For all its misses, the DC Extended Universe has mustered up a single film that took over the box office while also receiving strong praise from critics. Wonder Woman stands out at the only unqualified success from DC’s cinematic universe so far. It also provided one of the best scenes in any superhero movie.
I’m referring, of course, to the No Man’s Land scene, which nearly got cut from the film. Luckily, director Patty Jenkins won the argument and kept the scene in the final cut despite the fact that Wonder Woman wasn’t fighting a villain. It’s an iconic moment, and the film builds up to it incredibly well.
A Good Use of Grim
When planning their extended universe, DC obviously decided to go for a grimmer tone than their rivals over at Marvel were using. Unfortunately, they turned the dial a little too far toward darkness, giving us a Batman who kills and a Superman who barely cracks a smile, among other issues.
Wonder Woman found a good balance between ridiculous superheroics and a grounded and grimmer tone. Early in the film, the movie uses a vibrant color palette and uplifting music to show the wonders of the mythical Themiscyra. When Diana leaves her home and enters a world at war, the colors become faded and the gore becomes more realistic, shifting from fairly bloodless gunshots to images of people missing their limbs. Amid the gray and gore, the emergence of Wonder Woman’s colorful costume and golden lasso stand out even more than normal.
A Slow Burn on Superpowers
While Diana’s possession of superpowers is obvious throughout the first act of the story, we don’t see her really cut loose until the No Man’s Land scene. Previous scenes give us glimpses of her abilities – super strength when she crunches handholds into a wall in order to scale it or her bulletproof bracers when she helps Steve face off against German spies.
These glimpses of superpowers stay low-key so that when Diana really does show her stuff, everybody can watch in awe. The characters have no reason to suspect that she can do the things she does. Even Steve, who knows more about her than most, only has a slight inkling of her true potential. The audience knows more, but even then we can’t be sure as to how dramatic her powers are. Wonder Woman’s power set has varied a great deal over the years, and her most well-known appearances in the Linda Carter series never touched the levels that we see in this film.
Say what you will about Wonder Woman’s various media outings, but her theme music has almost always been incredible. The music in the No Man’s Land scene fits the action on screen perfectly, giving the audience an audio cue as to how awesome stuff is about to get.
Some fans may have wanted to hear a modern take on the famous theme song from the 1970s show that starred Linda Carter, but rights issues apparently prevented that. Of course, that song probably wouldn’t fit in with the tone of the film anyway. Regardless, it’s helpful for Wonder Woman fans to know that she still gets awesome theme music, even 40 years later.
Bringing it All Together
By pulling all these elements together and adding excellent directing by Patty Jenkins and great screen presence by Gal Gadot, the result is one of the best superhero scenes ever put onto film. Although the movie tops itself in sheer scope of action later on, the No Man’s Land scene is the place that really lets audience members know how fun a ride they are in for.
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