REGARDLESS OF the final box-office numbers, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” has already accomplished one major feat. Zack Snyder’s film, which opens today, has successfully introduced Wonder Woman to critical applause.
With her strong, long-overdue entrance, Wonder Woman (winningly played by Gal Gadot) becomes a mighty, and mighty crucial, cog in the Warner Bros./DC Entertainment machine that’s determined to get a connected cinematic universe off the ground.
Based on early reviews and reaction, this will be the first live-action Wonder Woman to please general fans and fanboys alike since Lynda Carter’s iconic ’70s turn. That alone is no small accomplishment.
William Moulton Marston’s creation has seemed bound to tougher scrutiny ever since her ’40s birth in DC books. And ever since Carter’s TV role three decades later, donning Diana Prince’s red-and-blue suit and gauntlets has been a fraught affair. If trying to inhabit the role weren’t so scrutinized, NBC’s more recent attempt at a Wonder Woman TV series would have survived the venomous Internet fanboy rage it received.
You have to have a special quality to survive being Wonder Woman. Fortunately, Gal Gadot has that in abundance.
Gadot faced her own baptism by cross-fire when it was announced that she would be the next Wonder Woman. The former Israeli beauty queen’s looks were scrutinized by skeptics. She took the high road, went about her business — and delivered an eye-popping performance.
It’s no small feat to step into a comic-book movie and credibly transform into a character beloved by millions. But Gadot’s performance indeed feels like a transformation. Many comics-movie performances cannot shed the sense of awkward artifice. Gadot performs as if naturally slipping into a second skin.
Now Warner Bros. needs to harness that success and build upon it.
Despite her limited time in “Batman v Superman,” Gadot exudes the requisite strength and confidence to carry a solo movie franchise — even while being integral to the launch of a cinematic Justice League.
In “Dawn of Justice’s” climactic battle scene, Gadot’s Wonder Woman — amid the destruction and darkness — flashes a smile while fighting. The grin signaled that the warrior was in her element. And it was one of the film’s most authentically “comic book” moments.
Snyder played his ace of a Wonder Woman card perfectly: Her smaller but vital role leaves fans wanting more.
Then there’s the freshly released image from next summer’s Wonder Woman solo movie. The visual peek reminds us that the film will focus on Wonder Woman’s origins and how she comes to be the female superhero of modern times. At a time when some viewers complain about the darkness of the DC Comics universe on film, Wonder Woman is brightening up the overall picture.
Wonder Woman entered “Dawn of Justice” with the weight of being the most important female superhero ever.
Now that Gadot has passed that test with flying bicentennial colors, DC Entertainment can rest assured that the audience for Wonder Woman’s solo film is sufficiently eager to show up at the multiplex’s golden rope lines.