On its opening weekend my husband and I went to the theaters to see “Wonder Woman.” We had heard good things and were excited to see the film for ourselves. The reviews were right — we loved the movie. But I also experienced something I wasn’t expecting at all.

In the already-iconic Western Front scene, Diana (aka Wonder Woman) steps up to storm the German lines and defend the people of a nearby village. She does this despite the protests of her companions that to even try to do so would be a suicide mission. As the scene played out, a lump grew in my throat and tears started to flow down my face. I tend to get swept up in the emotion of movies, but this was different. At first, I couldn’t place why or what it was, exactly, I was even feeling.

Then Wonder Woman stood atop the tower in town, surrounded by dust and rubble after a crucial moment in the film. Suddenly I knew why I was crying. I finally had a female superhero. I had no idea how much I had needed one all these years until there she was, standing before me fully formed.

Growing up with two older brothers, superheroes were a constant in our home; I loved them as much as my brothers did. I hadn’t even realized that a female superhero was missing from my life until I saw her on the movie screen and something powerful clicked internally. To be able to have a superhero I can not only look up to, but also identify with.

I hadn’t even realized that a female superhero was missing from my life until I saw her on the movie screen and something powerful clicked internally.

As the credits rolled I was filled with emotion again as I tried to explain to my husband how important the movie we just watched was to me. Since seeing the movie I haven’t been able to stop thinking about its inspiration to me, as a grown woman, and how much of an impact it will have on the little girls who get to grow up with a female superhero — one who is no less than all the male superheroes. The film shows us that a woman is powerful; she can make her own choices and fight her own battles.

By Harry George Peter; Original Wonder Woman sketch

In fact, in male superhero movies we often see the hero torn between being a hero for others and having the ability to love deeply. Love is often a limitation for them, a plot device, a question of “Can they be a hero and have love, or is it just too hard?” Batman, to name just one of many examples, is famous for pulling away from the people he loves and the people who love him.

Wonder Woman turns this paradigm on its head. Not only is she a fierce warrior who displays physical and mental prowess, but she also draws her strength from, and is motivated by, an enduring love for humanity.

In so many ways she is who I, and so many of us, strive to be as a woman. Having the strength to fight — and to fight for both the people we love and those who cannot fight for themselves — makes us stronger, not weaker.

As women we’re often told that our capacity to care limits our ability to “succeed.” Wonder Woman is not just a symbol of representation, but her presence fiercely exposes entrenched lies about womanhood. Our ability to care is an asset, one that we shouldn’t underestimate.

Have you seen the film? Share your thoughts with us below!

Feature Image by Kat Bruni

6 comments

  1. I had the same, emotional reaction during the scene when all the amazons are fighting together. I loved seeing a movie and thinking “I want to be strong, like these women,” and not comparing myself to beauty standards. I also love that they didn’t pull any punches (quite literally) with Wonder Woman. My fear was that they would make her some kind of softer version of a warrior.

  2. I was excited to see a female super hero, but fairly annoyed that she was a flat character with no personality or humor, and of course she had to do everything in wedge heels. It was a start … but in terms of feeling excited to see women on the screen, I got a lot more out of Ghostbusters last year.

  3. I had the same reaction, tears and all. I didn’t even know how badly I wanted a female superhero until I saw this movie. I loved it so much. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

  4. I’ve never needed a female superhero because I think our heroic ideals are leading us astray. The male superhero is not a true hero. Women have always had the potential and some have risen to the human challenge of heroism.

    To place male hero worship as an ideal mission to me reflects our continuing inner poverty.

    Wonder Woman is a movie i may enjoy. As a role model? Not for me.

    Yet I respect the emotion in this article and think the writer has found the key. She uses the word humanity.

    Here’s a story I love. A great general was mortally wounded on the battlefield. As he fell he noticed an anthill. Despite the pain he made the huge effort to shift his body so as not to crush the ants.

    There have always been women who make such small yet heroic efforts automatically for children and loved ones. Women heros just don’t get the cultural value unless they compete on male territory.

  5. I had a similar reaction to Wonder Woman. I went into the film excited and with high hopes, and every hope and expectation was more than surpassed. It was an emotional experience; the opening scenes alone showed strong women, not over-sexualized or shallow. The showed strong, well-rounded women from the get go, and set the tone for the rest of the film. Diana is a well written and acted character who is not only a warrior but also has this innocence kindness and so much love; they’re not mutually exclusive and she proves that she can love ice cream and babies but still be so strong. She goes through hard times but she isn’t the product of her trauma. She’s an incredible character. The supporting characters have such wonderful dynamics, and the roles they played helped Diana shine and grow as a character.

    The beauty of the film is that it was about a woman, by women, for women (and men, but not designed for the “male gaze”). It was brilliantly well-done with characters that had depth and were multi dimensional and it wasn’t just good for a superhero movie; it was good for any movie and I loved it.

    I was even more grateful that it was done as well as it was after reading Joss Whedon’s rejected script which embodied everything that I was afraid would be in the movie. Characters demeaned Diana and called her names, taunted and brought her down. The script was more about Steve Trevor than Wonder Woman, and made Diana out to be nothing like the strong, multi dimensional character she was in this movie. Whedon’s version treated the character of Wonder Woman terribly and was what I was afraid of when the movie was first announced, but DC pulled through and hired Patty Jenkins, who is a fantastic director and she made an amazing movie that is an example to set for all superhero movies to come. The more I think about the movie, the more I love it, and I cannot wait to see it for a third time.

  6. I can’t tell you how much I resonated with this article, and how much I also enjoyed the movie. I’ve seen it twice in theatres and my eyes are constantly open to new layers of its plot and new insights.

    She is fully woman. Fully hero. She doesn’t lack any of the two and maintains an innocence that is endearing. She finds the best and believes the best in herself and others. What an inspiring role model. What an encouraging film!

    Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*