Warner Bros’ “Wonder Woman” broke the $100 million mark after its’ opening weekend; as one of the first female-led superhero action movies, its box office numbers place this film as undoubtedly one of the most successful films of the year thus far.
At least, I seem to think so. As much as I adored “Elektra,” “Wonder Woman” takes the cake as having one of the most rounded and well-written female superheroes in recent comic book-turned-film history. She works alongside men, which I’m sure is a nice change for meninists who swear films with female protagonists are filled with man-hating grievances to bolster female empowerment.
There’s been controversy over a lot of things about this film, one of the major ones being how “Wonder Woman” is the perfect example of failing feminism. Here we have this DC character, Diana Prince, who’s supposed to represent a culture of female athleticism and societal harmony that’s also constantly being commented on her appearance and the hidden female-only island. Slate writer Christina Cauterucci notes that she’s unimpressed by the female protagonist, “Whatever chance ‘Wonder Woman’ had of being some kind of feminist antidote to the overabundance of superhero movies made by and for bros was blown by its prevailing occupation with the titular heroine’s sex appeal.”
So what if she had sex appeal? She’s an Amazonian goddess who’s been training all her life with hundreds of other strong, peace-harboring women that can be both beautiful and powerful. Diana is a child of Zeus, and gods and goddesses are known in literature to have beyond-human levels of physical attractiveness. This doesn’t go unnoticed in Hollywood. If that’s offensive, then I can argue that movies like “Thor” had characters swooning over the male superhero god’s appearance. Let people swoon.
Women are repeatedly portrayed as sexual icons in films, and although yes, she’s fighting in a typical unrealistic wartime outfit, I never saw it as an objectification. Even when the men around her would freeze in the presence of her daring fight scenes, it was portrayed more as a “Whoa, a woman is kicking some serious ass in this war.” It’s important to recognize these moments where Diana is protecting her male counterparts with her skills.
Which is not to say she’s hard as rock. The Guardian columnist Zoe Williams designates Wonder Woman as “a masterpiece of subversive feminism,” meaning director Patty Jenkins portrayed a character who’s not radically feminist but also not radically compliant to the ideal woman of the early 1900s. It’d be impossible for a movie to perfectly portray a feminist who obliterates every trope and slur. So we’re given Diana, who fights for the good of humanity, but also holds an admirable naïveté. She’s justifiably outraged at the war of man, rejects cowardice and dishonesty, and doesn’t understand how difficult it is to be fearless in the face of injustice.
Like many—if not most—superhero movies, the plot of humanity’s struggle between good and evil dominates “Wonder Woman,” ending with Diana’s realization that despite its flaws, humanity’s worth saving.