selenak: (Abigail Brand by Handyhunter)
[personal profile] selenak
Wonder Woman was a very enjoyable comic book movie. I haven't read any of the WW comics or any others featuring her, so I had no other versions to compare this Diana to. What immediately struck me, though, was the difference to the other recent DC movies. Because it seems this particular director and scriptwriter (writers?) finally managed to chuck the moroseness that passes for depth out of the window and instead came up with, oh wonder, a heroine who enjoys what and who she is and is an unabashed, heart-on-her-sleeve do-gooder. Also, she's kind. Not many people in the superhero business are, especially after the 80s. She has a learning arc, and I thought the balance between naivete, learning about the darker side of the 'verse and keeping core beliefs regardless was well struck.

The trailers had me a bit worried because of the WWI setting, this war being not one prone to good versus bad stories, and I was concerned that they simply made it I instead of II to avoid the inevitable Captain America comparisons and completely ignore the bloody mess the "Great War" was. Turns out the script actually made WWI story and themes relevant. Mind you, it needed still a great deal of handwavium. Our heroine and sidekick/love interest sail from the Mediterranian - somewhere near Turkey - to London in what appears to be one night. In the autumn of 1918, with the war still going on. Even if we take Steve Trevor's throwaway line that someone helped them - cut to steamboat ahead of their sailing boat, implication that it tugged them, I guess? - into account, that's...well, as I said. Earth geography must be different. Then there's Ludendorff, who in rl lived until 1937 and is infamous mainly for two things, a) being a key pusher of the so called "Dolchstoßlegende", the myth that the German army could have won if those evil social democrats and peaceniks at home hadn't stabbed the army in the back by insisting on a surrender, and b) being the other leader of Hitler's 1923 attempted and failed coup in Munich. Becoming a DC villain serves him right, couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, but if he'd simply shot officers for pointing out the miserable state of both Germany and the German army to him, he'd have been courtmartialed, despite being near the end of the war one of the two or three top generals, and if he'd gassed the rest of the commanding generals, well, not even his reputation could have saved him from arrest and execution. The German Imperial army was no one's idea of a democratic organization, and was far too prone to authority worship, but seriously, it did have rules, and that stuff wasn't on. (As I said, Luddendorf was more the type to poison people's minds with propaganda, not their bodies, after making sure he personally wouldn't be blamed for the surrender despite having practically led the army near the end.) Not to mention: was the general who argued with him about a surrender before he gassed the lot supposed to be Hindenburg? In which case DC killed off both Hindenburg and Luddendorf in 1918, which is... err, interesting, given I assume even DC has Hitler still happening. I suppose someone else aids his rise in the early 20s (Luddendorf), and someone else first wins over him in the 1930 presidential elections (Hindenburg beat Hitler there) and later appoints him chancellor in 1933. Oh, and where on earth were the Gala guests supposed to come from in November 1918, especially the evening dressed women? The Gala takes place in Belgium, according to the movie. A few days before the war ends. Now the rich were as always doing better than the poor, but still, the situation in Germany in November 1918 was catastrophic, and making a trip to Belgium (with what, btw? Where did those cars come from? Petrol was rationed! And trains were full of wounded soldiers) for a party would have been - well, impossible. And what's this talk about "the Kaiser" agreeing, or not, to the surrender? The guy had other worries. The November revolution was in full swing, and by November 9th, the Chancellor officially announced Wilhelm's (and Wilhelm's son's) abdication, while Social Democrat Philip Scheidemann announced the beginning of the ill-fated Weimar Republic. And... never mind. Like I said. Clearly, history went differently in DC world.

The reason why I didn't mind all this is that Diana's big realisation moment could not have happened in WWII and was very WWI specific; to wit: That both sides in this war have the drive to slaughter each other in them, independent from divine influence. Which is, btw, why it's important that Ares' human disguise didn't turn out to be Luddendorf, without this making L. less of a villain, but a (completely) fictional British politician named Sir Patrick Morgan. (The WWI poets would approve.)

