A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Unless you’ve been vacationing on one of the moons of Jupiter for the last year, you know that the movie Wonder Woman is being released today. In fact, if you’re at all interested, you’ve probably seen most of the good bits on YouTube already. However, Wonder Woman is a significant film: it made the BBC’s list of What to Watch in June. (That’s right! The list that’s normally reserved for thoughtful, dark tragedies, lit only by the glow of their English subtitles.) So, why is Wonder Woman such a biggie? I can think of a couple of reasons.
1 — It’s the latest offensive in the Great Franchise Wars. DC and Marvel Comics have been battling it out for the hearts and minds of post-pubescent spenders since the 1960s, kinda like Coke and Pepsi. DC had an early advantage with name recognition characters like Superman, Batman and — yes — Wonder Woman, but since most superheroes have now made the leap from comic page to blockbuster film, Marvel has the upper hand. Their Infinity Stone story line, with Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt and now Benedict Cumberbatch leading the way, is totally better than anything DC has to offer. Despite the spin, the truth is DC’s one bright light, Batman, burned out when Christian Bale — bailed. They wanted to go serious badass with Suicide Squad (Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie in short shorts) but that sucked. Now they’re stuck with Ben Affleck and an assortment of oh-yeah-that-guy personalities. Wonder Woman is the candle in the wind that DC needs to reignite their brand, and they’re burning tons of promo money to make sure it doesn’t go out.
2 — Wonder Woman is the poster child of post feminist Hollywood. This is 2017, and, in the movies, the “damsel in distress” motif is no longer in vogue. These days, it’s strong female role models that capture the big bucks. (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games.) So, along comes Wonder Woman — she’s a smart, capable, physically strong, out of the closet bisexual, with no visible signs of PMS. Not bad! Unfortunately, gender equality in action films is — uh — still a little tricky. Yeah, the girls get to saddle up and go to war alongside the guys, but even a quick glance will tell you they don’t get quite as many clothes. Batman and Superman are suited and booted, tonsils to toes, whereas Wonder Woman has to fight evil in what amounts to a pimped-out, French-cut leather bathing suit. Fortunately, despite the obvious disadvantages of going half naked into that murderous night, she seems more than happy to do it. So, in a world dominated by the faux-feminism of celebrities like the Kardashian sisters, Wonder Woman ticks all the boxes.
3 — Social media, the cyber-guardian of all that is weird and wonderful in our world, has already given its blessing. There was a minor hiccup when nobody could decide whether Wonder Woman should shave her armpits or not, but that kinda Twittered out. Now, it’s back on the awesome train, and it looks as if Wonder Woman will set the table for the DC boys to come back and make a meal out of Justice League in November.