Wonder Woman’s success has whipped fans into a frenzy, and if you’re still not sure why this movie is such a big deal, then read on.
Whether or not you’ve seen Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, you’re probably aware of the fan reactions to the movie. No one is saying it’s a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, but plenty of women have walked out of the theater in tears because of what this movie means to them.
We’ve seen a couple of superhero films starring a female character, but never has it been done on such a large scale and to such great acclaim. Catwoman and Elektra are usually the go-to titles for why female superhero movies aren’t worth the risk, but everything wrong with those films has nothing to do with the fact that the titular character is a woman.
Wonder Woman was a huge project. It’s the first blockbuster solo female superhero film in this era where we get several Marvel and DC titles hitting theaters every year. It had a budget of $149 million (compared to Catwoman’s $100 million and Elektra’s $43 million) and garnered over $100 million opening weekend domestically, making it the biggest weekend opening ever for a female director.
This proves that audiences will spend their money to see a superhero movie with a female character at its center.
But just as it’s important that there’s a woman in front of the camera, it’s important that there’s a woman behind that camera as well.
There are several reasons why Patty Jenkins’ role as director of Wonder Woman has the potential to be hugely impactful. For one, this is an action movie, which has traditionally been a film genre led by male directors. Why? I’m not sure. Genitals don’t dictate whether or not you like a good fight scene.
Jenkins proved she has an eye for that kind of detail. Go back and rewatch that initial fight sequence between the Amazons and the Germans on the beaches of Themyscira. It always fills me with euphoria to see those women riding in on horseback, swinging their swords with ease, and flipping through the air with their bows brandished.
In 2016, only 7% of all directors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films were women. This is not just a matter of there not being enough female directors stepping up to the plate, but rather an inherent problem with the film industry as a whole. If you Google “Female Directors Sexism,” you will find a myriad of articles from a variety of legitimate sources on the topic (several of which quote Jenkins, in fact). The problem begins with a lack of opportunity.
The hope here is that Wonder Woman will show the world that a female director is capable of telling a good story, creating iconic cinematography, and helping to coordinate interesting fight sequences. No woman is an island, and Patty Jenkins certainly had help creating this movie, but Diana Prince’s solo outing was her vision, which she brought to life beautifully. Wonder Woman was strong and yet she was vulnerable and emotional. She was stubborn but she was also kind. She was fierce and she was good. You don’t have to be a woman to be all of those things, but you can be. That’s all we want out of a movie like this — to prove that women have the potential to be as universally relatable as any man.
And the numbers prove it to be true. The film dominated box offices both domestically and worldwide. Time and time again I’ve heard that Wonder Woman was the highlight of Batman v Superman, despite her limited role. Much of that credit should go to Gal Gadot, who is incredible in the role, but there’s something to be said about the character herself. She is interesting and complex and it’s fun to see her interact with both her world and ours.
I know there are those out there who have been rolling their eyes at the reaction women have had after seeing this movie, but what you have to understand is how we’ve been starved of a hero like this. It’s not just about being able to relate to a female superhero. As women, we can relate to male superheroes just fine (which is what makes it so frustrating when men push back against seeing females on screen in parts such as these), but rarely have we seen ourselves on the big screen in such an iconic role.
I know I’m not the only one who cried through the fight scenes. It’s not because we’re overemotional or weak or currently have our periods. It’s because we recognize the potential Wonder Woman has for changing the film industry. We weep because we finally feel understood. We finally feel as though we’ve been heard.
But we’ll have to wait to see what happens next. There are numerous ideas for Wonder Woman 2, but will we get the sequel we’re already clamoring for? Will this film finally convince studios there’s a market for female-driven superhero and action movies? With Atomic Blonde, Gotham City Sirens, and Captain Marvel on the horizon, we can only hope this is the beginning of a long and rewarding trend.