When Alamo Drafthouse announced a women-only screening of Wonder Woman, Twitter went nuts. Women were thrilled that they would get to see a film about a strong, powerful woman with other like-minded women. Women, and those who identified as women, were able to see a major mainstream superhero movie that they could probably relate to more than any other superhero. But of course, there’s always one subsection of the internet that wants to ruin the fun. To which I say, “Get over it!” Do you really need to see this particular film on this particular date at this particular time? There are so many other screenings you can attend. Don’t be that guy who is encroaching in a space where women are empowering each other to be more than just a secondary character in someone else’s story.
As the only female on the writing team right now (but we really want to add more to our team!), I feel it is my duty to write about Wonder Woman and the importance of females in film. Whether it’s having a woman behind the camera or on screen portraying a character who is interesting and more than just “the girlfriend” or the “damsel in distress”, talented women are crucial to the film industry. And Wonder Woman gives us both of these in Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Diana and also in director Patty Jenkins.
Not once in the film are the words ‘wonder’ or ‘woman’ used together to name Diana. She’s simply Diana. She’s a great warrior with a huge heart and a strong moral compass. She kicks major ass and isn’t afraid to be the first on the battle lines. She’s a Bonafide Badass Heroine™. She’s just Diana of Themyscira. She doesn’t need a moniker for people to realize she’s here to fight for what’s right (looking at you Bruce “I’m Batman” Wayne). Oh, did I mention she kicks major ass?
The reason why Diana’s story is so important is that she shows little girls (and boys!) that you don’t always have to wear a mask and be emotionless. Diana isn’t afraid to let people know how she feels and let people in. She’s accepting of love, from friends and romantic partners. And when she does embark on a relationship with Steve Trevor, her personal journey and character development doesn’t get lost in the romance. Her relationship only makes her a stronger warrior. For the first time, we’re seeing a woman do all the things the male superheroes normally do. And we’re showing the world that she’s doing it way better.
Patty Jenkins directed the hell out of Wonder Woman. She has given the DCEU the light it desperately needed. It’s clear that she understood the character and how the story needed to be told. I honestly don’t know if this film would have been as enjoyable if a man was behind the camera. It’d be tough for a man to try and imagine what it’s like to be a woman who is constantly being underestimated by people around her. So who better to direct that film than a women, someone who is constantly being underestimated by studios to be given the chance to direct a big-budget blockbuster?
This then begs the question – why are studios afraid to give women the budgets they deserve? It’s no secret that female filmmakers make fantastic movies. If current reactions to Wonder Woman are anything to go by, audiences and critics alike are here *claps* for *claps* it (at the time of writing, Wonder Woman held a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Let’s not forget to say hello to some super talented female directors like Ava DuVernay, Elizabeth Banks, Kathryn Bigelow, and Sofia Coppola, who very recently became only the second woman ever to win Best Director at Cannes. And very often, movies with interesting female characters, where they are more than just a second thought, are very successful at the box office. In 2016, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a film with its own Bonafide Badass Heroine™, crossed the $2 billion mark at the box office worldwide. Arrival, another movie with an interesting female lead, has made almost $200 million. And some of the best foreign films last year all had stories about females – The Handmaiden, Toni Erdmann, and Elle, just to name a few.
The proof is in the pudding! Female centric films can be successful. That’s not to say that sometimes they don’t; there’s always going to be a bad movie here and there. But that goes for male centric films and films directed by men, too. So why are women always given the short end of the stick? We need to support female storytellers and women in film. We can’t keep creating meek characters for women, as Jessica Chastain mentioned in the final press conference for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 29, 2017
Let great women create great films about great women. And then let great women go and support those great films. That means not being complaining about women-only screenings of Wonder Woman and instead, being happy that a film with this much importance to women is getting the recognition it respectfully deserves.