Other things: liked the cast and the ensemble, really liked that Diana being a warrior and Diana being kind and compassionate was never presented as paradoxical or in conflict with each other but as one driving the other, wished Snyder's lasting legacy, the slow mo fighting, would finally stop but wasn't bothered enough in this instance to mind, and was grateful that for all the "fish out of water" humor, Diana wasn't presented as childlike or somehow unaware of sexuality just because she hadn't been in contact with a man before.

In conclusion: a deserved hit.

P.S. Now I remember I did encounter Diana in the comics before, in a flashback. In Mike Carey's story about Lyta Hall post Sandman, The Furies, it's revealed Lyta is the daughter of Diana and Steve Trevor. (It's a single panel, a memory that haunts Lyta of her early childhood and her mother.) I suppose that makes Diana the grandmother of one of the Endless?

Date: 15 Jun 2017 16:02 (UTC)
vaysh11: (Default)
From: [personal profile] vaysh11
Looking forward even more to seeing WW. Thank you for, as always, such a detailed review.

Date: 15 Jun 2017 16:07 (UTC)
musesfool: Wonder Woman with her shield (i'll follow the sun)
From: [personal profile] musesfool
I chose to handwave the travel time thing as Themyscira moves around and therefore where it was when Steve landed and where it was when they left were two different places. Alternately, the godly shield around it can transport them closer to wherever they need to be while concealing wherever the island actually is from anyone who has found it once and tries to go back.

Date: 17 Jun 2017 05:11 (UTC)
ide_cyan: Dalbello peering into a screen (testing)
From: [personal profile] ide_cyan
There might be a frozen donkey wheel somewhere on the island!

Date: 15 Jun 2017 16:11 (UTC)
makamu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] makamu
I am not a comics person at all, whether it is DC or Marvel, but based on your review I think I might watch WW once it is out on DVD/the usual streaming suspects.

Re your comments on the alternative German history: I am just reading up on this period for one of my fanfic projects and now I am wondering whether the Weimar Republic would not have been a lot less ill-fated without both of the old generals sort of pushing the Dolchstoßlegende and strengthening anti-democratic elements in Germany from the get-go?

Date: 16 Jun 2017 11:56 (UTC)
makamu: (the power of words by)
From: [personal profile] makamu
Can I just say I love your icon?!

There'd be still a lot of factors against it - the Versailles Treaty, the Great Depression, the whole authoritarian mindset had been internalized since 1870 at the latest and wouldn't have suddenly gone away

Oh, most definitely! The road to democracy would still have been hard (personally, I always think that is still an aftershock of the ultimate failure of 1848 and how it failed. Oh, and yes, ridiculous is the perfect desriptor for Hitler's prison sentence. As for Hindenburg and the Monarchists: I wonder if in this hypothetical alt!Germany, it might have made sense to nominate Stresemann? IIRC, he used to be a monarchist and skeptical of the republic in the first few years as well, so he might have won the skeptics over.

Date: 16 Jun 2017 15:17 (UTC)
makamu: (rebel withut a cause by setenthet)
From: [personal profile] makamu
Well, it is a great icon for German discussions, both because the two of them were different in some respects and alike in others and because of the way they represent different ways of approaching the question of what it means to be German that shaped the debate before and after the founding of the Reich.

See, you learn something new every day: sadly, our history lessons stopped with the end of WWI in 1919 (I think the uprising in Kiel was the last thing we covered in any detail) and my Leistungskurs did the Third Reich but not the Weimar Republic,so I had never heard the name of Brüning before this! And now I want to explore what alt!Germany would look like in more detail (if the whole thing were not so damn depressing, considering what *did* happen...)
Edited Date: 22 Jun 2017 10:54 (UTC)

Date: 15 Jun 2017 16:12 (UTC)
grimorie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grimorie
I really love your reviews and I was looking forward to your review of this movie. I was reading about WWI and wondered the same thing since DC did seem to have revised history but in a way that maybe, canceled out the effects of any change? Maybe?

But I really do love that they used WWI for Diana instead of WWII [personal profile] serrico has a great post here (that I think is similar to what you wrote) about why thematically Diana fits in WWI.

As for Themyscira, I've kind of thought that the island sort of phase shifted in and out of mortal plane so there's no fixed point where it's anchored to.

