Wonder Woman is the first decent female superhero film to hit the screens in over 100 years of cinema, which in itself is quite a shocking truth Hollywood has to face. Not only did it give little girls worldwide a new heroine to adore, but it has carried on to box office success as well as admiration from fans and critics alike – something which so far has seemed an impossible feat for the DC extended universe to achieve. More importantly, Wonder Woman has leant itself to admiration from both male and female fans – but why?
For starters, Patty Jenkins did a wonderful job in the creation of Wonder Woman’s home world of Themyscira. Personally, superhero films that have taken place in fictional lands as opposed to the likes of New York, London etc. I have found hard to connect with. Particularly the Thor films have struggled to intrigue me with scenes that take place on Asgard and beyond. However, Themyscira looked like a genuine tropical paradise with an aire of Ancient Greece which resulted in a beautiful opening half hour to the film (and in my opinion, the best part).
On top of this, there were all round inspiring performances from heroines of Themyscira, with Robin Wright as Antiope and of course Gal Gadot as Diana. As well as this, we had a great supporting character of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) who serviced as Diana’s tutor in Earthly customs leading to some funny moments throughout. The film also benefitted heavily from Zack Snyder’s absence regarding the screenplay. With the DCEU’s previous entries suffering from convoluted plots and overall bleak tones, Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air and ending up having some moments of real emotion.
My only criticism of the film would be its final battle. In comparison to its previous gripping action scenes, the final fight was all too obviously filmed on a soundstage and incorporated a distracting amount of CGI (something many superhero films have suffered from in recent years). Although a lackluster way for the film to go out, the credits were still met with a well-deserved applause from the audience and had everyone leaving with a smile.
One of the most important aspects of Wonder Woman I want to discuss however, was inspired by a comment made by Youtube film reviewer, Chris Stuckmann who highlighted one specific scene in Wonder Woman which allowed him a sigh of relief and a smile as oppose to a groan. [minor spoiler ahead]:
The scene takes place in a british trench between Diana and Steve – Diana intends to cross No Man’s Land to save an enslaved village from German forces while Steve intends to talk her down from such a task. He says that it’s called No Man’s Land because NO man can cross it. A scene which could have so easily been followed by Gal Gadot turning to the camera and saying “But I am not a man” before winking and running off to battle. This is the kind of thing that has been seen in many films before to try and make a female character seem strong and independent and would have most likely been in the film had it been written by a less competent screenwriter (ie. Zack Snyder). Had this happened, the scene would have no emotional impact on the audience, besides maybe a cheer from a crazed feminist in the back row as well as silenced groans from male (and potentially female) viewers.
What would make such a scene so abhorrent to viewers is not because she is a woman and women are incapable of doing anything involving battle (so pipe down you insufferable whiners), it’s because it completely misses the point of what showing a strong female protagonist is. Diana isn’t able to do this because she is a woman, and Steve is just a petty, cowardly man, no, the fact that she is a woman in this situation is neither a pro nor a con for her, it is just what she happens to be. She has her own inner morals and motivations that give her the strength to cross No Man’s Land. That is her independence and why she is an inspiration to ALL viewers of the film. Her character isn’t centered around the fact that she is a woman and that is what is so important. This would make her completely one dimensional and not empowering to women. If her whole gimmick was making men inferior in order to empower women then it fails. this is still male centric and not a reason for young women to look up to her as an effective role model.
The scene plays out with Diana proclaiming why she must cross No Man’s Land because saving people is what she was put on earth to do. Accompanied by Patty Jenkins’ stunning direction, a stellar performance from Gal Gadot and a moving score from Rupert Gregson-WIlliams, it ends up being a beautiful, emotionally effective scene that brought a smile to all viewers.
I hope that Wonder Woman will bring me some solace before I see ‘Jane Bond, starring Emily Blunt coming 2020’ in Hollywood’s pathetic attempt to show that they promote gender equality whilst simultaneously missing the point of what that is. There is nothing to question Emily Blunt’s ability as an action star, as seen from her performance in Edge of Tomorrow not long ago. But simply casting her in a male part as the sole strategy for a film’s success will only be met with backlash from fans (as we saw from 2016’s Ghostbusters) and is a less than progressive step to achieving equality in Hollywood. Either way, is right Wonder Woman.