Thursday, August 23, 2018

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scene 47

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 47 (Wonder Woman and Ares begin their final battle) of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Ares doesn't want to fight Diana
  • Sam and Alessandro's differing views on Ares' motivations
  • Hovering or flying?
  • The Oddfellows talk about how to handle the plane
  • Diana and Ares fighting
  • Ares makes armor out of war
  • Diana and Steve have a muffled final exchange
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Giveaways and Bonus Content

Contributors: @raveryn @ottensam @derbykid @wondersyd
Episode artwork by Matthew Rushing (@mattrushing02)

<Transcript below>
Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Alessandro Maniscalco. This podcast provides analysis of the DC Films from Warner Brothers Pictures. This episode was written by Sam Otten, Rebecca Johnson, Sydney, and myself. You can find us on twitter individually @ottensam, @derbykid, @wondersyd, and @raveryn.  And you can follow the show @JLUPodcast.

In this episode, we cover Scene 47 of Wonder Woman, in which we see the start of the fight that the whole movie has been building toward since Scene 3. Diana finally has her fight with Ares. We pick up with Ares telling Diana that he “does not want to fight [her], but if [he] must”…..and then proceeds to channel an overwhelming amount of energy through Diana’s lasso to cause an explosion.

Let’s pause for a moment on the fact that Ares says he doesn’t want to fight her. It seems as though we can take him at his word here -- he is not only saying that he doesn’t want to fight her, but up until now, his actions have also indicated that he doesn’t want to fight her. He could’ve easily gotten the jump on her before he revealed himself, but he didn’t -- he first revealed himself and just talked to her. Even when she first tried to strike him, he shifted positions and avoided the fight. Then when she did finally thrust her sword at him, he did not fight even then, but just turned away her blow and destroyed the sword. He still wanted to talk.

So Ares didn’t want to just take Diana out. Why not? There can be different perspectives on this. Sam’s reasoning would be that Ares wants to talk to Diana because he genuinely wants to convince her to join his side. The foundation of Ares’ motivation is that he hates mankind, perhaps out of jealousy because mankind got Zeus's affection, or perhaps just out of pure vindictiveness, but Ares couldn’t stand the fact that the other gods didn’t share his negative view of mankind. So all the rest of his actions, from the history lesson onward, boil down to the fact that he wants to prove himself right -- he wants other gods to agree with him that mankind are horrible and worthy of godly scorn. He tries to accentuate mankind’s evilness. He supplies mankind with terrible ideas and evil influence, but he doesn’t force them to act. This is key, because he wants to highlight how terrible they are, but he has to have plausible deniability -- he has to be able to say that it was really them; it was a revelation of their true nature. He’s trying to maximize his case against mankind.

So overall, Ares wants other gods to see mankind in the negative light that he see them. And it’s only after gods refuse to see things his way that Ares kills them. So from Sam’s perspective, Ares wanted Diana to see the ugliness of man, and now he wants her to validate his view, that mankind is worth hating. But if she won’t validate him, then he will destroy her. Just like he did the other gods, and for the same reason.

But there are other reasons why Ares might not have wanted to fight Diana. In my view, it could also go back to Ares’ overall motivation of eternal war. In her teachings to Diana, Antiope stated that Zeus knew Ares might one day return to finish his mission, an endless war where mankind would finally destroy themselves, and the Amazons with them.  However the mission itself wasn’t specifically for mankind’s destruction, but rather it was to create an endless war, one in which man would inevitably destroy itself. Afterall, if Man’s destruction was truly Ares’ ultimate goal, it was most certainly within his godly power to kill every person on the planet even in his weakened state given the power we see him wield against Diana in this final battle.  And just recently, Ares said that he was only working for a temporary armistice in World War 1 because he was confident an even more treacherous war would start up later, that being World War 2.