The Furies, it's revealed Lyta is the daughter of Diana and Steve Trevor.

Wait! Wait! Really! I didn't know that! That is awesome!
Edited Date: 15 Jun 2017 16:13 (UTC)

Date: 15 Jun 2017 21:53 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] bats_eye
"The Furies, it's revealed Lyta is the daughter of Diana and Steve Trevor.

Wait! Wait! Really! I didn't know that! That is awesome!"

Lyta as a character was introduced as part of a group of second generation heroes who were all the sons or daughters of previous heroes. (This was back pre crisis when dc had an earth 1 where batmand, superman and wonder woman emerged in the 1960-70s and an earth 2 where they emerged in the 30s-40s and had since retired).

By the time she turned up in Sandman the crisis had happened, there was now only one wonder woman and her origin was rewritten but that was the original concept.

Date: 17 Jun 2017 03:24 (UTC)
grimorie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grimorie
Thanks for explaining! I knew Lyta because of the Sandman comic, I didn't (or forgot? it's been a while since I read Sandman) know about her parentage!

Date: 16 Jun 2017 21:36 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] bats_eye
I think Ouroborous is why I ended up buying the furies.

So I am doubly grateful for that story, I suppose.

Date: 17 Jun 2017 03:38 (UTC)
grimorie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grimorie
This is amazing, thank you for the comics rec!

...now what Diana would have to say to Morpheus is definitely something I'd love to read.

Yes, same here!

Date: 15 Jun 2017 21:33 (UTC)
hannah: (Luke Skywalker - elefwin)
From: [personal profile] hannah
As my brother and I said, if you're going for an anthropomorphic personification of war as a general concept, you can't do much better than an upper-class white British man.

Date: 15 Jun 2017 23:57 (UTC)
d_generate_girl: MAOS - Melinda May, SHIELD through and through (apres moi le deluge)
From: [personal profile] d_generate_girl
Oh man, good catch on Lyta Hall and her connection to Diana and Steve!

And yeah, one of my favorite bits was my cinema-going companions being incredibly shocked that Sir Patrick was Ares (which I'd guessed, when he started being AWFULLY HELPFUL).

Date: 16 Jun 2017 01:28 (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat
I have a feeling the writers didn't know any of that history when they wrote this. I didn't, but weirdly not a lot of time is spent on WWI in American schools, WWII yes. We get the standard run-down, but not must on the specifics. So a lot of the things you listed aren't common knowledge. (Believe it or not, I have co-workers who don't know who Winston Churchill was, which blows my mind.) What most of us do know about it is unlike WWII, everybody was equally bad. There really were no good guys and bad guys necessarily in that war. And it most likely lead to or resulted in WWII. I wonder sometimes if there would have been a WWII if there wasn't a WWI.

I loved the origin story being placed in WWI as opposed to WWII - which is where it is placed in the comics. (The comics were created and written by an American psychologist and feminist in the 1940s, who based the character of Wonder Woman largely on Margaret Sanger, who also had a thing for, well, he deliberately put in the dominatrix outfit and gear.) So, there's a couple of interesting choices they made - that diverted from the comics -- WWI and starting in England, no the US.

I think WWI works better thematically -- because it explains better the anti-War theme. Which is a bit harder to push with WWII due to the craziness of the Nazis and the need to stop them at all costs. (Although everyone was horrible in WWII as well. )
And the twist -- that it's the British politician who is allegedly pushing peace, meanwhile whispering war in everyone's ears and pushing them to acts which further it was brilliant and an interesting commentary on how the British's own actions up to and including the first and second world wars in a way also created them.

I thought it was a very good anti-war movie.

Also I agree -- I loved how they portrayed Diana...as kind. There's good banter between her and Steve, and their romance worked. Well cast and one of the better written comic book movies to date. A far cry from the direness and misanthropy that DC had sunk into...in part due to Chris Nolan's take on Batman, and Synder's attempt to follow that lead. I'm hoping Whedon continue the more light-hearted trend with Justice League. (Apparently Whedon did a little script doctoring on both WW and Justice League.) Not sure if you saw that Whedon's script was leaked online? It's not very good and I'm glad this was made instead.


