‘Wonder Woman’ a fresh, female-empowering breakthrough of the superhero genre

| June 2, 2017

‘Wonder Woman’ will leave you wondering why you haven’t seen something like this before. wonder woman

Studios have had the technology to create anything they want on screen from life-like aliens and goblins, to 50 story-tell monsters and robots. One thing that has been severely lacking in this sky-is-the-limit has been a female superhero lead that’s not played up for sexual eye candy or takes a back seat to other characters. Halle Berry gave it a shot in “Catwoman” and pranced around in shredded clothes for the entire movie. Scarlett Johansson attempted it in “Ghost in the Shell” earlier this year in a costume that left nothing to the imagination.

The closest in memory is Marvel’s Black Widow, another Johansson character who always plays a supporting character, and more than holds her own, but is often left playing the support instead of the lead.

So it’s amazing to see a movie where a female superhero takes the lead and not a single shot serves to fulfill that checkboxed sexually gratuitous shot. Director Patty Jenkins instead has other ideas. Every shot is used to show something else: strength, compassion, honor. You know, the shots that the male heroes always get to look heroic. And they work just as well with Diana.

Gadot effortlessly shines with Princess Diana’s complexity and range as a character. Her “Amazon in the real world” is a fish out of water tale of her coming to terms with another society’s expectations and rules. Diana’s Amazon upbringing have left her with more of a fairytale version of good and evil. By her standards, killing the leader should end all wars world wide. But the world outside of her Amazon realm doesn’t work like that, which Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor keeps trying to tell her.

But as characters point this out, she is quick to highlight the convoluted regulations of modern society as she’s confronted with them. Women not being allowed in a room because of their gender baffles her, and when she often asks why, Trevor has no other answer than “that’s just the way it currently is”. Other women hope if they keep their head down and keep with society’s expectations, they will “maybe” get something like voting rights in the future.

Diana won’t have any of it and asks the hard questions that make the men in the room uncomfortable.

These moments gives the film chances to eschew much of the modern superhero tropes, and instead leans on adventure films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the charm from 1978 “Superman” to create something new. Many superhero movies have had the opportunities to have their films be about something other than beating a bad guy in the end, but many of them resort to the typical structure to get to an epic fight at the end.

“Wonder Woman” still makes sure those pieces are included, but gives Diana a journey and an arc that feels much more fulfilling than just beat the bad guy. While her Amazon ideals challenge the way things work, they are also changed once exposed to the nuances of the world beyond the Amazonian realm.

It just so happens that Diana is the perfect character to experience such a journey, and every part of the film feels more like an organic, character shaping part instead of a simple stop on a roadmap that needs to be checked off before proceeding.

Girls will be dressing up as Wonder Woman this Halloween and can take pride in identifying with a female figure that goes beyond her looks. They’ll be idolizing a woman who possesses the strength to move forward when things get tough, have the courage to call things out when they are wrong, and possess the wisdom and compassion to embrace a complex world and complex people.

Those girls still get to dress up as a princess this year, but they get to embody something more than just a pretty dress and a crown. Princess Diana wouldn’t want it any other way.

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