Tuesday, September 4, 2018

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scene 50

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 50 (Ares' aftermath) of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Can a demigod kill a god? (listener L B)
  • Diana floating down
  • Cello, we're at peace!
  • Former enemies embrace
  • A few quick questions about the aftermath
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Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd
Episode artwork by Matthew Rushing (@mattrushing02)

<Transcript below>

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

In this episode, we cover Scene 50 of Wonder Woman, which is a short scene involving the aftermath of the battle with Ares.  But first we’d like to take a minute to answer a question posed on Youtube by L B who asked about how Diana was able to defeat Ares, since she’s only a demigoddess but she defeated a true god. There are a few answers to this. First, if you just mean that Ares is at a higher power level and so should win, we would just say that the stronger person doesn’t always win in a fight -- sometimes the underdog can get lucky. But Diana did power up at the end, and regarding that, the director Patty Jenkins described it as Diana reaching new levels of power because of her love. For a more practical explanation, Diana is the godkiller, so you could just say that Zeus infused her with the capability to kill Ares -- if a god can kill another god, then certainly a god should be able to create something capable of killing another god, right? Although there is that question -- could god create a boulder that was so heavy he couldn’t lift it?

Yet still another way of looking at it is that Wonder Woman didn’t really kill Ares herself. she was able to redirect Ares's lightning strike back at him --- this is how our listener Tobias Kuschill (coo-SHIL) interpreted it. So this means that basically Ares is strong enough to kill Ares; Diana just helped it happen. This resolves the discrepancy between her being only a demigoddess while Ares is a full god. And it also works thematically because it's kind of like the idea that hatred and anger hurt the person himself, not just others.

Alessandro sees it along a couple of these same lines at the same time. He feels that Ares addressed the point of her being able to defeat him when he said that only a god can kill another god. Ares explained to Diana that she was born of Zeus, created as a weapon to use against him. While Diana may just be a demi-goddess, she has godly blood coursing through her veins. And while we may be quick to jump to the conclusion that it means she is only half as powerful as a God, a couple of things are worth noting. We have to assume that Ares is telling Diana the truth, that she is the daughter of Zeus and Diana having only one parent that is a God does not necessarily equate to her having only half the power of a God. Not only does genetics not work like that, but we have to accept that she was part of Zeus’ plan to defeat Ares and therefore it is a given that she could stand up to him. And also Hippolyta herself is not a mere human, showing extraordinary skill and having lived for a very long time. So even if we assume Diana gets half her traits from Zeus, having the other half of her traits come from Hippolyta would elevate Diana beyond a simple cross between human and god. To top it off, we were led to believe Ares is still in a weakened state following his battle with Zeus. So according to Alessandro, any way you look at it Diana should be able to stand her ground against Ares. But he does agree that ultimately Diana using Ares’ power against him played an integral role in her defeating him during this battle.

And one other quick point before we get into the scene -- way back we talked about the idea that, during her training on Themyscira, Diana’s bracelet blast possibly broke the magic barrier surrounding the island. Sydney points out that the bracelets likely possess the ability to break through other kinds of magic or supernatural defenses and that may have played a role in Diana’s fight with Ares. They also seem to have been what gave Diana the ability to capture and channel Ares’ energy against him. So god-forged, magical armor doesn’t hurt in a fight, either.

Alright, on to Scene 50. Coming off of the multiple phases of action and drama in the last few scenes, with the killing of Ludendorff, the temptation of Diana, the death of Steve, and the fight with Ares, this scene starts the denouement by giving a distinct feeling of calm. And to mark the falling action, we literally have Diana floating back down to the ground. She does a slow motion hero landing, and even this quick sequence doesn’t definitely address the issue of whether she has full powers of flight or not. As we’ve talked about before, the filmmakers handled her various moments of floating in an ambiguous way where it seems open to interpretation either way -- that she has some flight abilities, or that she was simply getting caught up into a bit of Ares’ own powers. Given everything we’ve seen from her in the three films thus far, I personally tend to lean toward the latter interpretation, but I don’t have an airtight case for it.

