‘Wonder Woman’ is our Cry of the Week and we should’ve seen it coming
Warning: This post contains major Wonder Woman spoilers.
It would seem that 2017’s superhero movies are in the business of making us cry. After the unexpectedly emotional climax of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, viewers should be on guard for tears in Wonder Woman — because they are coming, make no mistake.
For a lot of audience members, mostly women, the film’s mere existence is cause for joyfully tearing up a bit. It’s our first female-led comic book superhero movie of this magnitude, and it’s a damn good one at that. Gal Gadot embodies Diana with unironic sincerity and fierce fighting force — the hero we always wanted but didn’t deserve.
Diana throws in her lot with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and his motley crew of pseudo-soldiers, and though you can predict them getting together from a mile away, most of their interactions play out as the rapport between friends or allies who just happen to be attracted to each other (even if we only get one lousy kiss). Any true possibility of romance is destroyed when, after so little time together, Steve dies flying a plane full of deadly gas away from civilians.
Steve’s self-sacrifice probably doesn’t come as a surprise (it’s almost suspiciously Captain America: The First Avenger), but it seemed to hit me out of nowhere. The scene’s impact comes from Patty Jenkins’ direction; Diana and Steve share their hurried last words when her ears are still ringing from an explosion. It’s eerily quiet, with the muffled blasts of battle in the distance; their body language betrays intimacy as they hold hands and almost fight the impulse to embrace. Steve mouths a few sentences we can’t hear, smiles nervously, and then walks away. It’s only when we see he’s given Diana his father’s watch that the pieces come together.
You have to hand it to Pine, who knows his character is secondary to Wonder Woman but commits wholeheartedly nonetheless to fleshing out Steve Trevor. That nervous smile, that thrill of fear quelled by the knowledge that he’s doing the right thing, aptly sums up the character. There’s no dramatic hug or kiss since he has to run to catch up with the plane, so he runs off, leaving Diana and the audience to digest what just happened.
I almost could have done without the later scene which reveals what Steve said. Death and relationships are messy, and more often than not there aren’t pointed last words or a chance to bequeath a personal treasure. But again, Pine sells the scene completely as he tells Diana what he has to do.
“I wish we could’ve had more time,” he says with genuine frustration before backing away from her. “I love you.” He nails the line by not oversaturating it; It’s the way you’d say “I love you” to a significant other while walking out the door, planning to meet up in a few hours. Not a goodbye, but a “see you later.”
Tragically, we won’t.