When it comes to super hero movies, I’m a tough sell. I grew up believing Michael Keaton to be Batman and Christopher Reeve the Man of Steel, but it’s a genre that isn’t an automatic for me. When it comes to super hero flicks, I’m looking for that “I’m in” moment, and Wonder Woman provided that moment emphatically.
I haven’t seen all iterations of Spider-Man or The Incredible Hulk (though I love Mark Ruffalo), nor have I seen each Captain America film, and will probably never seen Batman v Superman (see opening sentence). Full disclosure, I went to see Iron Man because I’ve always been a fan of Robert Downey Jr., not because I was excited to see how the latest comic was transferred from page to screen.
I didn’t know anything about Gal Gadot before learning that she’d been cast as Diana Prince, but with each new trailer for Wonder Woman, I was pulled in further and further. Despite my love for the horror genre, I can honestly say there isn’t a movie I’m more excited about this year than Wonder Woman. In fact, the line that sealed the deal regarding the exploits of Diana Prince, that “I’m in” moment, had nothing to do with super powers or badassery, but rather empowerment.
Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) tells Prince “I can’t let you do this,” to which she replies “What I do is not up to you.”
It reminded me very much of what caught my attention regarding the Spider-Man 2 trailer: “There are bigger things happening here than me and you.”
There is certainly more going on here than the release of the latest super hero movie. No, Wonder Woman delivers a message of empowerment and equality, and calls attention to the fact that there are millions of capable and resilient women who exhibit fortitude and strength every single day. Women who see injustice that needs to be addressed and set about fixing it. The last thing that would describe these women are damsels in distress looking for a man to save the day.
We saw it with the Women’s March in January, and witnessed it when Senator Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter from Coretta Scott King to Congress as they debated the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Exploits that were met with resistance and detractors who felt it necessary to belittle and scrutinize such endeavors.
It’s not uncommon to hear that feminists are lesbians who hate men. For starters, what’s wrong with being a lesbian? And lastly, it’s about time that men who say (and inexplicably believe) such things begin to process that feminists don’t loathe men, they simply have distaste for boys who are intimidated by strong, independent women. If you’re reading this and offended by the Women’s March or intelligent women demanding that they be paid equally, treated with respect and allowed to make decisions about their own bodies, then the camp you fall into is clear.
When it comes to film, Ghostbusters was the focus of scorn last summer, and that ire has now been directed toward Wonder Woman. Terms like femi-Nazi and protestations over female-only screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse and even criticisms that Gal Gadot isn’t big enough through the shoulders, tough enough for the part, or even the absurd assertion that her breasts aren’t large enough to fulfill the role of Ms. Prince.
The term that comes to mind is laughable.
Gadot served two years as a trainer for the Israeli Defense Force and represented Israel at the Miss Universe Pageant in 2004. Not only is Gadot one of the most beautiful women in the world, but she is more than capable of handling herself physically. Such incredible attributes may have placed her on the Wonder Woman radar, but it was Gadot’s dramatic talents that ultimately landed the lead role. Not only is Wonder Woman one of the most anticipated super hero films in memory, it is easily the most important.
We are not allowed to ignore the empowerment that this film represents not only for women from all walks of life, but for little girls who have seen hero after hero dangled before them, almost exclusively targeted at boys, yet rarely discover one directed at them specifically. That is changing, but too slowly. Wonder Woman picks up where The Force Awakens’ Rey (Daisy Ridley) left off, with a strong and capable female hero who doesn’t back down from a challenge, refuses to exist in a box that makes others comfortable, and saves herself.
Wonder Woman is Gadot’s vehicle, but it is just as critical that this blockbuster feature is directed by Patty Jenkins, another strong, talented woman with titles like Monster and The Killing already under her belt.
And make no mistake, Gadot and Jenkins don’t need saving, rather they require and deserve respect and a venue for their voice. There are many who would deny them that, but much like Senator Warren, there are legions of women who are told to stop, that they can’t, that they shouldn’t — yet they persist. And Wonder Woman has a voice that is about to be heard loud and clear.
If you are male and feel that these women are overstepping their bounds, they have a message for you: What women do is not up to you, so buckle up, because they are more than happy to keep rattling your antiquated cage.