Anyway, as she’s floating down, the background scenery has shifted from the black of night to the rising sun of dawn. This shift of course fits the mood, with Ares having been defeated, but it also has the advantage of simply looking beautiful for this short scene. Clearly the sun represents life and the end of death and darkness, the rise of hope and peace. Does this immediate sunrise contradict Steve’s point earlier that it’s not as simple as just killing one bad guy? Yes, in an immediate sense, but not in a broader sense, because the evil side of mankind still exists. It can be pushed down temporarily, but it can (and does) always come back. For example, there is still a “century of horrors” to follow.

As we get into the scene, Rupert Gregson-Williams made a nice choice here by having a pretty cello come forward with the melody. It’s of course not the battle theme with the electric cello, but rather a smoother, prettier acoustic cello which is very fitting for the scene, and the fact that it is a cello at all is a nice implicit connection to the Wonder Woman motif.

We see Sameer and Charlie getting out from under some rubble, and they communicate a clear sense of relief with their body language. These Oddfellows have been through countless adventures before this, and now they’ve managed to survive this latest, most incredible ordeal as well… even though, unfortunately their friend Steve didn’t survive, we still can’t blame them for being thankful that the threat is over and they were ultimately successful in stopping the gas attack.

We also see some young German soldiers, equally relieved and happy to not only be soaking up the morning sun but also breathing fresh air again. There’s a bit of overacting, in my opinion, for example from the German on the right who just seems a bit too much like an actor really squeezing out all that he can from his moment on camera, but overall, this is a very functional way to show the easing of tensions and to transition the audience from the drama of the battle into the emotional beats of the closing scenes.

And there’s another German who actually hugs Chief -- this continues the pattern of Chief just being an all around well-liked guy. And it also shows former enemies coming together in the promise of peace. This made us think about a famous story from the Great War, which is the “Christmas truce” from 1914. That was a true story about some ceasefires that were called on the Western front of World War 1 and the Germans came together with the French and the British to swap souvenirs, exchange prisoners, and even sing carols. It just goes to show that, if the official call to war is suspended, it is possible for people to shift away from killing one another and toward treating each other like human beings. So this scene in the film is actually somewhat plausible -- it’s not necessarily Ares’ influence that has lifted, or perhaps not just Ares’ influence that has lifted -- if the soldiers already knew they were very close to an official armistice, and if they just saw that the factory, the gas bomber, and General Ludendorff were all killed, then it makes sense that they would give up on their orders and their desire to kill the enemy at all costs.

In the middle of the scene, there’s a close-up shot of Diana with the sunrise behind her, and it’s reminiscent of the scene in Veld and the scene just a few minutes before where she was looking around in slow-motion with a strong orangish-red color behind her. But those were both sorrowful times and this time it’s more pleasant, marking a contrast to what came before while she was still on her mission to defeat Ares.

The scene ends with a wider shot of Diana in front of the sunrise, just to make sure we don’t miss the symbolism, and this time we can see Wonder Woman standing proudly, with some of those people whom she has saved standing and kneeling on either side of her. In this sense, she really has lived up to her god-given potential to save mankind… at least for the time being.

With the Germans around, this does add some more witnesses to Wonder Woman’s exploits in the Great War. And although the past witnesses in Veld are most likely dead, these witnesses are very clearly alive. So does that mean Diana will be famous after this? We’ll answer that question in the next scene.

Another question is what happened to Doctor Maru? We don’t actually see her after she runs off screen when Diana is throwing aside the tank.

But we don’t really need to worry about that right now, because we can just soak in the iconic imagery of Wonder Woman, fully present in man’s world, having defended mankind and saved the world.

End of Episode

That is our quick analysis of Scene 50. We are going to be finishing up Wonder Woman in the next week or so. The only scenes left are the London celebration and then the modern-day conclusion in Paris. And after that, we’ll have our special retrospective episode where we share various people’s favorite parts of the Wonder Woman film. Remember that you can submit your favorite part by September 10th to JLUpodcast@gmail.com

And you can also get bonus content from us and be entered into giveaways through our Patreon page at patreon.com/JLUpodcast. We just recently gave away 15 months of the DC Universe service, which will launch on September 15th. That went to Kevin Singratanakul, so congrats to him. And if any of you want to be entered into our next giveaway, just become a patron for $1 per month on Patreon.

But even if you can’t be a patron, we really appreciate everyone who listens to the show. And thanks as always to the Suicide Squadcast and Man of Steel Answers.

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