What a joy it is to be able to go into a theater and root for a hero! The DC extended universe, even with my enjoyment of Man of Steel, has been bereft of heroes with strong journeys, fully formed character, and decent screenplays. Leave it to the woman to come clean up the mess, as Wonder Woman manages to be a delightful film that overcomes a few stumbles here and there.

Wonder Woman, the film directed by Patty Jenkins, stars Gal Gadot as our titular character, Diana of Themyscira. Daughter of the Queen of the Amazons and Zeus himself, she is raised as both sheltered princess and fierce warrior on a paradise island. That peace is broken when an American spy working for the British disguised as a German Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands and ends up bringing chaos to the door of the Amazons, Diana realizes that she must fight for humanity by defeating Aries and ending the Great War.

What I think makes Wonder Woman work, more than the other DC films, is that it is grounded in character. Suicide Squad tried it’s best to do this, but really just wound up being a cacophony of noise. Wonder Woman has incredible balance in it’s storytelling because every action beat, character moment, or joke, feels like it comes from a natural place. The movie is light without being fluffy, and every joke lands. Surprisingly tho, it manages to do this without coming at the expense of it’s characters. Watching Diana have to navigate through the “real world” and other characters navigate with her is hilarious (I wanted more of her and Etta together), but they never make the characters look stupid to land any of these jokes.

The acting in the film was also really great and nuanced in a way I didn’t forsee. Gal brought vivid energy to Batman v Superman, and she brings the same kind of verve in her stand alone film. She does an admirable job on her own, but it was great to see her bouncing off of the other actors while maintaining Diana’s singular presence. One of those actors was Chris Pine, who manages to be both roguishly charming (the scene at the pools is a highlight of the film) and daring, without ever upstaging Wonder Woman. The rest of the ensemble is wonderful too, with Robin Wright being the stand out early on and Lucy Davis picking up the slack in the London sequences.

Despite the wonderfulness, I do think Wonder Woman has some flaws, namely the third act. I admit that I might be recoiling a bit given how the previous movies have set us up for this grounded, realistic world, that as the movie leaned full into the more mystical I found myself at a distance from the picture. Without spoiling anything, there’s some mechanics of storytelling involved that I didn’t really jive with and it wastes what could have been an interesting villain. I also think, Patty Jenkins, gifted though she is, got a little too reliant of the closeup of Gal Gadot during fight scenes, which slowed them down a tad. I never could dwell on it though cause Jenkins would slap us right back into form while delivering the most enjoyable blockbuster of the summer so far.