The battles that structure Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman aren't those taking place onscreen. Rather, they're behind it: The conflict between the demands of the marketplace and the aims of ideology. ("Wonder Woman is so hard to put on film because the fight for women's rights has gone so badly," Jill Lepore wrote, accurately, in the New Yorker in 2014.)
The fight is fixed, of course. In the early scenes, which show young Diana's upbringing in the all-female enclave Themyscira (aka Paradise Island), the Amazons are not only of different races but also observe various forms of gender expression, from stone butch to soft femme -- a welcome, near-subversive display of body types and builds. But when the separatist compound must accommodate an interloper -- American soldier Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), fished out of the sea after his plane goes down -- any hopes that Wonder Woman will sustain its appealing misandry are soon dashed. "Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you," Hippolyta warns her daughter, who insists on sailing away and into World War I to fulfill her tribe's noble duty of protecting the defenseless from German mustard gas and other horrors.
Ma's prophecy is right. Star Gal Gadot must spend the rest of the movie as a kind of idiot savant: Diana may be able to translate Sumerian and deflect bullets with her magic bracelets, but has never seen snow, ice cream or Edwardian-era attire before -- all of which must be deciphered to her by Steve Trevor. In short, the world must be, yes, mansplained to the superhero by a character played an actor who exudes all the charm of a hedge-fund analyst at last call.