Have I tried to stop the Wonder Woman’s in my life?
Superhero films have become a staple genre in the world of blockbusters and have even reached a point where they hold a degree of influence and cultural significance in our society. Children and sometimes even adults look up to these characters as symbols of hope, enactors of change and models of courage. However, despite all the different stories and unique adventures that studios and filmmakers have brought us, we’ve rarely seen a woman in her own movie using the gifts she’s been given to make a difference in the world. Iron-Man. Bat-man. Spider-man. It’s always been a man in a cape, a man with a lot of money, a man who’s a genius or a man with otherworldly powers who’s saved the world in his own movie.
At the beginning of the film, Wonder Woman is immediately suppressed by men in the human world from being the powerful hero she is and it seems bizarre when the male characters essentially prevent a superhero from being a superhero simply because she’s a woman. However, as ignorant as the men in the film may seem, their actions are very real reflections of many men in our society still today that have tried to stop women from being powerful, commanding, intelligent or courageous.
I also found myself wondering as I watched the film as a male if I’m really that different than the men in the film. Have I myself tried to stop the Wonder Woman’s in my life too and treated them as something less than me — either intentionally or inadvertently — like the men at the beginning of the film? Or have I chosen to fight by her side like the men do towards the end of the film? Films can hold up a mirror and make us look at our own lives, simultaneously revealing our faults while showing us an image of a better version of ourselves that we can choose to strive for. In the case of Wonder Woman, by recognizing the ignorance of the men in the film and their treatment of Wonder Woman, male audiences can perhaps see a potential reflection of themselves in the film and look at their own lives through a critical lens. Are we any different than those men? Are we the same but just oblivious to our actions? What can we do differently in our lives to ensure we’re not like them?
When Wonder Woman finally wields her sword and shield and charges down the battlefield ahead of the soldiers in her iconic armor that’s been covered up for most of the film, she is once again her full and true and powerful self. There’s been many reports of women tearing up or crying during the battle scenes in Wonder Woman and I think this is a testament to how the film powerfully mirrors the universal efforts of women everywhere — Jenkins and Gadot included — who have risen up and persisted in their lives and in their careers despite the constant efforts of so many to drag them down. As I exited the theatre for the screening of Wonder Woman that I watched, I overheard three girls telling their mother and father how much the film and Wonder Woman meant to them. I noticed that they also all had tears in their eyes as they talked. The mother and also the father did as well. This film means a lot to people. It’s monumental. And the impact it’s having is why we need more representation in the world of blockbusters. Everyone’s watching these films so everyone should be represented in these films. It’s not a solution but it’s a step in the right direction.
Wonder Woman gives everywhere a courageous, powerful, dignified, empathetic and intelligent hero to really look up to and see a reflection of themselves in. And I hope, that like the father I saw in the theatre, men will also be able to see the film and see their daughters, sisters or mothers in Wonder Woman as well. And I hope that young boys who have watched the film will also see the girls in their life in the film and recognize that the girls in their playgrounds, in their classes, and on their sports teams can be strong and tough like Superman — and now Wonder Woman — too. Not only does Wonder Woman serve as a female symbol of hope, enactor of change and model of courage to look up to, it also gives boys a female hero to look up to when all they’ve ever known was male heroes like Batman and Iron Man. And that’s really important too. I hope the success of the film leads to more stories about heroes that everyone can look up to and more representation in the blockbuster world. Wonder Woman is a reminder that, yes, women can in fact kick-ass and that, yes, women can save the world too. Boys have always had that; it’s time that girls have that too.