It's hard to believe a movie like Wonder Woman - adventurous, romantic, funny, dramatic - took 72 years in the making. The culmination of her film's success - which includes breaking box office records - came to down to timing with director Patty Jenkins, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, and most importantly, its leading lady Gal Gadot. If the movie was rushed to rake in money or compete with other female-led superhero movies, WW could've been a complete disaster. Because Zak Snyder discovered Gal, and she stole the show in Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice, this movie offered an incredible portrayal of the legendary character.
Actors often claim that filmmaking is a director's medium, but sometimes a whole movie can rest on the talent and charisma of its stars. For everyday actors to become iconic and empowering, especially Wonder Woman, the person stepping into those shoes has to be engaging, versatile, and humanizing. To give Diana Prince the humility and power she needed, a majority of the responsibility was in Gal Gadot's hands, charm, and talent.
Wonder Woman is one of my favorite movies of all-time, and every time I watch Gal, I'm floored by her entire performance. She encapsulates an uncanny ability to be naive and vulnerable, headstrong and uncompromising, confident and open to learning from her mistakes. With award show season around the corner, I had to share 20 Scenes Why I Think Gadot's Wonder Woman is Oscar-Worthy. (MAJOR Spoilers are included in this post) What do you think? Feel free to share in the comments.
You're a Man?.After coming into her own powers against her aunt Antiope and fellow Amazons, she rescues Steve, a fighter pilot shot down in his aircraft from the ocean. Since she's only lived on an island with women her entire life, she looks at him - the first man she's ever laid eyes on with wonder. Brilliantly pulling off Diana at an undetermined-age, she offers a mix of a teenager stubbornness going against her mother's wishes to becoming a young woman setting off for an adventure. Gadot's face is a question mark, but her words are a simple declaration: You're a man. Yes, he's real. It's not the last time where Gadot can make naivete so subtle and genuine.
You have been my greatest love
Diana knows in her heart she has to go with Steve and leave the safety of Themyiscra to the outer world and stop the God of War. After taking the "godkiller" sword, shield, and attire, she tries unsuccessfully to secretly depart before her mother catches up with her. Gadot does something great here: Diana isn't necessarily asking for permission. Her mind's made up, and her mom is just going to have to accept it. But there's a hesitance in her stubbornness. Like Nothing is going to stop me...I'm sorry, but not sorry.
One of Wonder Woman's greatest features is the chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. They have so many great comedic and touching moments, and none of them come anywhere near unnatural or cartoony. It's impossible to deny how much they liked working with each other. Which makes the scene of Diana and Steve leaving Themiscyra all the better: they completely improvised their talk of her being the daughter of Zeus and that men are appropriate for procreation but fail at pleasures of the flesh. Their conversation seamlessly comes across as the characters, you never would've guessed otherwise.
THIS IS ARESDiana's ideas of war are different from what a real war is like. It's not like the fable she pictured as a little girl hearing her mom's bedtime stories. She knows for sure that Ares exists, so naturally she's infuriated after Steve acquiesces his superior officers to not go after him. One second she's yelling at Steve until she's blue in the face until he tells her he's still taking her to the front. A beat follows. "YOU MEAN YOU WERE LYING?", she questions. Gadot is so good at ranting and raving one second, and then complete confusion the next, but she doesn't make her reactions over-the-top. No matter how much the movie plays to her being a fish-out-of-water, Gadot makes Diana's own set of beliefs and ideas true.
You Should Be ProudOne of the best aspects of Gadot's performance is how pure and genuine her reactions are. Diana's curious about experiencing the modern world like couples holding hands on the street, seeing babies for the first time, and a first snowfall. So many things are new to her; nothing seems to go over her head and she's absorbing everything from a real and heartfelt place. As Steve guides Diana off to war, she gets her first taste of ice cream. Not only is it a real treat that this is from the animated movie, but a certain glee just pours out of her. You believe she's never really had ice cream before.
There Goes Diana's Heart AgainThroughout the promotional tour, Jenkins repeatedly revealed how the studios didn't understand so many intricate moments in the movie. One of them was No Man's Land. The powers-that-be failed to comprehend why it was essential for a woman to cross no man's land, a territory of which the soldiers hadn't been able to advance for a year, but for Wonder Woman to do it. Hippolyta warned her that war is nothing to hope for. She's seeing its horrors for the first time, not understanding how Steve can just put his head down and let innocent bystanders suffer. She wants to help everybody, but Steve says it's not possible. Diana's heart is big, bold, and full, and it sometimes manages to get away from her head.
