The new Wonder Woman movie is awesome. It’s great. It’s what many women have been waiting for. It’s all that. The Mary Sue has been publishing some very good essays about the feminist view of the film. They are not the only ones.
There are a few points I would like to raise. So, spoilers ahead.
While much has made of the Amazons, in particular the diversity in terms of age and looks, let’s give a closer look to Etta Candy. She’s more than just comic relief and truth speaking. She accepts Diana readily, acknowledging the other woman’s great looks without any jealously. Additionally, she is smart and observant enough to know that Steve and Diana have been tailed. She shows up to provide back up, readily with an unfamiliar weapon (Diana’s sword) in head. Etta may not be bad ass Amazon general or warrior, but she is just as strong and brave.
This aspect of bravery without superhero powers gets overlooked very often. While Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Falcon are said to be the weakest Avengers, they are also the bravest – going into battle with a lack of superhero powers or very expensive equipment that protects them head to toe. Admittedly, Falcon is in the middle, his wings in Civil War can deflect bullets, but this is not the case in Winter Solider.
Furthermore, Etta’s ability is another thing that speaks strongly to Steve’s character. Despite what some others do in the movie, Steve never doubts any woman’s ability. He had enough sense to work, possibly hire Etta, and respects her abilities. He is not surprised to see her at his back. Further, he never questions Diana’s ability, just the whole existence of Ares or Zeus. Even when he is seducing Dr. Poison, he is observant enough to realize where her true interest lies. He speaks to her as an equal, something that he does to every single woman in the movie. He is the only male main character to do so (his posse by and large do so, after Diana has proven herself in the bar).
His Marvel counterpoint is Nick Fury in the movies who relies heavily on Maria Hill and Black Widow, getting their opinions before making a decision.
Another fine and subtle point comes in Diana’s face off with Ares. Diana defines herself in terms of matrimonial, not surprising considering the birth story she was told and her childhood. What is interesting is how Ares defines her – as the daughter of Zeus, a child he had with the Amazon Queen. He never acknowledges Hippolyta’s name, he sees her only in relation to the men whose only connection to her is in that of blood – no emotional connection. Further, he sees her only as a tool – and it appears so did Zeus. It is the Amazons who have the compassion to see her as Diana. Even Antiope who pushes the Godkiller aspect of Diana must loves Diana, has compassion for Diana. Every Amazon sees her as a person, as something other than a tool or a weapon. It is such a telling difference, all in a few words. Just like Ares’ attempt to get Diana to kill Dry Maru is based on Dry Maru’s morality and scarred appearance – he gets rid of the mask to show physical ugliness as well. Incidentally, why neglecting the ugliness of war that Diana has seen. Jenkins makes sure we know which is worse – Maru’s physical appearance is not something the viewer (or Diana) cares about, the ugliness of war is. The disappearing of the mask is not a big reveal moment. At that point in the movie Diana and the viewer are one, we care about morality, nothing else. Jenkins does a wonderful job at highlighting how ugly war is. She keeps the horror of WWI.
Look, it’s true that Wonder Woman’s costume is still a male gaze thing; hell, that is true for a few of the Amazons. But, there is so much here for a woman to love – the male butt scene but no female nudity is only the tip of it. There is such much nuance in it. It’s lovely, it really is.
For years, one of the best movie experiences I had was watching 300 and cheering with every woman in the audience when the Queen stabbed the traitor. That was awesome.
Now, the best movie experience I had was watching Wonder Woman.