I didn’t walk into the theater to see Wonder Woman excited because she was the first female super hero to get her own big movie.
I walked into that theater excited because it was a super hero movie.
Let me back up a bit.
I’m a woman, but being a woman isn’t the sole thing that defines me. I’m more than my sex, so much more. I’m a coffee lover, avid reader, movie watcher, video game player, struggling writer, and pet bird owner. Those are some of the main things that make me who I am, and I would rather people know me and see me for those things rather than for just having some internal organs that make me a female.
I’m a comic book nerd too, and it was that part of me that fueled my excitement to see Wonder Woman.
Too often, the status of being female is seen as my defining characteristic. And while I’m happy to acknowledge the truth that, yes, I am a woman, I own a vagina, a uterus, and a pair of ovaries, I don’t want to be known for that. Am I making sense? Sometimes I feel that having my femaleness pointed out to me is just another form of sexism. (A low-key form of sexism. Oof, I hope I don’t enrage anyone with this post.)
For example, I love the idea of a female Doctor Who. About bloody time that show demonstrated the Doctor’s mutability in a way that’s different from just changing his age. But it sometimes irritates me that she’s known as the “Female Doctor.” The other Doctors weren’t labeled by the fact that they were men. Do you see what I’m driving at here?
So I walked into the theater to see Wonder Woman simply thrilled that one of the Big Three (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman) was finally getting her own movie.
Imagine my surprise when the movie made me cry.
And no, I’m not talking about when Steve Trevor dies, even though that’s a sad moment.
The part I cried at wasn’t intended to be a tragic moment at all. It’s that moment when Diana steps out of the trench and onto No Man’s Land. The music swells gorgeously. Then, once past the trenches, Diana clears out the nearby town of German soldiers while her holy-awesome Hans Zimmer theme song pumps out. And that’s when I started sobbing.
It hit me like a lightning bolt, the realization that I had never had an experience like that before.
I had never had a super hero who was a woman like me have a totally bad-ass moment all to herself.
It never mattered to me before, but suddenly it just came home to me. I had never seen a woman fly up and hold a falling helicopter with one hand. I had never seen a woman drive the Batmobile over the rooftops of a corrupted city while escaping from a buttload of cops. I had never seen a woman use her webbing to swing between skyscrapers in a training montage.
And it suddenly occurred to me as I was watching Wonder Woman leap through buildings and bring her vambraces together to block bullets that I had been missing out.
When I was younger, every super hero movie that came out was centered around a guy. And even though that was the case, that wouldn’t stop me from pretending to be one of them on the playground. Kids I played with wouldn’t care, but it would majorly suck sometimes, because no boy wanted to pretend to be Lois Lane or Mary Jane Watson. So who was I supposed to rescue?
And the female “super” heroes I did have? God, they sucked eggs sometimes.
If they weren’t overly sexualized in a way that my knobby, non-curvy, ugly self could not mimic, then they were severely under-powered.
If you ask kids who they want to be from the Avengers, no one says Black Widow. Who wants to be Black Widow when you can be the Hulk or Iron Man?
Wonder Woman’s history is by no means a shining example for a female super hero. Her origin is wrapped up in bondage and female submission. And her TV show? I dare you to watch it and tell me how many times she gets chloroformed and knocked out. I dare you.
But in her first big movie, she shines. She’s just freaking awesome. I wouldn’t be surprised if kids (boys included) want to pretend to be her on the playground now.
I did not walk into that theater looking to feel proud about being a woman.
But I did walk out of the theater that way.