Anyone who knows me could have told you one for sure thing about me – I don’t do Super Hero movies. (Or Star Wars, but that’s not germane to this post.)
Or, I didn’t.
Until last weekend.
I had my belt test for my Single Black Stripe in Taekwondo last Saturday and was meeting up with some friends for dinner that evening after the test (one day I will have someone there to watch just me, LOL). And somehow I suggested we go and see Wonder Woman.
It seemed kind of apropos to the day and the reason we were getting together – and I already had my ticket for On Your Feet the next day. So we got our tickets (in advance thank goodness as even getting them on Thursday our seat selection was limited (our AMC theaters in NYC have reserved seating, which makes it so much better than the old line up and then scramble for seats routine) but we got 3 together) and after dinner we headed to the movie theater.
I had heard all the buzz – I knew it wasn’t the Wonder Woman of the tv series I remember watching (ah, the twirl to get out of street clothes and into the Wonder Woman costume – hey, my parents watched it and we had family tv time after family dinner time). And I tried to go in with an open mind.
And I was captivated from the very start. THIS was a Super Hero movie I could get into. And no, not *just* because of the Amazons and the training sequences. Everything was different to the other Super Hero movies I’d seen. (Yes, I’d made myself watch a couple of Marvel ones when I worked at The Disney Store – usually when I was on a cruise and didn’t have to pay for it. So I knew the standard formula.) I knew this was Diana’s origin story as Wonder Woman, but even so it was MORE story even with the action.
Early on, it was pretty clear this was directed by a woman who wanted to present women in a strong light, but also with realism – I’ll get to the major thing with that later. There were times that there was some slight flesh overhang in places where real women have it sometimes – and other real-woman things that likely would have been taped up or computer fixed away had this been a male director.
There was humor as well. The infirmary scene with Steve and Diana was full of double entendre which drew definite laughs particularly from the women in the audience both times (whoops…did I just let a spoiler for this post out?? stay tuned!) – “You let that little thing tell you what to do?” got an especially large laugh. And then later the Diana’s quip about men being necessary for procreation but not so much for pleasure got another large laugh.
Watching Diana through training and what self-discovery she is able to have under the protectiveness of Hippoltya (really over-protectiveness), seeing her discover what she could do – sometimes through training, others through circumstance, it hit a nerve for me personally as I’ve discovered things about myself and my abilities through my Taekwondo training. NOT that I’m under any illusions there, but I know that it’s made me stronger…and its made me recognize a strength that I always had but tended to let lay dormant.
But let’s get to THE scene. The scene that for me puts this film above the other Super Hero movies I’ve seen. Where we see that ultimately it’s love and compassion that drive Diana (yes, I would argue that in the final battle sequence it is ultimately love and not vengeance that drives her – but that’s not the scene I’m talking about here). The scene that as I understand it was almost cut.
No Man’s Land.
I got chills followed by tears as Diana looked at the men telling her she couldn’t but then boldly climbed out of the trench and marched across the barren land, fending off bullets (with some pretty awesome outside blocks, by the way) and then using her shield as cover so that the men could then come up and fight for themselves.
For me, that scene was as powerful as the scene in Maleficent when Maleficent awakens to find that her wings had been removed. Both are pivotal scenes for the characters, and both are scenes that will stay with me.
It’s in that scene that Diana truly comes into her own – yes, even before she learns who she really is in her battle with Ares. And it is breathtaking. Simply put, had that scene not been in the film, I do not think it would be the film it is and have the impact it is having. She acts out of love and compassion for innocent people, not out of some need for personal glory. And later in the battle with Ares, love and compassion are present even there, even though there is an element of vengeance for Steve’s sacrifice, it is ultimately her compassion for humanity that drives her.
And now to what I alluded to earlier. The realism. Diana’s thigh jiggled. Slight, true. But both in her striding across No Man’s Land as well as when she lands after the epic battle with Ares, her thighs have a slight jiggle. Because guess what? Women’s bodies jiggle! It happens. Even muscles have a bit of jiggle on impact. And that is mind blowing!! How many other times has that been computer-fixed so that we don’t see jiggle, we don’t see imperfection, no matter how slight.
I applaud Patty Jenkins for keeping both the scene AND the jiggle in the film. Thank you Gal Gadot for bringing Diana to life with such compassion, strength, and humanity. Thanks to all involved for making this wonderful film.
Yes, I have gone back to see it a second time. Yes. I have bought the Art and Making of book as well as the novelization. It solidified my desire to go to Greece (next summer!!). It’s fired me up in Taekwondo training (at least 18 months from Black Belt test) – already instructors have commented how fired up I am in class. And I will go back again to see this film. Probably Friday!
So I can no longer say “But I don’t do Super Hero” movies truthfully. Now I can say “I don’t do ALL Super Hero movies. But I do Wonder Woman!”