I saw Wonder Woman this weekend, and, rather predictably, I loved it. I'm probably going to see it again tonight, my girlfriend in tow, eager to find a bunch of little details I missed the first time around.
It's a superhero origin story, but where most of those leave me ice cold (aside from the first Thor movie, which I find uproarious), this got my heart going, with—yes—a woman hero that I could believe in, a lady who is maybe a bit green, but powerful, ultra-competent and above all caring. Everything she does, everything she sacrifices, she does it because she believes in a better vision of humanity. It's a movie about a woman being so awesome, so skilled, and so completely defiant of a grimdark world of men and rigid gender roles. She kicks aside all the bullshit with humor, heart, and lots of stunts.
So, yeah, of course I was going to like this movie.
Gal Gadot was a force of nature throughout, but what surprised me was how fantastic Chris Pine was in the role relegated to sidekicks and superhero girlfriends. He knows he isn't the star of the show, and he is gracious in his support of the leading lady, both in the text and in the more meta reading here. There are so many subtle touches—small choices in acting, framing, timing—that communicate this. Supporting that, there are so many ways that this movie feels like it was definitely not directed by a straight guy (it was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, who is getting some much-deserved praise).
The Amazons—and especially Diana—are beautiful, but they never feel like eye-candy, the way women are so often presented in this kind of movie. Chris Pine definitely is, in one particularly (hilarious) scene, but never in an egregious or gross way. And the movie, despite its oppressive World War I setting, believes that something like gender parity can exist. That it isn't just some joke that a woman can be the most powerful fighter on the team (even if said team is comprised of ragtag misfits), or the most heroic.
I see a lot of people tweeting or writing about what a positive experience families are having with the movie—particularly those with young daughters. I sat next to a mother and a young son who was very excited to see Wonder Woman kick ass, and there were tons of young women at my screening, all of whom left the theater with a palpable energy.
Diana is a worthy hero: yes, she kicks ass, but goddamnit, she is also moral, kind and compassionate. She risks her life constantly to help others, and even though she gets a nasty lesson in human nature throughout the events of the film—this sure is a superhero origin story—she believes in rising above.
As inspired by I am by the film (and excited that so many young women—and folks of any gender) are fired up about it, I must admit to a small pang of jealousy.
I wish this movie had come out in, say, 1991, when I was a little girl who wanted to kick ass, but also save other people. Or, maybe I just wish I was seven right now, and growing up in a world that somehow—for all of the awful, awful bullshit we are trudging through politically, for all of the hatred, racism and misogyny that permeates our culture—still managed to produce a movie about a decent, kind, superhero lady who rises above all of that.
I mean, there's no way I wouldn't have dressed up as Diana and run around practicing cool Amazon moves, and petitioned my parents to change my name ("it's only a few letters different!"). But it would've been good for me in other ways: to see strong, fearless, muscular women, women who didn't need men around (but didn't mind them, maybe, from time to time). It would've been good for this tiny little tomboy to see someone I actually wanted to be when I grew up, supported by this caliber of moral character.
And hey, maybe I don't need to be seven to be inspired. Corny as it is, it's true, and maybe the best part of superhero fiction, when it's done well. And Wonder Woman is done about as well as I've ever seen a classic, big-budget superhero story, in this or any other era.
So, hey, forum friends! Is there a movie—or other fictional work—that you wished could've come out when you were younger? Something that you think could've had a chance of shaping the fine human that you've grown into? Let's discuss!