When my yoga instructor told our group that her choice of poses and flows in class were inspired by the new Wonder Woman release, my only thought was simply ‘cool’ and a brief, sharp exhale through my nose as my thighs burnt in Goddess pose.
I’ve never had an emotional connection to Wonder Woman, and I think I would have quite happily let the new movie pass me by had it not been for my determination to watch it in anticipation of the release of Justice League this winter (Hello Bat-dad Ben Affleck). So when I settled down to watch it, I was simply expecting a decent popcorn movie – I was wrong.
So when I settled down to watch it, I was simply expecting a decent popcorn movie – I was wrong.
What struck me about Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was not her incredible physique or her superhuman powers – It was the fact she was very much allowed to be her namesake; a woman. An actual woman. What’s extraordinary about this larger than life character isn’t the fact she’s a superhero, but to me, it’s just how ordinary she is.
This isn’t to say that the special effects of the film aren’t incredible, or that the story line was a breath of fresh air that widely avoided a mirror-image of Captain America’s war-torn origins. As a superhero blockbuster, Wonder Woman stands tall and proud on its own, and in my opinion, she would quite easily knock the entire ensemble of The Avengers sideways. But, it goes much further than that.
As a superhero blockbuster, Wonder Woman stands tall and proud on its own
As I struggled through my aforementioned yoga class in an attempt to get the perfect ‘bikini body’, my mind a lot of the time wandered to what healthy food choices I was going to make to support my new workout regime. Does Diana Prince stress about healthy food choices? Hell no. In fact, for the first time in my recent memory, the audience is witness to a woman being allowed to enjoy food on screen, and not just any food – Ice cream.
The scene is fleeting, as Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor buys Diana an ice cream cone in a train station, but it stuck in my mind throughout. There’s no joke in the scene. This isn’t an emotional wreck of a woman sitting on a sofa, weeping into a tub of ice cream. This was simply a person enjoying a new experience.
This isn’t an emotional wreck of a woman sitting on a sofa, weeping into a tub of ice cream. This was simply a person enjoying a new experience.
And that’s just what’s so perfect about the film. Diana, in our regular human world, is allowed to experience everything just as a regular person would. She’s innocent without being a naïve damsel in distress; she isn’t looked down upon when she doesn’t understand complex issues she’s only just encountered. She is allowed to learn, and grow. More importantly, she’s allowed to be angry and upset.
This isn’t the strong woman character who perpetuates the tomboy trope just to be unfeeling and ‘one of the guys’. Her anger is ugly too. It isn’t Hollywood crying that saves Gal Gadot’s beauty from being disrupted on screen – It is genuine sorrow and pain, the kind you would expect to see in the real world.
Diana’s realistic figure of a woman, save her insane Amazonian strength, isn’t just refreshing for female audience members, it seems to expand to helping dispel toxic masculinity for her male counterparts. Just as Diana shows the multiple ways women can be strong, the film shows how important it is to remember that men don’t have to be strong all the time.
Just as Diana shows the multiple ways women can be strong, the film shows how important it is to remember that men don’t have to be strong all the time.
As scene-stealer Ewen Bremner’s sniper Charlie struggles with PTSD symptoms, the group bands together to remind him it’s okay, and he’s allowed to have these moments. When he fails to pull the trigger on a German sniper, he’s comforted by Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), and when he suggests that the troop may be better off without him, Diana is quick to keep him on board by pointing out his other strength; singing.
Rather than alienating Charlie for what was seen as a de-masulising ailment back in World War One, the group embraces him, and allows him to be strong in other ways. This is a film that allows women to be strong, but just as importantly, it allows all its characters to have their moments of doubt, anger, and softness.
DC’s new strand of movies has had it’s rocky start; with Zack Snyder’s seeming inability to keep a plot moving and maintain the sharp and snappy action audiences expect of a superhero blockbuster, and Suicide Squad’s complete failure to launch as a coherent film created doubts that DC was going to catch up with Marvel’s monopoly of the superhero flick market.
Wonder Woman stole the show in Batman vs. Superman, and she is on track to dominate the Justice League franchise. Not only is she a force to be reckoned with in her fictional universe, but she is proof it is time Hollywood started to invest in female driven films – and Marvel could certainly learn a lesson or two from this movie alone.
Wonder Woman stole the show in Batman vs. Superman, and she is on track to dominate the Justice League franchise.
So, as I sit enjoying my coffee this morning in the aiport, I feel like a new, confident woman. I thought women were exagerrating when they felt confident enough to take on a fight barehanded after seeing Wonder Woman, and I didn’t see what about her could inspire a whole yoga vinyasa. But now, I realise she was the female hero I’ve been looking for on screen.
Black Widow, now, seems to cater only to the male audience, and Hope in Ant Man seemed like a new hope deligated to the sidelines. These are women who are ‘masculine strong’ – they can keep up with the men and be something nice to look at, whilst not being ‘a girly girl’. But Wonder Woman? She’s the feminist icon we need. She shows the strength in helping other women, she’s intelligent, strong, and non-judgemental, but she’s allowed to be a woman.
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