Is Wonder Woman as much a triumph for women within the Hollywood industry? Or is it just a much-needed victory for Warner Bros. and the DCEU universe? Unlike the movies from its cinematic predecessors, Wonder Woman opened the weekend to prescreening praise and that highly sought after Rotten Tomatoes score. With so much animosity over the validity of critics these days and the effect they have on a film’s opening success at the box office, one can indeed argue that good word of mouth can and will influence how a film is received by potential ticket buyers. Failures of titles like Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman placed a stigma on all future releases within this DC comic book movie franchise, but is it fair to judge a film based on the success of a franchise? As much bad wrap as those films received, they have a good return on investment, ultimately making that film a studio success.
Wonder Woman, DC’s first highly touted film, scored big with positive ratings from critics associated with the popular movie website Rotten Tomatoes. As much as they (the critics) decry accusations that sites such as RT have a negative effect on a film’s opening success, the proof is in the pudding. Wonder Woman was certified fresh at 94% and performed better than the horribly rated Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Baywatch which both opened a week before. Is the word of the critic word really that important, and if so are sites like Rotten Tomatoes inadvertently controlling the industry by proxy?
Before She Was Wonder Woman, She Was Diana – REVIEW
I found myself at odds with wanting to like this movie as much as everyone else LOVED this movie. I mean, it got a 94% percent on Rotten Tomatoes so I should like it right… right?
That’s the odd nature of criticism and human behavior. It’s our nature to not want to be at odds with the masses– to just accept whatever is popular instead of forming our own opinion or being truthful to our own opinion. A movie gets a horrible rating and automatically it’s cemented in your mind that the aforementioned movie is a film you would rather not spend money to go and see. Access to such information has taken the risk out of watching movies. Whether you hate or love a movie, isn’t it more of the experience we seek to obtain? Or is it that we would rather save our money than take a chance on a film that may disappoint us?
I was excited by the idea that Wonder Woman would be the best movie of the summer — even better than Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. That last scene in B vs V left me wanting more of the Amazonian warrior who faced off with Doomsday as Superman moped and Batman hid. However, it just didn’t rock my world as it apparently rocked for other people. All those positive reviews and movie was just okay. Sorry, status quo.
When asked, “So what did you think?” I bit my tongue a little, I admit. Why? Because I believed my feelings towards this movie were maybe too subjective to really debate whether or not this iteration of Wonder Woman met my criteria as the Wonder Woman film I wanted to watch. Bre, a contributor to If three by space and friend, shared the same sentiment. Finally!, Someone else who thought the movie was meh. I’m usually very candid about my reactions towards a film, never really holding my tongue. I even waited to hear Bre’s reaction before I could truthfully respond to her about whether I liked the movie. To my surprise, she too did not share in the hoopla that is Wonder Woman Praise Mania.
Instead of disseminating my negative thoughts onto you. I wanted to understand why it is that I did not share the same sentiment about this take on the iconic 1/3 of the Superhero Trinity. Wonder Woman isn’t exactly an innovative film, especially within this overly saturated market of comic book inspired movies. Sure, it’s the first movie helmed by a female director featuring a female comic book character to gross over $100 million dollars. The accomplishment should be heralded as much as celebrated by every director and actor in the industry. However, we can’t focus on the success of this film as a solitary achievement that will change the nature of the film culture. The truth remains that this is just one film about a superhero that took many years to make primarily because studios didn’t want to take a risk. Only after her appearance in B vs S were they finally convinced that they could make money off of this character.
Within the current narrative of the DC Universe movie, a stand-alone Wonder Woman film is just a life preserver floating atop an empty ocean. It doesn’t fit within the current narrative which began with Superman and continued into B vs S and should have just gone on with The Justice League. Opposite of Marvel, they would have to introduce the character after the debut of the ensemble team. However, WW was riding a wave of excitement and it was a smart business move to make a standalone film now instead of later when the fervor subsides.
So, stop with the praise that this is a home run for female artists in the film industry. The numbers say it all and as of 2016, women comprised just 7 percent of all directors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
Wonder Woman was poised to do well at the box office. Maybe not 100 million opening well but as with all the movies before it, Jenkins would have eventually obtained this title of a person who made a movie for a studio that grossed a lot of money. Consider the Fate of the Furious as a perfect example: There was this brief celebration of F. Gary Gray becoming the first black $1billion director.
