I finally got to see Wonder Woman this week. Good flick. They did a nice job of making Diana fierce but also feminine and of making Steve Trevor both nowhere near as tough as his star but decidedly heroic and masculine nonetheless.
My favorite things about the film were found in the way that the producers showed us Diana’s naivety without making her seem stupid and in her unapologetic heroism, played without an ounce of irony or cynicism. We’ve seen all too much cynicism in comic book movies lately—and in the comics themselves, too, since at least the mid-1980s—and if I liked the way Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies dealt with the inherently tragic façade of Gotham, it’s also true that Nolan’s influence has been like a blanket smothering the fun out of what should be entertaining, none-too-serious escapism ever since.
|Superman, as inspired by Batman Begins.|
Demigods are not supposed to be bound by the concerns of mortal men. Wonder Woman stays true to an uncompromising ethos, and succeeds. But Superman—though possessed of even greater godlike powers—remains mired in the worst impulses of humanity. This is why Wonder Woman is a better movie, and it’s similarly why she is the best part of an otherwise abysmal Batman versus Superman.
|Wonder Woman stayed true to recent versions of a very long running character.|
|Ares & Aphrodite.|
Note the spear.
Granted, that’s a quibble. I know.
So. Wonder Woman follows many of the basic plot points that the first Captain America laid down, and we know from trailers that a new Justice League movie waits just over the horizon. Indeed, Wonder Woman herself looks ready to slide into the Justice League’s Captain America role, with Batman set to be Iron Man, and the movie itself based around assembling the Avengers, er, forming the League just as alien overlord Darkseid invades the Earth. This sounds great and will probably work to the extent that it embraces its goofy heroism and avoids cynicism. But thatis not always an easy trick.
The trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming ran before our showing of Wonder Woman, and I confess that I’m getting a little concerned about that movie, too. I’m worried because the trailers seems to have shown the entire plot of the movie and because the movie itself is plotted like a sequel. Okay, so it’s good that they’re not doing another origin story for Spider-Man. However, it’s weird that they’re running what looks like a variation on the plotline of Rocky III in the first installment of a new movie franchise, and it’s a little concerning that Spider-Man is headed for “Little Buddy” territory. I’m worried that Spider-Man isn’t going to be the big hero in his own movie in the same way that Steve Trevor ultimately saved the day in Wonder Woman while she herself watched from the ground. Though this actually worked in Wonder Woman, I doubt it will in the new Spider-Man.
And yet, it’s really hard to argue with the Marvel’s track record. I didn’t love Iron Man III, but if it was the only one of the Marvel movies that struggled to embrace its own internal super-identity, it was at least still very funny. Even Thor: The Dark World, though hardly a masterpiece, managed to at least approach its subject matter honestly. This, the idea that Marvel trusts its characters to be who they are for better or worse, is what has made their movies successful time after time after time. It’s what made Wonder Woman successful, too. Against that backdrop, we now have a Spider-Man movie about how Peter Parker suddenly thinks he needs a super-suit…
I get it as the framing device of a movie, but is it true to the character?
|Before 2008, no one would've given|
Iron Man top billing in this team-up.
This, I suppose, is the best version of the plot of this movie. Like Rocky in Rocky III, Peter Parker has to learn to trust himself and to go all-in to get what he wants, and if he does, he can live up to his full potential. He has to find that Eye of the Tiger. I’m concerned, though, that the movie’s actual plot will involve Peter’s needing to convince Tony Stark that he’s up to the task of being Spider-Man, which would put Stark into the driver’s seat and give Iron Man the chance to save the day.
That would be unfortunate, and like I said, I’m not sure that it would be true to the ethos of the character. That’s the Spider-Man that’s more Man of Steel than Wonder Woman, and honestly, that’s not a Spider-Man that I want to see.