Text Samantha Van Hoozer
Warner Bros.’ latest installment in the DC Universe “Wonder Woman” is a smash hit with fans and critics alike. It has pulled in a staggering $650 million globally, destroying predictions and box office records. With expertly choreographed fight scenes, an excellent script, a brilliantly crafted plot, and a musical score that should go down in soundtrack history, there is something in this film for everyone, demonstrated by its incredible global box office success.
All of these things are important for making a great film, but with “Wonder Woman” the real importance lies behind what the film means for women and the superhero genre. Too many times it has been said that superheroes are not for women, but “Wonder Woman” took this idea and completely annihilated it. More than half, 52%, of the audience for “Wonder Woman” in its opening weekend were women, making it clear that what women want is to see themselves on screen. I was one of those 52%, and it’s difficult to describe exactly what it felt like sitting in that theater seeing a superhero movie directed by a woman and lead by a woman for the first time.
At the time of this writing, “Wonder Woman” had just been released. The first major action sequence in the film comes when the Amazons are fighting the Germans on the beach of their island home Themyscira. With an army made up entirely of extremely powerful women warriors, they destroy the Germans. For the first time, women are the soldiers at the front of the battle, displaying an incredible array of fighting skills, power, and grace. In addition, these women are not the ones that are typically seen on screen. They are strong, seasoned warriors, whose age and battle scars are not covered by makeup. You can see the crow’s feet at the corners of their eyes and the lines in their skin, and this is how it should be. Age should not be hidden, it should be celebrated and admired because it means experience and wisdom. This is what women really look like.
Almost immediately as this first battle started, the tears began welling up in my eyes and a huge smile appeared on my face. Finally we were getting to see what we had always dreamed we would, a superhero film that showed the true power of women. I was not alone in this sentiment. The reactions from female fans on social media after the film’s opening recounted that they had cried during the battle scenes as well, because they were so empowering, and so much more than battle scenes. We cried because it meant that our daughters would grow up seeing these powerful women on screen, knowing that they could take on the world.
All of the Amazon women represented this, but none more than Diana. Through training and inherent powers that she had yet to discover, Diana was the most powerful warrior in Amazon history. Even when everyone was telling her that it was not her fight, Diana went with Steve Trevor to the war anyway. She knew it was her duty, and there was no one who could stand in her way, but Diana represented so much more than just power. When she arrived in London she became excited at the sight of a baby, and could not hold back the sorrow and pain she felt seeing so much bloodshed and suffering. She showed that a woman can be compassionate, loving, and gentle while still having the power of a thousand warriors. Women don’t have to be either strong or compassionate, they can be both at the same time.
Image: Warner Bros.
No scene was a better demonstration of this than when Diana crossed No Man’s Land and truly became Wonder Woman. With men behind her telling her that it could not be crossed and men in front of her firing every weapon they could muster, she continued anyway. She knew that she had to cross and help the villagers on the other side to end their suffering, and she knew that she had the strength to do it, even when everyone was telling her that it was impossible. In my eyes, this was the best scene in film history.
Besides the action sequences, the other areas of the film were extremely important as well. All of the side characters represented minorities. Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), a soldier of Middle Eastern descent, Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) a Native American tracker, and Charlie (Ewen Bremner) a soldier with severe PTSD. This coupled with a romance between Diana (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) that was not forced and allowed Diana to still be a powerful leader with Steve for support, all combined to prove to the world why it is so important to have female directors, because they understand that it is vital to represent minorities in films and to not oversexualize women. I didn’t realize just how much of women in films we have been seeing through the male gaze until “Wonder Woman” ripped that filter away. This is what women really are, this is how films are supposed to be. Wonder Woman is the movie that women have been waiting so long for.