First of all, I’d like to apologize to you all for my absence on the blog for several months. I have some new posts for you coming up soon, though, and I haven’t stopped writing! I’m looking forward to getting back on the blogging bandwagon. Second of all, here’s today’s post, inspired by the movie I watched just last night.
The film Wonder Woman was just recently released, inspired by the famous DC Comic character of the same name. It is one of the most popular films of year thus far, and for a good reason. I’m sitting here typing this an hour after I viewed it in the theater, and I must say, as a woman I feel good. I feel proud to be strong, determined, capable, and female. Wonder Woman targets and empowers women in a way many movies don’t.
In the comics, we know Wonder Woman as the long haired, red, white, blue and gold armored character who wields a lasso and shield. She’s a member of the Justice League fighting for good. The film Wonder Woman imagines the back story behind Wonder Woman and how she became who she is known as today, beginning from childhood. It weaves a tale that combines Greek mythology with the real life history of World War II, with a theme tied into one core question: What does it mean to be Human?
Along with its venture into humanity, Wonder Woman exudes the theme of female empowerment from every pore. We learn that who we know as Wonder Woman is actually a woman named Diana, an Amazon warrior and daughter of the Queen of the mythical Amazons. In Greek mythology, the Amazons are a tribe made exclusively of women. Basically, they’re the ultimate Girls’ Club. The Amazons are powerful warriors. In the movie, young Diana grows up watching the females around her training to fight, flipping through the air with incredible martial arts skills, wielding swords, shields, and arrows, and demonstrating an addictive amount of confidence. Surrounded by these females, she herself learns to become a warrior.
Watching those women on their island living a life of confidence and empowerment was incredible. In modern society, never is the female valued so much. I look at this film and I see how women, when working together, are virtually unstoppable. I’m not saying that we should move all women to an island and start a colony, but it was refreshing to see women in the powerful light that Wonder Woman puts them in.
Diana meets her first man on the island, Captain Steve Trevor, in the ultimate feminist role reversal: by saving him when he crashes a stolen German war plane into the waters near the Amazon’s island. This is where the film weaves true history with myth. Captain Steve Trevor is a spy for the British in World War II. After Diana rescues him, the Amazons fight several German ships chasing after him. He tells the Amazons about the World War, describing terror and death that Diana had only heard of in her mother’s tales of the war between the gods, started by Ares, who wanted to corrupt the mankind that Zeus had created. Diana knows only one thing from her mother: that when Ares is defeated, war will end, and that is the mission of the Amazon women. Naturally, it is Diana’s first instinct to leave the safety of her island and go to fight the Germans with Steve. The impending death and destruction ahead doesn’t scare her. She is determined to do what she knows is right and beyond headstrong. In short, she’s a woman on a mission.
Again and again on her journey to the German headquarters, Wonder Woman is an example of a woman taking the lead, following her own thoughts, and persevering despite challenges. She ignores Steve’s attempts to warn her about No Man’s Land, instead boldly marching solo onto the front lines, deflecting bullets without an injury. The men stay behind her as she clears the path towards safety. When a final blow needs to be given, Steve works to find a way for Diana to deal it, rather than the other way around. With this portrayal, the film truly makes Wonder Woman the ultimate star, something that doesn’t happen to such an extreme degree in much of today’s entertainment industry. Wonder Woman is without a doubt a true heroine.
Yet, for all of her strength and power, Diana is not exclusively shown as a tough, aggressive woman. When in the rare case a woman is made the unequivocal star in an action film, directors often paint her as aggressive, unfeeling, and cold. Wonder Woman doesn’t do this. Diana is a woman with super-human strength, yes, but she is also caring, empathetic, and compassionate. She, too, is capable of love. Whereas often an assertive woman is criticized as cruel and unfeeling, Wonder Woman demonstrates that strength and kindness aren’t mutually exclusive characteristics for a female heroine.
It is, in fact, her love and purity that eventually help Diana defeat Ares, who takes the form of a British traitor. With all the destruction around her from the World War and an impending poison attack, Diana is faced with the decision to join Ares and punish mankind or to fight him. She decides on the latter, as she sees beyond Ares’ hatred. Diana realizes that Man is bad, yes, but Man is also good. On her travels she has seen the worst of the human soul, but also felt the best. She has felt love. She has love for Steve, love for the townspeople she helped to save, love for her mother and the Amazons, and love for the compassion that she knows humans are capable of. War is terrible, but hatred or mankind for fighting is worse. Diana defeats Ares once and for all with the energy summoned from all of this love for the world and for her belief in what is right.
As a woman, I admire Wonder Woman’s mission to defeat the “bad guys” of the world. I admire that she does it in a bad ass way, in a bad ass suit of armor, with resounding resilience and a refusal to give up. Wonder Woman makes me proud to be a woman, even without the superhuman powers Diana has, because it has taught me and all women that we are capable of everything we set our minds to. We don’t need to fit ourselves into a box that’s too small or to succumb to the status quo. We can speak our minds and be heard. We can be ourselves without fear of judgment. We can all be Wonder Women.