Wonder Woman: Not Quite a Review

Wonder Woman: Not Quite a Review

As you can probably guess based on the frequency of posting, my time reserves are extremely limited at the moment. The Estonian EU Presidency will start on 1 July and we are all officially doing 6-day work weeks now, not to mention the unofficial over time. I’m not saying this to complain – it’s all very exciting -, but to excuse my pathetic blogging record.

I found time to see Wonder Woman, however – Saturday evenings are still pretty relaxed and, well, I simply had to see it. Surprising absolutely no one, I liked it a lot. As many have said, Gal Gadot is perfectly cast. The Amazons are flawless. Robin Wright Penn has cemented her status as my idol. Some of the fight scenes are incredibly beautiful and badass. And Chris Pine is cute.

That’s not why I’m writing, though. I’m writing because my main emotion after seeing the movie was relief. Relief, because had it been bad, it would have taken Zeus knows how many years until a superhero movie with a female lead would have been attempted again. When male-led movies fail, it’s because the movies were bad. When the same happens to a film with a female protagonist, it’s because it had a female protagonist.

How ridiculous that in 2017 we still have to talk about this. That grown-up women like me have to feel grateful that this long overdue success finally materialised. I feel like I’m telling people: „See, I told you – water is actually very hydrating!“ Of course it is, you just have to fucking drink it.

The whole lack of roles for women is obviously a wider phenomenon. Still, I think there is something especially inexcusable about resisting female superheroes. Let’s imagine for a moment that women are indeed weaker, stupider, much more boring than men, that there simply is less to tell about them, that women doing cool or extraordinary stuff would not be believable. It’s of course a load of bullshit, but bear with me for a moment. For a superhero movie, it’s all completely irrelevant: superheroes are outside normal parameters anyway, either born as freaks, acquiring their powers accidentally or being entirely alien. The whole Spider-Man story is built around the contrast between Peter Parker’s real self and his wall-climbing alter ego. There is absolutely no reason why a woman cannot be in the same position. Actually, the dramatic opportunities would be even greater.*

Ah, never mind. It’s done now and with these box office figures, hopefully we’ll never need to have this conversation again. But back to the movie itself: does it compete with my absolute favourites in the same genre? Not sure, I think I did like The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy better (if the latter qualifies). It does make my top 5 of recent years, however, and I would very much recommend watching it.

I think most people who are used to male superheroes would have no trouble enjoying Wonder Woman. The only ones I’m worried about are the people who aren’t familiar with superhero movies at all and will go and watch it because of the buzz. Ironically, this is the most traditional superhero movie of recent times (Captain America comes the closest). The hero is unambiguously good, there is absolutely no doubt about her moral credentials. The setting is World War I – very old school comic book. Even visually, it’s quite old fashioned, although often stunning. Watching movies like this requires serious amounts of suspension of disbelief and not everyone is capable of that.

Oh, and where do I stand on the costume? I don’t mind it. I freely admit that I admire and enjoy Gadot’s physique and actually find watching a physically capable female body extremely refreshing and inspiring. I also don’t think one superhero movie can carry all the expectations of modern feminism on its shoulders – you cannot direct that sort of a movie as an exercise in women’s studies. As they say: “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

*I know, there are many other “reasons” for discriminating against women in film, I just don’t have room for all of them.


Add yours
  1. 1

    Hey you’re posting at all and that is seriously impressive to me given work demands! I realllly want to see WW and will make sure I do soon – I agree it’s refreshing (although it shouldn’t be) that it seems to be getting such good reviews and so popular that we will see more like it. Oddly enough I was talking about something similar this morning and although different Princess Leia was another great female character (although not lead). Also given how frustrated I am at certain political events and leadership (or lack thereof) at the moment I am delighted that WW is stepping in to show women can provide fantastic role models!

    • 2

      I hope you’ll like it! I’m with you on Princess Leia and I don’t think it has to be the lead role to make a difference. It’s just ridiculous when there are NO lead roles for one gender at all. But we agree, no need to convince you?

  2. 3

    I would like to comment on one of the very interesting ideas you include: that there is no reason why it would not be as interesting if a woman would be in the same position as a man. Bear in mind that Spiderman was created in 1961, WW in 1941. In those times mentality, the options for a woman superhero would be a housewife with kids, or a librarian , which would not fit with the “excitement” that other more daring “male” jobs would offer. Also consider that superheroes normally have superhuman strength, which probably was not easily accepted for a member of the “feeble sex”. Funnily enough, a society willing to accept that a boy bitten by a radioactive spider could crawl walls was not ready to accept that a woman could have superstrength under similar circumstances.
    One of the big changes in our society has seen the role of women change so radically that it has become obvious, not only that women do interesting and daring jobs, but that actually it would even be more interesting to see the contrast between the superhero constraints and her everyday life. And in general it has been proven that female characters can be more interesting than male ones. See for reference a delightful TV series called “Marvel Agent Carter”, a sort of spin off of Captain America but with very modern characteristics.
    Just imagine: a superheroine that has to fight evil because she has superstrength and can fly and that in her everyday life has to organise an EU presidency!

  3. 4

    Love this post! I l wholeheartedly agree with your eloquent statement about a movie carrying feminism. I freely admit that Wonder Woman and Princess Leia were everything to me as a girl growing up in the 80s. After waiting my whole life for someone to make a Wonder Woman movie…I was apprehensive about the whole thing. Wasn’t sure about Gal Gadot, the darkness of recent DC movies compared to Marvel’s offerings, and the changes they made from the original Wonder Woman comics. I spent a “decadent” Friday morning at the movies alone after dropping off my daughter at summer camp–I left feeling like a kid again and Gal totally convinced me she deserved the role. That said, it would be nice if I could share it with my 8 year old, but it’s still a bit much for her so we’ll wait a couple of years. Hang in there at work, home, and life–you’re working hard and doing the best you can!

    • 5

      I’m also wondering if my daughter would be OK watching it (she is 8,5 years), but I suspect it’s a little bit too early. Although she has seen and enjoyed all the installments of Pirates of the Caribbean, which can be pretty scary.

      In any case, glad you enjoyed the movie and thank you for the support!

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