Praise be to whichever stars aligned above to grace us with the first female-led superhero film since the God awful ‘Elektra’ in 2005.
Before I watched the film, I, and plenty of other people, were very worried that it would be terrible.
Not only does it come from the DC Cinematic franchise which is…. Let’s be real here: shit. But female superhero films tend to be made as an afterthought, with none of the same effort or money put into them as with their male counterparts.
And for many women, there seemed to be a lot riding on ‘Wonder Woman’ being good – in the broad sense of the word – and it’s not really surprising why.
There’s something called a “stereotype threat” which is a situation where a minority (or even, I suppose, a majority) feels that if they fail at something then they are confirming a common stereotype about their community.
This could be, an Asian woman who worries that her bad driving will be perceived as a confirmation of the stereotype of all Asian women.
Or a gay man, who enjoys skin care and fashion, who is afraid it will be perceived as a confirmation that all gay men are feminine.
There are plenty of examples we could use here, but the fear amongst many women who are so desperate for the ‘Wonder Woman’ film to be a success, is that they’re afraid that if it isn’t, it will act to confirm the stereotype that female led superhero females just can’t make bank.
And this is entirely understandable. Truly, a lot rides on ‘Wonder Woman’s success unfortunately. If the film doesn’t rank well, it will only serve as ammunition for male-led board members to argue that female-led movies are a waste of time – something that they’re arguing about anyway but who cares, right?
And if they don’t make any more of these films well… It’s a bleak future let me tell you.
But in my title I clearly state that it doesn’t matter if ‘Wonder Woman’ sucks – and why’s that?
Well, in actual fact, that’s sort of clickbait, because as I’ve stated above, it kind of does matter for so many people.
What I should really put in the title is that it shouldn’t matter.
And to be an even more shit blogger, I’m going to roughly quote someone whose name I can’t remember (but if you know who I’m talking about please feel free to correct me so I can cite them).
But earlier last week I watched a video of a woman who explained that she’s looking forward to the time when it won’t matter whether a female superhero film is terrible, because we’ll just keep pumping them out one after the other regardless.
She wants us to get to the same point we are with male-led superhero films, and she cited ‘Batman vs. Superman’ to explain.
Because as we all know, nobody walked out of that shit-show of a movie and said “oh well, I guess we’re done making ____man movies”. And it has to do with the fact that for every terrible male led superhero movie, there’s another great one!
And it has nothing to do with gender, or even the actor (just compare ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Deadpool’) – and it has everything to do with the budget, writers, and the general production understanding of the original text.
So I’m here to propose that we no longer give a shit whether ‘Wonder Woman’ is good – let’s just give a shit about pumping out as many terrible female-led movies as we do male-led.
But hey? Didn’t I say the film was good?
Fuck yes it was!!!
In all honesty, I feel like ‘Wonder Woman’ just single-handedly saved the DC Cinematic Universe which had been making some terrible decisions since… Forever.
It was fast-paced, funny, emotional, and absolutely empowering!
It was honestly something else to watch so many women kick ass, and to see Wonder Woman in action and doing her most for humanity.
Objectively it was well-made, well-written, and well-paced – even if this wasn’t such a huge step for feminism, I would still highly recommend the film to everyone, because it’s just a bloody good time!
But why is it such a huge step for feminism?
Well, for me it’s because it does a lot of subverting, and a lot of work to de-stigmatize often stereotyped “women’s roles”.
So what does it subvert?
First and foremost, it subverts the fridging trope. If you don’t know what fridging is, I highly recommend this Feminist Frequency video.
But maybe wait until you watch the film or it might spoil some stuff for you.
It also subverts a lot of “sexy” tropes, such as the ‘born sexy yesterday’ trope.
As stated by tumblr user blueincandecence:
“The born sexy yesterday trope is predicated on the idea that a woman falls in love with the first schlub she sees and worships him. That emphatically does not happen. In fact, it’s a running gag that Steve is trying to convince Diana that he’s above average. Only when he proves it to her – through his kindness and his bravery – does she fall for him.”
The film also works hard to prove that things such as ‘emotional labour’ that are typically assigned to women, aren’t bad things, and certainly don’t weaken women.
While the conversation around emotional labour is big, it’s difficult, and it’s not one I want to touch on heavily here – it plays a big role in all of our lives, and Diana’s is no different.
When she steps into the ‘real world’ she finds it cruel, untrusting, and often barren of empathy. She sees Steve struggle with empathising with war slaves, and the death of children, as he insists that the quicker they finish their mission, the quicker they can save the women and children.
But Diana knows. You can be logical, and you can be emotional, and neither are less useful in a state of war.
And because of this, Diana ignores Steve’s “orders”, and uses her emotions and empathy to go where no man has gone before – ‘No-Mans Land’ in the war trenches of course 😉 – and saves the day for so many who are suffering.
It’s only through her ability to empathise, and prioritise safety in the here and
now, as well as in the
long-term, that makes her such a
formidable opponent as she smashes her way through the darkest, bleakest, and most fearsome front of the war.
‘Wonder Woman’ does have its flaws, and I would never call it the most feminist movie around – but rather than spend this review dwelling on these issues, I’d rather celebrate all it does to empower women all around the world, and also show men that masculinity can come in many forms – and hopefully Steve Trevor can be a positive catalyst for change and empowerment for men all around the world too.
So thank you to the stars above, or perhaps Patty Jenkins for making this masterpiece happen – and long may Diana Prince reign.