Wonder Woman

Movie: Directed by Patty Jenkins.

Inciting Event: During her final training test with her Aunt Antiope, Diana reveals her godlike powers. Immediately after, American spy Steve Trevor crashlands a German plane within the Amazon island’s shield of invisibility. Diana saves him from drowning, only to have the Germans attack and kill Antiope.

This is a really nice Inciting Event. It incites a ton of stuff in a very short amount of time, neatly linking everything so it seems seamless.

First Plot Point: Determined that the Amazons’ arch-enemy Ares is behind the “war to end all wars,” Diana helps Steve escape in exchange for his helping her to get to the Western Front. They leave the island and sail to London. Diana leaves her Normal World for the “hideous” Adventure World of World War I. Even though she’s not as aware of it as Steve is, she spends the early part of the Second Act out of place, not understanding what the conflict is really about, and constantly reacting to her new circumstances.

First Pinch Point: When Steve and Diana try to warn the British high command that Ludendorff and “Dr. Poison” are engineering a new and more horrible gas that will negate the approaching armistice, the commanders refuse to listen. As a result, Diana and Steve are forced to disobey orders and find their own way to the front.

Note how this emphasizes the antagonist force (both the known—Ludendorff—and the unknown—Ares), provides new clues about the conflict, and definitively turns the plot by forcing the protagonist into a new series of more informed actions, which will lead her up to the Midpoint.

Midpoint: Refusing to leave a village to the depredations of the Germans, Diana reveals her true self and storms No Man’s Land, inspiring the British and leading a charge.

Diana is a Flat-Arc character, which means the Moment of Truth at the Midpoint isn’t so much about her discovering a Truth as it is about her revealing the Truth to the world around her. She inspires the soldiers with her hope, courage, and conviction.

Second Pinch Point: Steve and Diana infiltrate Ludendorff’s supposedly celebratory gala. Diana believes Ludendorff to be Ares when she realizes he’s about to test his new gas on a village. Diana races off to try to prevent it, but fails. The entire village dies. She begins pushing back from Steve and his refusal to believe that killing Ares is the answer to ending the war.

Third Plot Point: Diana experiences a false victory in which she kills Ludendorff—but the war doesn’t end. Frustrated with mankind, she rejects Steve’s plan to stop the gassing anyway.

In this low moment Diana nearly rejects her own Truth about the worthiness of her mandate in protecting men from war. However, this moment, and the rest of the Third Act, would have been stronger had this doubt been sowed more strongly from the beginning.

In the First Act, the doubt that Diana is presented with most strongly is that regarding her own ability, not the worthiness of her cause. As a result, her comparatively brief moment of despair here isn’t undergirded or developed strongly enough to be as powerful as it might have been.

Climax: Ares reveals his true identity as a British leader, whom Diana had believed an ally. He also reveals that the sword she carries is not the “godkiller” she believed it to be, but rather that she herself, as a daughter of Zeus, is the godkiller. They battle.

This, too, lacks the full impact it might have borne, since Diana has no personal relationship with Ares. He’s a man she barely knew, merely a symbol of corruption. She has no personal stake in this fight beyond her own convictions.

Climactic Moment: Diana chooses to adhere to her convictions—“it’s not about what they deserve; it’s about what I believe”—and kills Ares.

Resolution: After Ares’ death, the war ends. Diana mourns Steve’s death, but is inspired by Bruce Wayne to continue defending the world.

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