She's a Wonder, Wonder Woman

There is an old adage when it comes to the DC Comics Trinity: If you want to stop a meteor, call Superman. If you want to solve a crime, call Batman. But if you want to end a war, call Wonder Woman. I feel like Patty Jenkins absolutely understood this idea when she started making the Wonder Woman film.

In the week leading up to finally getting to see the film, my social media was sprinkled with promoted ads that suggested I watch Batman V Superman to, "Get caught up on Wonder Woman". Yes, she was in that movie. Yes, she was the only good thing in that movie. I would be happy to rewatch just her scenes in that movie again. Is there a 10 minute version of that movie? But let's get real, I don't eat shit before I go to a Michelin restaurant, and I don't need that movie to make me worry about going to see Wonder Woman. I had high personal expectations going into the film. DC's track record has been terrible film wise. BvS was borderline unwatchable. Suicide Squad was this interesting opening that devolved into....I'm not sure what I watched. So yeah, I was worried about Wonder Woman. Plus, I knew the underlying discussions that the film was going to create. If it did well, people would brush it off as: "Well, superhero movies do well. Of course it made money." And if it didn't do well: "Well it is a female led film directed by a woman. Let's never do that again." The struggle is real.

I hate aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, etc. I just don't like visiting them. Some algorithm isn't going to properly relate a viewing experience to me about anything. But as soon as the review embargo was lifted on Wonder Woman, I was there doing a few victory laps at that certified fresh score. And at the fact that it was higher than almost every other superhero film. And as much as I don't trust those scores, it is as good as it has been made out to be. I knew I was going to cry during the film, but then I cried about 5 minutes in, and I knew what I was getting.

With a lot of films, I look for that iconic scene. That moment in the film that you can show to a class of students, or someone who has never seen the movie, and say, this is this film. For Wonder Woman, that is the No Man's Land scene. The metaphor is not subtle. Diana, Steve, and the rest of the team are in the trenches of Belgium, knowing they must make their way through the trenches before they can cross. But Diana isn't having any of that. There are women and children and innocents being killed and enslaved. The structure of the scene, this dark, bleak, colorless landscape, with men that blend into it with their uniforms all varying shades of grey. And here you have Diana; finally all blue, red, and gold in stark contrast to the dark and grey. And of course Steve tries to stop her. Because it is no man's land. No man can survive there. And of course, a woman will. And as she climbed over the lip of that trench, I totally cried again.

But that is really where Wonder Woman succeeds; in the subtle touches. Structurally it is a very standard war movie. But it is the understanding of the character, and her world that really shine. I knew that one of my first clues to if the movie was going to pass my personal smell test was how they dealt with Themyscira. If they called it Paradise Island as default, if all the women wore little silk nighties, it was over and sunk. But Patty Jenkins' vision of Themyscira was better than I could have hoped. Not only is it an island of women, but it is an island of diverse women. The one travesty of this film, is that it needed way more Nubia, (and more Etta Candy. For as little screen time as she gets, Lucy Davis kills every one of those scenes like a boss). A young Diana just wanting to fight and smiling as she does it. And let us not forget the fact that Princess Buttercup decided that all that Wesley, Princess Bride bull shit was rightly beneath her and became the greatest Amazon of them all. Is the feminist gaze in film that three arrow scene with her? I think it might be.

I'm sick of dower Superman. That guy needs to GTFO. And if nothing else, Godot's Wonder Woman shows us why. She just enjoys the world so much. It is infectious to watch. And again, it is those subtle things. How much she just loves ice cream. I have to step up my enjoyment game because I want to enjoy ice cream that much. Even in the middle of liberating a village from German occupation, you get that sense of joy, that feeling of hope. The moment she busts into a room full of soldier and knows she is going to just wreck them all, and she smiles. Well, a bit more of a Smeyes. But I forgot how much I needed that from a DC character. And most importantly, how much a huge group of movie goers needed this film.

I went to it twice yesterday. Once early in the morning, and again at night. Waiting for our friends to show up for the evening showing I watched a small hispanic family come in. A mom and dad with their two daughters. Both girls already had on Wonder Woman tiaras, Wonder Woman shirts and gauntlets. Having already seen the film, I knew what they were going to see. Women of all colors and shades being wonders and Amazonian. A young Diana growing up and knowing she could be whatever she wanted to be. I was overwhelmed by how excited I was for them to see it. Not only is Wonder Woman a great movie, (sorry Dark Knight, we have a new #1 title holder in the house), but it is so needed and so timely. I've said it time and time again, as a white-het-cis-gendered male, I get all of the heroes. I have never had to look far to find myself beating the bad guys or standing strong or powerful. Thank Hippolyta, Antiope, and Nubia that girls like that finally get some of their own.


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