Summer is just about here, and with it, I’m delighted to welcome a few guest bloggers in this space. The first, fellow film fan Peter Murphy, contributes some thoughts on the hit film, Wonder Woman.
Note from Anne: I saw the film mostly to support Patty Jenkins. Female directors need support and I’m happy to give it to them, especially those working in the action genre, an arena crowded with dudes. Saw it (so did lots of others— the film has earned $438.5 USD so far) and yawned at this whole notion of feminist hero. Really? Making a superhero with tits does not change the universe. Far more compelling was Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road. Back in 2015, that film made it to the top of my list. Okay, okay, hands up, I know, we’re in the comic book universe here. I usually avoid this genre altogether, and give it up to fans like Peter, who bring an entirely different sensibility to the cinematic gaze.
Here’s Peter’s take:
WONDERING ABOUT THIS WOMAN
by Peter Murphy
(for more of Peter’s writing, find him here)
DC finally made a good movie, and somehow managed to make what is probably the best super hero movie of the year so far. I hate the DC movies, like really, passionately, hate the DC cinematic universe. I think superman was only good as a Dragonball Z movie, I wrote a whole thing on Suicide Squad, and Batman v Superman is still probably my greatest cinematic disappointment (I don’t care about director’s cuts, I care about what I paid for). I hate the DC universe, and fully went in planning to hate this one too. I didn’t, I couldn’t. I enjoyed every second I searched for a flaw. The characters were likeable and had chemistry, the action scenes were wonderfully choreographed, plot points well-executed and interesting; in short it was the opposite of everything I had come to expect from a DC movie.
Wonder Woman (aka Diana Prince) has come a long way from her original incarnation. She is about as strong as Superman (weaker but with more combat experience/training) and less morally confined (she is pretty lenient about killing). She isn’t invulnerable, just damn tough, a literal Greek god (demi-god technically), and a warrior at that. She doesn’t have a weakness the same way Superman does; she is simply a little less durable. This is a very happy change from her historical position.
Minor history lesson; Wonder Woman was debuted in 1941, one of the ever magical “lets punch Hitler” superheroes that appeared during the second world war (Captain America would be the most famous). This was a big step; she was a female heroine at a time when women had just finished fighting for the vote, and were making up a larger percentage of the work force (especially during the war). So this was a step forward, here is the step back: Her weakness, and I promise this is true, is that she loses her powers when tied up by a man.
Take that in for a second: BDSM/being dominated was Wonder Woman’s official weakness.
This has fallen out of continuity for a huge list of fairly obvious reasons, but, just for context, that is what we have moved from. Not to say Wonder Woman isn’t sexualized. Gal Gadot’s character is described in movie as “the most distractingly beautiful woman you have ever seen”. She is a former Ms. Israel and Ms. Universe contestant after all; she is distractingly attractive. I’m not going to touch the politics of her as an IDF soldier. I’m a big Orson Scott Card fan and, more than anything, that has taught me you are under no obligation to listen to an artist’s political opinions to enjoy their work. For context, Orson Scott Card is a well-documented asshole, but Enders Game is a phenomenal series. I will say the fact that she is a combat trainer does go a long way towards helping the fight scenes: they look phenomenal.
The film itself does a fairly good job of addressing gender issues; Diana Prince is the functional definition of a strong independent woman.I think the greatest message comes through her sheer force of will and utter dismissal of the “because you are a woman” reasoning of the men who try to impede her. It has never been a good reason, and she doesn’t let it stop her.
Now, I fully admit that I say that as a white straight male, so it’s worth clarifying that it only fought the super direct “you can’t do that because you are a woman” type of sexism.
The movie is solid, I’m not sure I agree with the 93% rating it had when I went to watch it, but it is certainly in the high 80s, and I 100% recommend you go watch it.
My one complaint about the movie is the theme of love/human goodness triumphing is nice, but does give the ending a little bit of a CareBears vibe. I don’t have much to complain about otherwise. The twist I didn’t see coming, and very much enjoyed. They are setting her up to be okay with killing, and very aware of human nature (with regards to war), so Injustice is still on as a storyline. Ladies and Gentlemen, they are going to give us a movie series based on a comic series based on a game series based on a comic series. I wonder if they know the injustice games are already out as non-movie tie ins.
If you have never heard of Injustice it is the one comic series I actually advise people to read. It is very good and that seems to be what these movies are working towards. Also take a look at what my good friend Thomas has written here about his view on the DC Injustice plans.
Director Patty Jenkins did a phenomenal job and has already been signed on for the sequel. I personally hope she takes more of a lead on other DC projects. Maybe they will find a way to turn this thing around; I’m still not going to see Justice League until reviews come out though.
Have your say below. Did you see the film? What’s your take?