'Wonder Woman'

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what a summer blockbuster ought to be. 

I've made no secret of my discontent with the superhero film in the past 18 months. As a genre, comic book movies - so fresh and fun and free-wheeling a decade ago - are stale as can be. They lack any sense of originality. They are so bloated that a runtime south of 140 minutes and a climax with only a few seismic explosions feels modest. They are, for the most part, played out.

But all it takes is one example to remind us that, no, it doesn't have to be this way. Yes, a comic book movie in the year 2017 can tell a very conventional, very uncynical origin story of a beloved character and be really, really, really good. A fresh face, a story with genuine heart and a whole bunch of craftsmanship goes a long way.

We first met Wonder Woman as played by Gal Gadot, in last year's dreadful Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Gadot can't have been in that inane film for more than 10 minutes, and yet, in terms of what was a welcome memory, she stole the whole thing.

Wonder Woman gives her something on the order of 12 times as much screen time and is at least that much better of a movie than anything DC has churned out in the last few years in an ill-advised attempt to try and keep pace with Marvel Studios.

Even acknowledging the DC vs. Marvel blood feud and this film's place relative to the others in its universe makes it feel like I'm giving this film a backhanded compliment. Wonder Woman is a film that deserves the regular kind.

It takes us back to the Eden-esque island where our heroine, Diana, grew up training to be a warrior among her fellow Amazonian women, and then thrusts her in to Europe at the end of World War I where she and an American spy, played by Chris Pine, struggle to preserve the fragile peace agreement that Germany and the Allied powers are on the verge of signing. Somehow, the very human stakes of the War to End All Wars, personified by Pine, and the steeped-in-Greek-mythology struggles of Diana meld beautifully.

There are moments of genuine humor, many of them, like a scene in which Gadot tries to "blend in" by trying on appropriate era clothing, built on the awkwardness of a God-like being descending in to the everyday muck of humanity. There is breathtaking action, such as when she charges across No Man's Land on the Western Front, deflecting machine gun fire with her wrists. And there is a real soul here as both Gadot and Pine struggle with trying to save the same kind of people who could unleash the horrors of the First World War.

One of the most remarkable things about Wonder Woman is that in a lot of ways it is not remarkable. We've seen the God-out-of-water thing in everything from Thor to Clash of the Titans. It's merely the latest in a long line of DC films to employ the slow-mo action set to guitar riffs thing. The first Captain America did the full movie as flashback thing already.

It's a credit to Patty Jenkins that this comes together as well as it does. Sure, some of the fun and freshness is certainly due to the specter of a badass leading woman in a movie like this. I don't want to undersell that component, but I also don't want to spill any more digital ink on the subject, especially when I think - superhero or superheroine - this would have been a terrific film.