Just saw the long-awaited, much-hyped movie, “Wonder Woman”. This is not a review per se. It’s more personal than that. Let me tell you why.
For one, I’ve been waiting a lo-o-o-ong time for this movie, like about 25 years long. Ever since that bygone era of my Star-Trek convention days (I’m a reformed Trekker–let’s leave it at that!) in the early ’90’s, production insiders were hinting and teasing a Wonder Woman movie. The big holdup was casting the perfect lead. At the time, I was rooting for Joanie Laurer (the wrestler formerly known as Chyna), because she at least looked the part of an Amazon, and I wanted to see a muscled, Olympian-looking woman play the role, for a change.
I was 6 years old when the TV show came out. While the other girls in school were singing the theme song while running across the playground, I knew even then that Wonder Woman was less of an ambassador for women and more of a fantasy for men. No woman in her right mind would run, leap, and fight in a strapless bathing suit and stilettos. Lynda Carter was eloquent and entertaining, but she lost me forever in a scene where, while trying to stop a plane from taking off, she actually paused to flip her hair back.
For the record, I have never fantasized about being Wonder Woman. I have frequently fantasized about being an Amazon. That’s a whole ‘nother post. Let me stay on point.
When I found out that the role was finally given to Gal Gadot, I was disappointed. I barely remember her role on Fast Five, but when I saw the promo pictures, my first thought was “skinny white sex object”. Nothing remarkable. How was this waify little wisp going to convince a twenty-first century audience (myself included) that Wonder Woman is more than a male puberty ritual? From that moment to last Sunday, when I finally saw the movie, my simple opinion was “it’d better not stink”.
I am happy to report that Wonder Woman did NOT stink. This movie was totally worth my 25+ year wait, for three very important reasons:
- The director is female – By watching TV in the ’70’s, ’80’s, and ’90’s, I learned that men have NO CLUE how women behave when left in charge of their own lives. Why would you put a man in charge of directing a movie about a woman raised in a matriarchal society? In male minds, “amazons” are another word for “harem”, and that’s how they treated the subject. If they can’t masturbate to it, it’s not worth the effort. Even in the TV series, the message was clear; the strongest woman is no match for a man. In every scene of Wonder Woman, I could tell that this movie was designed for women to embrace, that Diana Prince is a capable superhero for girls to look up to, and that the movie’s message was a deliberate answer to the question: would war exist if men did not? Thank you, Patty Jenkins.
- The Amazons were intelligently depicted – Yay! I have seen my share of badly produced TV shows and movies that featured women warriors and matriarchal societies. Amazons are usually depicted as busty white women in tight loincloth who end up totally blindsided by men who just happen upon them. And the men always end up tainting Amazon society, convincing them how much they “need” men. And up goes my “oh, please!” meter. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen in this movie. In one scene (which I’m paraphrasing), Diana makes it clear to Steve Trevor that men are only “needed” by women for procreation. Sexual pleasure is something that women can handle just fine on their own. For all their warmongering, the men in Wonder Woman do not alter the status quo of Themyscira. I liked that.
- Action scenes – I had all but given up on ever seeing a woman on screen fight for real until we crossed over to the 21st Century. Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman only threw three real punches in the course of the whole series, and when it came to fighting, she only hurled men across the room. That’s not fighting; that’s pretending. We won’t even discuss how I feel about catfights. Michelle Rodriguez’s fight scenes in the Fast and Furious movies (especially the one with Ronda Rousey in Furious 7) give me life, and Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow was a LONG time coming (just wish that she was actually Black). In Wonder Woman, Diana picks her outfits based on her ability to fight in them (gold star, Ms. Jenkins!). And even though you have to suspend a little reality for a superhero movie, I finally got to see believable fight scenes where women have battle scars and combat
moves. There’s even a pearl-clutching, blink-and-miss-it scene of boxer Ann Wolfe as Artemis being a human wall during practice combat. That alone was worth the price of admission for me. Gal Godot may be a skinny little waif, but they made her look more authentic than Lynda Carter in the role of America’s favorite Amazon. And that’s all that I was really looking for
In the present climate of government-sanctioned misogyny, I find myself newly inspired to write more stories with respect to my Blackness and my Woman-ness. I wonder (no pun intended) if anyone would be interested in reading about my vision of matriarchal society.