I went into the theater without much background. I didn’t know the impressive resume of Gal Gadot, or the current standing of the film’s history-making box office open. The name of the movie and its director’s gender were all I had to go on. That was enough to push me out into the rain on a low-key Sunday, going to not one, but two cinemas to find a seat. It was my first 3-D movie and my first superhero flick in at least a decade. I was not disappointed.
The setting is beautiful from the beginning, and mesmerizing until the very end. My eyes widened and an involuntary smile spread across my face at the sight of a field full of women training for battle. All women? Yes, all women! A community of fierce, beautiful, united females running the show without apology. They rely on hard work and skill to support them in battle. The outside world, in the thralls of war, is a stark contrast. Diana’s ignorance about the culture continues to give the audience a glimpse into a woman’s mission, minus the burdens of being…well, a woman. She is unapologetic about her intellect, her beauty, her wardrobe, her opinions—the list goes on. Sounds like a superhero to me. In Wonder Woman, the greatest warrior of all time, the comic relief, the genius mad-scientist and the savior of the free world are all female. Oh, what a feeling. The word refreshing doesn’t seem to do it justice. I wondered if this must be what it feels like for little boys and young men to watch a majority of the stories told in Hollywood.
I know there are people who will roll their eyes at the proclaimed significance of all of this. In fact, I think I sat a few seats down from two such characters. When I first heard them laughing at Diana, I did that thing so many women do on a daily basis. I thought to myself, “surely, I am mistaken. That feels like they are laughing at her, but it can’t be.” The name of the damn movie is Wonder Woman, after all. They knew what they were signing up for, right? Nope, there they go again. Every time Diana lifted something with super-human strength (again, the title wasn’t a big enough hint?), an unrestrained chuckle rolled out from behind their blue Icees.
By the fourth or fifth time, my blood was boiling. I was suppressing an obnoxious “shhh” and imagining what I would say in a chance encounter while waiting for a popcorn refill (aside from, “more butter, please!”). I was so distracted and annoyed; I realized I was paying more attention to these losers than the actual movie. It didn't take long for me to connect the dots about why the situation was so distracting. Because what I was feeling in those moments was familiar. It was the very same emotion that once spread through my body when a boss asked my male counterpart to contribute his editorial opinion, then glanced at me and inquired about my boyfriend’s golf game. The same feeling that rises up when yet another article about the gender pay gap makes the rounds. And it surfaced again in the scene where Gal Gadot’s character is hurried out of a room of male decision makers.
There is a unique blend of heartbreak and fury so many of us feel when women are disregarded or diminished. It’s wondering why we’re not enough and how men came to that conclusion in the first place. But it is also what makes us unstoppable. Like Wonder Woman learned, love and compassion are our brute strength, and the world needs more of it. We must continue making these movies with strong, badass female characters, until the people watching them are no longer surprised. That’s why this is so important.
Gather up your girlfriends, vote with your wallet, and prepare to be filled with wonder.