It seems to me that Ares was already content with the discord sewn amongst Man with the enslavement of the Amazons.  It wasn’t until Zeus led the gods to the defense of the Amazons against Man that Ares killed them one by one.  But if Ares’ true motivation was the destruction of Man for a return of paradise, it seems he would have been more inclined to rally behind the Gods against Man.  But he no doubt feared the Amazons would once again influence men’s hearts with love and restore peace to the Earth. From what Antiope tells Diana, it was always Ares’ desire to corrupt his father’s creation, to enjoy seeing men’s hearts poisoned with jealousy and suspicion so that they would wage war against each other.  He sought their contamination, to befoul these quote “fair and good, strong and passionate” beings created in Zeus’ image.

Having a comrade in Diana would allow Ares to further corrupt Man and sew more discord.  And it would be poetic justice for him to have an Amazon, created to spread love and peace, to instead propagate the antithesis of what they’ve always strived for.  And having Diana on his side would also serve to thwart any potential Amazon intervention in the future.

There are also some other, simpler possibilities for why Ares didn’t want to fight Diana. Maybe it’s about self preservation -- he’s in a weakened state and fears losing to Diana. Or maybe he feels lonely since he killed off the other gods, and Diana is the closest thing to kin that he has left. Given Ares’ ultimate defeat, we can wonder if any of these reasons played a role in Diana’s victory. Sentiment or guilt could have caused Ares to hold back. But without further evidence in the film itself, we can just assume Diana was able to tap into her god killing potential to overcome Ares.

So Diana is thrown a great distance as a result of the explosion. This helps to convey the incredible power that Ares possesses and which Diana will need to overcome in order to defeat him. And the shot from the ground level, looking up at the ring of debris as the watchtower explodes, makes it 4 for 4 movies in the DCEU that have a ring of debris up in the sky like that. In Man of Steel, it was the Black Zero’s gravity weapon. In BvS it was the same, plus there was Doomsday releasing his version of the solar flare from a tower. And in Suicide Squad, it was Enchantress’s machine in Midway City. But anyway, Steve Trevor sees the explosion and we can naturally infer his rising concerns for Diana.  The explosion also gives the Oddfellows a sense of urgency as they, and the rest of the soldiers, scramble. Dr. Maru orders the men to get the plane out of there.  She has two good reasons to want this; both because it is unstable and has the potential to kill everyone in the area and also the payload is necessary to execute their plan.

Meanwhile Diana is recovering from being thrown and turns to see Ares hovering in the air like Superman, another being who has been referred to as a god. She stumbles back as she gets up off the floor and then quickly rushes toward Ares. This is a bit careless as she still does not know the extent of her power or invulnerability, and Ares with his levitation seems to have at least some powers that she thus far lacks. But now that Ares has confirmed that she is in fact the god killer, she likely thinks she has the power to take on whatever Ares can dish out at her.  We then begin to see some more of what Ares can do as he uses what appears to be telekinesis to lift and project the wreckage at Diana, who dodges it.

The Oddfellows are way out of their league and scurry to hide from what will prove to be a massive confrontation of gods. Diana attempts to use her Lasso on Ares once again in what we can presume to be an act of desperation given it had no affect on him in the previous scene as far as being able to contain him. Ares, apparently with the power to control the wind, manipulates the air to keep the Lasso at bay. He says to her, with a deepening voice, “Oh my dear, you have so much to learn.” This encapsulates the movie, which has been one long, complex lesson for Diana, but in this moment it can also be taken as a condescending statement in a position of superiority, but if we consider his kinship with Diana as one of the possible reasons for which he does not wish to fight her, this statement could be a warning or advice, perhaps even in a continued effort to convince her.

Diana pays no mind to his words and thinks of using her lasso differently by grabbing onto a piece of wreckage and swinging it at Ares. However, he easily avoids it by hovering up into the air. Ares, barely making an effort to lift his arms, raises the ground beneath Diana as she once again rushes toward him. As the ground crumbles around her, Diana leaps into the air. Although we never see Diana truly fly, this is the first hint that she might just be able to. As we see the view of the fight from the perspective of the Oddfellows, there are two distinct figures hovering in the air without moving for nearly three whole seconds. Although this doesn’t confirm Diana’s flight capability, because she is directly above some other objects that Ares seems to be lifting, so she could just be taking advantage of or getting caught up in the manipulations of gravity that Ares is performing.

