Last night I watched Wonder Woman and was blown away. Yes, I’m late to the party in singing the praises of this movie, but I hate seeing movies in the theater so I waited until we could watch it at home.
Part of the reason why I’d dragged my feet in seeing it is that I don’t love superhero movies. I don’t hate them either. I’ll see them and enjoy them, but they are rarely first on my list of must-sees. I imagine that’s probably because I don’t really relate to the male leads. I get easily fatigued on action sequences. And I’d yet to find a female character that was holistically inspiring to me. Until I saw Wonder Woman.
While watching it I had so many different reactions and emotions but ultimately I came out of it enchanted and grinning from ear to ear. There were tears and pride in there too. And something else that I can only describe as – well, isn’t it obvious? – wonder. Like that feeling you get when you see the Christmas tree light up in a dark room.
I actually went to bed smiling and thinking, ‘Wow! A superhero movie for me!…I loved it!…When can we watch it again?…Sigh…Gal Gadot is the most beautiful woman in the entire world…I wonder if I’ll ever be able to levitate while doing a roundhouse kick…zzzzzzzzz, snore…’
Those were just my initial, superficial thoughts. But when I woke up this morning, my wonder had grown overnight – wonder at the character, the story, the Director, the movie, the emotions I was feeling, the desire to learn more and to talk about it more with anyone who would listen today.
Here’s where I went with it:
The first fifteen minutes or so of the movie are beautiful and spectacular – with no man in sight. Diana’s young ambition is driven only by her desire to be a badass warrior. Nothing she wants is in the context of what a man wants or how to make herself an attractive mate for a man later in life. She grows up with role models who are all strong, skilled women. She doesn’t grow up knowing sexism, so it doesn’t really register with her when it first happens later. Instead she responds to anyone who doubts her with logic and with confidence in her own strength and super-abilities. Everything she does in the movie is driven by who she is – a pure, kind and compassionate person who stands up for what is right and to protect the world – not by a narrative of a woman overcoming a man’s world.
I find all of this so fascinating and so eye-opening. As someone who obsesses over style and beauty and all that does in fact perpetuate the objectification of women, I’m in awe of the tables this turned on me.
Speaking of clothing and objectification of women, I took a minute to explore how I felt about the scantily clad heroines. Turns out I had zero problems with the uniforms and costumes of the female characters. I saw them as functional armor intended to protect what’s vital and allow for mobility and efficiency when kicking ass. The women are sensual, sure, but I didn’t see overt cleavage or any active showing of feathers or oozing sexiness or feminine wiles used to manipulate men. In my opinion, James Cameron got it wrong when he claimed this to be just another white male’s Hollywood objectification of females. I didn’t feel that at all, and if anything, I imagine a lot of us see his claims as an embarrassingly obvious attempt to cheapen and strip away the depth of its characters, as well as the meaningful intentions of its female Director.
Of course I can’t deny the reality that Diana is gorgeous and polished and made up the entire time. And yes, she grows up on a beautiful, isolated (and not real) paradise island with no external male antagonism for a good portion of her life. If that’s what Cameron is getting at then, okay yes, that’s Hollywood I guess – but isn’t that also just the story of Wonder Woman? Sorry, James. I’m just not willing to let some extra polish outweigh everything else that this movie did for me. And p.s. I like makeup and looking at beautiful women like Gal Gadot. NEXT…
Yes, next – the love story. At first I went down the path of, ‘Wait. Are you telling me that after all this, it’s the love of a man that ends up tying a pretty little bow around her ultimate purpose? Are they really going to put this all in his hands??’ But that’s not actually what happened. My interpretation of the plot is that it’s her discovery of the capacity for humans to love and their drive to love and to be loved that compels her to continue saving the world forever and ever.
So later this afternoon, I had this really interesting moment in the bookstore where I found myself on the self-help aisle with yet another glossy hardcover how-to-be-a-boss book in my hand. My sister took one look at it and said, ‘Yeah. I’m done with those.’ And I put it back, and thought, ‘Me too.’
I don’t need a book to tell me how to be a boss-bitch. I already know. What I need right now is a heroine. Someone to daydream about, to look up to, to aspire to and to relate to. That’s what this movie gave me. That’s why I had a smile on my face when I went to sleep last night and when I woke up today. Finally – a super-heroine for me.