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.