Wonder Woman came out at the beginning of June and continues to hold on at the box office, having blasted past $700 million worldwide over the last weekend. The film is directed by Patty Jenkins, director of 2003’s Monster, her only theatrical release before Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman has become the highest grossing movie ever directed by a woman.
The film screened to all-female audiences in early June in Brooklyn at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The screenings drew criticism of sexism, but the screenings were intended to be about the symbolism of the film and character.
Several employees of Lackey Memorial Hospital attended a screening in Pearl as a group seeking a similar symbolism on a “Girl’s night out,” said Melissa Johnston. Johnston attended with fellow staff members Debora Thomas, Melanie McGaugh, Kathy Bagley, and the daughter of McGaugh, Erin.
Of the portrayal of women in Wonder Woman, Johnston said, “I liked that it showed empowered women.”
What makes a strong female character is not masculine attributes like the ability to fight (that is implicit with Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Storm, and other women in comics). What makes a strong woman in fiction is agency.
Agency means that the character makes decisions of her/his own which turn the direction of the plot.
Describing why it was important for them to go together, Johnston said, “It’s a movie made for women.” Johnston pointed out the importance of the character to women and girls of many generations, and the significance of Wonder Woman finally being produced after almost 30 years of male super hero movies since the release of 1989’s Batman.
McGaugh said her first exposure to the character was the Linda Carter television series in the late 70s, and the other women concurred.
Wonder Woman’s first issue released in 1942. In the 70-plus years since, she has become a feminist icon and has become synonymous with America with her red, white, blue, and gold attire as well as her Lasso of Truth.
The movie follows Diana Prince’s origin story, beginning with the US pilot, Steve Trevor crashing his plane in the waters off of the hidden island of the Amazons, Themyscira. The film changes the origin story by shifting the period from WWII to WWI, which coincided with the women’s suffrage movements of the early 20th century and echoes the film’s themes of feminine independence.
Wonder Woman is called to adventure with Trevor’s appearance, and she chooses to leave her island with Steve to search out the god of war, Ares, in the world of men in hope of defeating him and ending the war to end all wars.
At its core, the Wonder Woman film is a love story. And while most male super hero films have a romantic subplot, Wonder Woman succeeds in making the love between its main characters believable—something that can only be said of a couple of comic book adaptations.
Wonder Woman returns to theaters in November beside Batman, Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman in Justice League.