I Want an all Amazon Film | WONDER WOMAN, Film Thoughts

The movie pretty much all of us have been waiting for is here. WONDER WOMAN has crushed essentially everything else in the box office, bursting onto the scene as an all-out success. Undoubtedly, WONDER WOMAN is going to be the film to spear head more female-led (including women of colour) superhero films, action films and more women behind the scenes in industry.

Since I’m fresh out of the cinema and a little tired, I’m going to relay what I liked, what I thought and what I didn’t like about WONDER WOMAN with the convenience and simple wording of beautiful, WONDERful dot-points.

I won’t be getting into a deconstruction of the mythology (both correct and more interpretative) in this film within this post. I’m saving that for next week’s Mythology Monday so look out for that!

-       My first love of the film was the Amazons. Everything about the Amazons. I want a whole film that is just the Amazons- start to finish just Amazon women doing Amazon things, that would be the dream.

-       On that note, what I really loved was that the Amazon women weren’t all white women. Though I do wish however more of the PoC and Asian women had more speaking roles, existed in larger numbers and just had generally more screen time. What would also have been amazing would have been to see some undeniably trans women Amazons and Amazons living with disability how fucken great would that have been?

-       I need an Amazon film. Need it.

-       The action throughout the film was A+, looking a little comic-booky in special effects but I thought that served the story pretty well (intentional or not). It reminded me a little of SPARTACUS (Starz TV) with a nice balance between slow motion and rapidity but throughout you could actually see the action, were given time to process it and enjoy it instead of being bombarded by shaky cam and quick fired editing.

-       On a similar note the use of colour was particularly great in this film as opposed other films in the DCEU. The juxtaposition between the bright, idealist paradise of Themyscira versus war-torn, industrial Europe was well realised. The depiction of the war itself is not far outside of other war based films, grey colour palette, tight but rough depictions of terror, injury and devastation.

-       I admit I got a bit teary in certain parts of this film. Mainly in the first forty or so minutes. Just generally overwhelmed (and if you know me personally, you know I am decidedly not an emotional person) that this was an actually thing, and that I was in a cinema with 80% other women, generally, seeing these women on screen being celebrated. It got to me.

-       One of the first notes I took while watching was simply this: you know what I didn’t need in my Wonder Woman film? Men. Romance subplot. I stand by that statement. I remember writing this as Chris Pine crashed into the ocean.

-       Another direct note: Amazon women fucken badass, scared and aroused. (Later one of the characters in the film actually says this, neither of us are the originators of this quote, that goes to SNL.)

-       I specifically noted getting teary eyed during that first battle scene between the Germans and the Amazons THIS is the film I want, a whole movie of Amazon women working together, kicking ass, fucken ascending the film they’re within. God bless.

-       On the issue of diversity, I really, really spent the majority of the film uncomfortably side-eyeing the face that the only visible woman with a disability (Dr. Maru) was coded (as so commonly happens) as the bad guy. Was this entirely necessary, and if so then why have her as literally the only women living with disability or disfigurement (can you imagine how powerful it would be to have disfigured amazon warriors, amputee Amazonians, 10/10 would watch).

-       I suppose this is why I can’t say (unlike others) that WONDER WOMAN is a feminist film, can a feminist reading of it be done, yes of course (like all things), does it do some great things for representation, women in film and industry and bashes down a few walls, yeah it gives a few blows but overall it is no reflective of modern day (third wave) feminism and rather something far more antiquated, ahem, white and exclusionary.

A third wave feminist film would be utterly amazing for this property and that is what I hoped it would have been, but something like that really needs to be spearheaded from a creative and practical side by a woman of colour and really actually, several, coming at the film from all sides, breaking down the barriers of whiteness that seep through in this film.

-       Diana has flawless eyeliner like through the entire film, I envy her.

-       Though the film later argues against it in that first half of the film the idea that Ares is the driving force behind the Great War is pretty uncomfortable. Also portraying all of the bad guys as German is also pretty cringe given this is the first world war and not the second, and seems like the cop-out option considering the Allied forces fought Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. Still, I don’t know my WW1 history well enough to take this as a serious criticism.

-       I found it funny how many modern-day languages or versions of those Dianna/the Amazon’s could supposedly speak. Like, modern day German and drastically different from the German that would have been known in c.470 BC,

-       Direct note: most of the humor between Diana and Pine isn’t working for me because of the drenching romantic undertone. Beat for beat predictable, nothing new or particularly cute or interesting. Just romance for the tired trope of eventual loss/sacrifice. *Spoilers I was totally right*

-       When the German general takes the strengthening gas for the first time I giggled in my seat because Deus Ex Mac-fart-ina; that sudden air just happened to blow that particular paper ball Dr. Maru’s way which just happened to be the one paper ball she needed. Lucky, eh?

-       Direct note: I want wonder woman’s cloak.

-       Diana’s reaction to babies is MY reaction to babies. Precious.

-       Direct note: Gal Gadot in glasses, dressed like that is my new sexuality.

-       Direct note: Remus Lupin is the bad guy. *Spoilers, I was right again!*

-       Hearing every man go on and on about how pretty Dianna is pretty kinda annoyed me. Yep we get it, she’d gorgeous, I know it, you know it, there’s other things right, there’s like a war going on, and she was a sword.

-       Direct note:  I like Charlie. Mad Sweeny tehehe

-       ‘I am both frighten and Aroused!’ plagiarism!

-       Was a really powerful moment of craft and storytelling for this film when Dianna is torn on the battle field wanting to help the young boy crying for help, the injured solider, the towns people and the horses being whipped. Did in a minute or so a better job of the message Superman’s dad tried so desperately (and wrongfully) tried to instill in him throughout Man of Steel. This is the overall strength of WONDER WOMAN over other DCU films the showing as opposed to telling us the emotion weight, the morality, the difficulties of being a hero.

-       Teary eyed again as Diana charged across the No Man’s Land the symbolism of this moment, the strength of it, god it got to me. Seeing the men inspired and in awe and protected by her. It was so powerful, probably (apart from the Amazon’s) my favourite part of the film.

-       I really REALLY wanted ALL of the Amazon women fighting in the war. Can you imagine that scene CAN YOU IMAGINE IT? AN ARMY OF POWERFUL DIVERSE WOMEN ANHILATING A BLOCKADE OF WHITE MEN?

-       Direct note: Of fucken course it snows, Gilmore Girls making snow romantic since 2000.

-       Direct note: of fucken course he moves the little bit of hair out of her face, of course. God, I did not need this in this film give me more kick ass Diana!

-       All this romance bagging on reminds me that this is entirely my own personal preference, not any objective analysis of the romance in the film (aside from noting how they hit all the damn tropes in all the same order as almost every other hetero romance since the dawn of time). I am a bitter aro marshmallow.

-       ‘Who would sing for us’ oh god, my heart. So sweet. THAT is the kind of relationship I wanted out of this film, Diana making meaningful relationships and connections with men outside of the confines of a Hollywood romance.

-       Deus Ex Car-china just because you wave it off saying there was just a field of WORKING UNGUARDED cars out there does not make it any less lazy storytelling film that I am enjoying immensely. 

-       Direct note: Yep, really hate what they did with Dr. Maru. Hate everything about it. So uncomfortable.

-       Diana’s little speech before striking and General Erich Ludendorff/Ares has me thinking of THE PRINCESS BRIDE. 

-       ‘Maybe people aren’t always good…’ from a storytelling perspective it would have been more powerful if he’d said us instead of them in this little speech.  

-       He then went on to say we “we’re all to blame” and yep, good message, better message than the film initially sets up. Cue Castiel from SUPERNATURAL:

-       Remus is Ares and I fucken knew it. Big named actor was a dead giveaway.

