Gal Gadot takes the lead of the Billionaire Action Boys Club with ‘Wonder Woman 1984.’
One of my early movie memories of actress Gal Gadot is Fast Five (2011), the fifth installment of the popular Fast and Furious action franchise. The fanboy’s favorite scene involves Gadot’s character Gisele, ex-soldier and current badass, whipping off a sarong wrap to reveal a string bikini on her supermodel figure. Gisele flirts her way past armed bodyguards at a posh resort to get close enough to her male target to secure some much-needed fingerprints. Like Gisele tells her partner-in-action, Han (Sung Kang), while disrobing, don’t send a man to do a woman’s job.
The GIF-friendly scene from Fast Five is pretty vacant after watching Gadot reprise her role as Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman in the superhero sequel Wonder Woman 1984. Streaming the HBO MAX release from the Christmas Day couch, it’s apparent there’s more to Gadot than her ‘forever’ legs.
Gadot and director/co-writer Patty Jenkins push away from comic book traditions of superheroines as sexy pin-ups with a Wonder Woman who’s athletic, empathetic, smart, and strong.
Sure, the classic Wonder Woman armor remains comically snug, and there’s a white gown with a side slit every bit as long as Gadot’s legs. Still, there’s not a single scene throughout Wonder Woman 1984 that rests solely on sex appeal. Give credit to Jenkins for providing Gadot the opportunities to break the superhero glass ceiling. Give more credit to Gadot for taking the lead of the billionaire action boys club with a superhero portrayal that emphasizes hope and humor over gloom and grit.
Look at Gadot’s caped colleagues from both the DC and Marvel universes and see the fresh spirit Wonder Woman brings to the superhero genre. Ben Affleck sulks throughout all his Batman appearances. As Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. displays the heavy burden of team leadership. Even their nemeses are alien, gloomy, and grim. There’s Steppenwolf in Justice League and Thanos in Avengers.
By comparison, Wonder Woman 1984 villains Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) are sweet and straightforward. Lord wants to be the world’s master businessman to impress his son and compensate for financial missteps. Minerva aims to transform from a pushover to an alpha woman with the smarts, speed, and strength of a cheetah. Together, Lord and the Cheetah are the perfect opponents for Gadot’s Amazon princess. They reflect a sunnier side of comic book storytelling.
I prefer World War I locations and the matter-of-fact story from the first Wonder Woman movie. Although, Wonder Woman 1984 follows close behind when it comes to gravity-defying action and humor.
An eye-popping sequence involving a young Diana competing against older Amazons in a grueling sports competition jump-starts Wonder Woman 1984. A climactic battle against the fully transformed Cheetah features Diana in golden armor made famous by an Amazon warrior named Asteria.
Watch the acrobatic fight between Wonder Woman and Cheetah and think of another superhero blockbuster that features two women in the climax. I cannot think of one. It makes the collaborative efforts of Gadot and Jenkins more impressive. It also builds excitement for Wonder Woman 3. Once you shatter the superhero glass ceiling, anything is possible.
Title: Wonder Woman 1984
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Rating: PG-13 for comic book violence
Running Time: Two hours and 31 minutes.
Trivia: Stick around for a post-credits cameo featuring an icon from the world of Wonder Woman.