Hailed as the saviour of the DCEU, Wonder Woman garnered so much attention and positivity that it was even being discussed as a possible Oscar contender.
The film also set a number of box office records. It grossed over $820 million at the box office and is the sixth highest grossing superhero film of all time at the domestic box office. It also helped push the DCEU past the $3 billion mark at the worldwide box office.
It holds a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is listed as number two on their ‘Best superhero movies of all time.’ But is it really worthy of all the praise it has received from both critics and audiences?
There is certainly a lot to enjoy in this film and there is no doubt that it is a very entertaining film. It is also not an exaggeration to call it the DCEU’s best – but when a film is this lauded, it needs to live up to its reputation. Taking this into account, the following are some of the reasons that Wonder Woman may be considered overrated. Please expect spoilers from the outset and throughout.
1. Whose movie is this anyway? Steve’s or Diana’s?
Wonder Woman begins as we are introduced to Diana who is played by Gal Gadot. Perfectly cast, Gadot brings Diana to life as a warm, caring, thoughtful, and adventurous woman. And throughout the first act, the film belongs to her. We follow her from the present day back to the past, from Paris to Themyscira.
We see as she grows from a spirited young child to a woman who cares deeply and strives for knowledge. So when she is abandoned after the first act in favour of Steve Trevor as the lead, it’s all the more disappointing.
After Diana rescues Steve, the roles reverse and he becomes the focus. Steve leads the story, he tells Diana what to do and where to go, and even what to wear. Of course it makes sense that in the strange new world that Diana finds herself in that, that she needs a guide and that Steve needs to be that guide.
But slowly and surely the film begins to lean on Steve more and more. He starts to get more lines, more to do, and has the stronger emotional moments. He also becomes the moral compass of the film – Steve’s views on war are favoured over Diana’s anti-war stance.
Perhaps most annoyingly of all, Steve gets to be the ‘hero’ in the final act. He saves the day, he makes the ultimate sacrifice, and he is the one that the audience are rooting for. This kind of action and sacrifice would usually only come from the lead protagonist, especially in a superhero film. And it’s even more disappointing given that the idea behind Wonder Woman was to make it a strong female led film.
At one point Diana says to Steve, “when it comes to procreation, men are essential, but for pleasure, not necessary.” A great line, but it seems like men are still very much essential for a blockbuster film.
2. Dodgy CGI
Maybe it can be argued that CGI is never going to perfect and that audiences are always going to notice it. That being said, it can be pretty darn good. And it certainly doesn’t have to be jarring.
In a superhero movie, we expect to watch the incredible and the fictitious. We know that the laser beams, aliens, and superhuman feats of strength and agility that we see aren’t real, so we don’t necessarily expect them to look amazing.
However, in Wonder Woman the CGI is at its worst when the action isn’t even at its peak. For example when Diana jumps into the sea to rescue Steve, it is blatantly obvious that we are looking at an entirely CGI human. When young Diana falls off of a cliff and her mother catches her, the use of a green screen is barely hidden at all.
When the action is at its peak and the battles are raging, the CGI varies from scene to scene – sometimes it’s very good and sometimes it’s mediocre. The final showdown between Diana and Ares has attracted a lot of criticism for being overly cartoonish and what one critic dubbed “looks like the result of a Zack Snyder induced hangover.”
In this day and age where moviegoers are bombarded with a vast array of blockbusters and CGI filled films to go and see, there is no excuse for having noticeably bad CGI effects.
3. Too much focus on Diana’s looks
Wonder Woman is gorgeous. Diana Prince is stunning. Gal Gadot is one of the most beautiful women on the planet. YES WE KNOW! And the first few references to this in the film could be forgiven, nothing wrong with telling a woman she’s beautiful right?
Diana being told she’s incredibly beautiful becomes a running gag in the film but the problem is that it falls flat. There is not really anything funny about it and it just becomes cringey. When Diana meets Sameer and Charlie for the first time, they joke several times about the way she looks – it just becomes annoying and it plays into so many tropes.
Not to mention that it almost negates everything else about her. Diana is also brave and caring, and can stop bullets – but never mind about all of that because she’s beautiful!
Diana Prince is so much more than her looks, and using that as one of the film’s focal points is a real let down.
4. Forgettable supporting characters
It’s usually a great moment in film – that moment when the hero gathers together their team. Traditionally each member of the team brings their own skills and assets, and the input of every person means the difference between failure or success.
Except in Wonder Woman, it doesn’t quite play that way. Upon realising that they need to get to the Western Front, Steve recruits marksman Charlie, spy Sameer, and smuggler Chief to help him and Diana.
Firstly these characters are terrible stereotypes. Charlie is a Scotsman who drinks too much, Sameer is an Arab who wears a fez, and Chief is a Native American who sends smoke signals. Not only that but none of these characters are given much of a backstory – who are they? Why should the audience care about them?
The film tries to make them seem useful, but what do any of them actually end up doing? For example, Charlie is enlisted as a crack shot but never even fires his gun. Diana certainly doesn’t need them; she takes out an entire battlefield by herself whilst they cower in the trenches. Steve doesn’t really need them either; they hide in the woods whilst he takes on the German army. There isn’t one part of the film where you think, “thank goodness, the gang was there!”
None of these characters is well-rounded or has a proper character arc. The biggest attempt to give one of the characters an arc is in the case of Charlie who is plagued by the horrors of war. But his character arc is quickly abandoned and then forgotten about entirely. After teasing us with the old photograph of Diana, Steve and the others in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, ultimately Wonder Woman failed to deliver with its supporting characters.