It’s about time we have a bona fide female superhero. That’s the general sentiment around the campfire, which is why I am incredibly dubious of the lack of studio confidence in this franchise. There has been minimal advertising, marketing and merchandising. Where are the action figures, fast food tie-ins and ubiquitous product placement? The film also has a noticeably lower budget ($149 million) than the Zack Snyder behemoths that have critically tanked in the past several summers; “Man of Steel” at $225 million, and “Batman vs Superman” at $250 million. This might have been a mistake.

When I was young, Wonder Woman stood atop the pantheon of superheroes at Superman’s right-hand side. She was more powerful than any of the Marvel guys not named Thor or Hulk, and the daughter of a Greek God? Come on, the character begs for a franchise. She finally has one, and almost everything about it is terrific.

Set to the backdrop of the war to end all wars, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), the Wonder Woman, embarks on a quest to defeat the Germans and duel Ares, the Greek God of War (it makes more sense than it sounds) after an American spy washes ashore on her all-female paradise island of she-gladiators, threatening their peaceful existence. Fighting in the trenches alongside Captain Steven Trevor (Chris Pine), she begins to understand that man isn’t as evil as she was taught, and gods aren’t as dangerous.

What makes the film work, for starters, is the portrayal of the larger-than-life character. Gadot is outstanding as the warrior princess, and can play a very wide range of emotion without saying a word; confusion, naiveté, innocence, love and rage. She’s mesmerizing in her beauty, and after several failed false starts since the 1970s, just like Henry Cavill as Superman, I think they’ve found their hero for the next decade. She oozes strength and sexuality, a difficult combination to pull off on screen (and be taken seriously for both). Brie Larson certainly has her work cut out for her in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.”

Patty Jenkins (“Monster”) is the first female director to the high-stakes, tent-pole genre, and the subtlety by which she introduces the strongest of the fairer sex is beyond commendable. She takes a massive question mark and turns it into solid gold, and the box office will confirm that, trust me. She has earned herself a sequel with this one, and now the only question is if she wants it.

DC Comics and Warner Bros. needed a critical hit, not just to avoid three (arguably four) poorly done comic movies, but also to open the floodgates for a whole new audience that has long been neglected. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, and more notably, the leads in the last two “Star Wars” films (Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones) have been a huge step forward in progressive thinking by film studios. Bravo. Add Gal Gadot’s name to that list, and put her down as the top reason I will be excited to see “Justice League” in November.

There really isn’t much not to like about the film. The visual effects are typical DC; not quite up to the quality of Marvel, but still entertaining. Maybe Disney just has a competitive advantage on the technology and quality? Who knows, but the film ran a bit too long at just under two and a half hours. The climax raged on for far too long, but that isn’t necessarily that bad. It added more depth to the evolving character, and set her up for a long and successful cinematic run.

“Wonder Woman” is by far the best DC superhero film since 2008’s epic “The Dark Knight,” and does so by changing its image. Reminiscent of “Captain America” in more ways than one, we finally see a DC film that captures the humor and lightness of Marvel in a way that is absolutely spot on. Due to the recent misfires, I was skeptical that it could be done, but “Wonder Woman” is wonderful.