The Spirit of Wonder Woman

Image result for wonder woman movie

Honestly, I haven’t historically been a big fan of Wonder Woman.  My first exposure to her was really the DCAU Justice League cartoons (which is the reason I can ship her with Batman hehe).  While I liked her character there, she never really stood out to me.

This began to change last year, when I read The Secret History of Wonder Woman for our GeekyNerdy Book Club, and then attended a symposium for the 75th anniversary of her creation.  I still haven’t read any of her comics, but I feel like I have some understanding of her character.  And from that perspective, I was really pleased with the Wonder Woman movie, and I’m sure her many fans around the world are, too.  The movie definitely stayed true to the spirit of Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman did a great job mixing in her famous symbols while at the same time creating a new story for Diana.  I liked the nod to both her “traditional” origin (a clay statue made by Hippolyta) as well as her New 52 origin (daughter of Zeus/demigod).  Her outfit has been nicely modernized, and her headband even has a special meaning within the story.

We get to see plenty of action with both her traditional, defensive weapons (bracers and Lasso of Truth) as well as her newer, offensive weapons (sword and shield).  I think both of these aspects are important to Diana’s character.  For once, we get to see a superhero fighting to defend regular people, in the form of a Belgian village caught between the two sides of WWI.  Wonder Woman always seeks to defend the innocent, and sometimes that requires going on the attack with confidence.

Image result for wonder woman movie poster

Diana also has many talents that are not combat-related.  We got to see the Lasso of Truth used not just as weapon but also a tool (WW’s creator was the real-life inventor of a blood pressure lie detector test).  She presents herself ably as a diplomat who speaks many languages, seeking to increase communication across nations.

One frequent symbol over Wonder Woman’s history is bondage…not in the kinky way.  Early feminist propaganda used images of breaking chains to symbolize the struggle of women for equal rights, and Wonder Woman comics often co-opted this imagery by having Diana be bound or chained and have to break free.  There was a nice nod to this during the climax of her fight with Ares where her body is completely wrapped in sheet metal as she’s struggling to overcome her doubts about humanity as well as deal with the loss of Steve.

One thing I kept going back to constantly when thinking about this movie was how it correctly presented Diana as a “superheroine” instead of a “female superhero.”  (Check out this post for more on this distinction.)  These two narratives are quite different.  Instead of trying to defeat and expel the villain, Wonder Woman always seeks to turn her antagonists back into the fold of society.  In movie, she says something like, “If I kill Ares, the Germans will be good people again.”  In her mind, she is not fighting against the Germans and their allies; she is fighting against war and conflict itself (personified as Ares).

Wonder Woman also does not keep herself separate from humanity; she doesn’t go back to isolation on Themyscira at the end of the story.  Though we don’t yet know exactly what happens to her after the events of the movie, she appears among Western society in the present day.

Overall I was thrilled with the treatment of Diana’s character, and I really enjoyed the movie as a whole as well.  Do any big Wonder Woman fans have more thoughts on her characterization in the movie??  Feel free to share in the comments!


15 thoughts on “The Spirit of Wonder Woman

  1. Rachael Corbin June 21, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    I wasn’t a huge fan of Wonder Woman before this movie. Now I think I’ve been turned into a fangirl lol. I even ordered a WW decal for my car xD I really loved the movie and, like you said, I’m glad she was treated like a character rather than a token female superhero. It was a concern of mind going in that it was just going to be another “girl power” movie rather than a story with compelling characters and narrative. I’m happy that I was wrong and it turned out to be a great blockbuster. I definitely want to read more about WW and I hope this will open the door to some great superheroine movies in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei June 21, 2017 / 6:04 pm

      I’ve been so excited to find a great new character, especially one that’s female. I also hope we can get more female-led superhero movies of all kinds, both with more “superheroines” (maybe Kamala Khan?) and also some “female superheroes” (I think of Captain Marvel as more this type).


  2. saraletourneau June 21, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    I think the most I knew about Wonder Woman before the movie were the basics: her outfit, her weapons, etc. I wasn’t a comics reader growing up, so for the most part I was going in with fresh eyes. But… wow. The movie was really good. Not perfect, but my favorite part about it was their portrayal of Diana. And I completely agree with your point about her being a superheroine as opposed to a female superhero. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of anything else to add. That’s just how well you explained your thoughts here, and how much they align with mine (except that you’re more knowledgeable about Wonder Woman’s history than I am!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei June 21, 2017 / 8:43 pm

      I think this movie was really needed, and not just for DC fans. I’ve heard a lot of stories of people who took their young daughters, and the daughters enjoyed it so much and now love Wonder Woman! It’s basically how I felt about seeing Rey in Star Wars: TFA, but if anything I think WW has an even bigger cultural impact.

      Liked by 1 person

      • saraletourneau June 22, 2017 / 3:37 pm

        I’ve heard some of those stories, too. And Wonder Woman is an excellent role model for young girls. I’m curious to see what Leigh Bardugo’s portrayal of her will be in the upcoming Wonder Woman YA novel…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mei-Mei June 22, 2017 / 4:12 pm

        Oooh I hadn’t heard about the novel, sounds exciting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • saraletourneau June 22, 2017 / 5:29 pm

        I think it comes out in August or September…? And I don’t think it’s connected to the movie. It’s part of a separate DC Comics project where they’ve tapped YA authors to pen novels about DC’s most popular superheroes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mei-Mei June 25, 2017 / 10:25 pm

        Sounds awesome, I’m going to have to look into these.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. starwarsanon June 23, 2017 / 10:38 am

    I liked it! I really, really enjoyed her character and was happy Hollywood finally got it right. One of my favorite parts of this movie, actually, was the beginning.

    I liked seeing women living and working together without showing petty arguments, cattiness, or any of those other tropes we sometimes see in Hollywood movies when women come together. I also very, very much enjoyed seeing her relationship with her mother. Again, not something we see enough of. A healthy, stable relationship with her mother is needed in this movie world bereft of mother/daughter relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei June 25, 2017 / 10:25 pm

      That’s a great point about Themyscira. I liked how they mixed in some Greek myth sensibilities for that setting, and still had it be a kind of utopia, not completely devoid of conflict but still a happy, well-functioning society. Her relationships with her mom and aunt were great! Maybe the sequel will show us what happens with the Amazons later on, even up to present day?

      Liked by 1 person

      • starwarsanon June 26, 2017 / 8:02 am

        I’d love that. ☺️ it was some of my favorite parts of the movie.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. NovEllaandBanannabelle June 24, 2017 / 1:21 pm

    I’m so glad to hear you liked the new movie! I can’t wait to see it!!

    I didn’t know anything about the story, so I recently watched the first episode of the original TV series in preparation :).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei June 25, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      I have never seen any of the TV show! I know lots of people loved it. I think it had a lot of the same “spirit.” Hope you enjoy the movie, too!

      Liked by 1 person

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