“Have you seen Wonder Woman?”
That’s how I have begun so many conversations with women over this last week. It is almost instantly obvious whether they have or not. There is either an immediate look of “No, I’m sorry. I probably should.” Or there is something very different—an eyes-wide look that says, “Wasn’t it amazing!” revealing a depth of emotion they aren’t really sure how to put into words.
That’s how I felt. In fact, it’s taken me almost a week to write this, simply because I was looking for the right words. I still don’t think I’ve found all of them.
I admit, though, I wasn’t all that excited to see it. Blame it on super-hero movie fatigue, or simply low expectations, but my feelings were decidedly meh on the whole thing.
But on Father’s Day, when our resident dad (my husband) said he wanted to see a movie on his special day, and the movie he wanted to see was Wonder Woman, how could I refuse? Besides, as a woman, I felt a certain moral obligation to support a female hero lead, directed by a woman, and starring a couple of my favorite female actors. So, I feigned genuine interest and half expected to get in a good nap.
In the movie’s opening scenes, we see a precocious little girl, presumably our young Diana, escaping her day-care type confinements, running from her authorities, and finding a hiding spot where she could watch the warrior training session going on in the field below her. Through her eyes, we see the Amazons, riding horses, wielding swords, shooting arrows with a fierceness I’ve rarely seen in the cinematic portrayal of women. In a word, it was impressive.
Diana was soon discovered, however, taken away by her mother, the Queen, and told she was not yet ready to fight. There was nothing surprising about the events of these scenes, necessarily. The plot and storyline were all expected and came from the original legend many of us know from comic books or the television series of decades ago. What got my attention was the casting, and the general badass-ness of the Amazons. They were not just all super young super-heroes resting on natural strength. They were middle-aged, and they were training—hard—every single day.
A few more minutes in and we came to the first battle scene. This is normally when I go to the bathroom or check my phone. Battle scenes rarely do anything to further the plot, and I’m not typically wowed by the cinematography or explicit violence. In my opinion, you can skip to the last 30 seconds and lose none of the storyline. This time, however, I was captivated.
There was a moment when Antiope, played by the absolutely stunning Robin Wright, yells to one of her comrades the single word “Shield!” Then we see her run over, jump onto the shield, and soar into the air like the warrior that she is. I was pinned to my seat, my chest suddenly tight, and ugly cry swallowing my face whole.
This reaction had come out of nowhere. It had come from within. I looked at this character, fictionalized, of course, but she was also real. She was fierce, but she had scars and wrinkles just like me.
The movie went on to surprise me many times with its consistent message that women are powerful in their singular selves, without the need of rescue, or at least the rescue of mortal man. The romance between Diana and Steve was both humorous and lovely, and I enjoyed every single moment of it. But it was not the central theme.
And the line that was repeated first by Steve, then later by Diana, “It is not about deserve. It is about what you choose to believe, and I believe in love,” will become iconic—or at least it should, as it is a message for our time.
But that scene of Robin Wright leaping into the air will stick with me forever. I immediately came home and pulled my hair back into a braid. I looked at myself in the mirror, an honest look at the wrinkles, the scars, the age, the wisdom, and I embraced my own badass.
What will I fight for? We each get to choose that for ourselves. Personally, I will join with all of the Antiopes and Dianas out there, all of the badass women who are choosing to be warriors for love.