Since I teased it so much in the last post, I thought I’d complete this accidental week of spotlighting female superheroines with the one and only Wonder Woman.
I love this movie and it’s message so this might take a while and if you are in a hurry, you should probably stick to the good old bullet points:
- This is the film that made me feel powerful upon seeing it
- Wonder Woman Is an origin story set in WWI
- Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman has grown up on a man-less island full of Amazonian warrior women
- She has super powers but her true power lies in her compassion and love for humankind
- She is out to destroy Ares, the God of War which can be equated with ending the war
- The movie highlights the ridiculousness of misogyny and makes a great statement about empowerment
- It’s a lot of action-fueled fun but also a must see for girls
It was the first ever female superhero movies for my generation – by which I mean the questionable Catwoman and Electra movies of the early 2000s are only random childhood memories – when it came out in early 2017. It went on to become the highest grossing superhero origin story of all time.
Wonder Woman first appeared in the DCEU the year before her own movie was released in the Batman vs Superman. I once started watching that movie but had to stop as it was just as awful as the Superman movie which I have seen but will not speak of. So I can’t attest to her character in any other movie since I also haven’t seen Justice League – the Avengers-style superhero team movie of the DCEU.
Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman is played by Israeli beauty queen Gal Gadot – and I’m saying beauty queen because she literally was Miss Israel at one point. Action fans might know her from her role as the badass Giselle in the Fast & Furious franchise. Her love interest in a love story which is kind of central to advancing the plot but also still bugs me as unnecessary is American spy Steve Trevor played by Chris Pine who many want to see in the list of great Chrises. I don’t think he quite makes the cut but then again I also cut Chris Pratt so we are down to two. Anyways, I digress whenever I get talking about Chrises.
The origin story of Wonder Woman starts with her upbringing on the island of Themyscira, a mystical island hidden from mankind where the Amazonians live in peace – always training for war. The Amazonians are a race of warrior women who are historically rooted in Greek mythology and wait for Ares, the God of War, to come back and plunge the world into a war. For this reason, Zeus himself left the Amazonians with a weapon called “Godkiller” with which Ares can supposedly be killed.
Little Diana is not only the Queens daughter but the only child on the island and is trained by the first general of the Amazonian army. While all Amazonians are great warriors, Diana has special powers like energy blasts and speedy reactions. She has never seen the outside world, since Themyscira is hidden by ancient magic and leaving means never finding it again.
But then one day a plane accidentally breaks through the barrier and spews out the American spy Steve Trevor who was on a mission in the heights of World War I when he was shot down by enemy forces. When Diana hears about this war gripping the world, she concludes that Ares must have returned. She leaves her home with the most formidable sword of the Amazonian armories and follows Steve to London, where she is thrown right in the middle of the action. Her compassion and love for humankind grow as she fights battle after battle in search of Ares and her actions alter the course of history – her goal being to destroy Ares and to end war forever. You could employ Captain Marvel’s slogan of She’s not here to fight your war, she’s here to end it.
The movie is packed with action scenes that are magnificent because for once, the dark sepia coloring of most of the DCEU fits the place and time perfectly. Wonder Woman’s armor is very impractical for actual combat but it’s a close fit to the original Comic and looks just great so I will let it slide with only a mention. The best part of Diana’s look is her intricately woven thick, dark braid which is totally impossible to do – trust me, I have tried with many different tutorials.
Set in World War I, Wonder Woman is also facing a very different view on woman than we have today. The juxtaposition between dark, war torn London where women are accessories and her upbringing on a man-less paradise island with nothing but powerful, loving women around couldn’t be bigger. The film does a great job in highlighting the ridiculousness of the way women were treated as inferior by Diana’s own ignorance to the idea of it. There are moments where it is heartbreaking and ones where it is hilariously turned into comedy. But of course it is all only possible because she is literally bullet proof and figuratively a goddess of battle among mortals.
Next to her physical attributes like Gal Gadots inherent beauty and Diana’s power, her other values are often overlooked but the movie has them at its core as they motivate all her actions: her love and compassion. It’s doing a great job of showing how these values that are often equated with weakness make this women strong and courageous and driven to fight for the right thing. It’s a great lesson in humanity and does an excellent job of showing how qualities usually attributed to women can make you strong.
As a side note, I also still remember that much of her fighting powers were not just “super” but earned in hard training and how one of her most valuable skills was knowledge of many languages which she had to learn like everyone else. It showed how useful resilience, discipline and the power of knowledge can get you.
Wonder Woman was directed by Patty Jenkins who made a point of employing as many strong women as she could and it shows in everything from the hair in the braid to the way Diana never once consciously uses her looks. My favorite tidbit is how most of the background Amazonian warriors are professional athletes of many disciplines in real life.
Watching Wonder Woman save the world made me feel powerful and while I’m already grown up, I think it must be an incredible revelation for a little girl to see badass women like that, with her strength and courage and love and knowledge and compassion.
I can’t recommend this movie enough and I’m tempted to re-watch it right away – we can all use to feel powerful more often. I might even try the braid thing again.
Watch the trailer here.