I finally got to see Wonder Woman Wednesday evening! It’s been an insanely hectic week of work, so I ducked out of my apartment two nights ago on an impulse; Wonder Woman, I decided, was going to be my you-can-make-it, Hump Day treat to myself. I had purposely avoided reading any review so that I could form my own opinions, but to be honest, I was nervous about the movie. As a lifelong geek and fan of the superhero genre, I knew that if Wonder Woman tanked in the box office there wouldn’t be another movie featuring a female superhero for a long, long time. Which is a ridiculous, illogical standard. Batman v. Superman was a disaster, but it’s not like they stopped making movies about men! But I digress.
I settled into my seat, watched some previews and then the lights dimmed as Gal Gadot’s voice started to narrate. And I was thrilled from start to finish. In so many ways it was your typical superhero origin movie with the hero’s backstory and journey, setting up their motivations for the coming sequels. It included a dash of cheesy moralizing mixed in with action sequences and explosions that get bigger with every scene. The movie even had some superhero-sized plot holes; I mean, did he have to insist on being the one to fly the plane? Really?
But while Wonder Woman retained the familiar elements that make up these movies, to me it simultaneously felt like a whole new genre. Instead of being an outsider looking in, or an extra member of the gang with a bit of screen time most of which is consumed by a romance with the main hero, Wonder Woman was in the middle of the action. She WAS the action.
The movie was about her from start to finish, and that was a revelation.
I have early memories of skeptically watching Christopher Reeve turn back time by making the earth rotate in the opposite direction to save Lois Lane in the 1978 Superman movie. Despite all its gimmicks and cheesiness, I’ve always loved the superhero genre from Heath Ledger as the Joker to Guardians of the Galaxy. And in recent years, women have started to infiltrate these movies more and more; Black Widow is by far my favorite Avenger and totally deserves her own movie. But in my lifetime, a woman has never really taken center stage in a big blockbuster, until now. And this movie totally changed how I see superhero movies.
After the credits rolled, I hopped in my car and blasted the music as I headed home for the evening, a gigantic, silly grin on my face. I was singing along like a fool and feeling on top of the world. Suddenly, it hit me. “This is what superhero movies are supposed to feel like. This is the feeling you’re supposed to get from watching them.”
True, I’ve enjoyed other movies, laughed at goofy Marvel punchlines and had late night discussions on the deeper meaning of The Dark Knight with my younger brother. But I’ve never felt empowered by a superhero movie. Never felt ready to kick some butt and take some names after of watching a favorite superhero do just that.
Wonder Woman made me feel that for the first time, even if the only evil villain I’ll be taking down is the “to-do” list sticky note on my desk. After watching Wonder Woman, I finally felt what so many little boys felt watching male superheroes on the big screen. And every girl deserves that opportunity, the chance to see themselves represented on the big screen. So here’s to more movies featuring a diverse group of female heroes for all of our girls. And I’m still waiting for that Black Widow movie, Joss Whedon.