I Saw 'Batman v Superman' and Only Want to Talk About Wonder Woman
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is like a trip to Costco. You're just there to get a cereal refill and some cat litter. That's it. And a few boxes of mac & cheese, but only because they're right there. Wait, snap, hamburger buns are 50% off. Throw those in. And ground beef, because you need something to go with the -- wait, RING POPS?! THEY STILL MAKE THOSE? Eight bags, please. Plus a pound of provolone, a six-pack of air freshener, a barrel of Evian, a new sofa, and the complete Eagles box set, please and thank you. Wait, what did we come here for again?
Director Zack Snyder (300) brings home the store in this epic comic book movie, which acts as a sequel to Man of Steel, a reboot of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise, a classic action movie face-off, a detective story, an introduction to a new line of super-heroic spinoffs, a creature feature, a postmodern political allegory, and a special effects sizzle reel for in-store television displays. What Batman v Superman can do, it does, at the cost of coherency and thrills. The movie is bat-shit crazy. A dour, disdainful demeanor, plus a gluttony of complex plot twists, dissipates most of the contact high.
But Batman v Superman makes good on one promise. Between Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill's 8,000 grimaces, there is a dawn, of sorts: the ruling and radiant Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman. Hollywood has delivered us eight Batman movies, seven Superman movies, a Green Lantern movie, and a Steel movie (you know, the 1997 classic where Shaq dons junkyard armor and hits Judd Nelson in the face with a hammer). Seventy-five years after coming alive on the pages of All Star Comics, becoming one of the most recognizable characters in pop history, Wonder Woman finally breaks onto screens alongside the Caped Crusader and the Big Blue Boy Scout. They don't give her much to do, but then again, this is a movie where a shirtless dude pulls monster-truck tires with a set of chains and mumbles, "MEN ARE STILL GOOD."
Gadot's scattered appearances are some of the best parts of the movie. While conducting her own covert snooping during a party at Lex Luthor's (Jesse Eisenberg), an incognito Wonder Woman bumps into Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, who happens to be similarly up to no good. Affleck and Gadot have chemistry. She's no-bullshit, and he's full of it. It's the first time anyone's one-upped Batman at his own game. Snyder restrains himself -- Wonder Woman's Dawn of Justice appearance isn't about T&A but, rather, kicking the latter.
As teased in trailers, Wonder Woman catches the aftermath of Superman and Batman's puffy-chested scuffle -- a cursory 10 minutes, despite being the keystone of a two-and-a-half-hour movie named after the fight -- and joins in for a smackdown with Doomsday, a cross between a Lord of the Rings troll and Gloppy from Candy Land. Gadot steals the scenes from her male co-stars, a fiery blast of confidence and a welcome alternative to the genre's hypermasculine legacy. True to her Grecian/Amazonian roots, Wonder Woman slices and bashes and lasso-of-truths the monster while Batman and Superman unpack their baggage. Snyder gives her the clearest action in the film, like she's Greta Garbo wielding an iron blade. Appropriately, an electric guitar wails on the soundtrack when Wonder Woman leaps into action.
The rock-star turn sets Gadot up for her own vehicle, Wonder Woman, currently set for a 2017 debut. None of Batman v Superman's missteps can erode the possibilities. Who knows if Gadot can carry her own movie, if the solo movie's World War I action will wind up as convoluted and mythology-heavy as the relentless Batman v Superman. We have a Wonder Woman. She can roar. Her, and our, future is bright (at least bright-ish -- Wonder Woman will continue in the grim, Snyder-produced movie universe, after all). So, thank you, Zack Snyder. You forgot the cat litter, but we're happy you grabbed the Ring Pops.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Matt Patches is Thrillist’s Entertainment editor. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Guardian. He loved the hell out of Man of Steel, so, there's that. Find him on Twitter @misterpatches.