Superhero movies used to appeal to the youngest members of the collective viewing audience. When Christopher Reeve first donned the signature Superman suit, Warner Bros. used the advertising slogan, "You'll Believe A Man Can Fly," tapping into an innocent wonder that came with seeing these heroes soaring from the comic-book page to the silver screen. Somewhere along the way, though, "dark and gritty" became the manifesto of subsequent superhero efforts, and the DCEU -- in general -- has embraced a more mature tone in movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (where Superman is actually killed) and Suicide Squad. As a parent, I totally understand why you might be concerned about taking your kids to see DC's latest, Wonder Woman. But I can happily report those concerns are largely unnecessary.
Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, an origin story for DC's Amazonian warrior princess, is an inspiring and epic saga that's appropriate for kids age 10 and up. When Jenkins sat down with our own Eric Eisenberg recently, she made it clear that she knew the entire time that she was making Wonder Woman for the countless young girls (and boys) who would be dying to see Gal Gadot embodying their favorite superhero for the first time in her own feature-length movie. She saw one obstacle -- the fact that Wonder Woman is set during World War I -- and it is that aspect of the movie that holds me back from recommending the movie for all ages. Certain parts might be a little too intense for the youngest viewers. But in comparison to previous DC movies, Wonder Woman is the most accessible by a longshot.
Before we get into the horrors of war, Wonder Woman starts on the hidden island nation of Themyscira, where the positive messages that are woven into Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman shine the brightest. It's here that audiences meet young Diana, the daughter of Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) who desperately wants to train with military leader Antiope (Robin Wright). Diana (Gal Gadot) eventually gets her chance to fight when American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) breaks through the invisible barrier protecting Themyscira and alerts the Amazonians to the ongoing global conflict known as World War I. Diana recognizes this as the influence of Ares, an evil God who has been hunting the Amazonians. A born hero, Diana is compelled to fight.
By this point, kids will be humming. Wonder Woman has had some intense training sequences for Diana, and even when Steve brings the Germans to Themyscira's shores, the battle is bloodless (though Amazon leaders do lose their lives). There are moments in Wonder Woman where the sexual tension between Diana and Steve is dialed up -- sometimes for laughs, and sometimes just because Gadot and Pine might be two of the best-looking people on this planet. Pine is shown nude (mostly off camera, as he bathes in a tub to heal wounds), and the two discuss "the pleasures of the flesh" on a boat ride. These scenes are quick, and the next action sequence likely will distract your kid before they start asking any birds-and-bees questions.
The bulk of the focus of this column falls on the military violence in Wonder Woman, for when Steve brings Diana back to "the front" of the war, the movie has to show the devastation of Ares' influence to explain why Diana needs to fight. The villains in this film are mean, but not terrifying. And again, Jenkins keeps her anticipated, young audience in mind when touching on WWI, showing soldiers who are wounded but not lingering on decimated bodies or wallowing in combat carnage. In fact, Diana's heroic actions in the No Man's Land sequence -- easily one of the best scenes in this or ANY superhero movie -- produces an inspirational triumph that children will celebrate. It's a scene that proves why Wonder Woman, a powerful leader who refuses to sit idle, is exactly the type of role model that we need today.
All of the positive aspects of Wonder Woman far outweigh any borderline negatives, meaning that your kids will leave praising the amazing moments and likely forgetting the slightly objectionable moments. I don't remember any bad language in the film. If anything, it's long, and scenes that exist to develop characters like Diana and the Amazonians, or Steve Trevor and his bawdy military colleagues, might have your kids getting fidgety in their chairs. But it builds to an exciting conclusion that's a mess of CGI, but designed to wow young spectators.
It brings me such great pleasure to say that Wonder Woman is an important and entertaining movie you can bring your kids to, especially if they are around age 10 or higher. As is the case every time I write one of these columns (as CinemaBlend's resident parent), I remind parents that each kid is different, and only you know what your kid can and can not handle. If you still have a question, send me an email at [email protected]. But enjoy Wonder Woman! I think that you will.