Wonder Woman and Empowerment
How a Fictional Character Changed the World...
As an enthusiast of all things superhero, I have seen my fair share of both Marvel and DC movies. None, however, have quite managed to empower me, and many of my female friends, so much as Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. The intention of this article is by no means to review the movie, but instead, to give my opinion on how the movie made me feel.
Upon entering the cinema and taking my seat, I was unsure of what to expect from the film. Admittedly, it had been the first DC movie I had been interested in seeing for a long time—afterwards, however, I was certainly not disappointed in my decision to give Patty Jenkins (and DC) the benefit of the doubt. With its powerful fight scenes, non-objectifying costumes and message of "Women are badass," there is no wonder that the film has received such high praise and that the most popular Halloween costume search of 2017 was "Wonder Woman."
Having spoken to friends, both male and female, it is safe to say that the general consensus was that the film really has pushed the stakes high for future female-led superhero movies such as Captain Marvel, set for release in 2019, to make its female audience feel just as inspired. While other cinematic masterpieces, such as the new additions to the Star Wars series have had a similar effect to all generations of women, I do think that Jenkins achieved this to a slightly greater extent. In my experience, as an avid "geek" movie goer, I have never heard anyone say that a film made them feel, and I quote my good friend, Eliza, “like [I] could do anything”, which I think perfectly sums up the success and importance of movies like Wonder Woman.
Of course, the film isn't without criticism, with many arguing that the film is still seen through a "male lens," with there being only three key-female characters once Diana leaves the island of Themyscira, and that when she arrives in London, she is surrounded by men of all professions, but not women. I can see where this criticism is coming from, but I do not believe that this point takes away WonderWoman's element of empowerment. Arguably, you could justify the criticism by saying that during the Second World War in which the film is set, it would only be accurate for this to be the case, although that in itself could easily be dismissed as... well, since when are superhero films historically accurate? In my opinion, though, I think the fact that Diana was able to defeat Ares pretty much entirely by herself, as well as many other solo Diana battles scenes, is a pretty good demonstration that female superheroes can work alone regardless of whether they are surrounded by men.
Others I have asked, have also brought forward the point that Patty Jenkins is also very good at making a female audience feel like we can be more than just a sidekick or a character purely put into a film for the attention of the male gaze, and with this I agree. Although, I do think that the objectification and sexualisation of both women and men is something which is still in desperate need of fixing in the world of cinema... But that is a topic for another article.
All we can do as fans, is hope that the cinematic world continues to bring us such empowerment and a fresh and modern take on what it means to be female and a superhero. Overall, WonderWoman has done superb things for the world of stand alone female superhero films (and the genre as a whole) and I cannot wait to see how the film impacts not only this genre, but all aspects of Hollywood cinema.