OT: Everything wrong with Wonder Woman

by Bill Cable
on 2017-06-21, 12:35:37

Disclaimer - I saw WW once on opening weekend, and haven’t seen it again. So I’m writing based off three-week-old memories. Apologies if my recollections aren’t perfect.

Wonder Woman is the DC Extended Universe’s best movie by a mile. But that’s faint praise, as the other three movies were just terrible. WW succeeds in not being terrible, but I’m a guy for whom plot and writing are critically important towards analyzing a film’s quality, and WW comes up pretty short on those fronts. And those things have been bugging me, so I figured I’d write them down. Here are the problems I see (in no particular order)...

#1 - The whole God Killer sword thing makes no sense. SPOILERS! So, in the beginning we’re led to believe that Zeus, using the last of his life force, forged a sword with enough power to kill Ares. But in a Shyamalan-esque twist we learn later Diana is the weapon he created! Amazing! But then why is there a sword? I assume the answer is that the Amazonians forged it to prevent Diana from learning the truth. But why create a fake God Killer sword in the first place? Why relay the Zeus story to her at all? If you never want her to learn she’s the God Killer, why not just tell her “Oh, there was this war of the Gods. Us Amazonians were awesome. Zeus died. The end!”? Wouldn’t that be the most effective way to lie to Diana? Not to mention avoiding all the effort of building a fortress and a fake sword that you wait like A THOUSAND YEARS to even tell her about. I mean, if your goal is to stay hidden in paradise forever, what the benefit of telling Diana at all?

Hippolyta knows Diana is the God Killer, but not only does she lie about it and build a fake sword to support the myth she tells her, she prevents Diana from receiving the proper training to harness her own God Killer powers. That’s entirely irresponsible if she has any inkling that Diana might one day face Ares, so she must have believed Paradise Island would never be discovered. But if she believes Paradise Island would never be discovered, why tell Diana the God Killer story at all? It’s completely illogical.

#2 - Ares makes no sense. No aspect of his character, his motivations, his actions, or his powers makes sense. We’re told at his core, he’s jealous that Zeus likes humans over his own children, and decides to corrupt them to cause Zeus pain. Meanwhile, he kills all the other gods - his own siblings that he’s upset Zeus doesn’t care about. If he believes the gods are superior and deserving of Zeus’ affections, wouldn’t it stand to reason he wouldn’t have the desire to murder all of them?

So Zeus is dead - and yet Ares continues to corrupt humans. Now is he doing it for shits and giggles? Oh wait… he’s doing it to draw out the God Killer from hiding! But how does he even know the God Killer exists? Zeus created her with his dying breath, and handed her off to the Amazonians on their secret island one must assume. But Ares struck the fatal blow, did he not? Wouldn’t he see Zeus create this baby? Why not kill the baby right then and there? So he must not know about the baby. But HE’S the one who tells Diana she is the God Killer - so he must have seen it happen. One possibility contradicts the other. Even more incredibly, he knows the sword is a fake God Killer, and he knows Diana THINKS the sword is the real God Killer. He knows information he couldn’t possibly know! That’s just bad writing. It’s like he had a spy on Paradise Island who told him everything about EVERYTHING, but didn’t tell him where to find the island.

And what are Ares’ powers? On one hand, he’s Loki. He can be a ghost and whisper in people’s ears and corrupt them. On the other hand he can teleport. He’s a telekinetic and can control matter. Build giant metal swords that swing through the air via mind powers. He can project different forms of energy. He basically has whatever powers he needs to have to serve the scene he’s in. But while he’s so powerful and brilliant and knows all of Diana’s secrets, he passes up the opportunity to, I don’t know, slice her head off when comes up to her in Parliament in London. Or maybe you argue he wasn’t sure until he saw her kill the German dude. It’s been thousands of years drawing her out… instead of confronting her that instant, why not hold off and ghost behind her when she’s not on guard? He’s this brilliant Machiavellian manipulator, right? He’d be smart enough to plot out an easy assassination since his primary goal is not to fall victim to the God Killer. (Of course if that’s the goal, why stir the pot in the first place? Better to sit at the top of Olympus victoriously chugging beers and letting the humans live in peace)

#3 - The bad guys are lame and present virtually no challenge. Granted, it’s fun to watch WW cut through wave after wave of German grunts. Through the entire movie, she doesn’t only have the upper hand in every encounter, she’s absolutely dominant. And it loses something when she’s never at any risk of defeat. Dr. Poison looked kind of cool, though they did it better in Boardwalk Empire. Other than that she was virtually a non-factor… just a weak person. The German general (commander… I forget) never seemed to be a legitimate threat (even when we were led to believe he was Ares). And Ares - I don’t think Diana even broke a sweat during their battle. Without enemies who could potentially defeat her, the whole endeavor seemed kind of empty.

#4 - The good guys (other than Steve Trevor) were pathetic and had no narrative arc. So Trevor was pretty much alpha male uber hero from the first frame to the last. Human and frail, but entirely heroic. The rest of his rag-tag crew showed similarly stunted growth. The Scottish crazy sniper was pathetic and broken and couldn’t shoot people in the beginning, and was still pathetic and broken and couldn’t shoot people at the end. The middle-eastern dude really wanted to just be an actor in the beginning, got to act like a bumbling fool for a glorious FIFTEEN seconds, and was not an actor again at the end. The Chief was a corrupt smuggler who’d work for Allied or Axis forces at the beginning… and who knows what he’d do at the end since he pretty much stood silent in the background after two lines. I figure the point was to show humans as weak beings corrupted by Ares, but giving these characters zero character progression for the duration of the film was a missed opportunity. If even one had grown as a result of working with our hero, it would have been much better for the film.

We’re running a bit long here, so I’m going to tick off a bunch of other things that ticked me off in a more abbreviated format…

#5 – They turned the Lasso of Truth into a torture device. In every past iteration I’ve seen, the lasso just kinda makes you to tell the truth like there isn’t any other option. It’s as if lying doesn’t even occur to you… deception doesn’t exist when you touch it. It’s peaceful. In the film, the lasso BURNS. And when you fight against it, it burns HOTTER.

#6 - It seems like WW’s main power is to reflect attacks, and it’s not really tied to her magical wrist bands. It’s innate. And it doesn’t matter if the attacks are physical (swords and bullets), or energy-based. And the force is magnified when it’s reflected. That’s just a very odd interpretation.

#7 - The whole marriage talk was a self-serving anachronism. In the nineteen-teens, divorce was extremely uncommon. Most people who married did indeed marry until death. For Trevor to flippantly claim the opposite, given who his character was supposed to be, was jarring, and seemed to me a deliberate attack on the institution.

#8 - If the Amazonians had been in hiding since ancient times, how did they learn modern languages? English was not spoken anywhere when Zeus died. Did they send out secret emissaries to learn them? If that’s the case, why didn’t they bring back any knowledge of modern technology or weapons?

I could go on… but I think you get the point. There were plot holes. Lots of them. And that prevented me from really enjoying the film. I had fun, but it was more of a Michael Bay, Fast and Furious kind of mindless fun. Maybe that’s the audience Warner is shooting for. I’d hoped for better, especially given the rave reviews this film received.

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