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.
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