First off, I have to mention that I never watch movies. I’m not exaggerating much—the last movie I saw in the theater was The Hunger Games (that would be the first one), which of course I enjoyed because it was true to the book. I rarely watch them at home, too. There are reasons for this. Second of all, I must also mention that although I quite like graphic novels*, I have never particularly been into the superhero genre. So I went to this movie as a fresh and naïve viewer. I’m not going to give a plot summary here, but instead just look at some of the aspects of it.
I did enjoy the movie. When I do get around to watching a movie, if it’s any good, it totally sucks me in and makes me feel like I’m in some twilight zone for a while even after it’s over, and usually also makes me cry at some point near the end. This one did all that. Additionally, it made me want to go out and learn to fight, something that hasn’t happened since I binge-watched Buffy.
I didn’t even mind (too much) the fact that Wonder Woman was nearly naked most of the time, because on her home island, at least it made sense—why not be comfortable? There were no men around to harass all the women. Confining clothes aren’t great for physical training. And I was surprised, but her sort of weird and ostensibly ineffectual weapons actually worked for me in the movie. I mean, it’s hard to imagine a lasso being too impressive, or a bullet-repelling shield and bracelets, being all that powerful, but I thought it was okay. Plus, there was a fancy sword added to the mix.
However, I have the same issues with it that I very often have with movies (one of the main reasons I prefer TV shows to movies): character development and story. There usually isn’t time in a couple hours to do justice to both. First, while Diana/Wonder Woman herself and the pilot Steve Trevor were developed well enough for me, the supporting characters were flat. Three diverse characters went along with Steve and Diana to the front, a Scot, an Arab, and a Native American, and they weren’t developed at all. They were just sort of there. The same goes for the secretary, who was funny, though.
And the story. There were several points in the movie where I didn’t know why certain things were happening. Take, for instance, the infamous No-Man’s-Land scene, where Diana makes her way across the area between the Allies and German trenches by simply walking with her shield out. She blocks all their gunfire with said shield. First she’s by herself, but then Steve and his buddies follow. For some reason, the soldiers keep shooting at her rather than targeting them. By the time she gets there, all the soldiers are so freaked out that they run off. Now, I didn’t get why they were so freaked out. She wasn’t even attacking—just blocking the bullets. I’d think they’d more likely be transfixed and think she was a god or something magical. There were also some pivotal moments where all the characters seemed to understand what was going on even though I didn’t think it had been communicated.
I guess a big question is whether or not it was really feminist. I’m not sure. Though it is definitely a good thing to have a woman director breaking in in Hollywood—I don’t doubt that. But the movie itself is about female strength—but not normal female strength, just unnatural, female demi-god strength. Does that really empower the rest of us mortals? I’m not sure again. I mean, I suppose in the context of the superhero genre, it does. Most of the male superheroes out there have super-human traits and we still assume they’re celebrating men’s strength. But a bigger problem for me was Diana’s naïvety. She comes across as very simple and idealistic at times, not grasping what’s in front of her. I know she was sheltered from the real world, but still, it made me a little uncomfortable.
Anyway, I guess it’s up for people smarter than me to decide.
* Fables, I’m so sad you’re gone, even if you did get a little weird at the end