I have complicated feelings about Wonder Woman. (Also SPOILERS AHEAD).
There are many, many, and I want to stress, many beautiful moments of enjoyment to be found in this movie. Taken separately and savoured, they are delightful pieces, delightful scenes that make you reach for more.
When taken as a whole, there’s this feeling of dissonance. Like something doesn’t quite make sense, or doesn’t taste quite as good as you wish it could be. Something something different flavours that are great on their own, but mixed together, tastes really off.
I think this could be due to the way they played out Wonder Woman’s origins. I feel she’s naive, yes, but foolishly so. Is it due to the way her overprotective mother raised her? Is she at odds with the bloodthirstiness of Antiope? Or is it just this very teenage “I will make everything right by doing this ONE THING that only I can do” kind of aura?
Partially, but I think it also comes down to the reason why, she said, at the end of the movie, that she is motivated by “Love.”
I think for me, that was what disappointed me the most. Wonder Woman is this person who is the very epitome of justice. She is fair. She is honest, loyal perhaps to a fault to her ideals. But above all, she is compassionate.
I will admit that a large part of why I feel that dissonance is also because the word “Love” in movies are usually attached to romantic love, and to be honest, I like how Diana’s first romance is not at the forefront. In fact, it’s something that is “Sure, why not” and then “let’s get on with the mission” in the sense, it doesn’t consume her life.
Having her talk about Love instead of Compassion made me feel like it was both a missed opportunity and a devaluing of what Diana stands for, because her compassion was what drove her to run across No Man’s Land. And the setup for that scene, for the way she flew across the battlefield, did not back down and holy f the smackdown that was laid right after that.
She began to move because her heart and compassion was moved and it was glorious.
Using the word “Love” instead of compassion made me cry slightly inside.
I have another confession to make about the movie.
It is womanly.
While I may disagree with the casting of Gadot and how the story played out, I ADORE the unapologetic, badassery that Diana displayed. “I am no man’s props” nor “I am simply a man who happens to be in a female body” are two tropes that this could have easily fallen into, and they did not.
It’s not that kind of female hero movie where she’s seen to be “assisting” men with their “important” tasks. Working in the sidelines and all that. No, this is NOT that kind of movie.
It is not that kind of female superhero movie where her “feminine wiles” are what gets her ahead. No, if anything, Diana is anything but feminine (and I love that scene where they call her out for wearing glasses, as though it would hide her identity squee).
It’s a “kick ass, fuck you, take no names” individualistic kind of feminine strength. A third kind of on-screen feminine badassery. We are so overdue for this kind of non-masculine feminine strength. There are plenty of feminine role models out there in the real world, and I would love to see more of these. Diana, and more importantly, her Amazonian aunts and friends, are great examples.
Talking about this also brings to mind the fantastic masculinity of Newt Scamander. I loved how his character was played, and it wasn’t until I saw this video essay that I realised it resonated because it was a different version of masculinity than I had ever experienced in movies, and it is glorious.
So yes, despite my misgivings, I love Wonder Woman and I would like to see more movies like these please kthxbai.