Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wonder Woman Roundtable, Part 2: Battle of the Chrises [Contributors: Jenn, Julia, Anne, Jon, Deb, Marilyn, Megan, Erin, and Chelsea]

Earlier last weekend, the staff discussed what we loved about the Wonder Woman film. There was so much to love between the female-focused director and storyline, as well as the incredible performances. In part two of our roundtable, we'll discuss the supporting cast, as well as what we would like to see in a sequel.

Let's dive in!


How did you like the rest of the casting? Where does Chris Pine rank for you in the pantheon of Chrises?

Jenn: I'm loving the fact that most people have just discovered the joy that is Chris Pine. For me, Chris Pine will always be the hunk I fell in love with in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. He was just so dang charming that I've tried to follow his career ever since and have been happy that he's made a name for himself ever since. When I heard that he would be in Wonder Woman, it was even more motivation to see the film I had wanted to see anyway. And he did a fantastic job in this film — he was every bit as charming, adding levity to a film in which the themes of humanity and good vs. evil are pretty heavy. He managed to carry himself as the romantic lead, yet again, and the journey we watched Steve endeavor on was a beautiful one. Plus, as Chels and I discussed via phone, I'm pretty sure the filmmakers enhanced Chris Pine's eyes to be even bluer and more beautiful than usual.

I keep waffling between my top two Chrises because Evans and Pine edge each other out with every movie I see. Before this film, Evans was in the top spot because of Gifted (y'all, scruffy Chris Evans playing a father figure is something you all need to witness), and a rewatch I did of What's Your Number? (whyyyyyyy isn't Chris Evans in all the rom-coms?), but I think Pine just stole the top spot with this film. In current ranking order, it goes: Pine, Evans, Pratt, and then Hemsworth.

Overall, I felt the supporting cast worked well! I loved seeing Robin Wright in this role, however brief. She was born to be an Amazon warrior. And even though their first scene left me feeling a little iffy, I liked that we got some backstory on our supporting characters too. Chief, Sameer, and Charlie all had some stories that didn't need a whole lot of fleshing out to work. Their backstories didn't detract from the overall narrative and actually helped aid in the overall story.

Julia: I enjoyed the casting as a whole and thought that every actor did a great job. The script in particular allowed the actors’ natural abilities to shine without forcing emotions or comedy. Chris Pine is obviously the best of the supporting cast for a long list of reasons. I have always been a fan of Pine, and he never quite gets the praise that he deserves. He is a great actor that has proven his talents time and time again, especially over the course of the new Star Trek franchise.

As for where he ranks between the Chrises of the superhero universes, (which includes Pratt, Pine, Hemsworth, and Evans): Pine is the best all-around actor, Pratt is the funniest, Hemsworth is the best to look at, and Evans tends to surprise when he does films outside of the Marvel universe like this year’s Gifted.

Anne: I liked the rest of the casting, though I thought several characters were under or inappropriately utilized, such as Robin Wright. I will say that Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are just the best in this movie, capable of delivering both funny and emotional scenes together. Also, very gorgeous people. In regards to the pantheon,

I would have said Chris Pine was fourth before watching Wonder Woman, and now I worry that he is first, which makes it uncomfortable for the other three handsome Chrises. I think it might have to be Pine, Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt.

One of the world’s truly unanswerable questions.

Jon: Everyone in this cast did a tremendous job and added layers to what could have been one-dimensional characters. Pine, especially, has some great chemistry with Gadot and brings his own charm and with to Steve Trevor. What’s nice here is that Pine’s charm is used in doses, rather than to Diana’s role.You grow to enjoy him as a character, which makes his sacrifice at the end all the more bittersweet.

As for the rest of the cast, my two absolute favorites were Robin Wright as Antiope and Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer. It’s pretty cool to see Wright in such a butt-kicking role (and, because like the rest of the Internet, I just enjoy seeing Princess Buttercup shooting arrows into dudes’ chests) and Taghmaoui brings this old charm that feels very reminiscent of a star from the 20s or 30s.

In regards to Chrises, mine would go: Pratt, tie between Evans and Pine, then Hemsworth... but if I must be technical, Walken was in Batman Returns and Walken always trumps ALL the Chrises.

