What It Means to Have Wonder Woman On Screen
What do you imagine when you think of a superhero?
Seriously, think about it. I would bet you good money that it’s a muscular white male, like Batman, Iron Man, or Superman. You probably don’t imagine Sam Wilson (Falcon), Kamala Kahn (Ms. Marvel), or Wonder Woman.
But for the first time, there’s a really big step towards changing that. Even though Wonder Woman is one of the most storied superheroes, it is a big deal to have her on the big screen. Not just for this author, personally, but also for superhero representation as a whole.
The dominant cultures of the world believe that “super” only takes a few forms. There are only a few requirements for this form, but unless you’re naturally born with them you’ll never achieve them. You have to be pretty, you have to be thin (or muscular, if you’re male), and in most cases, you have to be a man.
It’s important to me to have a woman on screen is recognized as “super” because for a very long time, women were considered so much less than super. You can look in the world today and see that women are still paid statistically less than men, and you can look back 100 years and see that women couldn’t vote. Women have consistently been seen as less than men, as property of men, or as something for men instead of being able to stand for themselves and themselves alone.
Wonder Woman does that, and it’s literally built into her story. Raised by women warriors, fighting female supervillains, working with female sidekicks – Wonder Woman doesn’t need men to tell her that she is amazing and doesn’t need to fight them to prove her worth. That’s important, and that’s something that we haven’t seen with any other superhero.
Sure, Black Widow is great, but she’s played second fiddle for way too long. Scarlet Witch is great, but she’s seen as less stable than her male counterparts that have been through just as much (if not more). Harley Quinn is fun, but her abusive relationship with the Joker leaves a lot of unsavory questions (and tastes) in a viewer’s mouth.
Wonder Woman is different and Wonder Woman is better. She exists for us, the female geek audience, and not for her male fans. Again, that’s a big deal. Nowadays, it’s common for a movie to be designed for all ages and genders, meaning that it usually features a male lead and a female sidekick. Wonder Woman is designed differently. It’s for the female audience and as such, it implies that it doesn’t need men to succeed.
I can’t stress how important that is, and what it means for female geeks across the globe.
That said, Wonder Woman isn’t perfect nor should we expect her to be. What we should expect, and what we deserve, is an excellent film. It has never been more important for a superhero movie to be good, so let’s cross our fingers, buy tickets to three different opening weekend screenings, and hope that the world is ready.
Because we are.