WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League, in theaters now.
Earlier this year, Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman hit theaters and took the world by storm, becoming a massive success both financially and critically. Jenkins' film told a great story, filled with likable characters, a compelling threat, a well-written hero and fantastic action sequences. However, in the run up to Justice League, it began to play on some fans' minds that the character might not come across so well as part of on an ensemble, that she might get relegated to the back of the pack of male heroes, all vying for as much screen time as possible. So when the trailers seemed to show Diana as a leader of the team alongside Batman, people were pleasantly surprised.
And for a large portion of the film, this is what we got. Bruce and Diana work together to form the team before Steppenwolf mounts an all-out assault on Earth. She's responsible for bringing Cyborg to the team, and she leads the charge against Steppenwolf in the final act of the film. She’s been trained for this, after all, so it would be foolish to not utilize her militaristic tactics to fight an enemy like Steppenwolf. Her action sequences were uniformly great, and although each individual character introduction felt incredibly rushed, the hostage situation that Diana defuses was truly impressive. Diana leaping in front of a terrorist shooting at children, it felt very appropriate for the time we live in.
Steve Trevor, and That Teased Bat-Romance
But one of the biggest problems in the film was that her major motivation to fight appears to be Steve Trevor. It's well established by this point that the pair were in love, and that she effectively hid herself from mankind for a long time after his death. But when Batman insults Steve to her face and she punches him, although it’s a mildly humorous sequence, it becomes clear that Trevor's memory is the main reason that she does what she does. Diana doesn’t fight simply because she recognizes the evil in the world, but because it’s probably what Steve would’ve wanted. This almost feels insulting, cheapening the emotional strength established in her solo film.
Then, the story pushes her towards some kind of romantic tension with Batman. We get that they’ve been working together closely to try and foil Steppenwolf's attack and to bring the team together, but they have polar opposite personalities, and it seems strange to picture the pair in a relationship. Yes, it’s happened in other mediums, but in Justice League, the two don’t really share any common ground. As a result, it doesn’t feel genuine, like her relationship with Trevor. Batman is away doing his own thing for quite a while, and only shares individual scenes with Wonder Woman every so often. On the other hand, in her solo outing, Diana spent the majority of her time traveling through Europe with Steve, offering plenty of time to fall for each other before his heroic sacrifice at the end of the film.