All Star Comics # 8, published in October, 1941, marked the debut of the character, Wonder Woman; three months later, in January, 1942, Sensation Comics # 1, was the first to put the superhero on a comic book cover. The Harvard educated, William Moulton Marston, PhD, who is credited with the invention of the polygraph machine, systolic blood-pressure test, and an early staunch advocate for women’s rights, amongst other attributes and accomplishments, was the creator of the Wonder Woman character. Sadly, Marston only had a few short years to work on Wonder Woman, before passing away from skin cancer in 1947 at the age of 53. In 2006, at the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, for his work with the iconic character.
The first actress to portray Wonder Woman, was Cathy Lee Crosby (Coach), in the 73 minute television movie, “Wonder Woman,“ which premiered on ABC on March 12, 1974. Directed by Vincent McEveety (Murder, She Wrote), and written by Emmy nominee, John D.F. Black (Mr. Novak), the ratings for the production were decent, but not enough to prompt ABC television to order a pilot for a potential series. In 1975, a second television movie, “The New Original Wonder Woman,“ starring Lynda Carter (Supergirl), aired on ABC on November 7th of that year. The two time, Emmy nominated show, was picked up by ABC where it was aired for the first year of its run, before moving to CBS television for seasons two and three, where it was re-titled “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.” The final episode of the series would air in September of 1979. It would take over thirty-seven years before the character would make her standalone, big screen debut at the premier of the film, on May 15, 2017, in Shanghai, China.
Shown via flashback, Wonder Woman primarily takes place during World War I; the film, however, opens in modern day Paris. An item, delivered by Wayne Industries, arrives via courier at the office of Diana Prince, portrayed by Gal Gadot (Keeping Up with the Joneses). When Diana opens the package, there is a note from Bruce Wayne, along with a picture of Diana as Wonder Woman, with the men who went to battle with her decades earlier. Diana begins to recall her life, and the events that led up to her becoming a combatant during the first World War.
The mythical island of Themyscira, home to a tribe of amazons, is a society devoid of both men and children, with the exception of Diana. She is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, played by Connie Nielsen (The Good Wife), and niece to the tribe’s greatest warrior, Antiope, who is portrayed by Golden Globe winner, Robin Wright (House of Cards). As she grows up, Diana wants to train as a warrior, something her mother forbids. In secret, she is trained by Antiope, something which Hippolyta eventually discovers. The Queen instructs Antiope, that if she is going to train Diana, she is to be trained harder than any other warrior before her. Life passes unchanged on the island until World War I pilot, Steve Trevor, a role acted by Emmy nominee, Chris Pine (Star Trek Beyond) crashes his plane into the waters off the coast of Themyscira. Unfortunately, Steve was being pursued by the German army, who arrive mere moments after Diana, rescues him, and posits the question, as to whether or not, he is one of the good guys. The viewer will come to learn he is in fact not only a good man, but earnest, someone who will stop at nothing to complete his mission. A battle ensues between the Germans and the Amazons, and although the Germans use modern weapons such as guns, versus the bows and arrows used by the amazons, the latter are victorious; a price, however, has been paid. Concerned that the Germans may return to finish what they started, defying Hippolyta’s wishes, Diana wants to join the conflict in the outside world. She is of the belief that Ares, the God of War, is the cause of the bloodshed. Diana feels if she can vanquish him, that peace will be restored to the world. She accompanies Steve back to England, where he has been working as a spy against Germany for the British government.
When they arrive in London, Diana and Steve are updated on the current state of the war in Europe. Diana is steadfast in her determination that she must be the one to find and destroy Ares. Armed with her shield, bullet deflecting bracelets, a magical lasso which compels anyone who she wraps it around to be truthful, and a sword named the God Killer, combined with her extensive training, she sets out to do just that.
In addition to the aforementioned, there are other noteworthy members in the cast. Golden Globe, nominee, Danny Huston (Magic City), plays the German General, Ludendorff, who craves power and victory at any cost. He is aided by the psychotic, Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), nicknamed Dr. Poison, who has been working to complete a poison gas. Working with, and alongside, Diana and Steve are Steve’s secretary, Etta (Lucy Davis), who brings some comic relief to the film, as does Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui). Sir Patrick, a role acted by BAFTA nominee David Thewlis (Fargo), advocates for peace, but the viewer will learn, he has a secret agenda. Rounding out the cast is the intoxicated marksman, Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and Eugene Brave Rock’s character, The Chief.
“Wonder Woman” was directed by Emmy nominee, Patty Jenkins (The Killing), and written for the screen by two-time, Emmy nominee, Allan Heinberg (The Catch). Additionally, Heinberg came up with the story for the film, with Zach Snyder (300) and Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift). Jenkins gets a well-executed performance out of her lead star, Gadot, who is strong when she needs to be on both an emotional and physical level, but also optimistically naive, when it comes to viewing the good and evil in the world as an all or nothing concept. The thing I enjoyed most about the film was that – at least in my opinion – it not only had a story, not just one continuous CGI enhanced battle after another, but at its center, it has heart. I consider it, thus far, to be the best entry into the movies that comprise the DC Extended Universe. The movie, while not for everyone, has garnered a great deal of critical praise and box-office success, and has finally, after decades, given a pop-culture icon, the debut film she deserves.