies is a soldier broken by the war. They are necessary in her character arc to receive Steve’s speech that maybe it isn’t about being deserving. A truly wonderful film (pun intended). My daughter insisted on a Wonder Woman shirt that night, and both her and my wife gushed over it. This is the first super-hero film other than maybe Ant-Man since Winter Soldier that didn’t start to fall apart for me in the light of day. What I loved most about Gail Gadot’s performance is that she sold naivetee charmingly without seeming stupid, the same way that Christopher Reeve sold decency without being corny.

  3. Great coverage. Rob knows my thoughts on this one. It’s up there for me. It’s Rocketeer good. My future ex-wife is perfect in this movie.

  4. Outside of a weak third act and villains, my main quibble was a directing choice. Steve was able to physically move Diana around way too easily – in fact, he was able to stop her from striking down Danny Huston’s character. Hated that throughout.

    1. I took that as Diana LETTING Steve do that, so she wouldn’t hurt him. Just like if a kid tries to push you around, but you don’t want to harm them, so you just kind of let them do it.


      1. I think it was sloppy direction. Like letting through Gal’s use of “yeah”s and “okay”s. She wouldn’t use them. Minor quibble, but that stuff sticks out to me.

  5. One point I didn’t mention: unless WB decides to do another movie set before WWI, the DCCU has now established Wonder Woman as the first super hero. Not Superman, not Batman–Wonder Woman. That seems like a big deal!

  6. Seen this movie twice now, and like it even better the second time. The stuff that is good is great. Stuff like Gal Gadot herself as Diana, her rapport with Steve, the No Mans Land sequence, the sense of hope that was imbued into Diana herself, love that the lasso gets way more play than the sword (which proves useless in a great “oh crap!” moment,) I even like this new spin on the concept of Ares (not that he craves war, but he sees it as the best way to erase his father’s mistake.) There are some weak aspects, but they didn’t sink the movie on a first viewing and bothered me even less the second time.

    Much as Rob said, all of my issues with this movie can be fixed for the sequel, and in one case basically already is fixed. The special effects weren’t up to par (some of the green screen in particular was REALLY bad, like basic cable TV bad,) but a bigger budget next time can fix that. The climax was too much noise and fury reminiscent of the BvS:DoJ Doomsday fight, but there’s no need for that issue to repeat. And I’m of two minds on how naïve Diana is in regards to her insistence that once Ares is dead everything will be fine. On the one hand, I found many of those moments a bit painful, but on the other it paid off well with her scene with Steve after Ludendorff was killed. But with her innocence lost and that arc complete in this film there’s no need for that issue to repeat either. So BOOM, all fixable, give me a sequel right now please.

    I’m going to disagree with Rob pretty much 100% on everything to do with Themyscira. Love it, and the Amazons and can’t wait to get back there. Also going to disagree about the inclusion of Sammy, Charlie and Chief. Sure, it’s hitting the same notes as the Howling Commandos, but to put it simply I can’t remember a damn thing about any of those guys besides Dum Dum Dugan’s mustache. By contrast I fell in love with Chief, Charlie and ESPECIALLY Sammy. I love that team and am kind of sad we won’t get them again.

    What’s really upsetting is how clear it is that Warner Bros. was not expecting this to be a hit. Between the lower budget vs. most superhero movies (which shows in some of the wonky special effects,) and the fact that what Patty Jenkins has said about sequel possibilities points to the fact that NO preliminary work has been done on a follow up, I can only hope that the box office returns makes WB wake up to how good this movie is and how wrong they’ve been doing it up to this point. And OH MY GOD, while I’ve been composing this comment the news broke that WB didn’t even sign Jenkins for a sequel beforehand. She gets to negotiate fresh for a sequel deal and I hope she takes them to the cleaners.

  7. Anj mentioned 1984’s SUPERGIRL above–but I’m wondering, do women not give Kara her full due because her character is a variation/spin-off of a male hero, ala CATWOMAN and ELEKTRA? Wonder Woman is her own thing, not to mention being the first before anyone of the others.

    1. As a long-suffering Supergirl fan, I can say that for a long time it felt like no one gave her full due.

      Some recent comics and the television show have suddenly made her a household word. Something I am still getting used to! I no longer support a niche character!

    2. Unfortunately I think the baggage for a name like Supergirl is even greater than Catwoman or Elektra. In the latter two cases, they may originate as female counterparts but they could theoretically spin off and do their own things entirely divorced from Batman or Daredevil (not that much HAS been done like that, but saying it’s an open option.) With Supergirl, no matter what you do with her narratively, her name alone marks her as a derivative character, a spin-off, something that can’t exist separate from the better known male. It’s similar baggage for characters like She-Hulk or Spider-Woman, who have both had amazing solo runs but aren’t as well regarded by the general public.