Edited Date: 16 Jun 2017 01:30 (UTC)

Date: 30 Jun 2017 19:56 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zahrawithaz.livejournal.com
I think you're right about US education skimping on WWI, but I will say that in my fairly terrible white working class high school, when we inevitably ran out of time in the US history survey class, my teacher made an unusual call. He reasoned that we would learn about WWII through pop culture and other things, but that WWI was important and under-studied, so we learned US history through Reconstruction, then leapt to WWI, then leapt to the Vietnam War.

I have some critiques of this--among other things, I think history does not equal "war" and we should have gotten the Gilded Age and the mass immigration of the early 20th c that was responsible for all our grandparents being in the country--but I do see his logic.

Date: 2 Jul 2017 02:21 (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat

I think part of the problem was that they felt the need to rewind each year and start with the explorers and the revolutionary war....I don't know what they did in your school, but in mine, they would spend the first half of the year on the Explorers, the Revolutionary War, and the second half on The period leading up to and including The Civil War, and then we'd get a brief bit on the period after the Civil War leading up to WWII.

You are correct most of the time was spent on Wars, and up to approximately the mid-1970s, the history text-books were "white-washed", and written in a fashion to justify the nasty actions of white Europeans. Somewhere around 1978 or 1980 they began to change, and we spent a lot of time discussing slavery, the Native Americans, and the horrors of that period. Also sometime around the 1980s, the history text stopped being so complimentary of the US and their allies in WWI and WWII, not to mention Korea and Vietnam.

But, they ran out of time, in part, because there was a lot of focus on the Wars, and in particular on the American Revolution and Civil Wars. By the time I reached the 7th grade, if not before, I had the section from t1492 -1778 memorized. I remember being thrilled when I landed in a good school public district and got European History. (I started out in one of the lowest ranked public school districts in the US and moved to one of the highest ranked school districts in the US. ) And it should be noted that I was in public schools in the 1970s and 80s, and college/grad school in the 80s/90s. There is a big difference in timing.

I was discussing this with my mother, whose text books were far more white-washed than mine were. Pre-1966/67, US text books romanticized the West and the World Wars, along with the US's role in them.

Date: 16 Jun 2017 02:27 (UTC)
likeadeuce: (allison)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
I knew I could count on you for the German historical perspective!

I enjoyed this a great deal (though I was so tired when I saw it that I 1. definitely fell asleep briefly during the first big battle so I was never sure exactly what Steve Trevor's backstory was 2. was prone to be emotional and 3. was willing to go along with whatever twists the plot took and thinking THAT WAS INCREDIBLE but maybe just because I couldn't think ahead?
Edited Date: 16 Jun 2017 02:28 (UTC)

Date: 16 Jun 2017 11:30 (UTC)
likeadeuce: (Default)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
So wait, I swear Steve was on some kind of redemption arc that had to do with something in his past that I thought I had missed -- did I just project that? ha ha. Anyway, going to see it again Tuesday, will see how it holds up on second viewing.

Date: 16 Jun 2017 07:51 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
We just saw this today, and I really wondered how this would read to someone who actually is German, because the movie's general push to make the Germans into The Baddies really didn't sit well with me -- though I enjoyed the subversion later on -- so I appreciated reading your take on it! It was definitely a fun comic book movie, and I really did enjoy it despite getting jarred by the historical implausibility; it felt more of a piece with the DC TV shows (with their generally good-hearted heroes and optimistic view of human nature) than with the recent DC movies.

Date: 16 Jun 2017 10:07 (UTC)
londonkds: (canon ship (by redscharlach))
From: [personal profile] londonkds
Laughed out loud at your comments about intolerance of supervillainous behaviour in the German army. It reminded me of my own response to the hilarious depiction of the Church of England in the manga series Hellsing.

Date: 30 Jun 2017 20:00 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zahrawithaz.livejournal.com
I loved this movie--not only did I break my general embargo on superhero films for it, but I saw in 2x in the theatre, which I don't think I've ever done before--and your review is excellent.

And I'm slightly smug that as ignorant as I am of post-medieval German history, most of your laundry list of geographic and political errors actually occurred to me while watching!

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