Power. Wisdom. Wonder.
Wonder Woman aka Princess Diana of Themyscira aka Diana Prince, is one of the most iconic superheroes to ever be created. She has had a long and illustrious career. The phenomenon has spread through popular media, from her entry into the comic book world in 1941 and moving on to TV series and cartoons and finally the movies. The much anticipated Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot in the titular role was released in 2017, setting a number of box office records in addition to being critically acclaimed. A sequel is in the works, scheduled to release in 2020. Patty Jenkins’ direction took WW to another level, making it a strong woman centric movie directed by a strong female director. In my personal opinion, the movie was, simply put, freaking awesome. I'm not saying it doesn't have flaws but awesome remains the only way to describe it perfectly. A look through Wonder Woman's history would show that it is also one of the best incarnations of Wonder Woman, truly portraying her in a way fit for her description, "Strong as Hercules, Wise as Athena, Swift as Hermes and Beautiful as Aphrodite."
Wonder Woman was the brainchild of reputed psychologist William Marston, a revolutionary addition to the then exclusively male world of super heroes. The role of females in most mainstream comics of that time was as 'damsels in distress', lying in wait to be rescued by Batman and Superman, or at most as a sidekick. Wonder Woman was the first female superhero to gain popularity, a strong, capable woman that went against conventional images. Although looking back at those early works we can see the obvious stereotypes and sexism in a lot of them. But her story adapted and improved with the progression of time, getting better and then worse at times, but finally reaching a version of her that was near perfect. The more recent comics have more in common with Gadot's Wonder Woman than the initial flawed version of her. Mistakes aside Marston had created something that was truly great. He drew inspiration for Wonder Woman from the women in his life and was influenced by major feminists of that time. The comics had mixed reactions from being hailed as a milestone in feminism to being criticized for Wonder Woman's "revealing" outfit. Marston described Wonder Woman as “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman” whom he believed, should rule the world.
The men in her life
In the words of her creator, "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power." As it has been pointed out by gushing fans all over social media the movie Wonder Woman is basically a repeating sequence of a number of guys telling Diana that she cannot, should not, will not do something and Diana proves that she can, should, and will do just that. The now famous line delivered by Diana, said to the love of her life of all people, explains the movie in a nutshell. As Steve Trevor attempts to stop Diana from doing something that he believes will be disastrous, she says to him "What I do is not up to you" and pushes him away. Well "pushes" might be too light a word, but I do think it's a mark of Diana's self control that she didn't throw Steve through a wall.
In the film we have a Steve Trevor who respects and admires women and complements Diana rather well. Steve of course raises doubt about Diana's skills and underestimates her, but any normal human would have that same response. No one expects that anyone can deflect bullets with their "bracelets" or take down entire squadrons singlehandedly. Even after seeing them in action multiple times that can be a little hard to sink in. Also Steve obviously has a bit of that 'I'm a man so I should protect the poor defenseless women' thing drilled into him. But compared to the usual other male characters depicted in the usual superhero flicks he is better than most by a long shot. And near the movie's end I must not be the only one who wanted to scream at Steve to "Just let the woman handle it!"
Fit for a Warrior
It's not just the story and the character, the triumph of Gadot's Wonder Woman is in detail. Between her debut and the 2017 film, Wonder Woman has, in addition to her presence in the DC comic world, had successful and unsuccessful ventures into television. On seeing the first look of the 2017 Wonder Woman, Costume Designer Amanda Weaver compared it with the earlier versions. Weaver feels that Gadot's Wonder Women is the only one that shows the Amazons in outfits suitable for them. Amazons are, first and foremost, a race of deadly warriors. In the 1975 television series starring Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman is shown wearing clothing that is far from battle armor. According to Weaver, the inspiration behind that costume is lingerie. It got even worse in the Wonder Woman pilot starring Adrianne Palicki in 2011, which thankfully crashed and burned. That costume, in Weaver's words is the "shoddiest, cheapest looking thing I've ever seen a Hollywood costumer produce." When Weaver saw the Wonder Woman costume designed by Lindy Hemming for Gadot, she says she cried. The costumes of the Amazons in the movie have their origin in real Roman Armor. The designers took inspiration from ancient armor fragments to create the looks for all Amazons, including Diana. For all those who criticize Wonder Woman's "skimpy" clothes, her skirt is cut high over the thighs to not impede movement, as it was in ancient roman battle wear. If the critics still complain, they should watch the movie 300. Spartan battle wear would make Wonder Woman seem like she is wearing a burkha into battle. As for me, in my opinion, what the women wear is secondary to how they fight. If the amazons are portrayed as as fierce and strong as they ought to be, then they can fight in whatever they want- be it lingerie or full body armor.
I wanna be like Wonder Woman
In short Wonder Woman represents someone who is completely and totally the perfect hero for any woman to look up to. She is someone that people want their daughters- and sons for that matter- to idealize. If a 5 year old says "I wanna be like Wonder Woman when I grow up!" parents will, or at least should, glow with pride. Because that means he/she wants to be strong and wise and kind and loving and just and compassionate and willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Granted, the kid might just want the super strength, cool lasso, sword, shield and the shiny costume. But still.
The Wonder Woman movie was therefore just a really great, well-made movie. Not to mention an important milestone in the long history of Wonder Woman as well as a step in the right direction for the entire superhero genre. It is not perfect, no. It has been pointed out that Chris Pine's Steve Trevor has more screen time than the female romantic interests in male superhero movies ever seem to get. But there is a question on if that is a criticism of the rest of the usual superhero flicks or of this movie. And the sort of clichéd ending. But the pros outweigh the cons and the movie is, pun intended, wonderful. Wonder Woman represents all that women could be, all their potential that lies dormant and unfulfilled because of fear and doubt and prejudice. In an interview with DC All Access, Gal Gadot says that what makes Wonder Woman so beloved is because of "...what she stands for- her values, what she symbolizes and who she is. She's really a pure, beautiful, good-hearted character. So there's nothing not to love. I think that this character is very universal. Everyone can relate to Diana because everyone wants to have a better world." That is why me, and a whole lot of others I believe, cannot wait for the sequel.
© 2019 K N