Go see this movie. Don’t make me have to hurt you.
As you must know by now, Wonder Woman is almost here. The big marketing push hasn’t begun yet, making some nervous that the studio isn’t going to support the film as much because it has a female lead. Others are dismissing the concerns, asserting that the marketing barrage will begin as soon as Guardians 2 hits theaters and stops sucking the air out of the room.
“Why does this even matter?” You may ask. “If the movie is good, it will make money. If it’s bad, it won’t! So stop worrying and go to the movies.”
If that is what you’re saying, you’re probably a dude.
I plan to see this movie about a dozen times, whether it’s good or not. Don’t get me wrong – I hope with all of my being that it’s amazing and blows every other superhero film right out of the water, but it’s getting my dollars even if it turns out to be worse than that one really terrible Batman movie (you pick which one).
I’ll explain. It starts at the beginning:
William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman because he was a polyamorous dude who was really into badass women and the idea dominance and submission. Back in his day, Diana was pretty much all powerful until tied up her hands, and then she was completely helpless to prevent your evil scheme. Kinky, right?
But as time went on and Wonder Woman was reinterpreted by the artists and writers of each social and comic age, she changed. She was a diplomat, a warrior, a fashionista… but always one of the big three heroes in the DC universe. She’s every bit as powerful as Superman (She’s who you call when you need to bring him down, BATMAN) and she crushed Bruce Wayne like a little bitty bat bug.
That last one – that’s my favorite Wonder Woman story of all time. Written by the brilliant Greg Rucka, The Hiketeia is a book that defines the quintessential element of what makes Diana so great. I’ve heard over and over that a Wonder Woman movies is just too gosh darn hard because she’s changed so much over time – and that is a lot of crap. All comic book heroes change. Thor was a frog once. The thing that makes Diana challenging is also what makes her so great: She’s a warrior who fights for peace.
In The Hiketeia, Wonder Woman makes a promise to protect someone and Batman asks her to break it. She’s like “Hey, let’s talk it out, buddy, because I’m not breaking my promise,” and he’s like “NO SCREW YOU.” And then she proceeds to school him by putting her boot on his dumb bat face. With a few exceptions depending on who was writing the book, Wonder Woman has always been a fan of trying to talk things out. One of her big plotlines revolves around an essay she wrote in between meetings at the UN. In Eyes of the Gorgon, my second-favorite book (also Rucka’s work), she wins the day with a huge moment of self-sacrifice. When she’s offered a chance to get back what she lost, she chooses to give that gift to the people she loves. It’s the most heroic story I’ve ever seen in a comic. Broke my heart.
Are these not traits we want to encourage in our children? Giving to others, fighting to defend those who can’t defend themselves? Only taking up arms when we have tried all our other options? This is what she stands for. These are things we should want everyone to emulate – boy, girl, or anything in between.
Yet when Hero Within, a geek-inspired men’s clothing line, recently released a denim jacket with the Wonder Woman logo on the back, they took a lot of grief over it. Fanboys wrote angry tweets ranting about they’d never wear a “gay” jacket. The message from these “men” is clear – male superheroes are for everyone. Female superheroes are for girls.
This isn’t a new idea. Back in 2007, Warner Brothers president of production, Jeff Robinov, declared that the company would no longer be doing films with women in the lead. The Brave One and Invasion had just failed, so he concluded that audiences just don’t want to see female protagonists. Beowulf also failed that year, but I don’t remember anyone talking about how people just don’t want to see ripped shirtless dudes on their screens. I remember the chatter after Catwoman and Elektra failed was the same – it’s because people just don’t want to see female superheroes. Forget about Ripley and Sarah Connor and Alice. But if a man’s movie fails, that’s for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with gender. Once again, men are normal. Women are gimmicks.
We. Are. Half. The. Population.
Anyway, back to the lady in question.
You been to a pop culture convention lately? Wonder Woman is like every third cosplay. Personally, I have 3 Wonder Woman outfits in my closet and I’m working on another one I hope to get done in time for San Diego Comic Con. I read a story once about a woman dressing up as Wonder Woman before she went in for her chemo treatments. Little girls dress up as her all the time, because who wants to be a pink frilly damsel when you can be a princess who saves herself?
But Wonder Woman shouldn’t just be for girls. I’d LOVE to see a gender-swapped Wonder Woman who isn’t just a silly drag look. In fact, if I see you at Comic Con and you’re rocking that costume, I will run up and hug you (but only if you grant me permission, because cosplay is not consent, people). Boys can fight for peace too. William Moulton Marston believed society needed women to take charge and tell men what to do. I don’t agree with that – I just think we need to give boys permission to be soft when necessary, and to choose peace above violence unless there is no other possible option.
But if this movie fails, we know what they’ll say. We’ve been here before, with Warner Brothers even. “Oh well clearly audiences don’t want to see female superheroes.”
You can have 8,000 Spiderman movies. Clearly we will see Batman’s parents die over and over again until the sun burns out. If those stories don’t succeed, it’s okay because they’ll be rebooted again in a few years. White boys will continue to see themselves saving the day. They can afford to just enjoy a movie without worrying that it’s the only chance they’ll ever get.
Right now, Wonder Woman is carrying the weight of every woman on the planet on her shoulders. She can handle it, though. She’s done it plenty of times before.