As the group huddles together, Charlie blurts out “Oh my God, what are we going to do?” Steve looks on in awe of the power and abilities these two beings possess. He answers, “There’s not much we can do, if that’s who I think it is.” He is of course implying that he believes the unknown figure is Ares. He had doubted his existence throughout his entire journey with Diana, even after seeing what she is capable of. And now, before his eyes, he is witnessing what Diana was trying to tell him all along. So even though Steve and Diana are physically separated right now, it’s still an important moment in their developing relationship. Steve collects himself and says, “But we can stop that plane.” This falls in line with the continued theme of doing something. While they may not be able to stand up to the likes of a god, there is something they can do, and that’s what they are going to do: foil Dr. Maru’s plot to launch a poison attack on thousands of people. This is also simply a good bit of blockbuster construction, because it raises the tension and the action as both primary characters have separate but complementary goals to pursue as we move toward the ending.

Back over to where Ares and Diana are fighting, Ares pulls Diana back to the ground with his telekinesis, likewise throws her back, and slams a hovering piece of the tarmac onto her. But within two seconds Diana appears seemingly out of nowhere to slam Ares back, which seems to anger him as electricity starts to surge through his hands and he looks up with a grin. That smirk, after he’s been knocked down, kind of reminds us of Diana herself when she’s fighting Doomsday in BvS. And for Ares here and for Diana in BvS, they are both extremely powerful people who have not really had a fight or an opportunity in a long time where they could let loose with their full powers. And Ares’ smile indicates that he has fully moved from not wanting to fight Diana to being fully committed to this battle.

In order to stop the plane Charlie suggests making a call to Flying Corp to shoot it down. Steve quickly explains why that’s not a possibility as it would cause the plane to crash and wipe out everyone within 50 square miles. The only option is to ground the plane. Sameer adds a complication to that idea, stating the gas is on a timer and keeping it grounded will result in the same outcome. So all of those little glimpses of the Oddfellows from the past scene now payoff here in terms of plotting. And in that moment the team is faced with what appears to be a Catch-22. Steve asks Chief, the one with all the answers, if the gas is flammable. Chief confirms that it is. This question and the way in which is was asked immediately lead us to conclude what Steve is planning. That conclusion is quickly confirmed when Steve tells the others to clear a path for him to the plane and he runs off with the team calling after him to stop.

Diana throws a crate at Ares similar to how Batman lunges a crate at the thugs in the warehouse scene of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Ares crushes the wooden frame of the crate and levitates the stick grenades that were inside it, projecting them back at Diana.  Diana quickly throws a missile at the incoming grenades to detonate them in the air. This results in a very large explosion which conveniently throws Diana near to where Steve is. This is a great place in the film for Steve and Diana to have their final moments together.

Diana is deafened by the loud bang and we, the audience, experience that sensation as the film brilliantly mimics the effect by greatly muffling the audio. This is also a great setup for later when we actually hear what Steve said to Diana in the context of that scene, where it will have the most profound impact. The look on Chris Pine’s face works well to convey that Steve knows this is the last time he will see Diana, and he is longingly taking in the sight of her. We can’t quite make out what he’s saying, but we see him put his father’s watch in Diana’s hand before he runs off toward the plane. This is of course significant as we’ve mentioned previously. As Rebecca has expressed, the watch represents themes of Time and Legacy. The watch is more than just a timepiece for Steve. It’s a possession of his father’s, who had gone through Hell and back, which was left behind for Steve. Now Steve is similarly about to go through Hell and is leaving the watch to Diana. Therefore, it now embodies Steve Trevor’s legacy in addition to his father’s. Handing off the watch to Diana is also symbolic in that it represents both Steve’s life, and Steve and Diana’s time together, coming to an end.  

