Wonder Woman is without a doubt the blockbuster of the year with some critics even preposterously calling the reboot the defining superhero movie of this generation.
In many ways, Wonder Woman follows a typical hero’s journey template. A young sheltered girl has to sail through a world she doesn’t quite grasp, eventually realizing that people and events are way more complex than she ever imagined.
Wonder Woman is often accused of not having been inclusive enough. Indeed, I must admit that the brown and black faces in the blockbuster are dime in a dozen and often reproduce irksome stereotypes. This criticism could have been of significance if the movie actually possessed the virtues so readily ascribed to it. However, it doesn’t, and thus anger at his flawed feminism becomes incongruous. Wonder Woman is a superhero movie who happens to have a female superhero as a lead, but this fact alone does not make it deserving of the title of feminist movie.
Feminism like any movement born out of social injustice is struggle. Diana never struggles. In fact, she breezes through the movie without suffering from any kind of real setbacks or difficulties. Sensitive ears, brace yourself for what comes ahead — Diana is nothing more than a snowflake.
The story takes place during WWI, a time where woman were considered inherently inferior to the opposite sex. In spite of this, once she sails to England, Diana is never truly hindered by her gender or powers.
There was another missed occasion to challenge stereotypes on both sides. Despite allusion to a romantic relationship, Diana and Steve’s bond, felt like an after-thought. As if the director had all the ingredients for a cake, but unable to decide what kind of treat to make abandoned the culinary project all together.
These are not Wonder Woman’s sole shortcomings. Forget the lithe Wonder Woman with the physique of a track and field athlete. This Diana is a runway ready pretty young thing and the movie remind the audience of this anyway it can. The action scenes were one of Wonder Woman rare quality, yet they were eye roll inducing. Amidst all the important battles, the statuesque Gadot would always strut across the battlefield in her skimpy Wonder Woman attire, airbrushed hair stylishly blowing in the wind. Blood and bruises be damned, despite fighting like a tigress, Gadot had neither.
Ironically, Wonder Woman is the exception that proves the rule: anything women-centred is acceptable only so long as it is pleasing to the male gaze.
Besides, for all the talk of sisterhood and solidarity, Wonder-Woman is a one-woman act in an oestrogen deficient show. Even though thanks to year of scholarship we’re aware of how involved in war effort women were, Diana is always surrounded by men. Asides from the Amazons who disappear after the first quarter of the movie, the only other woman Diana truly interact with serves as comedic relief.
Even the final act is a ploy to remind us of how special and different Diana is. The ultimate clash against Ares could have been a battle scene of epic proportion with Diana scraping a win over the god of war thanks to the help of her Amazons sisters and mothers, showcasing the power of kinship over individualism. Instead, the audience was offered a mangled deux-ex-machina in which demi-god Diana manage to defeat full-god Ares after she quite literally chose “love” over hate.
Wonder-Woman is not the worst flick ever produced. However, as far as feminism goes, rather than being an evocative symbol supporting the movement, Wonder Woman is a excellent example of what happens when feminism is commodified.