Deb: I have no issues about the casting and I feel like the issues I do have with shallow characterization or under-utilization of the quality Wonder Woman cast (the band of misfits Diana and Steve pair up with through most of the film or the other Amazons, for example) could be fixed with a few more films. After all, Diana’s story starts in World War I and there’s a whole lot of history for her to try and fix between then and her Batman v. Superman timeline, plus probably some room for prequel stories on Themyscira.

As for the Chrises: Pine is my favorite Chris and has been since well before his fantastic job as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman. I have a Star Trek bias, though, so this is might be entirely based on which Chris has worn the most Starfleet uniforms.

Marilyn: The casting felt mostly great. I might have a bit of a concern over David Thewlis as Ares but then again, him not fitting the physical type was rather sort of the point so I guess it worked in the end, didn’t it? Gal Gadot was fantastic, everyone cast as Amazons on Themyscira were perfect (Robin Wright was a MARVEL). I adored Chris Pine but that’s no surprise for me since he’s my favorite Chris anyhow. He’s amazing in Stark Trek so I was negative amounts surprised when he shone as Steve Trevor. I expected nothing less.

As for my Chris rankings: Pine, Pratt, Evans, Hemsworth with no regrets.

Megan: I think his casting was absolutely outstanding. When they were talking about it last year at SDCC, Patty said that they needed an actor who could be okay with his role with being outshone by Diana and understood what she needed to do. I think Chris Pine was a phenomenal choice. He has such amazing comedic timing and every joke — big and small — landed perfectly. He’s also just an amazing actor and you can see that he wasn’t mean to be an equal of Gal’s, but rather someone who was able to know he was a supporter, not a lead.

As far as where he ranks, I would say he’s tied at two with Hemsworth. Simply put, neither of them could surpass Evans, but I’ve loved Chris Pine for so long that he can be just near the top.

Erin: Gal Gadot is a fantastic leading superhero. She's able to do the action, as well as the emotional moments. What I love most about Diana is her compassion, and Gadot really sold that part of her for me. Robin Wright was another highlight, but our time with her was too short.

My favorite Chris is Pratt because of his sense of humor. Pine has his qualities and he was excellent in this role. His chemistry with Gadot made me not hate the romantic bits like I thought I was going to.

Chelsea: Chris Pine really made a case for himself being top Chris. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement has taken him very far with me and Star Trek only boosted his case. Before I watched the film, I was firmly at Hemsworth, Pine, Evans, and Pratt but Pine is tied with Hemsworth for that top spot now (CHems making fun of Civil War and Infinity War is the best).

The rest of the casting was so strong. Nothing beats Robin Wright fighting on that beach and destroying Nazis. Connie Nielsen did a fantastic job as the mother keeping a secret from her daughter and being the strong leader of that paradise. And shout-out to Lucy Davis for being hilariously cute as Etta Candy. I squealed so loud when I saw Dawn Tinsley grace the screen. Her immediate friendship with Diana made my heart so full.


Was there anything that didn’t work for you? What would you like to see in a potential sequel?

Jenn: As much as I love seeing Chris Pine as a lead, I feel like Diana and Steve's love story was a bit weak and predictable. He and Gal Gadot have incredible chemistry, but I don't know that the story landed well for me. It seemed like an afterthought rather than a really well-developed love story. I also really wasn't a fan of the plethora of slo-mo action shots throughout the film. As I noted in part one, they were overused on Arrow this season so I already had slo-mo fatigue prior to this film. They worked in certain instances (like in the beach fight), but in most of them after, I was waiting for them to end.

Additionally, I thought the Ares story was pretty good but the final battle dragged on too long for my liking.

I kinda want more of Diana doing adorable human things — like wanting to hold babies or freaking out over ice cream — in a sequel just as much as I want to see her kick some bad guy's butt. I literally have no knowledge of the Wonder Woman canon, nor do I plan to see Justice League so I plan to go into Wonder Woman 2 just as blind to plot and character details as I did this installment!

Julia: There are a few minor things in Wonder Woman that I didn’t like. For starters, there was no reason for this film to be told as a flashback, as Diana wouldn’t have known what occurred in the scenes she wasn’t in. Just as a flashback is unnecessary, the fact that the DCEU felt that an origin story should tie to the rest of the franchise was dumb. Just let the origin be its own thing! As I previously mentioned, I had issues with the way Greek mythology was presented, especially with Ares having powers that don’t belong to him. Lastly, the final battle between Ares and Wonder Woman felt like it was influenced too much by Zack Snyder, especially when both characters started poorly flying in front of a terrible green screen.