Kudos goes to the work he put in to make the film what it became but his efforts weren’t all that pushed this film to its incumbent success. The Furious franchise is eight films in and continues to perform no matter who is in the director’s chair. Wonder Woman will eventually make a bazillion dollars but let’s not focus on solely on numbers, that’s studio mumbo jumbo, but rather the time and effort and vision of Patty Jenkins who never directed an action movie and her muse Gal Gadot who had some big red boots to fill; they deserve more respect for their efforts than an entrance into the all boys 100 million dollar club.
Much of what other people liked about the movie or continue to blab on about, I did not particularly find impressive enough to consider an indifference to mainstream movie fandom. And as I tried to reason with myself about the supposed greatness of this film, I realized that it was all haberdashery; dressing up my opinion of the film to appeal to the overall consensus.
Wonder Woman: The Good, The Bad, The Cheesy
Wonder Woman wasn’t that great of a movie, however, I was interested in why I do not hold the same opinions as others. So, I read a few reviews and talked with a few people who also watched the movie and pulled from those resources and conversations good and bad aspects of the film that might help me form a different opinion of Wonder Woman on a second viewing. I am a firm believer that it takes more than one viewing to fully appreciate a film and with that, I am willing to sway my own opinion based on further insight into why people like this movie so much.
Here, I debate a view arguments and positives about the film that struck as the more important conversational starters.
DC Enters the Light
Yes, Wonder Woman had endearing flirtatiousness with her naiveté fish out of water story beat. The scene on the boat with her and Trevor talking about sex was kinda funny until you listen to the dialog and realize Trevor the gentleman is really just a horny man dog. I didn’t necessarily need them to showcase their sexual attraction so openly. Diana had a mission and her mission was to destroy Ares. This flirty school girl/ guy routine was only a way to exploit Diana’s innocence for a joke.
There was this wardrobe changing scene that was funny and more along the joke spectrum I consider effective enough to represent Diana’s adverse emersion into regular society. Using common stereotypes and customs that defined women during the 1930’s and 1940’s (and today) was a fun way to show not only Diana’s ignorance but strongly rooted Amazonian female roots and female empowerment.
Gadot handled herself quite impressively in the scenes where the omnipresence of men conflicted with her beliefs, and it was those vulnerable moments that identified with Diana’s key character trait; empathy.
Diana Meet Steve: The Cheesy Rom-Com
Y’know what’s sexier than a sex scene? Not having a sex scene. I mean c’mon, Diana just met Trevor and sure, in the heat of battle things can get a little hot and heavy but why does it have to end with her beckoning Trevor with a longing gaze as he closes the bedroom door. I would think any woman involved with this script would be like: “What? No… eww/” But I guess when the director renounces cheesy as a word, you get a scene like that.
It’s like when Kevin and Winnie’s first kiss, and yes this is a Wonder Years analogy but it applies to all romantic comedies where two people in love want to be together but extenuating circumstances keep them apart. Ex. Felicity and Scott Speedman, Diane and Sam, Buffy and Angel.
With all those examples, those couples had to endure many setbacks before they became a couple. The kiss between Winnie and Kevin only happens after Winnie disses him over and over again. The longing builds up the tension for the final moment or season ending episode when Kevin finds Winnie in a clearing sitting on a rock gazing off into nowhere.
He drapes his jacket over Winne’s shoulders and holds her close with one arm around her shoulders. Slowly she’s drawn to him and their lips meet for that first kiss as When a Man Loves a Woman plays over the soundtrack.
Picture the final moment of Wonder Woman with such a longing looming over Diana and Steve. One kiss and boom that’s all the sex those two needed — their relationship would transcend into something more, and that’s love, that’s a great scene.
Here’s looking at you kid.
It’s not that the supposed sex scene in Wonder Woman was cheesy, it just wasn’t necessary.
Empathy and strength in the presence of adversity.
The Origin Story Mashup: What works best towards the Wonder Woman narrative is all about how much you know.
- Diana is a princess, check.
- She was molded from clay, check.
- Zeus is her father, check.
- Trevor crashes onto the island of Thermasyoiuoiu, check.
- Diana fights in disguise to win an opportunity to join Trevor on a mission to the US, not checked.
- Diana loves Trevor, check.
Wonder Woman didn’t come to save mankind, Diana was in love. The hero thing came after and the movie attempts to mold these ideas together to sculpt an imperfect god-like figure who could as easily destroy man and succumb to him just the same.
George Perez created the Ares narrative in the first issue of the 1986 reboot of the series in which Wonder Woman doesn’t leave the island to chase after Steve Trevor but she leaves to fight Ares. As with all comic book movies, they usually pick and choose which storylines work the best for their project then find a way to tell a version of a story that appeals to the premise of selling tickets. Henceforth, why the plots of X-men, Suicide Squad, Spider-man 3, fail to work as a fully developed story ideas. Writers are usually asked to put too much into a two-hour movie and when doing so they add too much or leaving out a very crucial parts to a storyline that spanned my ten to twenty issues.
