(The amount that I cut out of this article because it was a bit too much all over the place was astounding. I have so many feelings about this movie, and if you'd like to contact me about more of my opinions on how incredible this movie is, please feel free. It is seriously a must-see).
Settle in, boys and girls, because I have a lot of feelings about this one.
Today, I started getting a little choked up while watching the recently released Wonder Woman in the movie theater. Most people I know would not be surprised by that. They're sitting here thinking, "Wow, Kira cried during a movie? That's about as surprising as the sun rising in the east every morning." But, see, I wasn't crying because of a relational element to the movie, or because of a plot device.
No, I was getting choked up because for the first time in my entire life, I saw a multifaceted, dimensional woman as the protagonist of an action film.
I have waited for someone like Diana Prince to grace the screen for my whole existence. Everyone who has seen some kind of “girl power” movie with me in the past, from The Hunger Games to Divergent to even The Force Awakens has experienced my post-theater rant about how the modern attempt at the female protagonist is sad and insulting. Katniss Everdeen doesn’t have a scrap of emotional intelligence to save her life, and is only seen as strong because she knows how to shoot things better than the average individual. Her relationship with Peeta at the end of the series (spoilers) is simply because she gives up trying to define her own path and goes with the one of the least resistance, the one predetermined for her. Tris was a weakling until she had Four there to “teach her how to be strong,” Rey has a bit of Katniss’s emotional stunting going on, but I still have hope for her. There is still time.
The point is, female protagonists of the modern action movie have never been more than one thing. They are either strong, or they are emotional. The two cannot coexist. And, they are rarely confident in their womanhood and what makes them unique.
Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, finally gets it right in illustrating the gorgeous and complicated tapestry of womanhood. I read someone’s comment about how Wonder Woman actually isn’t a feminist film because the Amazons are clothed in a revealing way. First of all, the way these women are dressed is leaps and bounds above how women are usually portrayed in action films, but regardless, these women are not dressed because there is anyone there to entice. Culturally, these women dress in what is most practical to fight in, and that means they’re not going to be sheathed in swathes of clothing to protect their dignity. Modesty isn’t necessary if there is no one there to take advantage of innocence. Instead, the Amazon women cultivate their bodies like their communities: in health, in kindness, and in strength. We would be well reminded, ladies, that our bodies are created to reflect our STRENGTH, in DIGNITY, and our SELF-ESTEEM. Modesty becomes a problem when we use our bodies to manipulate that which does not reflect honor back upon ourselves, but that does not mean that shaming our bodies, our temples, is the answer either. If we only hide ourselves, how are we supposed to see the strength and beauty that we hold?
Diana is emotionally complex. She feels sorrow, yet has the power to fight. She is angry, yet knows the wisdom to stand aside when she is marginalized and listen until she has the information necessary to win. She feels maternal instincts and treasures new life, yet is the most feared warrior on her team. Women can love babies, and also kick butt. We are that complex, despite the fact that most in contemporary culture can’t seem to wrap their brains around that dichotomy. Diana falls in love, but is not made weaker by it, and she doesn’t give up her goals for the sake of a cute guy. Together, they both save the day, but in distinct and separate ways that intertwine with one another.
Also, I’d like permission to just completely geek out for a second. When Diana leaves her home, her mother tells her, “They do not deserve you.” HOW COOL WOULD IT BE IF OUR MOTHERS SENT US AWAY WITH THE MESSAGE, “You do not owe anyone anything. You may choose for them to be a part of you life, but THEY ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANY PART OF YOU.” Please, please, let more movies like this ensure that our daughters are being sent away and told that they are treasured, that they are their own, and NO ONE HAS ANY RIGHT TO THEM JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN.
Diana reacts in kindness before she reacts in anger. She believes the best of people, even when no one believes in her. In chaotic and violent times like these, it’s so important to remember that we CAN react in love and compassion, as well as being strong. Putting a hero like Wonder Woman on the screen reminds us that it’s possible to react in love before we react in anger, but when it is time to stand up for what we believe in and be angry, it’s also okay to bring the hellfire upon those who indulge in war and violence for selfish reasons.
In summary, a film like Wonder Woman provides the following lessons: Beware the one who constructs false peace for the sake of a greater war. Your body is something of value, and you should not be ashamed of it. A general who does not fight with his men is not worth anything as a leader. To love is not weak, and to take the time to fight for the oppressed individual is the most important thing of all, even if it seems insignificant.