My family and I finally saw Wonder Woman today. (I made sure to do up the beard with the appropriate colors, of course!)
Was it perfect? Nope. I saw the twists with Ares and the “godkiller” pretty much as soon as they were introduced. Elena Anaya’s Doctor Poison was sadly underutilized. The final battles were a little too CGI.
I still enjoyed it. I loved Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. Lucy Davis was a lot of fun as Etta Candy. Perhaps most importantly, the film gave us a Wonder Woman who had heart. Who loves and protects and smiles and cares and tries to help, and not just in battle. The moment when she tries to comfort Charlie after what appears to be a PTSD-type nightmare, or her unabashed joy in ice cream or seeing a baby for the first time…those moments made Wonder Woman as much as her big fight scenes.
I’ve seen people talking about how they cried during this movie at the sight of a woman taking center stage as a powerful, compassionate, world-saving superhero. I’ve seen criticism of the way the film quickly abandons Paradise Island and surrounds Wonder Woman with an almost entirely-male cast. I’ve seen love for the casting of an Israeli woman, and for a Native character who introduces himself in Blackfoot. I’ve seen pain and frustration at the way black women are portrayed or pushed into the background. (I loved watching Robin Wright kick ass, but why couldn’t the movie have kept Philippus as Diana’s trainer?)
I’ve also seen that amazingly clueless Guardian review, which complains:
Confusingly, Diana later explains that “men are essential for procreation but when it comes to pleasure, unnecessary.”
Anyone else completely unshocked to find that this review was written by a man?
I included the link, but I recommend reading more thoughtful commentary and responses like the following:
- Eugene Brave Rock Speaks Blackfoot to Wonder Woman in DC’s Best Film Ever
- “What I didn’t expect was to be overcome with emotion when Eugene Brave Rock’s character ‘Chief’ met Wonder Woman, who was spectacularly portrayed by Gal Gadot. Why? His first words to her were in Blackfoot.”
- “Brave Rock had told ICMN previously that he was permitted by director Patty Jenkins to choose what he wore, who fully respected the need for proper regalia and clothing.”
- Why Wonder Woman Is Bittersweet for Black Women
- “[T]he only Black women depicted are a handful of Amazons on Themyscira, the hidden island where Diana and her people live in peace without men. The first Black woman we’re introduced to is Diana’s caretaker, a representation which hits the Mammy trope on the head.”
- “I am so tired of being told that Wonder Woman only represents white women when for once, for ONCE, I have someone who represents me.” -Navah Wolfe
- “Wonder Woman is Jewish. We may not be POC, but we are a visible minority. Having a Jewish superhero is a big deal. Don’t take it from us.”
It’s hard to hear something you love is problematic. We saw The Princess Bride again last weekend. I love that movie. I think it’s brilliant…but it’s also almost exclusively male, and includes a scene of Westley threatening to strike his so-called love because he doesn’t like something she said. That’s messed-up. I still love it, but not because I delude myself into thinking it’s perfect.
Wonder Woman is extraordinary and powerful for a lot of people. It’s also flawed and frustrating or disappointing for others. This isn’t a contradiction. It’s the nature of art. Sure, certain criticism might be ridiculous — waves at that Guardian reviewer — but I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by pretending our faves are perfect, or by refusing to listen to people who point out genuine problems.
I liked the movie. I liked Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. I think this was a big step forward for DC films…but one step does not a journey make. I hope Hollywood learns and does even better in the future.