June 5, 2017

Thoughts on Wonder Woman and “Wonder Woman”

Wonder Woman” has arrived and it’s a hit! This is a good thing for many reasons, not the least of which is that the movie is actually pretty good. Here are some of my thoughts about both the character and the new (hit) movie.

Wonder Woman's first TV appearance

(Note: the above is a screenshot from Wonder Woman’s first TV appearance, which apparently was on “The Brady Kids“.)

The Movie

It’s pretty good! I say this with the understanding the film has been deemed to be more than pretty good by Rotten Tomatoes. If you read those reviews, though, as I did, you will find that although the vast majority of them are indeed positive, there are some complaints, which is fair since there are no perfect movies. (Not even my beloved Avengers movie.)

Down to brass tacks. (Which sounds painful.) “Wonder Woman” is very entertaining. There is too much talking for my taste, and some of the action sequences, especially the final battle, don’t quite work as well as I would have liked them to. In my opinion the best part of the movie is the beginning, when everyone is on Themyscira, aka Paradise Island, where Princess Diana, aka Wonder Woman, hails from. This doesn’t mean the movie falls apart after that and it is unlikely that a movie set entirely on Themyscira would have been successful, either artistically or at the box office. But Themyscira looks amazing. The women are a great mix of races and body types, they seemingly spend all of their time training to fight, and the island itself is just gorgeous. (It was shot in Italy, for those who care about such things.) I’m not going to spoil anything by telling you what happens next. The bottom line is that you are unlikely to be bored, and if you haven’t seen the movie yet, please do so.

Gal Gadot is not only beautiful, she OWNS the character of Wonder Woman. There were moments when I thought I was watching Lynda Carter — not really, but for a split second my eyes and my brain flashed to Ms. Carter in all of her wonderful glory. Lynda Carter was one my first crushes. (She was also Chris Pine’s first crush; he plays Steve Trevor and does a great job.) I will always have a place in my heart for her. This is not news. Millions of American men, and women, were and are in love with Lynda Carter. She is even thanked at the end of the film. She has done a ton of interviews heralding the arrival of the new movie. While it is ridiculous that it took this long for a big-screen “Wonder Woman” movie to get made, I am pleased to say that Ms. Gadot was worth waiting for. (Sorry for making the same “waiting for Gadot” joke that everyone else is making.)

And yes, the director is a woman. (Patty Jenkins.) More important than that is the fact that the director did a damn good job of making a good movie. By now we all know that this was not a guarantee. “Batman v Superman” was a mess, “Suicide Squad” was a “huh?” and although I like “Man of Steel” more than most, “Wonder Woman” is way more fun.

Live-action is where it’s at for most folks, but I am also very fond of Susan Eisenberg’s voicing of the character in the DC Animated Universe, along with the way the character is drawn in those cartoons. She’s strong, sometimes angry, and takes no crap from anyone. Because there were a lot of episodes to play with, the writers were able to explore different facets of the character, including but not limited to her faith — why, Hawkgirl asks, does she shout “Hera, give me strength” when she is looking for an extra push of power? Why does that work for her? (In case you’ve forgotten, I love those cartoons and you should watch them all.) She even gets to be an ambassador to a climate summit. The main thing I loved about the animated character (besides everything else) was her height — she’s drawn taller than almost everyone she meets. Gadot is a reported 5′ 10″ (I think this is a real-life retcon; I distinctly recall looking up her height back when she was cast and it was 5′ 8″, which is only interesting to maniacs like me), but regardless of her actual height, she seems to tower over pretty much everybody in the movie, which is at it should be.

Good movie! Go see it!

The Reviews and The Box Office

Like I said already, the review of “Wonder Woman” have been overwhelmingly positive. The box office was equally strong — $100 million opening weekend. Whoo-hoo! Sexism is dead!

No it isn’t. Hopefully we all know this.

Another thing to note: an article I read this morning said that the audience was almost evenly split between men and women and that this was “a surprise”. Why would that be a surprise? First of all, who do you think was watching Lynda Carter in the 70s? Sure, women. But also men. Lots and lots of men. Me. Every boy I knew. Chris Pine.

Also, this is WONDER WOMAN. Wonder Woman is, along with Superman and Batman, one of the top three or four most recognizable superheroes on the planet. She was on the cover of the first issue of Ms. Magazine. This was not an accident. The character was conceived as a feminist icon, and this was back in the 30s/40s when that was barely a thing. And even if she wasn’t so famous, guys like to see superhero movies. The fact that “Catwoman” and “Elektra” weren’t box office hits is completely irrelevant. (I say this because both of those films were mentioned in roundups about “Wonder Woman”.) THIS IS WONDER WOMAN. The rules don’t apply.

The Relief

I think it’s fair to say that many people, including movie critics, were relieved that “Wonder Woman” is good. Let’s say Ms. Gadot was solid but the movie was a mess. That would be unfortunate, because it would continue the nonsensical notion that “movies starring female superheroes don’t work”. One, almost anything can work if it’s well done. Two, Wonder Woman is not just any female superhero. Three… I don’t have a third thing. We all wanted this movie to be good. It is. The reviews reflect that. Cool.

The Controversy

Wow, I just don’t care about this, but I thought I’d mention it anyway because Internet. There were all-female screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse. Some morons got upset. Lynda Carter, perfect as always, had this to say on her Facebook page:

There we go. I will add “everybody calm down.”

There are probably other controversies surrounding “Wonder Woman”, or at least Internet-caused moments of outrage. I can’t be bothered to look for them. Because you know what? There is nothing wrong with women, and more importantly girls, having a hero they can call their own. Check out this Hollywood Reporter story about girls dressing up as Wonder Woman for the premiere. Love it. Have fun. Feel empowered. As it says in the best theme song in the history of television:

Change their minds,
and change the world.

You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman.

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