The Power of Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman LogoAbout a month ago, Daniel (my husband) and I went to see the new Wonder Woman movie. No spoilers, I promise. Because Daniel’s a huge movie buff, I let him share his DC fanboy analysis first (basic message: “That’s the movie Man of Steel should have been — hopeful, optimistic, awe-inspiring, untouchable!”). As we pulled into the pet store parking lot (exciting errands for this married couple), Daniel asked for my thoughts.

And without warning, I burst into tears.

This is why I’ve waited so long to write this post. I’m embarrassed by my reaction, and I don’t even know if I can put words to how Wonder Woman made me feel. But Daniel insists that you (especially the women) will appreciate my thoughts and so here they are.

For whatever reason, at that exact moment in my life, Wonder Woman was the superhero movie I didn’t know I needed. In the most basic ways (sometimes subtle, sometimes not), Wonder Woman overcame and surpassed the negative stereotypes and tropes that often define female superheroes (and characters in general). At the same time, Wonder Woman embraced Diana Prince’s womanhood and sexuality — even made them an asset for our hero — while still portraying her male allies in a positive light. The movie made me proud to be a woman, and as I watched the scenes unfold, I couldn’t help but feel like some kind of invisible weight had lifted.

Writing this now, I’m starting to become insecure. I can already imagine the ways in which I might be ridiculed for my reaction:

“Crying proves that women are weak!”
“Please, honey. You’re still white, cisgender, straight, American, abled, etc.!”
“Um … there are plenty of other strong female characters out there!”

To the first, I shake my head and move on.

To the second, I say, “I know!” I’m lucky to have been born with certain privileges, and having this experience has given me a new empathy and respect for those who feel underrepresented or excluded from our entertainment culture.

To the last, I say again, “I know!” That’s one of the reason I’m so boggled by my reaction. I grew up watching Xena Warrior Princess, and I’m a proud (albeit recent) member of Buffy’s Scooby Gang. I’ve read myriad books and graphic novels with strong, leading women. So why now? Why did Wonder Woman mean so much to me?

Honestly, I’m still not certain. Maybe it’s because Diana represented my brand of Feminism (which sometimes feels like it’s giving way to more radical, arguably misandristic perspectives). Maybe it’s because I’m in the middle of a bunch of huge life changes and needed affirmation of my strength. Maybe it’s because the other recent DC movies have been underwhelming for me. And maybe, it was just a damn good movie that manipulated my emotions as the master marketing team intended.

Whatever the reason, after a tearful episode in the pet store parking lot and a quick purchase of cat laxative (I shit you not — poor Thomas!), Daniel and I made an unplanned stop. We went to Target to find me a Wonder Woman shirt, because I wanted to emblazon her logo across my chest. If you knew my “thrifty” self, you’d know that a $20 impulse buy is a BIG financial upset in our household. We didn’t find one I liked. The search continues but the fact remains …

Wonder Woman blew away my expectations. As a movie, it was fast-paced, charming, funny, packed with intense action (that trench warfare scene!), and satisfying (except for, perhaps, the final battle … but I promised no spoilers). But more than that, it tapped into a subconscious need that I didn’t even know I held. While other strong women have held the stage and Hollywood still has a long way to go towards equality, Wonder Woman was a step in the right direction and meant so much to me. If I can write just one character or one book that gives someone a modicum of that joy and pride, then I will be thrilled with my author career.


How did you feel about the new Wonder Woman movie? What other movies or books have held special meaning for you? Know where I can find a bad ass Wonder Woman shirt (seriously!)? Share it all in the comments.

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19 thoughts on “The Power of Wonder Woman

  1. velociraptor256 says:

    Lovely post – glad you enjoyed the movie so much. It’s still by far the best film I’ve seen this year. You raise a good point about it making Wonder Woman look good without making the male side characters look bad: that was one of my main problems with the Marvel TV series Agent Carter. I felt the film was a great example of ‘show don’t tell’, showing the audience what an awesome character and role model Diana is through her actions and telling a good, natural story at the same time, without feeling the need to metaphorically shove a neon sign saying ‘GIRL POWER!!!’ in our faces.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      Exactly! So often female heroes feel overworked or are glorified at the expense of their male counterparts (which is a whole other problem!). You nailed it when you said Diana “shows” what a strong woman is without being heavy-handed. I’m glad you enjoyed the film too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whitney says:

    Wonder Woman Weeping is totally thing. I cried when she strode across No Man’s Land and was a total badass. I realized thousands of other women felt the same—something about the movie made them weep openly.

    About the backlash of “but there are other strong women!” Yeah, but we don’t have enough. We need so much more diversity, so let us love the progress we’re making. If an overwhelming percentage of protagonists are male, it doesn’t make sense to be content with just a handful of strong women. Why not embrace hundreds of them?

    Seeing Wonder Woman gave me the hope that this is just a taste of what is to come: more diversity & more representation. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      Ah, yes! That’s another great point. We need more diversity in entertainment in so many respects, and I hope you’re right that more examples are on the way.

      Also, I totally cried during the No Man’s Land scene too. For me, it was more powerful than the final battle. (Also, I’m glad “Wonder Woman Weeping” in caps is a thing. Sometimes, we feel so isolated until we’re brave enough to speak up!)

      Like

  3. Helen Jones says:

    Yes yes yes to all of this, and all the comments! I loved this film too – I took my daughter and felt teary as I sat next to her, watching women be strong and fearless and vulnerable onscreen. She loved it so much we’re going to go again – she says it’s her favourite movie! It’s certainly one of mine 🙂 I blogged about it too, as it made such an impression. As you say, I think it’s the superhero movie we needed – just fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      That’s wonderful! Your daughter is very lucky to have such a cool mom, and I’m glad she has a strong role model on the big screen too. Thanks for adding your thoughts. I’m going to check out your post now!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen Jones says:

        Aw, thanks, Kate – it was a pretty awesome mother-daughter moment. I feel blessed to have such a cool kid who likes all the movies I like (yes, I got her into Marvel and Star Wars too haha). But there is something special about Wonder Woman… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ofopinions says:

    I didn’t cry. I felt relieved. I love Scarlett Johannson’s portrayal of Black Widow, but I was so happy to see Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, in fact all the women in the film, to be the opposite of that. There is nothing sexed up (or unsexed) about it. They’re just there to fulfill their responsibilities and whether she gets together with the dashing male lead is not a big concern. If you’ve read about Joss Whedon’s original script, the film would have been quite different (and obvious) than the one we saw.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      Agreed with the feeling of relief! That’s a great way to describe it. I have mixed feelings on Black Widow. I really liked her at first, but I feel like recently they’re forcing her character into unnecessary relationships/flirting. I don’t think she feels natural as a partner for Hulk or Captain America, and I wish they’d just cut it out and let her be a bad ass without a romance subplot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ofopinions says:

        Absolutely agree! That’s what spoiled the second Avengers movie for me. It was all so unnecessary. I don’t think Scarlett Johansson can really tone down her overt sexuality (it’s natural with her!)but I like how her portrayal is more complex and rounded than other such characters. Her Avengers co-stars commented that she trained the most in the first movie (obviously, she had stunt doubles too) because her characters has no special powers. I don’t know if she got equally paid as her co-stars like Robert Downey, but she more than deserves it.

        Liked by 1 person

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