Comic books aren’t my thing. I have to constantly ask my kids who is Marvel and who is DC, the difference between the Justice League and the Avengers, and then I sat through Suicide Squad wondering what the point was.
Wonder Woman, the television show, came out when I was very small, but I caught reruns from time to time. It was the first action show I remember where the woman wasn’t a sidekick or a love interest or just a female version of a superhero (Batgirl, Spidergirl, Supergirl). Along with thousands of other girls, I twirled around in an enclosed space pretending I was going to change into Wonder Woman.
After two generations of Batman, Superman and Spider-Man movies; after Thor and Hulk and Deadpool; we get Wonder Woman.
She kicked ass. Diana Prince might not twirl around to change into Wonder Woman anymore, but she still kicked ass.
Along with a full retinue of resplendent Amazon warriors, Diana ceaselessly trains for the day she will kill the god of war, Ares, and restore peace to Earth. Her coach is the fabulous Robin Wright (who constantly tells Diana she’s stronger than she thinks) and after Diana rescues an American spy posing as a German pilot, who’s chased by the real Germans, Robin and the rest of the ladies BRING IT in a battle on their shores.
(I spent most of the movie thinking the pilot, Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, was supposed to be Captain America. I don’t know why and I finally remembered Pine played Captain Kirk. We need someone else besides a guy named Chris in future superhero movies. Please and thank you.)
I spend the rest of the movie as anxious as Diana to kill Ares. Friends, Wonder Woman Gets Shit Done. Steve, and his ragtag group of buddies, and his bosses, and the Germans, all try to sidetrack Diana. The movie went a little long so I can tell you there was an ill-advised shopping trip, a dancing lesson and many strategic arguments with Steve. Diana shrugs and then does things her way. You can put any feminist saying behind it: she persists; she fights the patriarchy. She slogged through a battlefield because she was determined to save a village. She gets some help from Steve, but it’s her battle. She eventually has a showdown with Ares, who of course tries to mansplain her destiny and manipulate her. No one comes to her rescue. She has to figure her shit out. And as soon as she realizes she’s fighting for love, she’s indestructible. She’s stronger than she ever thought.
Gal Gadot is stunning, but the movie is smart enough not to stoop down and make her beauty a big deal; it’s sort of incidental. During the aforementioned shopping trip, which I feared would be a ripoff of Pretty Woman, Diana is surprisingly uncomfortable. The expensive clothes don’t suit her, because she’s a warrior. Steve at no point overshadows or detracts from Diana. He’s merely trying to channel her in the right direction.
The battle scenes were immensely satisfying and my favorite part of the movie, probably because I feel so helpless sometimes in the current political climate. The Amazons mow down Germans. Wonder Woman singlehandedly battles legions of them and eventually defeats the GOD OF WAR all by herself. And as a brilliant woman told her, she was stronger than she thought.
[EDITED TO ADD:] Last week, I worked out with a different group of people at the gym; I’d seen them around but didn’t know them personally. As we went through our rounds of exercises, one woman would surreptitiously watch me and then say, “You need to use a heavier weight.” I dutifully went back to the rack to choose a larger dumbbell and and she just shook her head. “Come on, you can go up at least 20 more pounds.” She made me go higher on every single exercise, and the workout was that much more challenging. Her message, like Antiope to Diana, was “you’re stronger than you think you are.” I was back with my regular group today and I saw the woman on the other side of the training room. I shouted over that I was going with a heavier weight and she just replied that she’d continue to keep her eye on me.