I wanted to stay on the island.
As a male viewer, I had a visceral response to the Womanhood presented in the world of Themyscara. The feeling of watching a mainstream commercial blockbuster film full of women but who aren’t framed by a male gaze is… difficult to describe. Even though I knew going in that this was directed by a woman, I was nonetheless… thrown? Sure. Pleasantly surprised? Definitely.
The way these women spoke to eachother, as warriors and politicians simultaneously, I found stunning. The nature and vernacular of their society presented was such an alternate reality, and it felt like the surface was barely scraped. The variety of body types, representing a range of kinds of power and physicality. The battle with the German soldiers on the beach, comprising epically-composed shots of majestic movements. Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, and the cast of Amazons – warrior women who neither need, nor need to appeal to, men.
My initial response (I tweeted “not as bad as it could have been, not as good as it should have been”) not only undersells the film (I had a good time), it’s also unfair. Consider the context: the first female-led superhero movie ever; the first Wonder Woman movie in her 70 years of existence (versus the string of movies for her labelmates, Batman and Superman); and saddled with the additional weight of, and potentially painted into a corner by, the ridiculous, bro-tastic DC movies of its shared universe – it’s amazing this movie turned out as well as it did. Director Patty Jenkins managed not only to make Wonder Woman’s important cinematic debut a colourful and optimistic iteration (despite degenerating into clichéd blue-lightning CGI shenanigans for the finale), she managed to produce this while under the overbearing weight of a pubescently grim shared universe. Hopefully its success paves the way for a truly revolutionary sequel.
Yet the most impressive Wonder Woman tale remains the character’s real-life origin story – and within the same year of this film’s release, it’s become the subject of its own movie.
In the meantime, this version of the character remains my personal fave: