Feminist Review of Wonder Woman

By Ally O'Connor

Wonder Woman is the empowering film for which female audiences have long been waiting. Gal Gadot, in her portrayal of the protagonist, Diana, Princess of the Amazons and “Wonder Woman” herself, embodies strength, power, and compassion. She acts as a heroine like few others — one who adopts the traditionally masculine role of defender, and executes the position even better than her male counterparts.

    The film follows Diana’s journey from child to adult and subsequent discovery of personal values and desires. When she meets American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and learns of a World War raging far beyond her island of Themyscira, she feels compelled to fulfill her “sacred duty to defend the world.”

    Themyscira, the island of women, is a land that rewrites history for the better.  Women are depicted as fierce warriors instead of mute servants to men. Further, the Greek mythology captured on the island helps to define Diana’s character as she embarks upon her journey.

    As the story unfolds, the plot is gripping, but at times funny, as viewers watch the emerging relationship between Diana and Steve. However, Wonder Woman is no romantic comedy.  Diana, Steve, and their few male companions fight for the greater good—to end the first World War and save as many lives as possible. Interestingly, each of the members of this heroic group have a different idea of how to conclude the devastation, Diana’s being the most fantastical.  She claims that Ares, the god of war, is the culprit for all of man’s hatred and that it is he who instills this volition to fight within human beings. According to her assertion, if Ares is vanquished, man will again be good.

    Diana’s strong will is evident throughout the movie as she consistently pushes back against Steve and all other men with whom she works, at one point even reminding Steve that “what [she] does is not up to [him].” These themes of independence are what grasp women and remind them of their own inner strength.

    The first two hours of the film contain this powerful message about refusing traditional gender roles, however, from my perspective, the last twenty minutes or so lack the same strength and contain an excessive amount of overdramatized superhero-style action.  I concede that unlike myself, action film fans might be amazed by the carefully choreographed fight scenes between Diana and Ares, but I found myself bored. While some of what occurred during those twenty minutes was vital to the plot, several instances were too drawn out. Had the director shortened some of the battle, the film’s conclusion would have been far cleaner.

    Overall, Wonder Woman delivers the powerful female heroine viewers have been longing to see.  With the exception of the overextended fight scenes at the end of the film, it is a fantastic creation.