      Really it feels like only Batgirl has managed anything close to standing on her own, and I’d argue that’s because she’s had a pop culture prominence that none of the other ones I mentioned have matched as yet. She’s appeared in live action, animations, video games, movies, the works.

  8. Anyone who can’t wait for the inevitable WW sequel should rush out and get the “Legend of Wonder Woman” miniseries by Renae De Liz & Ray Dillon. It is classic World War 2 Wonder Woman in a delightful story. It is a thoroughly charming and heartfelt story with excellent takes on Diana, Steve, and Etta. Plus it has cameos by a young Perry White and even younger Alfred Pennyworth. Loved the movie!

  9. I really enjoyed hearing you, Chris, and Cindy discussing the new Wonder Woman movie.

    I agree with Rob that DC/WB was 0 for 3 in their recent movies and I was very worried about this movie and so thankful that it was nothing like the other three movies.

    Ruth and I left the cinema with big smiles on our faces and had an energetic conversation about the movie on the way home. Completely the opposite of our reactions to Man of Steel and BvS.

    There have been many other great superhero movies over the years, but Ruth and I both felt this was the best superhero film since Superman I&II.

    Patty Jenkins did a fabulous job directing the film and getting a balance of action and humor and character development and Gal Gadot really captured the spirit of the character.

    Wonder Woman is strong, noble, kind, and loving. Everything that she should be … and everything that Superman should be in Man of Steel.

    I really enjoyed the Themyscira scenes. I thought it did a good job of establishing the Amazons. I agree with Cindy that the Amazons were simply facing weapons they had never seen before and it took them a short while to respond appropriately.

    I felt the reason that Diana didn’t use her bracelets to stop the first bullet that went by her head and killed an Amazon behind her was simply because she had never seen a bullet before. She didn’t know what it was or what it could do.

    I will agree that the big boss battle at the end is boring to me, but I agree with Chris that this is the nature of action movies in the world of videos games. That sequence is entirely for the video game crowd. Not for me.

    I was thrilled that the movie opened at $100M setting a record for a film directed by a woman and I liked that WB announced that Patty Jenkins would direct the Wonder Woman sequel on Wonder Woman Day. Very appropriate.

    I agree that Chris Pine is fabulous in the film and gets a noble death. Like Chris, I never thought anyone else could play Captrain Kirk, but Chris Pine does a very good job in that role too. I also loved seeing Etta. She was so fun. I would have loved it if they had done the heavy sword joke that you mentioned Rob.

    No movie is perfect. Superman I&II are nearly perfect, but both fall short at times. The same can be said of Wonder Woman. It is a terrific film. Not perfect, but very close.

    Now, I just hope that Justice League is better than BvS and that Aquaman is as good as Wonder Woman! That would be “wonderful”!

    Thanks all for a great episode!


  10. FYI

    It was reported today that both Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta) and Robin Wright (Antiope) shall be appearing in Justice League,

  11. Well well well, they pulled it off. I think everyone’s fears and trepidations about this movie have been well and truly put to rest. Yes there were things that let it down but nothing that can’t be overcome. As Rob said and has been echoed by everyone, they got the important hard stuff right, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, change in direction and feel of the movie. I was totally surprised they let the scenes like the WW and ST in the spa pools and the on the boat play out for so long. I think they are great examples of the gambles they made in making this movie, that didn’t follow the model that Synder had set for the DCU, WHICH NEEDED TO BE TAKEN. I’m so glad to see it paid off for them, hopefully opening the eyes of the Hollywood types that get it so wrong so often.

    Like Chris, Cindy and Anj I had the absolute pleasure and delight of seeing this movie with my young daughters. I’m finding it hard to articulate what I saw on their faces while watching this movie and how important it is that as young women they can have female role models to be inspired by. And it did it without having to make huge and repeated preachy statements about it that can then be misinterpreted as “male bashing” or “male shaming” that the more extreme feminists seem to be a fan of. This movie makes a very simple but strong statement, sexist attitudes are a thing of the past and need to be allowed to die. I hope everyone is now completely comfortable with the idea of having female lead characters in ANY genre of film and that we can finally reach the dizzy heights of the sex, race, sexual orientation or religion of the main character in a movie or in real life being a completely irrelevant issue. But that’s enough preaching and social themed ranting for now, back to the movie.

    I hadn’t picked up on as many of the Superman movie formula pieces you guys pointed out except of course for the alleyway scene, a very nicely done direct rip. But I agree if they want to follow a movie you can’t choose a better one. I feel they borrowed a lot for the Marvel formula, more humour, actual colours, etc but not too much that it left a bad taste in your mouth.

