So I’m a little late on the Wonder Woman train. I had been excited to see it because it looked epic (!), but I’d also been apprehensive that it would continue the train wreck that is D.C. superhero movies right now. Like I wanted to like Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad (and generally, I found them enjoyable), but they just haven’t had the addictive quality that Marvel films over the last few years have been achieving in my opinion.
But then early reviews started coming out, and they were super positive! And once it premiered, many of my friends were able to go see it opening weekend, and they thought it was amazing! And so while I’ve spent the last few weeks uber busy with traveling and work and YouTube, I’ve felt like I was missing out on a special shared cultural moment.
Fast forward to the July 4th holiday when I finally had a bit of a break, I made it out to a movie theater and got to witness Wonder Woman in all its glory! And yes, it was glorious!
I could be really picky and talk about how I felt the special effects in the final battle got a bit too CGI-heavy or some of the suspension-of-disbelief issues I had with Diana’s wardrobe changes (and choices). But I think if THAT’S what you focus on after seeing this movie, then you’re being just that–picky. It blows Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad out of the water in terms of an interesting (and easy to follow) story and compelling characters. And I think runs in a similar vein to Marvel’s Thor (also one of my favorite Marvel films and also dealing with gods in the human world). It was funny when it needed to be funny. It was action-packed when it needed to action-packed. It was gritty when it needed to be gritty. (This is a story about war after all).
I also came away with two film moments that will forever be seared into my mind as things I aspire to create: the scene where Diana first watches the Amazons training and later the big and beautiful beach battle scene between the Amazons and German soldiers. Those two moments legitimately made me tear up watching them because they were the kinds of scenes of epic female badassery that I had always imagined creating myself because I’d never seen them before.
But I’ve also had the niggling fear of embracing the idea of epic women fighting because I’ve been consistently bombarded with the message that “women can’t fight realistically” or “women are too weak to fight.” Et cetera, et cetera. These messages came from commenters on YouTube videos (like when I made the ill-advised decision to talk about female action heroes once) and even my own boyfriend, who may be a big supporter of badass heroines, but is, in my opinion, a bit extra critical when it comes to how easily the suspension of disbelief can be broken for him. I mean, yes, I know that Wonder Woman taking her hair DOWN to fight is impractical, but it’s also 1.) an iconic part of the character and 2.) kind of irrelevant since I think a demigoddess should have the magical ability to fight AND have magically flowing perfect locks. I mean, if I was a demigoddess/superhero, that’s definitely what I would want!
And then there’s also the fact that there are plenty of examples of movies and TV shows that use action sequences with female characters poorly. One scene that always comes to mind is from Pretty Little Liars where Aria had learned kickboxing (or some defensive sport from her temporary-boyfriend-who-was-not-Ezra) and “takes down” Red Coat. It was laughable, poorly choreographed, and poorly executed. Aria is literally the smallest of all the Liars and they chose her to be the fighter? At least Emily was somewhat convincing when she had more physical scenes since they’d established her as the “sporty one.”
But there are times when women steal the show and can hold their own in a male dominated action world. Furiosa from Mad Max is one of my all-time favorites. And now the Amazons from Wonder Woman have entered my personal hall of fame as well. These are beautiful moments in cinema as well as for the women who dreamed as little girls not of being just princesses, but of being badass, dragon-riding warrior-princesses. You don’t see that too much on the screen so when something like Wonder Woman comes along, it’s a moment to be celebrated, emulated, and encouraged.
(The kind of princess I imagined myself to be as a kid.)