‘Wonder Woman’ Shines Both As A Beacon of Strength For Women and Human Empathy

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9.0 Overall Score

The 1970’s Wonder Woman tv series starring Lynda Carter served as an inspiration at the time for women in a male-dominated super hero climate. In fact, the last female fronted superhero movie was Fox’s 2005, Elektra. Although Jennifer Garner may have been right for the role, the story did not do Marvel’s anti-heroine justice. From there, we’ve had portrayals of strong female characters, both on the big and small screen. Marvel’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) of the DCEU and Superwoman (Melissa Benoist). 2016’s Suicide Squad introduced the playful and deadly Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). That character was still finding her own identity while still being bound to the twisted love affair that Quinn had with The Joker (Jared Leto). Movies still had a way to go, but one of the best parts of 2016’s Batman vs. Superman was the appearance ofGal Gadot‘s determined look emerging behind Wonder Woman’s shield within the battle with Doomsday. It was time for Wonder Woman to have her own movie.

Wonder Woman begins on the island of Themyscira, where the Amazon’s live in isolation training just in case the Aires, the God of War returns to bring about destruction. In the beginning of the movie, you see a young Diana mimicking fighting movies of her triumphant Amazonian sisters is one of the first powerful statements that this movie makes. It is here that two sides to Diana are embodied in two different characters, both her mother, Amazon Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright). Hippolyta, an fierce fighter in her on right is the protector and nurturer. She tells young Diana the story of Zeus and Ares as not only a deterrent to war, but to make sure that fighting is the last option.

Antiope is the warrior call inside Diana’s heart. She’s a hardened general that prepares Diana to fight in conjunction from Hippolyta’s motherly instincts to keep her insulated in a world that has not seen anyone from the outside. That all changes when USAAS captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) floats into Themyscira unexpectedly and lifts the fog of the war-torn outside world, both literally and figuratively. Diana (Gal Gadot), now older and just reaching the tip of the iceberg on her power, sets off on her journey to both save the world and find her own personal path.

War is indeed hell and this movie is full of images that depicts the ugliness that goes along with it. Director Patty Jenkins creates an atmosphere for a beautiful union where a war and superhero movie can coexist. Many of the battle scenes holds true to Zack Snyder‘s cinematography style with darker hues and slow motion interjections. Diana’s early venture into World War II with the naivety of only hearing stories about battles past is very effective to the point where she herself serves as the audience’s eyes. Therein lies the fine line between duty and empathy. The fact that the hearts of men can both harbor good and evil. Gadot shows emotional versatility in the role where she is steadfast in her strength in doing what’s right, but also broken by the fact that humans chose to inflict pain on one another. Often times, for the most minuscule and minor differences.

Being in London within the World War I time period brings about a male hierarchy that is familiar to the current climate, especially politically. Women are expected to dress a certain way and urged to stay away in the all-boys club of the political arena. Diana continually rejects and amends that notion. There’s scene within the middle of the movie is where she gets to elevate her “can-do” spirit which will be a marker in superhero cinema for years to come. Diana’s origin was that she was sculpted from clay from Zeus, King of Mount Olympus. This movie also serves as a metaphor of breaking away from that mold that a man made her to be. Although she was made to be special, it was her choice to bring that out into the world.

Wonder Woman is not all gloom and doom, however. The chemistry between Gadot and Pine works because the dialogue comes off as a natural inclination of a women trying to learn everything about a world that she’s been sheltered from and a man who tries to come off as charming as possible. Some conversations run a little long, but this could also be interpreted as the awkwardness of a man in the presence of something more powerful than himself and making sense of it. The other members of the group, Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) shows both diversity and that good hearts come from all different backgrounds.

Here we are in 2017 and we are still fighting the same battles of that time period. Women are still fighting for equal pay for equal work with their male counterparts and with cinema, as Jessica Chastain noted at the Cannes Film Festival, we still have a long way to go. Patty Jenkins does a great job in balancing the micro and macrocosm worlds of characters and countries. These nuances, specifically speaking toward Diana’s transformation could have only been pulled off by a female director.

Wonder Woman is not only the depiction of a powerful woman that men and women alike needs to see, it’s a metaphor for ourselves as well. It’s a win for a comic movie universe that very much needed one. Whether you believe in the stories of gods and heroines or that Ares infected the hearts of men, humans at their very core have the free will to choose good and evil everyday. What side of history do we want to be on?

Main Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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Author: Murjani Rawls View all posts by
Writer | Photographer | Beast

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