This isn’t a review. I should state that right away. If you’d like to read some great reviews of Wonder Woman I suggest checking out:
No, this is not a review. I don’t know what it is, honestly. I just can’t get the movie out of my head and I need to write about it. I have been apprehensive about Wonder Woman for many reasons. My disappointment in the previous films just...as films. The lack of consideration put into the characters of Superman and Batman (the flagship DC heroes). Not to mention the bleak world these characters have inhabited. The films have been placed in the wrong hands. And I mean hands plural because there are so many of them trying to shape these films and all with different ideas/agendas that clash far too often. So I feel justified in admitting my trepidation.
On top of all of that it’s DC Comics’ (hell, all comics in general) most iconic heroine suiting up for her first live action feature film debut. I’m disregarding her awesome appearance in Batman v Superman because that really was just a glorified cameo. This movie is about her character and her story. Unfortunately there has been an unwarranted stigma associated with female led superhero films. A couple of terrible movies came out and executives quickly associated it to the female aspect of the films and not the quality of the films themselves. So to say this movie had a lot riding on it is an understatement. It had to be good for too many reasons. That’s unfair and puts unnecessary pressure on everyone involved. But it was good! Oh it was so good!
Much like Deadpool proved that R-rated comic book movies can be critically and commercially successful so to does Wonder Woman prove that with female led superhero films. That’s not surprising news, at least to me and I’m sure many of you reading this. Many of us comic book fans/nerds/geeks have long scratched our heads at executives dismissing these types of films. We just want quality, it doesn't matter what genitalia the lead has. But because of the lack of female led superhero films we had to wait for that special one to come along and prove they’re not the financial risk studios have made them out to be. Wonder Woman has done just that and we are all going to be better off for it.
If you don’t know this about me, I have a daughter. As I’m writing this now she is going on 10 years old. She and I see almost all of the superhero movies that come out together. It’s our special thing we do as a family. We see every MCU movie that comes out, some of the X-Men films and a couple stragglers here and there like Hellboy (side note: it’s funny how hesitant she is to say his name because it has a “bad word” in it). But the one franchise she hasn’t been able to be a part of is the DCEU. I watched Man of Steel with her once and regretted it. No child should have that interpretation of Superman in their head. So she did not see Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad. She knows why but that doesn’t bum her out any less. Then I gave her the good news that she was going to get to see Wonder Woman and she was ecstatic. Finally a DC movie she could enjoy with her Dad. It was like a milestone had been reached. And that’s what was the most rewarding to me about this film.
My daughter has never once questioned why women haven’t had their own individual superhero films. I think she’s on the cusp of that age where questions of gender equality start to pop up. She recently (in the last year) started listing more female figures in her top 5s and 10s lists. Before that it was all about Flash, Ant-Man and Captain Cold. It’s something I started becoming consciously aware of. All of my top 5s are male and I think she was mostly leeching off of my enthusiasm. So I started incorporating females into our superhero discussions. And slowly she started gravitating towards them. She has to know that women are just as heroic as men.
Unfortunately, as much as we talk about how both genders are equally compelling I haven’t had the support of the film industry to back me up. I haven’t had examples to turn to to show her that our favorite medium values these characters as much as we do. That is slowly changing, thankfully. Captain Marvel and Wasp are on the way from Marvel and Gotham City Sirens and Batgirl from DC. Soon my daughter will have more accessible female superhero films. The wonderful (PUN!) thing about Wonder Woman’s success is that with the door already cracked open there will be even more to look forward to.
Will there always be a gap in the number of male led to female led? I hope not. The optimistic side of me wants to believe that change has been happening, albeit slowly, within the film industry. The optimistic side of me wants to believe that society will continue to evolve and mature. So I think that’s what I’ll focus on. Instead of being pessimistic and dismissive I will choose to focus on the positive advancements.
Audiences are responding positively to a female led and female directed superhero film based in a universe that has been, for the most part, a critical disaster. Those who have sworn off the DCEU are going out to see this movie. Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman/Gal Gadot have changed the opinions of an entire franchise. Two women saved a universe. Take that naysayers.