    I agree with Chris and Cindy that the Amazons “exile” left them unprepared for the changes that had occurred in Man’s World for the battle on the beach but that next time it will be a very different outcome, or like Chris said, if they had that orb to view Man’s World they would have been prepared and the battle would have gone very differently again. I think this is supported by WW watching the bullet go passed her, seeing what it did the woman behind her and then thinking “Oh ok that’s what that does.” and learning from there.

    The first bracers shockwave was totally the reason for ST’s plane and the German’s being able to pierce the veil that had been hiding and protecting Themyscira (how crazy spell check knows this word!!).

    The plot choice to make her the God-Killer does make the contest pretty much redundant so you don’t miss it while watching the movie but I did have a nostalgic feeling of regret for it not being there.

    I might be a bit younger than Rob (most definitely), Chris and Cindy and more a part of the Video Game Generation so I don’t mind the big final boss fight approach but I agree that it should not be a standard requirement. I didn’t like the new take on Ares viewing war as a mistake of man and Zeus’ creation that needed to be swept away. He is the GOD OF WAR, he should be pushing for it, empowered by it. However with the movie being set in the war to end all wars, one could argue that he would simply be too powerful to ever be defeated by WW. But again that could have been a way around having the video game final boss fight, that it wasn’t a direct confrontation between WW and Ares that was needed but her inspiration and effect on others, like the beautiful No Man’s Land scene, that lead to Ares de-powerment and eventual defeat. That actually might have been a better direction for the movie to go in.

    I liked Daniel Thewlis as the old English politician but did not like or buy into him as Ares. Why would the Greek God of War have a very English looking nose and moustache?? A perfect disguise but should have changed his look when he revealed himself to be Ares and put on the armour.

    Sorry for the long comment, hope everyone read it to the end just so I can feel a little important. Thanks for the ep guys and I can’t wait for the next WW movie and for the rest of the DCU films to come once Justice League is out of the way.

    1. Oh one point I forgot, Anj summed up the issues surrounding the “Howling Commandos” perfectly. I really liked Diana’s change in opinion of Charlie the most for the exact reasons already mentioned by Anj.

    2. Check out this season of Fargo on FX to see Thewlis as perhaps the most repugnant villain in TV history. There is a scene with a “#1 Dad” coffee mug that pales anything he did as Ares!

  12. I hope the Wonder Woman sequel retcons/reveals that Ares did not kill all of the Olympian gods, that way Lynda Carter can play Hera or one of the other goddesses.

    1. I didn’t have a problem with Lynda Carter not being in the movie, I think they were so worried/focused on establishing a new Wonder Woman that they didn’t want any cutesy references to the past.

      BUT! Now that they’ve done it, I want a scene in Wonder Woman: Lasso of Justice 2 where she has to go visit the POTUS. The office door opens, it’s Lynda Carter.

  13. On top of a Lynda Carter cameo, it would be nice to see a Trina Robbins and George Perez cameo.

    I really liked the final scene of the movie as Wonder Woman leaped out over London to save the day. Against the events there last week, when they really could have used a superhero, it held some nice unintentional meaning for me.

  14. I have a question for Cindy and Chris. I follow Gail Simone on Twitter and a lot of her fans are upset that she didn’t get a ‘Thanks’ credit. While I enjoyed her run, I don’t remember it as being a stand-out (her BOP and Secret Six runs were better, in my opinion). I don’t remember any of it really adding to the mythos in a way that this film built on. Am I remembering incorrectly?

    1. I read part of Simone’s run, but I’m no expert on it. I don’t really recall anything in the movie that seemed to come from her run, but I could very easily be wrong.


    2. The Simone run had strong iconic characterisation but the plots weren’t outstanding, though I recall the opening arc most fondly because she befriends albino warrior gorillas.

  15. For the most part, everything I’d like to say… someone else has already said, so let me just say how much I wanted to hit “like” on so many of the comments already made.

    One small item I don’t think anyone has commented on in this thread: the pronunciation of “lasso.” Like the hosts of the two shows I’ve heard comment on this, I simply don’t see how “Las-soo” is an acceptable pronunciation in English. It simply cannot work with the phonetical rules we’ve been taught all our lives. That said, we all know words that “simply cannot work” in this way, and they there they are. The dictionaries I’ve consulted all include “las-soo” as an acceptable pronunciation. I can only assume there’s some historical reason for this. One of the dictionaries mentioned the word deriving from a word for “noose,” but I’m not quite convinced.

