~ this summer saw the high-grossing domestic release of a superhero origin film – one that happens to be lead and directed by a woman. who woulda thunk. ~
Wonder Woman was a freaking revolution – there is no getting around that. You can debate about the nuances of the film all you want, whether it truly was a success or a failure, but I am here to tell you that it’s useless. From an audience perspective, Wonder Woman could have never been a failure. Regardless of whether the movie was actually good or not (spoiler: it was excellent), the sheer impact it has had on a new generation of girls is success enough for me. We’re lucky that Patty Jenkins would never have stopped at mere adequate representation, and created a complex, charming and badass film anyway.
As a teenager in the 21st century I was all too aware of how much this film was needed. In our increasingly volatile political climate, sexism reigns supreme. From casual workplace discrimination to violent hate crimes, there is no denying that girls deserve to catch a break. And while hope of convincing every straight white male on the planet to become a magical, non-objectifying, civil rights leader after they leave the theatre is slim, Wonder Woman was a certainly the break we needed. To see a female superhero on the big screen, (a woman of colour no less) who passed the Bechdel test with flying colours and became a multi-layered, dimensional character with emotion and depth was electrifying.
There is no other way to describe that feeling, sitting in the theatre with about a hundred other teenage girls, seeing Gal Gadot slow-motion twist-flip-something onto the screen in front of us. There was this feeling of empowerment that coursed through the room. Some of these women had been waiting their whole life to see a female superhero, and goosebumps ran up my arms as I saw one tiny old lady in front of me start crying into her popcorn before the Warner Brothers logo even appeared. Girls are freaking magical, and this viewing was no exception – I think everyone left the cinema feeling stronger and more united – a sort of “we’re in this together” mentality. As I went to the bathroom immediately after, three different girls complimented three different aspects of my outfit. This is what Jenkins has given us – this vicarious celebration of women and all their wonder. We’re brave, smart, kind and fearless, and so is this film.
This isn’t a movie review exactly, so I won’t go into great depth about plot details or my thoughts about that third act. One thing I will mention, though, is those action sequences. Jenkins gives us some stunning and unique battle scenes – the use of slow-motion in particular struck me as something that was quite different to anything I’ve seen in the past. It never felt tacky or overdone – just came in at the right moments to show detail or accentuate movement. Beyond that, though, the action sequences showcased a variety of inspiring, beautiful women warriors. In fact, the entire first act held on Themyscira achieved this. To show girls this peaceful yet powerful society functioning completely without men told them that they too can lead an independent and successful life without men. Not to mention that seeing the Amazons shoot three arrows at once into Nazi soldiers was something that will bring hope to my life forever.
Vicarious and unapologetic celebration of this movie and the headway it’s making is only further encouraged by how vicarious and unapologetic Diana Prince is. There’s a sort of determination within her – she won’t let anyone stand in the way of her achieving her goals. Sure, she might not be completely familiar in her current situation, but she’s not going to let someone make her feel less-than because she doesn’t fit in. The fact that the character didn’t quite belong in this new environment was often funny, but never at her expense. You got the impression that if you laughed at Diana she might skewer you with that gigantic sword on her back. And this fish-out-of-water comedy style (think: Atypical, the early Thor films) was oddly encouraging. Diana didn’t 100% fit into the situation around her and operated on a different level to the people in that situation – but she was still ready to kick ass at all times and thrive as best she could on the back of her concrete moral compass.
And if these are the kind of lessons young girls are getting out of this film, sign me the hell up.