For a sequel, I would like to see more of the Amazonians and get some character development there. It would be interesting to see Diana and the Amazons take on another war, but I have no idea what time period the sequel will take place in.

Anne: I didn’t have high expectations going into the movie so I can’t say anything new that hasn’t already been pointed out. I think this is a great summer movie. I guess it could have been shorter and more tonally consistent, but I would probably watch the sequel because I would call this a great superhero movie.

In a potential sequel, maybe an enemy who Diana is more familiar with, or a fight where she has more personal a stake? I hope it maintains its sense of humor though!

Jon: The only real complaints I had were the CGI at times looked 2002 Spider-Man level bad, slo-mo is a utilized a bit too much here, and the final Diana vs. Ares battle is... just silly. That’s mainly due to David Thewlis devouring all of the scenery around him the moment he’s revealed as Ares. The image of him roaring, “THEN I WILL DESTROY YOUUUU” while holding massive lightning bolts might be the most unintentionally hilarious image this movie produced.

In regards for a potential sequel, I did hear that the next one would be set in a more contemporary era. However, I would still love if it was another period piece, maybe set in the 50s or 70s (mainly because those are two eras not really explored in a superhero film before). I would love to see Diana take on either Circe or Doctor Psycho, and, like Anne said, have more of a personal stake in the story this time around (maybe a friendship with a woman who goes by the name “Cheetah” that turns into a bitter enemy?)

Deb: Yeah, the CGI? Not the best. There were several moments where things started looking like video game cutscenes, which isn’t what you want from your big blockbuster movie. Other than that, I kind of felt like having a physical Big Bad in Ares was completely unnecessary for the story that the movie wanted to tell. It was a film about Diana learning that things aren’t so clear-cut as “shove a sword through the evil-doer and save the world” in real life, so it would have been more fitting to make “Ares” the metaphysical idea of war, rather than a lightning-wielding, armored villain for Diana to defeat in a big, explodey fight sequence.

In the future, I’d really like the movies to pull back from the explosions and tackle the more abstract ideas involved in heroism, war, and Diana’s determination to optimistically persevere in what could be seen by the cynical as a losing battle.

Marilyn: I’m a fairly gullible viewer and if I’m enjoying something, I tend not to notice any major flaws. The story got a bit slow, in parts. But the action and heart more than made up for it in the end for me. That’s where I fail in becoming a compelling critic, I suppose. But I walked in expecting a energizing blockbuster with some amazing girl-power feels and that’s what I got, so I feel pretty pleased overall.

Megan: No, everything worked for me. I loved the script, the cast, the story. Everything was amazing. As for a sequel, I don’t know... maybe I would like to see it set now and also not include anyone from the Justice League. Diana doesn’t need help from any other character. She can very clearly stand alone. And obviously I would want a sequel to include more incredible battle sequences. Or find a way to resurrect Robin Wright because she’s just perfect as well. And maybe a way for her to rediscover the Amazons.

Erin: I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I didn't really notice any CGI flaws, but then again, I don't really watch movies like this so it seemed par for the course to me. I would've liked to see more women of color with bigger roles, and I want to spend more time in Themyscira (a paradise where there are no men? I want to go to there.), so maybe the sequel can expand those two elements.

Chelsea: I loved every bit of this film and am forgiving of any of its little fight scene CGI flaws. I know they were going for something more comic book cartoon-like and it worked for me. It wasn’t as dark as the other DCEU films and it wasn’t so bright and violent as the Marvel films. It had a good balance. Plus, Gal Gadot was five months pregnant and they had a green screen on her stomach for those action scenes. I have nothing to complain about there when I couldn’t do the same.

My only true complaint is something I have for all films is more POC in lead roles and speaking supporting roles. It was nice seeing Themyscira not be all white but let the ladies speak. Also, we all know a bunch of ladies on an island with no men aren’t straight. Be the openly queer superhero film too!

For a sequel, I want them to go back to Themyscira, and for them to take me with them. I’m ready.


Any last thoughts on the film?

