On Spinning in Circles and Hoping for a Lasso of Truth
I’ve been sitting with my feelings on the new Wonder Woman film since seeing it last week. And I’m only sharing them here because I was specifically asked.
Let me say up front that I love Wonder Woman (hell, I once named a secret Facebook group Thermyscira, so…), and I grew up spinning in circles like Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, ardently hoping to magically transform. It is the purest of joys to see a woman superhero inhabit so much screen time.
Seeing women (not just one, all the inhabitants of Thermyscira) represented as clever, powerful, uncompromising, and impatient of foolishness, was life affirming. I’m so pleased that children have such a powerful, intelligent aspirational hero.
I’m thrilled the film has done so well at the box office, and I want everyone possible to go see it.
Having said that, I think this film fell short on many important points. Not least the representation of women who were not Amazons (Etta and Dr Maru both felt quite one dimensional), and the representation of WoC whether they were Amazons or not, resorted to unimaginative tropes.
Part of the issue is that we don’t have a huge body of women-centred films to allow for an occasionally less than stellar representation, let alone (oh, I long for the day) a terrible movie. Imagine being able to spit out six mediocre to awful films that do not advance the character sketch of a superhero (Spiderman, I’m looking directly at you), still being able to make money at the box office, AND have yet another person think; “oh, I might take a crack at that. Bet I could do a better job than the last guy”!
I think it’s possible to celebrate the sublime pleasure of seeing a woman front and centre in a film, representing strength, wisdom, being vulnerable in ways that don’t imply weakness or less-ness, while still being honestly critical of this movie’s shortcomings.
This interview/review captures much of my own disquiet.
“Snyder is notorious for producing works in which women experience some type of abuse or die. That makes me think about the Amazons. You train your whole life as a warrior, you have fought the gods on Olympus, but your crew can’t take out 10 people with guns? Maybe I am being a bitch about that. But it didn’t translate well on screen to me.”
Son of Baldwin/My Soul Looks Back and Wonders: A Critical Examination of the Wonder Woman Movie