-       On this note with Ares and everything; Wonder Woman’s mum is a real Ben Kenobi I mean a lot of this could have been avoided or easier if you’d just told Diana that she’s the godkiller? I mean, you could of told her what the flip was going on!

-       Direct note: Charlie is me. 

-       Seeing Remus Lupin act all Voldemort-y is very strange and doing things to my heart.

-       Ares armor looks awesome (like it did in the comics) but this is undercut by the fact you can see Remus’ face would have been a lot more intimidating if they’d had blacked it out with like glowing eyes, more like the comics.

-       ARES WHAT ARE YOU DOING. YOU CAN’T WEILD LIGHTNING??

-       I like the addition of Ares merely inspiring, planting seeds in people’s minds as often this is how Gods operated in Greek/Roman Mythology (Ares in particular) as shown most prominently in the Iliad with the gods walking invisibly amongst the soldiers on either side of the Trojan War, interfering at will and drawing lots. 

 

Ultimately, I really enjoyed WONDER WOMAN, but it could have been truly groundbreaking and a little more daring.

Now, I am not any really Wonder Woman fan (comics) but I was a bit surprised by some of the changes to Diana’s backstory from what I knew of the comics.

So, as far as I’m aware the original Wonder Woman comics depicted Diana’s origin story as yes, a child crafted from clay by her mother Hippolyta, but it wasn’t Zeus who Pinocchio-ed Diana to life but rather the goddess Aphrodite (who you can read my Mythology Monday post about here).

The change though seemingly arbitrary actually has deep and reverberating consequences for the message of the film and Wonder Woman throughout.

Having Zeus as Diana’s ‘father’ is pretty shitty. I mean, Zeus is undeniably the worst god, the most misogynistic, patriarchal figure in Greek and Roman mythology. If Zeus was around today he would be all about the hash tag #NotAllMen, wear a fedora unironically and think it’s funny to have spread sexts of his ex’s around. He probably would have voted for Trump.

Zeus’ involvement in Diana’s birth weakens the femininity of Diana’s origin (think about how many times Zeus’ name was spoken in the film as opposed to ANY of the Greek/Roman goddesses?), as well as erasing the symbolic queerness of Diana’s birth (between Aphrodite and Hippolyta) making it symbolically a heterosexual union.

It would have been stronger subtexually and from a story telling perspective to keep Aphrodite (and in fact many of the other Patron goddesses) as key figures in Diana’s existence and culture.

It would have been a more layered story, a more textured story to maintain Aphrodite as Diana’s chief patron, and have her gift Diana with the strength and power to overcome Ares, a more layered story for the fact that Ares was in fact one of Aphrodite’s lovers, the father to some of her children and would mirror the theme of personal sacrifice rife throughout the film.

It stick out to me because not only was Aphrodite removed from Diana’s story but all the patron goddesses who had a hand in Wonder Woman’s tale were not even mentioned. Take this panel from the Wonder Woman comics:

How much more could the story had been if these diverse and powerful goddesses were the ones to gift Diana with her power? Using the strength and power of ferocious mothers and women to defeat a god based around masculine destruction and violence?

Fucken kickass right?

Ultimately what we got instead was a predictably monotheistic template of good vs evil, ie. God vs Satan/Lucifer, Zeus vs Ares. A story which places Diana more in a position of a tool of man-ish devices rather than a heroine in her own right.

Dunno, just thinking of what could have been, it keeps you up at night. 

As you can see I had a lot of thoughts throughout this film, which overall, I thought was a great film. At 2.5 hours long, there wasn’t any moment where I was bored or checking the time, I was engaged and interested and invested from start to end and though I do have some critiques it is definitely strong film and undoubtedly the best in DC’s cinematic universe

I am definitely going to do a more in-depth and analytical post about the mythology of this version of Wonder Woman for Mythology Monday next Monday. Make sure to follow that up because (though I touched a little on some of the idea’s here) there is A LOT to talk about.