1 I knew almost nothing about Wonder Woman before I saw this movie. I remembered her briefly from a Boys and Girls Club commercial as a child, but that is it.
2 I did feel a bit of obligation to see this film, especially given my Films About Women series. One of my co-workers was telling me how directors such as Joss Wheden have tried to get this film made in the 90’s. Each time, studios shot it down, because Wonder Woman wouldn’t make any money because no one would see an action film about a woman. Grrr. (Time to revive my Films About Women series!)
3 In studios’ defense, no one went to see Halley Barrie’s Catwoman, but that’s because the film was one of the worst of the films ever made.
4 I went with very low expectations. I adore the Dark Knight Trilogy but I have not seen any subsequent films. I heard about all of the problems with Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad, so I never saw any of them. I wasn’t sure this would be any good.
5 I really enjoyed Wonder Woman.
6 I really loved how they started out with all of the Amazons. As I said, I know nothing about the Wonder Woman comics but I couldn’t help but think about how daring it was to start off the film with all women! I’ve written before about the Bechdel test is flawed, but the film passed less than five minutes!
7 The film definitely made me curious about Diana’s origins. I really wanted to know the truth about her origins and her powers.
8 I loved Diana’s optimism and simplicity. By simplicity, I mean she believes in the goodness of mankind. She believes her mother’s story that mankind is objectively good and that they are corrupted by an outside force, Ares, the god of war. This is important because her arc is not simply one of innocence lost and maturity gained. It is about faith being challenged and evolving. Diana has faith in the story her mother told her; faith in the goodness of humanity. This faith does not survive, but her faith evolves into something more substantial and complex.
9 I don’t like Chris Pine, so I really didn’t expect all that much from him. He was fine though, but I don’t have anything else to say about him.
10 The fish out of water dynamic was really well done with Wonder Woman. I loved her destroying the Georgian clothes (everyone in Youtube videos referred to the clothes as Edwardian, but that is absurd. Edward VII died in 1910 and his son, George V, came to the throne. He was king during WWI. This means that the eponymous name for the era is Georgian.) and wondering how women could fight in the clothes.
11 I also liked the fact that Wonder Woman was completely surrounded by men in the film once she leaves her home island. I usually hate that, but in this case it plays up her vulnerability (emotionally) by depriving her of an ally. When a woman is in a scenario with all men, she knows that she is on her own; she cannot trust any of the men in this scenario and she knows she will have to work and fight to be respected and have her voice heard. Diana is not physically or sexually vulnerable, but the fact that she does not know anything about men makes her vulnerable in other ways.
12 It’s a stupid thing, but I was really glad no one referred to the war as WWI. They called it the War to End All Wars (no one called it The Great War) but I was glad that they did not slip.
13 I had to laugh at the traditional portrayal of Wonder Woman for a second. When Wonder Woman steps out of the trench in No Man’s Land, she lets her hair down. That is ridiculous. I can’t imagine any woman who fights or does sports with her hair down. I understand the original comic book artists were sexist enough to want her to be “hot” but fighting with hair down is impractical.
14 I know there are stories about women who cried during the film. I didn’t do that, but it was actually thrilling to see Wonder Woman climb out of the trench and deflect the bullets.
15 It was also exciting to see her attacking the soldiers and generally kicking ass. The podcast “Who Talks First?” asked, “Is this what men feel when they see action movies?” It’s possible, though in a way no, because they take it for granted that the star of the action movie is someone like them.
(Picture courtesy of Psychology Today.)
16 I loved the “Shield!” moment in the major fight. It shows that Steve is not intimidated by Diana or sees himself in competition with Diana. He sees the two of them as being on the same team and they work together. So refreshing!
17 The villains were pretty one-dimensional.
18 This film felt very much like a Marvel movie. Diana’s character arc has a lot in common with Captain America. The music and the look of the film definitely reminded me of the Marvel films.
19 I loved the line that Ares demands human sacrifice. That’s actually true.
20 I liked the fact that Diana is forced to face the idea that humans are corruptible and not simply under the influence of some evil force. She has to decide if she is going to fight for humanity. She and Ares are foils for each other. Diana believes that humans are only capable of good, Ares believes that humans are only capable of evil. Diana learns to find the good and the beauty in humanity, in one of its darkest moments, but she also must learn to accept the darkness as a part of humanity. She has to be true to her beliefs and at the same time modify them in the face of reality.
“I feel like one of the most ironically sexist things that happened to women heroes for so long,” Jenkins explained, “was that they had universal storytelling taken away from them. So, male superheroes could have Lois Lane. They can have love, they can have vulnerability, they can have complexity. But women superheroes or strong women characters had to be, ‘I don’t need anyone, I’m the toughest person in the world.’ That’s not fair to anybody. No human being is an island like that.”
I like the fact that he died for the sake of humanity at the end, which gives Diana a concrete reason to believe that mankind is capable of more than simply war, violence and death. She still has to make a choice about whether or not she will accept his example, and it would have been completely understandable if she had decided that one decent act did not override all of the horrors that she has seen and that humanity was beyond saving.
Dying also completes Steve’s arc. Oh, I have to talk about that for a second. Patti Jenkins did for Steve what no Superman director has ever done for Lois Lane, Jane from Thor Mary Jane from Spiderman, any of Batman’s love interests, or whatever her name was from Dr. Strange (I could look it up, but what’s the point? It’s not like she’s a character in the film). Patty Jenkins gave Steve a complete arc. Think about that. I wish the director of the sequel of Dr. Strange and Zack Snyder would watch this film and decide to give Lois Lane or Nondescript Love Interest in Dr. Strange arcs of their own, other than Falling in Love with Hero. They won’t though, and since the final Thor film has already been made, it’s too late to give Natalie Portman something other to play than Dr. Cardboard Cutout.
Seriously, I hate Lois Lane. Can they kill her in the next movie? Does she ever die in the comics? If not, I don’t care. Kill her. Now. And I don’t mean kill her and have Superman rotate the earth and bring her back, I mean kill her. Or at the very least, can she dump Superman and leave the films?
22 I was disappointed that the film ends with the CGI blowout fest, but not surprised.
23 At the end of the film, when Diana says that she learned that it’s all about love or something, I just thought, “Really?” I am growing cynical in my old age.
24 Patti Jenkins is a good director and she deserves to direct any picture the studios throw her way. (I also enjoyed Monster as well.) As Star Wars Scavenger’s Hoard podcast stated, “This is what it’s like to have the female gaze so prominent in a film!”
25 I walked out of the theater wanting to see the film again. I am hoping to see it again next Friday. I am actually tempted to revisit my Woman Warrior Virgin post that I did about Rey from Star Wars, and how that trope plays out in Wonder Woman.