by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)
Michelle Wolf of The Daily Show may have summarized the pressure put on the new Wonder Woman movie better than anyone. She said,
Everyone is putting way too much pressure on Wonder Woman, like everything for women hinges on its success or failure. You know when we’ll feel like women are equal at the box office? When we get to make a bad superhero movie and then immediately make another bad one. Men get chance after chance to make superhero movies. No one left crappy Batman v Superman saying, “Well, I guess we’re done making ‘man’ movies.”
I couldn’t agree more, but fortunately Wonder Woman is succeeding. It’s kicking ass. And it feels good.
According to Box Office Mojo, the Gal Gadot starrer has brought in over $129,000,000 so far domestically, and it’s been out for less than a week. At this rate, it’s very likely to break into the top ten highest grossing female led films of all time. (And I’d just like to point out that, on that list, three of the top ten are Hunger Games movies and four others are animated movies. We can do better.)
But let’s put the numbers aside for a moment at look at some of the best reasons, to my mind, for audiences and the industry alike to love Wonder Woman.
1. It Passes the Bechdel Test
It wasn’t a forgone conclusion that this film would. Wonder Woman could have easily been the only female character in her own movie, but the writers – Allan Heinberg with “story by” credits going to Allan, Zack Snyder, and Jason Fuchs – and director Patty Jenkins made a point of showing young Diana growing up among literally the strongest, bravest women in the world. This could have been covered in a brief opening montage, but instead a good chunk of the first act focused on these powerful women who taught Diana to be a righteous warrior.
2. Patty Jenkins
This was Patty Jenkins’s first film since her directorial debut, Monster, in 2003. She also wrote that film, which gave us the least appealing portrayal of Charlize Theron that we’ve ever seen. In Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot’s beauty is allowed to shine, but Jenkins made a point of never lingering on it. The male characters often notice Diana’s beauty first, but she’s quick to show them its far from her greatest asset.
And unlike other superhero films with female characters, Jenkins does not let the camera focus on Wonder Woman’s beauty. Instead, in shot after shot, her power is what’s emphasized. The way she stands, the way she moves – the audience never feels like Diana is being objectified by the camera. No, we are shown a powerful warrior who takes charge and kicks ass. It’s exhilarating and empowering to behold.
3. The Skirt
Here’s a great infographic on the evolution of Wonder Woman’s outfit. As you can see, she started out in shorts in 1941, and by the late sixties, the shorts turned into briefs. As we move into the nineties, her briefs get smaller and smaller (aside from a few odd suits with leggings). In this movie, she’s got a skirt. Of course, it’s a small skirt, but that makes it easy to move around in. (I grew up playing volleyball, so I can appreciate the usefulness of tiny shorts in an athletic arena.) It would have been very easy for the costume designers to justify no skirt and a lot of booty hanging out – that’s been her costume for the last fifty or so years – but they opted for a touch of modesty, and I think that’s noteworthy.
It’s also worth noting that Gal Gadot’s bust is never a focus in the film. Her ladies are always securely contained by her attire – very practical for fighting bad guys – and even when she dons an evening gown, no cleavage is emphasized. Again, I don’t have any problems with a little cleavage, but I think the statement being made here in contrast to the buxom heroines often featured in video games and comics is worthy of admiration.
4. Steve Trevor
The depiction of Steve Trevor as a feminist well ahead of his time is both fun to watch and quite refreshing. He never seems emasculated or threatened by Diana’s power. He tries to guide her through the human world and misleads her at times, but when he tells her she can’t do something, it’s because he doesn’t think anyone could do it, not because she’s a woman. And of course, she proves him wrong more than once.
If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, go! Watch! Enjoy! And demand that more movies like this get made. Us humans may not deserve Diana Prince, but we deserve more movies like Wonder Woman.
Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.