By Rachel Poe
I like comic books, I like superheroes. I love the action, the gray morality, the belief that maybe, actually, one person can save the world. I grew up watching Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, and later Young Justice. There was always back to back episodes every weekend I would spend at my dad’s. I was immediately drawn to Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl, the origin female Justice Leaguers of my childhood. Sure, maybe I just liked them because they were girls and young, impressionable Rachel still thought that there was stuff for boys and stuff for girls.
Wonder Woman’s appearance on that show really validated me. If there were female superheroes, there’s no reason that a girl shouldn’t like them. She was tough and kind and took nobody’s shit. The Wonder Woman I grew up watching helped plant the seeds of Feminist Rachel here with you today. So when it was announced that they had cast Wonder Woman for the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie a couple years back, she was literally all I cared about. Wonder Woman, on the big screen, kicking butts and taking names and smashing the patriarchy- sign me up. And though her screen time probably totaled around 20 minutes in BvS, Diana did not disappoint and neither did Gal Gadot.
But now we have a movie- a full-length Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta, Wonder Woman movie so let’s discuss. As always, S P O I L E R S ahead.
Needless to say, I was teary-eyed throughout most of the two hours. Not tears of sadness, well at least not the entire time, but tears of joy and amazement as I watched my baby go into battle to take down the patriarchy one powerful, defensive blow at a time.
Diana is the princess of the Amazons, her mother their queen and her aunt their fiercest general. This sets up the foundations of her character perfectly. Diana is equal parts leader and academic and fighter, making her one of the most well-rounded heroes in the League- or, well, she will be. And that’s one of the best features of this movie- how adequate time was spent on character development and epic battle sequences, it’s all very Wonder Woman- esque.
And the fight scenes were things of pure beauty. I would break down the movie into three major fight sequences: the Amazons on the beach against the Germans, No Man’s Land in the trenches, and the final Big Bad fight. The Amazons are just as deadly and graceful and in sync with each other as they should be. I’ve always preferred my superhero fights without guns but this blatant parallel between Amazonian weapons and the weapons of Man during World War I really highlight how long they’ve been shut away from Man’s World, marking a major theme throughout the rest of the movie.
No Man’s Land was definitely my favorite scene in the movie. From the moment she climbed up the ladder, out of the trenches, with multiple people calling to her to get back down, charging headfirst into battle to save a town held hostage- everything about that sequence screamed Wonder Woman. The majority of her moves are defensive or disarming. She’s not an aggressor, she’s a defender and that’s a key aspect of Diana’s character. What makes Diana so incredibly terrifying, during this scene though, is that she is up against the common man and they really don’t stand a chance. Watching her take down trenches that haven’t been moved in a year during World War I just shows off her almighty strength, her technique shows her restraint. It was perfect.
My biggest issue with the movie (besides the fact that they KILLED STEVE HOW DARE YOU) has got to be the ending fight with Ares. I, unfortunately, knew who Ares was from the beginning because no one was hiding the fact that David Thewlis (a.k.a. Remus Lupin from Harry Potter) was playing him. At first, I liked the idea of Ares hiding in an older, weaker man on the side of the “Good Guys.” I thought it gave the story a little something. But when he revealed himself, his Ares-persona was disappointing, to say the least. The fight between the two gods- yes, Diana is a full-on goddess- is lacking. What made the previous fights so interesting was this perception of two dueling worlds. Watching two gods have at it felt out of place and every time I heard Remus- I mean Ares speak, it was a little immersion breaking, for me at least.
That aside, I just adore this Diana. Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for a Diana that rings true to the Wonder Woman I grew up with? The one I knew she could be? DC’s New 52, a relaunch of all the classic characters in 2011, totally just trashed Diana. Not only did they make her hook-up with Superman (which, ew, no), they lost what made Diana Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman- Diana is more than just a fierce warrior, she’s compassionate and well-read, deviant and naïve. Diana believes in good, believes in people and protecting those who cannot protect themselves. She doesn’t need a man in the bedroom or on the battlefield but that does not make her love or value Steve any less. She wants to stop and see a baby and praises an ice cream seller for his delicious creation, all while on the way to kill the God of War. She’s complicated and flawed and inspiring. People follow her into battle with little hesitation, they rally behind her. That’s Wonder Woman. I’m glad DC didn’t completely forget that.
Oh and Gal, wonderful and lovely and elegant Gal Gadot. She embodied Diana perfectly. I love the way that she would cock her head to the side, asking “do you really want to mess with me?” Or how her smile lit up the screen. Her facial expressions said it all. She is Diana. That and the fact she did reshoots five months pregnant! Yeah, actual Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, am I right?
Overall, I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed this movie. It lived up to all my expectations, even exceeding some. I left that movie theater feeling like I could take on the world. To me, it was Wonder Woman done right, female characters done right. It was funny and heartbreaking and a movie that I will be paying again to see for sure. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s very possible that we do not deserve this movie, do not deserve her, but we sure as hell need her and Diana came through.