  16. I finally had a chance to see WW in the theater last night, and loved it. I agree with a lot of what was said in this episode and the associated comments. In particular, I think Gadot has really claimed the Wonder Woman role as her own, and Pine complemented her well as Steve Trevor and did a great job helping her shine as the star of the show.

    I only had two real complaints about the movie (excepting the final boss battle, which has already been well discussed). First, I thought the two big plot twists of the film, the Ares reveal and the reveal of Diana’s true identity, were both telegraphed a little too much for my taste. I think a lighter touch with the foreshadowing and misdirection would have given them a bigger impact. Second, the modern day epilogue confused me a little. Diana’s inner monologue led me to believe that she has been actively fighting the good fight from WWI to the present. This contradicts the feeling of her story that I got from BvS. In BvS, I got the impression that she’d been disillusioned by her experiences in the war, and had been keeping a low profile until she meets Clark and Bruce. Perhaps, my read of her in BvS was just wrong. Regardless, my complaints are swamped by my love for this film.

    Thank you, Rob, Chris and Cindy, for the insightful discussion.

  17. Overall, a well done film but my biggest complaint is Diana not being allowed to carry her own film. Steve Trevor’s story arc is almost as large as hers. I found that rather irksome.

  18. Fun fun fun podcast! I saw Wonder Woman with my wife, who hates superhero movies, and she liked the film. So it did have a wide audience that liked it. I felt that a battle woman vs. woman would have been interesting at the end but a battle against Aries would make sense. I felt the Amazons would have slaughtered the Germans in the island and it was interesting men could set foot on the island without it falling apart.

    Was Wonder Woman a Mary Sue though? What were her flaws? I would have liked her to somehow do something bad or have a flaw that she had to discover. Perhaps her thirst for excitement or adventure had resulted in someone getting killed because of her mistep? Or her trust in man was ruined, which it did towards the end of the film. She realized both sides fed into war.

    Anyways- it was brilliant of a film and Gal Gadot is to Wonder Woman as Christoper Reeves was to Superman. I am 100% certain of that.

  19. Loved the discussion all, and I just wanted to say and I wish I had thought of this too. I loved Chris’ explanation that Diana’s use of the bracelets during the training session triggered everything else that happened immediately after.

    It works for me because I was sitting there in the theater during the invasion and thinking “how are these guys breaching Themyscira?”

    I think that’s gonna be my head-canon until the films contradict me.

  20. Great podcast, again! I would like to share some of my thoughts on this movie with you all, because there are some things that bug me. First, let me say that I liked the movie, and, more importantly, my 12-year-old daughter really liked it!
    But, I’m fussier than she is.
    1. This isn’t Wonder Woman’s story, it’s Steve Trevor’s. The plot is Trevor’s mission. If the first part of the story was about Trevor or Charlie, or Sami, most of the rest of the movie would be unchanged.
    2. Diana’s existence and motivation. I can’t buy any of it. Are the gods dead? If so, what has become of the Amazons’ theology? (This was given no attention in the movie.) Are there no longer temples to Aphrodite or Hera? Is that why Diana never calls on them for help? Are we to believe that Ares was telling the truth? “One day, Zeus says to Hypolyta, “We need to make a baby to be the vessel of my vengeance in twenty years.” Good long-range planning, Zeus. “Oh, and here are some things she can use, but make sure NO ONE tells her anything about it, and don’t encourage her, and don’t teach her about spying and gathering information!” It makes more sense that Diana was formed from clay, which I accept because Ares and the Duke of Deception have always been tight.
    3. I liked Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, but there is no way that I believe he is a man of the early 20th century. He was much too contemporary. Try to imagine Chris Pine in “Wings,” or “Only Angels Have Wings,”or anything with James Cagney. I can’t do it.
    4. This isn’t a Wonder Woman movie. It’s a World War 2 commando movie set in World War 1 with some supernatural elements. Diana is a know-nothing. She is like a “dumb fighter” in a D&D game. She has no interest in learning, no patience for the mission. She is a reactor, not the catalyst.
    5. Then there are little bits that nag at me. Diana’s “slave” comment to Etta, for instance. Who the hell guards her mother? Amazon Union workers? Volunteers? Diana destroys a church. Is she unaware of the significance of a church? Probably. Has she no interest in what gods may be worshiped by modern Europeans? I’d like to think so. The lack of theological implications in this story bug me. I saw fighting training being emphasized on Themiscyra, so why does Diana profess herself an agent of love at the end? Her motivation has been to destroy Ares, and she didn’t seem to mind how many Germans she took along the way. Has she become the champion of love because of one night with Trevor? That’s about as un-feminist as it gets!
    I am glad for the sake of the character that this movie has been a hit, but the movie people could learn a lot from the (better) comics people about nuance and character.

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