True confessions… I am not a huge fan of superhero movies. In fact, unless it can’t be helped (i.e., a teenage boy is sick and is binge-watching Avengers in the family room), I pretty much avoid them like the plague.
Enter Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins.
For a while now, I’ve been hearing a lot of hype about this new movie. Gadot was pregnant during filming! There was a female director who was doing wonderful things! The story was unlike any other! And I was concerned that that’s all it was…hype. That it was just another superhero movie, but with a prettier lead character.
I was very, very wrong.
The looks of things
Images from Refinery 29
OK, OK. Yes. Gal Gadot who plays the titular character (AKA Diana, and Diana Prince) is a phenomenally beautiful woman. Anyone with working eyeballs can see that. And every one of the Amazon women from her magical, mystical island was beautiful, too.
But just as the saying goes that “beauty is only skin deep,” let’s got a little further.
The Amazon women were every race, every size, every color. They were strong, they were tough, and they were beautiful. They spanned a couple of decades age-wise, too. Let’s think about this for a minute. Actress Connie Nielsen who plays Hippolyta, Diana’s mother and queen of the Amazons, is 51 years old. Robin Wright who plays Antiope, the lead trainer and general of the Amazons, is also 51. Thank you Patty Jenkins for casting women of an appropriate age in those roles!
These women were dressed as fighters. Their “armor” wasn’t obscene or skimpy at all. It was functional. And it was sexy as hell.
When they fought, their skin and their muscles jiggled. In close-up scenes, you could see their wrinkles. These weren’t air-brushed over-sexualized figures. These were real woman playing incredibly strong characters, kicking butt and taking names. In the training sessions, they worked each other over something fierce. But they reached out a hand to help each other up. They were encouraging and intense and solid and strong.
And the whole reasoning behind their intense training? Not to overthrow some oppressive government. Not to gain acclaim and power for themselves. No. They trained incessantly and made themselves strong because they knew that Evil was coming and that they, the women, were going to be the ones the world needed to defeat it. Seems like a legit reason to me!
The love story
Image from Screen Rant.
IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE AND DON’T WANT SPOILERS STOP READING RIGHT NOW!
I MEAN IT.
GO NO FURTHER!!!
OK. You’ve been warned.
Yes, there was a love story aspect to Wonder Woman. Let’s face it. It’s entertaining, it sells, and audiences (myself, included) eat it up.
This movie, though, turned the typical love story on its ear. Who was the person needing rescuing? That would be the man, Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine). Who was the first one to confess love to the other? Yep, Steve. And who was obviously the physically weaker person in the lead duo? Again, our guy Steve.
But here’s what I loved about that. You see, I’m a very traditional type girl. I make no bones about the fact that my husband is the head of our household. He’s my strength and my rock and has “saved” me more times that I can count. But I’ve done the same for him. Many times. And anyone who thinks that a woman can’t be strong in a relationship, can’t be the lead partner once in a while, or can’t literally save the day every now and again…
Well, they can take a flying leap. And I’ll guarantee you they won’t land as gracefully as Wonder Woman did after a stop-motion hover-in-the-air fight scene!
Also, I can’t fail to mention that while the sexual tension was palpable between these two characters, that angle of the story was hardly even touched on, much less exploited. Woohoo!!
The heart of the matter
Image from 1923 Main Street
Patty Jenkins, who also directed Charlize Theron in 2003’s film Monster, has done an amazing…WONDERful (sorry, bad pun)…thing here. She’s taken the superhero genre and turned it upside down. Thanks in no small part to her group of four male writers, it has to be said.
So many superhero movies are centered on very generic “good vs. bad” or “strong vs. weak” themes.
Wonder Woman, on the other hand, was based on the idea that LOVE can overcome HATE.
I am a super huge fan of the idea that LOVE will win. And it only makes sense to me that if a woman is the one who is going to rock the world and save the day, that LOVE would be her impetus. Diana sees the pain and suffering of people around her. She can’t even begin to comprehend how people could let such horrible things happen to each other, much less to innocent women and children. When she sees the stalemate of No Man’s Land, she can’t just let it go and move on. No. She sees an opportunity for something to be done. She strongly, bravely moves out in front, taking whatever the world throws at her and making the way safe for those who are coming behind.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like just about every mom I’ve ever met.
And in the end, when she’s up against the ultimate evil, and she is literally pinned to the ground…where does she find her strength? What thoughts does she turn to?
Not how horrible the person in front of her is.
Not how angry she is to be in her current situation.
Instead, images of love go through her mind and heart. Images of her mother, Steve, the women from her home. And from that love, she draws the strength she needs to rise up again and continue to fight the good fight.
The lingering effect
So, sure. We can look at Wonder Woman as a good movie. A really entertaining, fun to watch, spectacle of a summer blockbuster. Because it totally IS that! Certainly, we can tout its “certified fresh” rating of 93% from Rotten Tomatoes. (In fact, only the original Avengers movie in 2012 and Iron Man from 2008 scored about a 90%. From the DC collection, only 1978’s Superman and 2008’s The Dark Knight can compare.)
But these things aren’t what I walked out of the theater thinking about. First, it hit me that the display of real, strong, sexy, (pardon my French) bad ass women made me feel empowered and exhilarated. Second, I delighted in the relationship between Diana and Steve. Care and concern and wanting to protect the other was the story, not some gratuitous and formulaic sex scenes.
And ultimately, the ideas that LOVE conquers hate, strong women can save the world, and the feminine ability to be strong and soft at the same time won me over hook, line, and sinker.
Not only would I pay good money to see it in the theater again, but I seriously can’t wait for my girls to be old enough to see it with me.
Wonder Woman is JUST the kind of superhero I want them to look up to.