For me, it started with the beautiful billboard and poster. Then when I got about half way through the actual movie, I relaxed, and wrote in my notebook: SHOCK: a superhero movie that’s engaging and interesting!  It’s honestly shocking to see a triple A comic-book adaptation that has a moral drive on a serious level, whilst being super entertaining. It’s something for both adults and young people alike to enjoy whilst it’s happening and ruminate on afterwards.

Moreover, parents should show Wonder Woman to their teen and pre-teen daughters, and sons, not simply because it’s lead by a strong, sympathetic female (talk about lazy praise – ever heard of Katniss Everdeen?) in a romping adventure with comedic elements, but because it might teach them something about every human’s capacity for both good and bad.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), or Diana, as she is solely referred to over the two and a half hour running time, has to be the last superhero that anyone who isn’t a complete comic book nerd has heard of that hasn’t yet had an origin story adapted for the big screen, (though she had already been introduced in DC’s Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice). Thankfully, going through a damned origin story again is not torturous at all, in fact, it’s fresh. It’s not plagued by the Snyder portentousness that bogs down his comic iterations; it’s fun.

Diana is the youngest of the Amazonians, a demigod race living in peace with several other warrior women on a paradise island, blissfully ignorant of current events of the human world, circa 1915. That is, until an unexpected visitor crash lands a German warplane through the atmosphere and into the sea. Diana saves the pilot and thus begins the Blue Lagoon part of the film, where the veil is lifted and she begins to discover the facts of life from the first man she’s ever seen.

Chris Pine plays the cynical but not completely disillusioned American spy, tasked with provided intel to British intelligence about a new kind of weaponised gas being concocted on behalf of the Kaiser. Talk of a Great War is all news to Diana, who is convinced that the God of War, Aries, must be behind it all. Because after all, humans would never kill millions of people of their own volition, would they?

So this sets up the moral backbone of the story, which is already much stronger thematically, than most other comic book movies. Then we get a very funny fish-out-of-water segment where Diana must disguise herself as a “normal” early 20th-Century English woman, dressed up in heels and frills, by bubbly Etta (Lucy Davis). Feminist trigger warnings, as Pine continuously has to put her in her place so she fits in and doesn’t attract any attention. It doesn’t stop her for long, making it very clear that she’s going to the front line to find Aries, whether the boys like it or not.

The gang are joined by charming actor Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), English official David Thewlis, and sharpshooter Ewen Bremner, who quickly learn that the badassary is best left to Diana to dish out. And what thrilling badassary it is. The fight scenes have Cirque du Soleil-esque choreography, but has the necessary brutality (thought it was odd to see so much First World War footage without any blood), plus the slo-mo is much better applied than Zack Snyder has ever done. Top marks to director Patty Jenkins, whose work in TV and the vehicle for Charlize Theron’s Oscar winning performance, Monster’s Ball, wouldn’t have prepared us for such accomplished action directing.

But again, the main message of the film is not “Women can be powerful too”. It wouldn’t be as good a film as it is if that’s all it was about. Diana’s journey is one from naivety to enlightenment. She is unabashedly positive about humanity, and peace is always the prerogative. Despite the horrors around her, until her final “battle” that is, she is certain that these bad things must be happening because of Aries.

The villains we see for much of the film are bog-standard war baddies, though one weapon maker sports a freaky jaw mask. One of the aforementioned good guys turns out to be not so good, and it takes any cine-literate person about two scenes after they appear to figure out who it is (Skeptical? Look, it’s a simple two-step process: 1. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster, there’s gonna be a good guy that is actually bad. 2. Just do it by process of elimination – which character’s purpose to the story hasn’t been realised yet?) Some might have issue with the revisionist history. Is the First World War still too close for comfort to be interpreted in a fantasy adventure context?

Despite all that, what’s refreshing is that, as the moral argument of the film reveals itself, previously hateful characters are looked at in a different light, and the First World War is the perfect setting for these moral battles to be played out. That event, along with the totalitarian genocides of that era and after, were the biggest challenges to man’s redemption in the history of the species. In the end, I think we should be glad that it’s being addressed in the mainstream this way.