5 Ways the Wonder Woman Movie Empowers Women—and Why It Should Matter
By Catherine Lo
As an avid DC Comics fan, I couldn’t possibly not be there on the opening night of the feminist film of the decade. They have been calling the Wonder Woman film DC’s last hope, and true enough, it does not disappoint—in fact, it breaks all barriers of awesomeness and so much more, especially for women everywhere. Here’s why:
1. The Wonder Woman film passes the Bechdel test with flying colors.
The Bechdel test has long been a measure of feminism in movies, and surprisingly, tons of Hollywood films fail it miserably. The test has three criteria: the movie must have at least two women, they must talk to each other, and when they do, it has to be about a topic that is NOT about a man. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? While loads of films—especially superhero ones—fail to fulfill all three criteria, Wonder Woman checks off on all three and more. Diana is smart, highly intelligent, driven, and speaks her mind. She takes no crap from anyone, not even from her own Themysciran family back in Paradise Island, where, of course, all the inhabitants are women. They certainly talk to each other all the time about matters such as war and battle and proper fighting techniques—and definitely NOT about a man.
2. Diana does what she wants to do and doesn’t need permission from anyone.
Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, always has Diana’s best interests at heart, and in doing so, tends to tell her what she can and cannot do, especially in a highly patriarchal society during the time of the First World War. Diana, in response, does what she wants to do anyway. True to her comic book character, Wonder Woman takes action when she sees what’s wrong and what should be corrected around her. She doesn’t wait around in the sidelines like a helpless damsel in distress, hoping for a man to do the job for her. Instead, she charges right into the battlefield when no other man can. She says that “what I do is not up to you,” and she couldn’t have said it any better.
3. Wonder Woman kicks some serious bad-guy butt.
Thanks to her Amazonian training, the warrior princess from Themyscira weaves her way around the battlefield like a pro. Fighting has been in the Amazons’ lifestyles since forever, and I cannot stress how awesome Robin Wright looks as General Antiope. She teaches young Diana how to fight and tells her to push her limits, never holding back when it counts. To complement that upbringing, Queen Hippolyta (played by Connie Nielsen) fuses compassion with regal dignity in raising Diana to be the ambassador of strength and courage that she is. Director Patty Jenkins truly does an outstanding job at making women shine in this film.
4. Diana knows how to wield her weapons.
Despite the warrior training, Wonder Woman doesn’t just foolishly fight in hack-and-slash style. She knows which weapon to wield and chooses her battles well. She knows when to use her shield, when to strike with her sword, and when to whip out the Lasso of Truth (which, bondage references aside, does its job of keeping Trevor helpless under its influence). But more importantly, Diana also knows how to wield the best weapons of all—and that is truth, compassion, and love. She IS a woman, and she does not hesitate to express her sorrow over the things that break her heart. After all, tears do not mean weakness.
5. Wonder Woman can handle her man.
Where else can you find a movie where the woman isn’t afraid to tease the man just because she can? Diana may be a fish out of water in “The Land of Men”, but she definitely grooves to the beat of her own drum without caring what other people think, and in doing so, she effectively gets men around her (Steve Trevor included) flustered and not the other way around. Wonder Woman may be an action film, but there is a nice touch of romance in there too that still empowers women in ways that not a lot of rom-coms can. To put it simply, just go watch the film already—and then go watch it again!