As Steve is running away from Diana she calls out to him. He noticeably hears her and hesitates for but a moment before pressing on without looking back. And in the spirit of an action movie, Steve jumps onto the wing of the plane and tussles with the airman before kicking him out.

The camera does a nice job of panning behind Diana to help dramatize her attention turning to Ares. Our first view of Ares is his arm amidst the flames as his clothes burn away. We see a close-up shot of pieces of metal attaching themselves to his arm. Then we see a full body shot as more pieces fly toward him and attach themselves to his body. Finally there is a close up of Ares’ head and he clears the molten metal away from his eyes. The effect is incredibly badass, making him seem much more threatening than in his Sir Patrick form. It is also very fitting symbolism to have Ares’ armor literally forged out of mankind’s weapons of war. He walks through the fire toward Diana in his new form which takes clear inspiration and is more in line with his comic book appearance.

Diana once again rushes toward Ares who prepares for her attack by creating two blades in his hands by pulling in metal around him like he did with his armor. He then throws them at Diana to impede her assault. He then flies toward a grounded Diana while forming new blades and swings at her. While she blocks the attack on the defensive, the next shot shows Steve on the offensive as he punches the pilot of the plane. Once the pilot is knocked out, Steve fastens himself into the seat and the scene switches back to Ares who is using his own fastening tool, a chain, to whip at Diana and tosses her into a military truck. He then says, “You will help me destroy them Diana, or you will die.” He is basically demanding she submit to him, and he is still continuing with his notion of wiping out mankind, as we discussed more peacefully in the temptation scene before. And he keeps trying to restrain Diana even though he suggests she isn’t putting up much of a fight for him and seems to think he could kill her easily. So it appears he hasn’t given up hope that she will join his cause, so it's possible he is still holding back a bit.  Diana lunges at Ares and the two go flying into a hangar.

While Diana is fighting Ares, and Steve is dealing with the payload of poisonous gas on the plane, the rest of the Oddfellows are setting explosives to a military hangar which seems to house Dr. Maru’s laboratory. Dr. Maru hears the guys and quickly destroys what we believe is the formula for her poison gas, presumably to keep it out of the hands of her enemies. She runs, likely not realizing the place is about to blow and looks behind at all her hard work she is leaving behind. The guys run out as the hangar explodes putting an end to possible future poison attacks. This eliminates at least one threat they’ve been attempting to stop throughout the film.

Diana and Ares continue their fight atop another structure. Ares throws projectiles at Diana who skillfully blocks each one with her lasso. The effect of the glowing lasso against the backdrop of night looks magical and is really effective in accentuating the roping. Just as Ares had done earlier, Diana now uses her lasso to ensnare Ares and pull him towards her. She wraps the rope around him, dominating over his melee attacks, and throws him off the side of the structure.  Ares stops his fall by stabbing a blade into the side of the structure and throws himself at Diana, grabbing her by the throat. He says, “Is that all you have to offer?” once again suggesting he is not going at Diana with his full force. He tosses her and restrains her again, this time with tank treads. As he holds her down he says, “It is futile to imagine you can win.” But the title of godkiller implies Wonder Woman can win. And in the DCEU overall, maybe she could even be capable of killing the “god” Superman. Ares is trying to attack her optimism directly, and it almost seems to be working for a moment after Steve dies, but of course Diana stands true to her beliefs. Things begin to look desperate as it seems Diana is overpowered, and the Oddfellows are outnumbered and out of ammo.

End of Episode

That’s our analysis of Scene 47 of Wonder Woman. For our next episode we’ll be talking about Steve Trevor’s sacrifice and the power of love.

To close, we thank the Suicide Squadcast for covering the latest DC news and Man of Steel Answers for in-depth DCEU analysis. And of course thanks to all of you for listening, and we invite you to check out the reward packages we have available at our Patreon page at where we have giveaways and bonus content.

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