Why Wonder Woman Matters

04 Jun 2017

Why Wonder Woman Matters

Wonder Woman shattered box office records this weekend, grossing $223 million worldwide and becoming the largest box office opening for a female director — ever.  Actress Gal Gadot is phenomenal in the title role, capturing Wonder Woman’s strength, charm and utter lack of guile.  Director Patty Jenkins offers up the most successful DC comic outing to date, telling a clear, wholesome, moving and inspiring story that is as refreshing as it is necessary as we process our daily Trumpster Fire.  Given that women direct only 7% of movies made, Ms. Jenkins amazing work here is yet more evidence to awaken male studio heads that the success of women’s stories, and women’s voices, in front of and behind the camera, is no fluke. And  yes, woman can direct big action flicks, too.

Take a look at the picture above, and all those precious little girls dressed as #WonderWoman. Seeing the film at our local theatre, we saw a number of girls similarly clad.  I shouted out to one, “Great outfit!” She turned to look at me, flipping her long dark curls (bedecked with Antiope’s crown) as a her red mini-cape fluttered out behind her.

She was beaming.

If you can see it, you can be it.

The other thing that’s always been great about Wonder Woman, one of the first comic book superheroes, is that she is not derivative of a man, nor does she imitate male behavior, which sends a positive message to woman navigating the world, whether in education, business or politics. You do not have to imitate male behavior to be successful. But that, too, is a double edged sword (yes, I went there). Women need to have the message reinforced that we can be applauded for presenting our own model for getting the job done, the approval of which does not get denied if someone like Carl Bernstein doesn’t like our “tone.”

Women daily navigate a society with men calling the shots at all levels of power. The fact that a group of “bros” went apoplectic at a few all-girl #WonderWoman screenings (sponsored by Alamo Drafthouse this weekend) perfectly illustrates why celebrations of sisterhood are needed.  From how many all-male “clubs” and bastions of power were woman long prohibited? Surely, a few screenings where women and girls unselfconsciously cheer for themselves could not be objectionable.

It took 75 years to bring Wonder Woman to the screen. Per TIME, female superhero movies are considered a risky investment: “Like every other female figure in pop culture, she must be everything to everyone: A fighter and a pacifist, smart and naive, a feminist and a bombshell.”

But director Patty Jenkins envisioned this superhero differently.  Per her interview with CBS:

“What was fascinating here was [Wonder Woman’s] objective – it’s going to be a little bit different than any superhero movie I’d seen that was from a different kind of character and from a man.”

…The character’s movements are “always staying present in the moment, almost more like a martial artist, present in the moment. Not emotional, not gleeful, not rageful.”

Another point of difference from other superhero movies is Wonder Woman’s mission.

“We’re making a movie about someone who wants to teach love and truth in the world right now, and who’s incredible and wants to live up to everything of a superhero movie. But her message is… ‘lay down those weapons, I believe in a better you.'”

Ms. Jenkins message couldn’t be more timely:

“I’m tired of sincerity being something we have to be afraid of doing. It’s been like that for 20 years, that the entertainment and art world has shied away from sincerity, real sincerity, because they feel they have to wink at the audience because that’s what the kids like. We have to do the real stories now. The world is in crisis.

I wanted to tell a story about a hero who believes in love, who is filled with love, who believes in change and the betterment of mankind. I believe in it. It’s terrible when it makes so many artists afraid to be sincere and truthful and emotional, and relegates them to the too-cool-for-school department. Art is supposed to bring beauty to the world.”

We were at a packed screening of a 9 AM show. The audience burst into applause on at least 4 different occasions. We desperately need this message and I suspect people around the world are hungry for it, too.

Wonder Woman deserves all the fabulous reviews its is getting. Per the critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes,

“Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot’s charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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