Jenn: I live in a town in which movies cost me about $12 to see. Even matinees are around $8. As you can imagine, I don't see a lot of movies because I don't have the budget to do so. But when the film ended, I turned to my sister and said, "I would totally spend $12 to go see that again." The film might have had some nitpicky flaws for me, but it is still better than 99% of the things I've seen recently. It was fresh and fun, but also poignant. It didn't feel tedious for the most part, and contained some incredibly talented human beings both on screen and behind the scenes. I think Wonder Woman's story needed to be told this year more than ever, and I'm glad that the film did it justice.

Julia: Overall, Wonder Woman is a really great film that combines a great script, vision, character development, acting, directing, cinematography, and choreography. It is a very well-done period piece that could have easily gone wrong. Just about everything worked really well, and the few exceptions are forgivable. Gadot and Pine have great on-screen chemistry and were very believable in their roles. They balanced each other perfectly, and it is too bad there won’t be more of that. The DCEU finally produced a film that is on the same level as the Marvel films and The Dark Knight trilogy, and I couldn’t be happier that the first female superhero film is a big success!

Anne: I know this sounds silly, but I wish Diana had a different costume to wear... It reminds me of how Supergirl had a conversation in its pilot about the use of the word “girl,” which had been okay years ago when the character was created but now feels a little bit uncomfortable and requires a conversation to lampshade the difference. But it’s so blatantly obvious to me that one bullet and she’s toast! Her outfit is obviously iconic, but for a movie that takes strides for feminism, it is my personal opinion that she should cover her kneecaps and wear something more reasonable because a bullet could easily ricochet off her shield and hit her and kill her.

Jon: This film fully restored my faith in the DCEU as so many of this could have gone incredibly wrong. However, bolstered by Patty Jenkins’ incredible direction (this is only her second film; GIVE HER MORE FILMS) and charming performances from Gal Gadot and the rest of the cast Wonder Woman joins the pantheon of truly amazing superhero films, in the vein of The Dark Knight, Superman: The Movie, and The Avengers. Between this, next year’s Black Panther, and 2019’s Captain Marvel, the chance to see many different kinds of diverse superhero movies is looking extremely promising.

A few small points: Thank goodness that Patty Jenkins did this instead of Thor: The Dark World because it feels like her talents were more utilized here than they would have been on that bore of a Thor movie. And what EXACTLY was the reason why Ludendorff took that magic gas? Just to make him super strong and give him magic overacting powers?

If the rest of the DCEU can (hopefully) keep this kind of balance between fun, drama, and action (I’m looking specifically at YOU, Justice League), DC’s future looks very bright.

Deb: I’m looking forward to sequels, but I’m still approaching the DC cinematic universe with caution. One film does not mean redemption, but if they continue along the hopeful, spirited path that Wonder Woman set, I think they could definitely right some hideous wrongs done to the DC characters. Those in control of production just need to remember that compassion and empathy are not signs of weakness, jadedness and cynicism are not signs of strength, and superheroes don’t need to be stripped of their otherworldly heroism in order to be appreciated by filmgoers. It’s okay to just make them heroes. We want heroes, especially now.

Marilyn: I think superhero movies might be on the way out, unless they can package themselves in new and interesting ways. Deadpool did that, Guardians of the Galaxy mostly does that (I preferred Vol. 2 over the first film) and I think Wonder Woman did that, mostly. It’s tiresome to see heroes knock bad guys into buildings for the umpteenth time, to see destruction just for the sake of destruction. The heart is always more compelling. Real human emotions and reactions are always more interesting, to me. Wonder Woman got there, while still dabbling in the old “explosions are cool” ploy. I’d like to see more films take after her example, actually, relying on why we as humans enjoy the tale of the hero’s journey rather than the spectacle and flashy nonsense.

Megan: How am I supposed to see any other DC movie now knowing that they finally made one that wasn’t regretfully watched?

Erin: I love how much heart this action hero lead has. That is not something I was expecting in a superhero movie. “It's not about deserve. It's about what you believe. I believe in love.” What a powerful message for an action movie!

Chelsea: I bet Warner Bros wishes they had handed over the Justice League reshoots to Patty Jenkins instead of Joss Whedon now (I will never forgive Whedon for Age of Ultron). This movie gives me so much joy and makes my heart sing. It’s everything I want from those boring, Marvel bro films. Maybe now Marvel will give Black Widow a film and push Captain Marvel up on its release slate. I love that it made over $100 million opening weekend and had the best second weekend for a DC film and a better second weekend than most Marvel films. Women can finally have nice things.

What did you all think of Wonder Woman? Sound off in the comments below!


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