"Wonder Woman" comes out on June 2nd and there’s a reason you haven’t heard that much about it. Warner Brothers isn’t spending money on advertising for the film. That means no billboards, commercials, nothing.
This movie is an important one. It’s directed by Patty Jenkins starring Gal Gadot, making it the first superhero film with a female protagonist and a female director; and one of the first few films to have a woman direct a superhero movie at all. It’s been a tough battle for women to get behind the camera in Hollywood, and there’s no signs of it getting any easier. Fox recently announced their schedule of films for the next two years without a single woman listed as a director.
"Wonder Woman"’s budget for this film was $100m which seems like a big deal – until you compare it to other superhero films with male leads. "Captain America: Civil War" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" had a budget of $250m, and "X-Men: Apocalypse" had a budget of $178m. "Suicide Squad"’s budget was over $250m, before it even went under reshoots. Even in 2013, "Man of Steel" had a budget of $225m. In all reality, "Wonder Woman" is working with one of the lowest budgets of Warner Brothers films, and of any current superhero film. I’m not sure if the budget for "Wonder Woman" represents Warner Brothers lack of confidence in the franchise, or if it’s representative of the film industry’s attitude towards women as a whole. As Ashley Lynch from Film School Rejects stated, "It’s like a superhero wage gap." And with the low budget and lack of advertising for the film it certainly feels like a glass cliff effect – when men put women in the position of power but set them up to fail. So Warner Brothers can say “I told you so”, and continue to argue that superhero movies about women just don’t sell well. Which makes it all the more important that it does do well, to prove them wrong.
There are so many important aspects in the "Wonder Woman" film. For example, Gal Gadot is an Israeli actress who carried out two years of service as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. In the army, she excelled in a grueling three-month boot camp that prepared her to serve as a combat trainer - experience that has helped her in her casted roles. And then after serving in the army she studied law. She herself is a wonderful role model for girls – proof that girls can be strong and brainy and still attractive. She’s a wonder woman herself.
Female superheroes are always criticized for their attire, because they are created more for sexual appeal than actual function. But Lindy Hemmings, Oscar-winning costume designer, worked on adapting the costumes for function, while Jenkins aimed to cast multiple races and sizes for the beautiful Amazon warriors. Hemming explained that their armor is molded leather instead of metal, and Wonder Woman’s suit is made of rubbery material, worn close to the body but still leaving room for function. Gadot also asked that her training armor be adapted for comfort, so Hemming said they lined it with fur to keep it soft and warm.
Not only are the costumes created for function as well as fashion, but "Wonder Woman" will be the first comic book movie that will focus on a woman who is equal to super powered men. Feminism is not intrinsically “vs. men.” It is “vs. a system” that refuses to acknowledge and respect women as equal players, and that can have a lot of different implications. "Wonder Woman" is one of the first steps in challenging that system. Wonder Woman is the woman who can stand toe to toe with Superman, and it’s finally time we give her the time to shine. The scenes featuring Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor demonstrate an equal relationship, neither one being forced to play the “damsel in distress” role. The producers wanted both the character and actor to serve as a role model to youth. In some ways, she can act as a role model to young girls, fictional characters’ act as role models all the time. To young boys, "Wonder Woman" will counter the gender roles that they have been taught within this patriarchal society, and to young girls, they will have a superhero they can relate and look up to.
Last October, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the DC heroine who has stood for peace, justice, and equality, the United Nations declared October 21st officially Wonder Woman Day and appointed the Amazonian Princess as the Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
It was a huge step for female empowerment and gender equality. But two months later, Wonder Woman was stripped of her honorary ambassadorship because over forty-thousand people signed a petition protesting her appointment because they felt: "the character's current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit."
This is quite a controversial subject, and "Wonder Woman" has brought up quite a lot of controversy throughout the making of the film (photoshopping her arm pits, partnering with ThinkThin). But arguing that "Wonder Woman" is too large breasted to be a role model is up surd. Women have breasts, in all shapes and sizes. Women can also still be sexy (and have breasts) while also being smart and strong. And to attack Wonder Woman’s “sexy attire” is outrageous when no one has ever criticized how apparent male superhero’s bulges are in their tight costumes. Why are women the only ones subjected to this ridicule?
Yes "Wonder Woman" has its downfalls and isn’t the perfect example of a feminist film, but it does have a lot of power to push the film industry in the right direction, a direction that is long overdue. "Wonder Woman" is predicted to be such a pivotal project in expanding diversity and empowerment, but is only one major example of the many forms of resistance surfacing against these stereotypical gender portrayals within the media. There is a lot of wonderful aspects in the "Wonder Woman" film, and while it does mean positive strides for the grossly underrepresented women who work in this industry, there is still a long way to go.
There’s a lot riding on this first standalone film of a female super-heroine. This is a genre that is in danger of looking sexist, and an industry that is plagued by inequality. The franchise needs a huge box-office hit, and a character to root for.
Yes, "Wonder Woman" really needs to succeed.