We Can't Save Everyone in this WarDiana is told 'No' over and over again, but she does what she believes to be true anyways. This is the making of Wonder Woman. Here Diana has to face true brutality, more bystanders who are robbed of their homes and livelihoods as soldiers wait for the next right move. Diana is the right move, putting on Antiope's crown and making sure she's worthy of it. Gal does something great here as the camera pans around her: she's weighing her options of how she's going to do this. There's no other option. She has to.
No Man's LandWhat's so amazing about Wonder Woman is that there's so many little moments that connect back to her childhood, especially in the fight scenes. There's a glimmers of her as a little girl mimicking her aunt and the Amazons training. She deflects the bullets that killed her fellow Amazons on the battlefield and gives a little smirk. It's not going to be a piece of cake, but she can do this. The entire sequence was done as practically as possible, with as much of Gal as possible, which gives the scene so much more credit than if it was purely CGI. This is Wonder Woman becoming a leader, not taking anything away from anyone else to be the best person for the job.
The LookWonder Woman is the journey of a heroine, or hero (whichever you prefer), as she grows up before our eyes. Earlier in the movie, her and Steve have a birds and the bees talk. And, it's surprising that we actually get a peek of that. After a day on the battlefield celebrating with the villagers they saved, Steve takes Diana back to her room. Is this what people do when there are no wars to fight? From a naive girl to mamma's warrior, bad-ass leader, she is also still a woman, who silently tells Steve with one fiery, direct look what she wants. LOOK AT THEM LOOKING AT EACH OTHER IT'S SO FREAKING SENSUAL. FOR A PG-13 MOVIE.
Who Will Sing For Us?It might be Diana's mission to be a bridge for a greater understanding with mankind, and a great portion of that is taking the bullets and grenades than her human counterparts can't withstand. But Diana also knows that fighting is not everyone's mission. Charlie, an expert marksman with PTSD, is also good at singing. After conquering No Man's Land, she gives him another purpose but Gal isn't patronizing about it. She's full of sympathy for him, and knows everyone has something to contribute.
They're All DeadAfter a run-in with General General Ludendorff , who Diana thinks is Ares, he and his fellow comrades set off Dr. Poison's toxic gas. Its exposed straight into the heart of the village Diana and her comrades just saved. Even worse than seeing the innocent people suffering at the front line, Diana witnesses the devastation for herself. Gadot's face is one of true horror and shock.
Made You KillOne of the ambitious tricky elements of Wonder Woman is making us look at General Ludendorff and Dr. Poison as the enemies when the real one is under our noses all along. She thinks she has the real Ares in her sights as they fight each other, even delivering a dutiful speech about killing him to release the power he has over the world. Wonder Woman kills him, and feeling relieved, she takes a deep breath. To stop any war, you kill the person or people responsible for that war, but that doesn't always work.
IT CANNOT BEIt's a shock to her that nothing happens. What she discovers after killing General Ludendorff is that evil isn't a potion or a curse, spellbinding people to act like monsters. Gadot's line delivery is so powerful here; she's horrified that her actions did nothing and people aren't what she thought they were. They cannot be capable of this kind of evil. Sometimes people are just evil; they can follow orders or act of their volition, they can try to redeem themselves or live with their cruelty, they can be like Steve and try to stop what they can from more people getting hurt. Her views of humanity has to change because people's agency are not so black-and-white.
STEVE. . .Wonder Woman has to save the world, but Steve has to help her do it by sacrificing himself. As she's taking on Ares, Steve flies the armed airplane full of chemicals into the sky. There's a combination of scenes where Diana is knocked down and can't hear Steve's last words to her, mixed with her trying to remember what he said and watching his airplane explode from the ground, trapped under armory. When she sees Steve sacrifice himself, Gadot is so heartbreaking in crying out for him. You can really feel Diana's pain watching her first love die before her eyes.
You're Right, They Don't Deserve YouNo matter the superhero genre, it's ironic that they all have the same formula: their origin in act one, understanding their human/"god-like" abilities in act two, and a big fight scene in act three. Yet because of our expectations for Wonder Woman, she was put on a pedestal for the final number. While I'll agree that the set-up around Ares was weak, Gadot proves her might here again.
Diana is Wonder Woman, but she isn't the hero we think of all the time. She's still the woman in love and a woman on her own mission, and she's been scorned by the fact that her beliefs didn't line up with the truth about humanity. After losing Steve, Diana is cloaked as Wonder Woman, but she'll only become Ares's version of what he wants her to be if she lets him take control of her. LOOK AT THIS FACE. This is the face of someone truly pissed off.