Wonder Woman (2017) How this film offers both a positive message and a feminist superhero
For many young girls and boys alike their introduction to the character of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) aka Wonder Woman came in the divisive 2016 film Batman vs Superman, having one of the most iconic entrances in comic book film history.
The character received a classic origin story movie the following year. The internet was flooded with parents filming their children’s reactions to both the film multiple trailers and the finished product.
Wonder Woman ( WW) is the first film of its kind in many ways; firstly it is the first female lead superhero movie (there was been comic book fans petitioning for a Black Widow film since her debut in Iron Man 2 in 2010). WW also became the highests grossing comic book film of all time with a global box office gross of $821.749 million (Guerriso, 2017) prior to the release of Marvel’s Black Panther in February 2018. WW it was been praised by many as the first truly feminist comic book film ever with a strong and empowered Amazon princess as the main character/protagonist. So here are some for the discussions about DC’s first female superhero film.
The film has been described as a masterpiece of subversive feminism, but also criticised for playing to some patriarchal stereotypes. Was this a movie about a male hero, would there be a focus on his outfit to the degree of the shopping scene in Wonder Woman?
One could argue that as a figure from an outside world there was a need to showcase her navigating the confusing streets of London, and conforming to the social norms that would seem unusual to her. In the scenes taking place in London she represents the viewers as the outsiders looking in to a society we find absurd in modern times. Viewers feel a frustrated as Wonder Woman feels confused when she’s excluded from the council chamber.
The armour of both Wonder Woman and the Amazons also garnered a lot of attention. The design by Linda Hemming portrayed the women as warriors first and foremost. Wonder Woman is more stylised to stand out, and she is made to look attractive, but the armour is function above all. The design itself is taken straight out history books, as it is based on roman armour.
She’s not wearing sexy thigh-high boots, she’s wearing roman greaves. Her skirt is cut high over the thighs to avoid hindering movement, not to show off her thighs. It is a celebration of classic Wonder Woman design merged with historic armour.
Diana Prince embodies many of the key feminist ideals, as Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post writes “Diana ... doesn’t have any idea what women and men are — or aren’t — supposed to do. Even when she does encounter other people’s ideas about gender roles, she doesn’t automatically accept them, and she never lets anyone stop her” (Rosenberg, 2017). Rosenberg continues in her article to point out the many positive aspects of WW representation of feminist ideals, and showing how they shouldn’t be so unusual in the WWI setting of the film or today’s world either. “ The movie goes a step further and argues that it’s not merely little girls all over the world who stand to gain if they can grow up
free of the distorting influence of misogyny: a world like that would be liberating and wonderful for men in lots of ways, too.” (Rosenberg, 2017).
There are some key scenes throughout the film that offers up important messages about both feminism (the equality of men and women, and women being of completely equal ability and strength as men) and humanity. The first one to discuss would be the infamous ‘No Man’s Land Crossing’, Diana is told by Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) that there is no way for them to get to a village in need because it is on the other side of No Man’s Land, and in response to her questioning he replies “no man can cross it” (Wonder Woman, 2017). To this Diana simply replies without hesitation that “No but it’s what I’m going to do” (Wonder Woman, 2017) proceeding to step out across the battlefield drawing all the enemy fire and allowing the allied forces to proceed, and nearly single handedly liberating a French village.
The message behind this scene in my opinion would be, yes WW has these incredible abilities and powers, but also that she is no less able to fight then the men around her, and that she will not be stopped or confined by the ideas of ‘man’s world’. Another key scene in the film which presents the positive message WW presents would be towards the end where Diana is fighting the final battle against her halfbrother (spoilers) Ares the god of war, when confronted with all the ‘evil’ of mankind and how her godlike powers could ‘restore the world’ to peace sans humans, Diana says the now iconic line “ it’s not about deserve, it’s about what you believe and I believe in love” (Wonder Woman, 2017) following the death of her love interest Steve Trevor https://youtu.be/AGYpgAynCIs relating to the fact that despite the world being full of darkness, war and misery, there is still hope and light within it.
In my opinion this is one of the film’s greatest achievements, turning people’s perceptions of what a ‘strong female character’ needs to be, and it also provides a positive role model to young people of all genders and some even more important messages. In today’s world messages of women being just as capable and powerful as men, and also love being a powerful tool for good are very special and applies to the films setting of WWI just as much as it applies to 2018.
Guerrasio, J. (2017). 'Wonder Woman' is now the highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/wonder-woman-highest-grossing-superhero-origin-movie-2017-11 [Accessed 25 Apr. 2018].
Rosenberg, A. (2017). Opinion | ‘Wonder Woman’ is a beautiful reminder of what feminism has to offer women — and men. [online] Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2017/06/05/wonder-woman-is-a-beautiful-r eminder-of-what-feminism-has-to-offer-women-and-men/?utm_term=.4b285566ee0a [Accessed 27 Mar. 2018].
Wonder Woman. (2017). [DVD] Directed by P. Jenkins. Hollywood: Warner Brothers, DC.