No Man’s Land
Arguably the best scene in the movie almost did not make it into the film.
Here’s Patty Jenkins:
It’s my favorite scene in the movie and it’s the most important scene in the movie. It’s also the scene that made the least sense to other people going in, which is why it’s a wonderful victory for me.
I think that in superhero movies, they fight other people, they fight villains. So when I started to really hunker in on the significance of No Man’s Land, there were a couple people who were deeply confused, wondering, like, ‘Well, what is she going to do? How many bullets can she fight?’ And I kept saying, ‘It’s not about that. This is a different scene than that. This is a scene about her becoming Wonder Woman.’
I agree with her every word. When thinking subjectively about why something does or does not work we tend to not take into consideration the art of creating a moment like this. It’s not about how much sense it makes — we all know there was no mystic Amazon warrior fighting battles in WWI.
The No Man’s Land scene was more about the atrocities of war and sanctimony of battle. Diana would conquer the unconquerable, a stretch of land littered with hundreds of dead soldiers for the morally good, and not just to kill an enemy but to save the people. This particular fight was bigger than even Ares himself as in that moment Diana wore her heart outside of her chest fighting for the greater good and not the purpose of war.
Scoop Du Jour
One of the better stories about Wonder Woman stems from the origins of the comic book character and her creator Dr. William H. Marston. Jill Lepore, the author of the book The Secret History of Wonder Woman wrote an article for The Smithsonian which describes the scandalous beginnings of Wonder Woman and DC Comics.
Marston was a jack of all trades, a psychologist, scientist, and lawyer who started his work with DC Comics in 1941.
As a move to help curtail the onslaught of criticism from the media and watchdog groups, Maxwell Charles Gaines creator of DC Comics, took to an idea from Marston to create a female character who among the likes of Superman and Batman would help to soften the violence and sexual nature of the current pulp comic narrative. Little did Gaines know that Wonder Woman would bring him more attention than he so desired.
The debut of the Diana from the mystic Amazonian Paradise Island was immediately met with overall disdain. The number one complaint: They didn’t like the way she was dressed. Too much skin, they shouted as they burned images of Wonder Woman clothed in nothing but a tight red top, underwear, a lasso, and boots.
Burn the witch! Okay, it’s wasn’t that dramatic but isn’t the same type of anger expressed whenever a woman come outs against the status quo?
Past the cover and onto page one clothing just the tip of the anger-berg. Images of bondage and not-so-subtle feminist messaging throughout the comic caused for a plea that the comic be remove from the shelves and restricted from children! Such vile content would warp the minds of the adolescence and cause them to commit horrible acts of debauchery in the future.
Luckily Gaines, a physiologist, could defend Wonder Woman in reality as she defended herself on the page, but it was not easy.
In this article, Lepore touches upon Marston and his relationship with his wife Elizabeth Holloway, and live in love affair, Olive Byrne. Their love story had nothing to do with Wonder Woman per say. The trio would manage to keep their polyamorous living situation a secret going so far as to introduce Byrne as a widowed cousin who needed a place to stay. Labels and stereotypes are used to keep people shackled to an idea of conformity, so instead of wearing a ring, Olive Byrne wore two bracelets.
Marston, Byrne, and Holloway all had ties to the feminist Suffrage movement and when you consider this history, Wonder Woman the character — her meaning— takes a different shape as she may have been a character birthed from idea but she molded into a model of female empowerment that exemplifies struggle, strength, and overall empathy towards mankind.
If you watched the movie, and happen to see the trailer, Professor M; that is this story made into film starring Luke Evans. Check it out.
This, That, and Other News
Teens rescued after spending three days in the catacombs beneath France. Sounds like a movie right? As Above, So Below is a found footage movie released back in 2014 about a couple of cataphiles who get lost in the maze that of the freaky underground tombs of Paris, France.
Weekly Flavor Text: “Great girdle of Aphrodite!” she cries at one point. “Am I tired of being tied up!”
- The Secret History of Wonder Woman
- Smithsonian Magazine: Wonder Woman Origin Story
- Film School Rejects Wonder Woman Review
- Film Schoo Rejects “Wonder Woman Champion Empathy
- Wired: Wonder Woman Origin Story
- i09: Why Super Heroes Exist
- How Wonder Woman Tackles Superheroes Movie Greatest Foe: Sexism
- Wonder Woman Is A Milestone But Shouldn’t Be