By Rishi Ravuri
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright. Director: Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman, just like the titular character, was powerful and wild yet simultaneously refined film. By Rishi Ravuri
Wonder Woman, just like the titular character, was powerful and wild yet simultaneously refined film. The film's portrayal of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, played by brilliant actress Gal Gadot, was novel in its portrayal of classically male or masculine traits such as strength, defiance, and stubbornness as being positive and desired characteristics in a woman. However, in doing so, the film did not get caught in the pitfall of many progressive endeavors of the past and did not shirk from having Diana appear vulnerable, elegant, and feminine. The film displayed dualities of this ilk powerfully: for example, Diana is physically strong, yet weak in her world wisdom, but it is her acceptance of her weakness in this category that ultimately feeds into her true strength.
The film opens with vibrant and stunning scenes of Diana's home island of Themyscira, a magical island crafted by the Greek Gods to house a mythical weapon made by Zeus to defeat Ares. Ares, according to the film's mythos, rose against his father in a Lucifer-esque scenario after witnessing Zeus' obsession with mankind. Whether it be wanting to show his father humanity's true nature, hatred of mankind's inability to resist temptation, or just pure jealousy, nonetheless Ares rose in revolt against Zeus and waged a grand war. All the other gods fell until finally only Zeus and Ares remained. Zeus managed to strike Ares with a powerful blow at the climax of the battle, and Ares barely managed to flee clinging to his life. Ares swore to take revenge and Zeus then creates Themyscira, a land of only women magically displaced from mankind, to maintain his crusade against Ares and watch over humanity.
Wonder Woman, slightly ironically given its title, is a movie focused on all of "mankind." It is noteworthy that this "mankind" refers to the classical definition of the word meaning "all of humanity," and not "male humans." The entire film focuses on Diana's first encounter with the World and her exposure to all the wonders and depravity of humanity. As she strives to understand the World, she realizes that she must reconcile what she believes with the new information being presented to her. She then juxtaposes what she has learned with her own sense of self. Only by understanding men and women of the World did Diana ultimately manage to understand herself and her own purpose. Hopefully, by understanding Diana's journey, we too can emulate her and learn more about our respective selves.
It is important to acknowledge that Wonder Woman was released in 2017, a time where themes such as "social awareness," "political correctness," and "staying woke" have become extremely prevalent. For a major project to be produced while ignoring these elements would be imbecilic, and the film does take steps towards portraying injustices and social problems that constrict society even today. Some viewers took offense though with Diana's seemingly "white feminism." They advocate that Diana only cares about issues without having to actually face them head on herself; for example, she was never "institutionally discriminated against by the patriarchy since birth." Personally, I found such criticism slightly too strong. The film is told from the point of view of a white person after all. How should she have reacted in order to display "intersectional feminism?" That being said, I could not help but notice that all black actresses were only present on Themyscira; were black people not present during WWI times in England? In addition, the only other women characters of note after Diana departed from Themyscira are Colonel Trevor's secretary and a secondary antagonist named Dr. Poison. Neither of these characters has any back-stories and makes choices and decisions seemingly for no reasons other than "I'm a good guy" or "I'm a bad guy." It would have been nice to see female characters, and characters as a whole, treated with more tender love and care.
Diana's struggle to understand the World and wrap her mind around the origin of its current warped state is not a feeling foreign to most. We can all relate to being a young child and staring at our mother's faces and innocently asking why people starve or are hungry. Just as Colonel Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, says, it truly would be easier to have some sort of singular entity or monster to hunt, kill, and blame. For example, it would be ridiculously easy to hoist Donald Trump up as a straw man similar to Ares and blame him for all the current problems in America. However, that would be wrong. Donald Trump is just a symptom of our foulness. Accepting that ugliness is a part of man is of utmost importance in order to understand and appreciate mankind's beauty. If we accept what we are, maybe then we too can rise up like Diana and be something more.