I had no interest in seeing Wonder Woman. I've never cared too much about comic superheroes and watching the trailer did nothing for me. Upon having finally succumbed, I now realise what the trailer couldn't possibly show me – Wonder Woman is actually two movies happening at the same time: an action movie with a politico-spiritual-feminist subtext.
Wonder Woman is, in fact, a feminist victory on multiple levels. It's the first major female superhero film. Patty Jenkins is the first female to direct a superhero film. And it achieves the impossible – capturing a heart-based approach amidst death and destruction. Wonder Woman strides into battle (in this case, WW1 in an alternate reality) with a remarkably different energy and intention than I've ever seen before. She's not raging with the usual wanton Hollywood violence; her vibration is pure protection, love, humanity and Higher Purpose.
Director Patty Jenkins' philosophy has resulted in a different vision than the smash-'em-up films we're used to seeing: “As long as your main interest is teenage boys, then the No 1 obvious person to write that story is a grown teenage boy and the No 1 person to direct it is a grown teenage boy,” she says. “If you watch closely she never stabs anybody – she’s knocking guns out of hands. It’s cool-looking and everything, but it’s never hateful... Becoming a hero is not what you thought because there is no villain, it’s us, and [we have] a collective responsibility to become better people and only that will save the world.” Wait - did a yogi say this, or a Hollywood director?!
Unsurprisingly, Jenkins fought endless battles to bring her Divine Feminine vision to the misogynist Hollywood screen. “I did not necessarily feel that Hollywood was interested in what I wanted to do. They wanted me to do what they wanted to do.” Her unerring determination came up trumps: Wonder Woman took over $220 million worldwide in its first weekend, and went on to gross almost $500 million in 14 days. More women go to the movies than men, yet only around 4% of directors are female and actresses are still predominantly scripted 'damsel in distress' roles. But it's not just women receiving powerful representation in Wonder Woman – it's also cultural diversity. Characters include a middle-eastern sidekick, a black female senator and a Native American chief. Gal Gagot (Wonder Woman herself) is a heavily-accented Israeli. The movie's female villain – Dr Poison, with her eaten-away face – represents an opposite (and all-too-recognisable) alternate female image: we who have allowed society to 'poison' our hearts and minds, and who have bought the myth that our beauty and power comes solely from our looks.
When 'Diana Prince' leaves her Amazonian utopia and arrives in suffocating Edwardian England, her heart-centred, sacred feminine responses to all that she observes are at once cringe-worthy and insightful. Her naïve reactions to everything we accept in Western society without question serve to show the audience just how much we've been conditioned away from our intuitive instincts... and just how ridiculous and harmful many of our collectively upheld beliefs actually are. As Sky Harrison summarises in her brilliant Wonder Woman blog post, “Many women are experiencing this film not with their heads, but their hearts.”
Harrison writes: “Women who stand up for themselves, let alone others, are shot down in flames (see: the Internet). We’re told ‘no’ and ‘you can’t’ and ‘don’t’ all our lives. From the moment we can take in any form of media, we’re told we’re not enough – not pretty enough, not thin enough, not nice enough – or too much – too loud, too aggressive, too ugly, too needy, too emotional. We’re called ‘too much work’ if we ask for our needs to be met, and ‘too basic’ if we don’t want more for ourselves... We’re taught to internalise that ‘no’ and hold ourselves in, take up less space, please those around us for fear of not being nice. You can’t turn off all that internal programming because the woman you’re feeling for happens to be a film character. But here’s the beauty of it. Diana doesn’t have that internal ‘no’. And every single time she ignores those who say no to her, every single time she shakes her head and says, ‘It’s what I’m here to do’ and just gets on with it, a little piece of me unwinds.”
Women have been reported sobbing in cinemas worldwide during this film. “For some women, the enemy depicted in the movie is really the personification of who hurt them the most in their lives, and to watch the death of that pain on screen is very empowering,” says behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva. The movie certainly contains rare cinematic concepts (what living in an empowered all-female sisterhood looks like, men being 'not necessary' for sexual pleasure, dudes being rescued by chicks, women who don't listen to 'NO', women stopping war). It also delivers many powerful lines: “I believe in love.” “You are stronger than you think, Diana.” “Men do not deserve you”. And Wonder Woman to her love interest (when is a major Hollywood male actor ever relegated to 'love interest'?!): “What I do is not up to you.” Bottom line: Wonder Woman makes the adventurous little-girl-selves inside us stand up and fist-pump the air gleefully.
When Wonder Woman crouched behind her shield to avoid an onslaught of bullets, I viewed it as a metaphor for all the sexist and suppressive 'hits' women have taken in the last few thousand years of patriarchy – and withstood. Wonder Woman's ability to speak 100+ ancient and modern languages also suggests a metaphor for the Divine Feminine's ability to be universally understood, wherever and whenever on Planet Earth it appears. Diana Prince is not a woman following the rules of a man's world, in a male-geared superhero movie, approaching everything in a typical masculine way... and her extraordinary powers perfectly represent the magic and God in all of us – giving us permission to tap them, and utilise them, at any time.
P.S. The palm-reading fortune teller in the background of the bar scene did not escape my attention 🙂