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Wonder Woman: A Major Success for DC Entertainment and Women in Hollywood

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Kaushikee Nayudu, Junior Managing Editor

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Wonder Woman chronicles the origin story of Wonder Woman otherwise known as Diana, Princess of the Amazons, raised on the all-female sanctuary of Themyscira and trained by the immortal Amazons to be an undefeatable warrior. Diana’s sheltered life is disrupted by the arrival of army pilot Steve Trevor who literally crashes onto the island and enlightens Diana to the war raging outside their haven. Convinced that she is capable of ending the war, Diana leaves home to assist the war effort. In seeking an end to the war to end all wars, Diana gains a deeper understanding of humanity ‒ and her true destiny.

 

 

Since its well-anticipated release, Wonder Woman, has been heralded with positive reviews from critics and regular audiences, giving the struggling DC Entertainment a much needed success. Wonder Woman’s success is not surprising, given that it served as a respite from several of DC’s overplayed cliches that continuously left audiences disappointed. Unlike other superhero movies of late, where the central protagonists are the primary focus and the audience experiences the story from their perspective, the secondary characters in Wonder Woman offer the audience a more awe-inspiring perspective. As one advertising executive described, in Wonder Woman “we see what gods look like to mere mortals – and it’s incredible.” Further, Wonder Woman returns to a practice employed in the best superhero movies. It tells the story of a hero fighting not for themselves, but for the common good. In other superhero movies, like Marvel’s Avengers or DC’s Man of Steel, the central conflict is targeting the superhero. The villains are often pursuing a personal vendetta against the hero, making the focus the hero’s pain and the conflict a personal one. In Wonder Woman, the focus is instead on the common people suffering in the raging war and Diana who is struggling to save them. Moreover, even though Wonder Woman deals with considerable tragedy, the movie is not lacking in humor and heart. There are bits of comedy and romance mixed in with scenes of action and heart-wrenching tragedy that give Wonder Woman substance in addition to style, something DC has often been criticized for lacking.

 

 

Wonder Woman is notable not only because of the plot but because of its significance for Hollywood’s gender problem. The movie is the top domestic debut of all time for a female director and the first major studio film franchise featuring a female superhero. The previous record-holder for top opening for a female director was Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Considering that the top movie by a female director is a sex driven critical, and some would argue feminist flop shows a lot about how how groundbreaking Wonder Woman truly is. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman grossed hundred and three million in its domestic box-office debut and grossed nearly two hundred and thirty million dollars globally. The movie, which stars Gal Gadot as Diana Prince or Wonder Woman, also launches the first major superhero film franchise featuring a female after Catwoman and Elektra flopped during the past decade. Wonder Woman also shows a transition in the audiences of superhero movies bringing in around fifty-two percent female audience, virtually unheard of for superhero movies, whose typical audience is nearly sixty percent male.

 

The role Wonder Woman plays in Hollywood’s female movement is fitting considering the origin of Wonder Woman’s character. The character’s creation can be credited to Harvard psychologist William Moulton Marston. Marston believed that Wonder Woman embodied and reflected his feminist values. Marston was inspired to create the character after an incident during 1911 when Marston was a freshman at Harvard University. Emmeline Pankhurst, a British suffragist known for chaining herself to the gates outside 10 Downing Street, was invited to speak on campus, but this invitation was eventually blocked by Harvard’s administration. Marston later suggested that this incident had renewed his support for the feminist cause and inspired him to create a comic book character reflective of female strengths. However, though Wonder Woman originated as a central female protagonist with unprecedented power and independence, she would nonetheless be subrogated to storylines that reinforced traditional repressing gender roles and is often sexualized and objectified to play to the demands of the mostly male comic book audience.

 

 

Wonder Woman is most certainly not without its faults, but it a beautiful and inspiring film well worth watching. Wonder Woman is notable not only for the nuanced narrative but also for the progressive movement it plays a central part in, a movement that seeks to change a male dominated industry with traditionally misogynistic standards. A summer blockbuster with a powerful female protagonist directed by female directed is another step forward in a long and tumultuous journey that seeks to redefine the role women play ‒ not only on the silver screen but in our reality.

 

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