“Be careful in the world of men, Diana, for they do not deserve you.” A mother says this to her daughter in the new movie Wonder Woman, and I sensed heads nodding throughout the theater. What woman hasn’t thought this of a woman she loves?
The mother in question is the Queen of the Amazons, a mythical group of women who live on a beautiful island straight out of Ancient Greece. Long hidden from humanity, they hone their fierce battle skills and collectively raise the island’s only child: the queen’s daughter, Diana.
The Amazons know many things: how to fire three arrows at once while riding at full gallop; how war corrupts all men; how to embody shine theory.
This last — a popular phrase that refers to befriending, rather than belittling, the “intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful and professionally accomplished” women — is important to keep in mind when seeing Wonder Woman. Our children deserve more than this movie, but saying so does not diminish the wonder of the latest DC Comics installment. Here is a woman celebrated for her courage, bravery and intelligence, no small thing in a world where only two women have won best director at the Cannes Film Festival.
Here is a woman celebrated for her courage, bravery and intelligence, no small thing in a world where only two women have won best director at the Cannes Film Festival.
Wonder Woman follows a grown Diana as she enters the world of man at the height of World War I. Her goal: Destroy the God of War and save the world. Your standard action film fare, for sure, but Wonder Woman’s female director and female lead means this was never just another superhero movie.
“Women will be more front and center on movie screens this summer than any time in recent memory,” writes The New York Times. That is a good thing. So is all the money the female-directed film has made, at last count, more than $420 million worldwide. But a movie has to become the eighth highest-grossing of the year to even begin to change the minds of studio execs. You have to literally be superhuman for them to take you seriously. Just ask Diana.
I hope any future child of mine will grow up in a world where female-directed, female-led movies are so common, and so popular, that reviews would never include lines like this one: “The turnout — in a surprise, almost equally split between women and men — was one of the best ever for a nonsequel superhero film.” The fact that men like badass women shouldn’t be a surprise. That it is a surprise doesn’t diminish Wonder Woman, but it does remind us of the importance of talking after the film.
“What choices did this movie have to make, and why?” we should ask ourselves and our kids. Could a movie version of Wonder Woman have forgone a male love interest, even one as well-played as Chris Pine? Could she have skipped getting a makeover while saving the world? Could she have raised her arm to yield the Sword of Athena and shown an unshaved armpit?
But despite these flaws, you should still take your (older kids) to Wonder Woman. Here’s my logic: We viewers may lack bulletproof bracelets, legendary shields and lassos of truth but we do have something arguably more persuasive, our money. How we choose to spend it — on a Sunday matinee — may feel trivial, but, in my more optimistic moments, I tell myself it inspires the conversations that raise the children who become the adults who buy the tickets to see the movies that shape the world that’s worthy of Wonder Woman.
In the meantime, Diana, shine on.
Age recommendation for Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is rated PG-13; Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 12 and above. This is an action film and while the gore is limited, there are scary scenes involving explosions, gunfire and chemical weapons. There is also a scene of nudity (of a man and of the "hand-over-genitals" variety) and a love scene that hints at sex but cuts away mid-makeout.