THE MUDDY BATTLEFIELDS of World War I are no place for a superhero. They offer no hissably evil Nazis to stand against, no truth and justice to defend: just a relentless, morally murky struggle for survival. Yet those khaki plains are the setting for the first solo outing of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince, as director Patty Jenkins takes the iconic heroine from the sheltered, all-female island of Themyscira into the mud and blood of Flanders.
“My approach was to focus on telling the story of mechanised war and how that would look to a god visiting our world for the first time,” explains Jenkins, “[I wanted the audience] to understand the horrors that a war of this scale makes possible, and how shocking that would be to someone who comes with a strong sense of honour and justice. She doesn’t realise yet just how senselessly dark the world can be.” If you’re going to give a reality check to a young woman who has spent her life dreaming of becoming a warrior, they don’t come much more thorough than the War To End All Wars. After her fully formed appearance in Batman
v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, in which she briefly joined forces with Bruce Wayne and Kal-el, this is very much a Wonder Woman origin story. It will give Gadot a chance to demonstrate why she’s the perfect person to play a Prince among men. “She is everything Diana is,” enthuses Jenkins. “Good, kind, strong, admirable, funny, fun, beautiful and innocent, yet wise. She emanates the message of this movie because it comes so naturally to her.”
Wonder Woman will be aided by Chris Pine’s Allied soldier Steve Trevor, whose plane crashes in Themyscira as he tries to deliver vital information to Allied command. Their mission: to save lives and stop a madman intent on magnifying the slaughter. It’s not — like it might be for Captain America or even Superman — about defeating the Central Powers, but about protecting as many lives as possible.
Still, the scale of the carnage comes as a blow to the idealistic newcomer. “She’s vulnerable because of how deeply she cares,” says Jenkins. “What motivates her is philosophical. She isn’t just taking out bad guys or fighting crime. She believes in goodness and love. [She] is fierce and willing to fight, but only to protect a better vision for mankind. Hers is really a coming-of-age
story.” Even as she learns about humanity’s capacity for evil, it’s a fair bet that her presence on the battlefield — all red and gold and ferocious — will inspire the better angels of our natures.
Luckily, her powers give her the ability to survive the ordeal and make a difference even in this morass. “She is incredibly strong, fast and one of the best trained and skilled fighters in the superhero universe,” Jenkins posits. “She also has some classic tools at her command, which we finally get to experience in their full and modern glory. Turns out a lasso is a lot more fearsome than one might have imagined.” In this clash between a woman with a bit of rope and entire armies equipped with mortars and mustard gas, our money’s on the one with the tiara.
The wondrous Gal Gadot takes Diana Prince on a solo spin.