Wonder Woman:The so so good, the bad & the ugly
**Please note: If you haven’t watched the film, I include one spoiler, but I do give you warning before I explain it, so you can skip it!**
I have a Wonder Woman figurine, untouched in her original box, never to be played with. I have another that is for playing and comes with a substitute head, depending on whether you want her to go to outer space or not. Obviously. But the main attraction, in this shrine of mine, is the limited edition print by Alex Ross. In it she is independent, fierce and strong. Everything I want to be.
I’ve been a fan of this DC character for as long as I can remember and my shrine to her is in my study. When I want to hate on men, I sit before this shrine, light a candle and push needles into voodoo dolls. Jokes.
Superman first appeared in 1938, Batman in 1939 and Wonder Woman in 1941. We have had nine Superman films, twelve Batmans, and now we have the first Wonder Woman film interpretation. The first one! Even Ant-Man had one before her….Oh pleeeeeease.
Over the weekend I went to the movies with two of my oldest friends and finally watched my heroine come to life. Its release has been the biggest opening weekend for a female director, earning $223 million globally, which effectively, on paper, makes it a success. Well done Patty Jenkins! And the fact that I left the theatre happy, makes it a personal success as a Wonder Woman fan.
Before it was even released it had received its fair share of criticism. Mainly from men’s-rights activists who are unhappy with their lion’s share of the world and want to rain on my (long –overdue) parade. It all began with one cinema wanting to have one female-only showing and it has spiralled since then. Their reasoning being that if the roles were reversed us feminists would get into a tizzy about it.
Well boys, you are mistaken. A male only session? Go nuts! I’ll be out here having a wine, not giving a shit. But please, call me up when you have a real problem like reproductive rights or the gender pay gap and I’ll fight the good fight with you.
Anyway, onto the film: Diana, Princess of Themyscira and all round Amazonian badass, saves pilot Steve Trevor after he crash lands on her island. After hearing about World War I taking place, Diana leaves to with Steve to go and take care of business.
Gal Gadot: An Israeli model and actress, she does a fantastic job as Diana Prince. Her two years in the Israeli army clearly helped as she kicked butt all over the shop. Those giant eyes of hers expressed the empathy and compassion that WW is known for.
Antiope: She is Diana’s aunt and General to the Amazon army. It’s also Robin Wright and she is amazingly amazing.
Etta: This little delight is the comic relief. She is Steve Trevor’s assistant and made me smile.
The man-candy Steve: Chris Pine delivers a solid performance as the love interest/tour guide to the world that Diana isn’t familiar with. “Would you say you’re a typical example of your sex?” Diana asks him. No, no he is not. If he was, I wouldn’t be single.
The Lasso of Truth: Previously known as the Lariat of Hestia or the Magic Lasso of Aphrodite, this mystical rope looks incredible. Although some of the fight scenes were quite CGI heavy, their use of the lasso works well. It is a device used to elicit honesty, but Diana uses it as a weapon also.
And it today’s world, it can’t go unsaid that sometimes the truth is only weapon we have.
It was clear to me that the film shied away from its feminist roots in an attempt for a more universal appeal. I understand this from a money-making perspective, but was largely disappointed with this choice. Some of the dialogue reeks of a male writer’s room: After seeing her in a fight sequence one of the supporting characters says, “I’m both frightened and aroused.” Vomit. Was that necessary? I was asking about the dialogue, not my vomit….No it wasn’t. Did it received a laugh from the audience? Yes, it certainly did.
I know that the males in other superhero films get ogled also (usually by me…a la a few paragraphs ago) but they are leered at only after their skills/dedication/general awesomeness is sufficiently worshipped. To counteract this there are a few moments to remind us that we are watching a woman who has autonomy in this world as she reminds Steve that “What I do is not up to you!” A few more lines like that would have been more convincing, rather than one instance to hold up as proof that she is independent.
**Spoiler below, skip to The ugly***
It also submits to the ‘Women in refrigerators’ comic book trope. This recurrent plot device takes the damsel in distress and (usual) love interest of the male protagonist and hurts or kills her to inspire the hero’s commitment to his cause. The death of the damsel is just the catalyst the hero needs to save the day. And in case you wondering, it’s named after an edition of ‘Green Lantern’ where his girlfriend is murdered and stuffed in a fridge.
However, this film takes the spot usually occupied by the damsel and gives it to Steve. But the difference is, he gets to die in a sacrificial/ I’ll take one for the team and help end the war type of way.
Seeing him die in a (literal) blaze of glory clearly reignites our heroine and she gets up, dusts herself off and ends the war.
Rounding at a whopping two hours and twenty minutes, it was a little long. I think some scenes could have been edited, but certainly not the beginning. Spending time on Paradise Island/Themyscira and hearing her backstory was necessary for her character development. So I’m sitting here trying to think of specific scenes to cut and I can’t pick one… so perhaps I’m being a bit harsh with my criticism of the running time.
Also, in the cinema we were in, the lights didn’t come on during the credits, which is movie code for ‘there’s going to be a post-credit scene’ and there was not. This made me mad for two reasons
1) It took forever to wait for the end with no reward and
2) I really had to pee!
All in all, the film did justice to my love for the character. But I was well aware that the longer I waited for a film interpretation, the higher my expectations would be. I tried to keep these in check as I munched on my mate’s popcorn.
So I encourage you to go see the film, not simply because she is a female superhero. She is so much more than that and as her creator, William Moulton Marston, even said “Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”
I’m not usually pro propaganda, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.
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