Saturday, June 10, 2017

Thank you, Patty Jenkins! Thank you!

I don’t think I’ve ever written a movie review for this blog.
However, there’s always a first time.

Me at 4 years old, Wonder Woman costume by my mother, that Amazon woman who did it all without a pattern. 

We just came out of the movie theater where we watched Wonder Woman. It was an intergenerational outing, meaning three generations of my family were present. My mother, that Amazon woman who taught me to be me, and remember who I am, and indulged my obsession with Wonder Woman.  My sons, a teenager ready to start college in the fall, and a six year old, who like his brother, is superhero mad.

I guess I should disclose that my one regret after watching this movie is that well I don’t have a daughter to share this movie with, but I have cousins and friends. So I’m going to compose many an ode to Patty Jenkins and make sure those girls in the family and friends' families see this movie. Patty Jenkins is an Amazon woman who had a vision and had to fight tooth and claw for it. That vision resulted in the most glorious of Super Hero movies. And for once in my life since I started following Joss Whedon's career, I'm glad he didn't get to do this project. Why? Because this project really needed an Amazon who understands women and why it's so important even in the 21st century to fight for what you believe, and help to continue to empower women.

Wonder Woman, like many of her predecessors from both Marvel and DC, had huge shoes to fill. Audiences grow more cynical with each movie; studio big wigs want more revenue, and naysayers continuously tell us that a movie without a MALE lead will never make as much money. In fact this is one of those “facts” that are constantly used to illustrate the importance of male leads, and why there’s such a disproportionate gender pay that expands well beyond Hollywood. 

And then there are entertainment projects as Big Little Lies headed by women, staring women, and books written by women which break all records. The fact that this Amazon is kicking ass and reminding us that women can do everything they set their mind to is just an added bonus.

Back to the movie... DC had a lot to prove with this movie, at least to the Marvel die hard people in my household, me included. Because even if I love Wonder Woman, Batman and Aquaman (yes, you can roll your eyes at me….) I still thought that Marvel had the ability of translating comic books to the big screen down to well an art, whereas DC is still trying to find its feet. And though Man of Steel and Suicide Squad grossed a lot of money, they weren’t really my cup of tea.

I guess this is the part where I should come clean and confess that when Gal Gadot was announced as Wonder Woman, I was one of those people shaking my head and muttering under my breath. Of course I fell pray to the same thing in the 90s when Tom Cruise was named as the actor who would portray Lestat, my favourite vampire.  Tom Cruise’s performance made me eat my words, and so did Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman.

So after, I believe, almost a year of being teased with snippets and images of the movie, I have to say that I can’t ever dream of someone else playing Wonder Woman. I still love Linda Carter, but I have to say that Gal Gadot’s performance is as Iconic as Linda’s.

Oh and my son just reminded me that I have to admit that ten minutes into the movie I was already in a flood of tears. Happy Tears. I’ve mentioned before that I was obsessed with Wonder Woman since I was about 3 years old… so this has been a 40 year wait for me to finally visit Themyscira.

That first glimpse of the Amazons, their training grounds, and a young Diana admiring them and wanting to be like them, reminded me of my own childhood. Whilst my family wasn’t training for battle, the women in my family were in charge of not only children rearing but also pushing each other to be the very best version of themselves. It was important that we shaped our path in fire, and ventured out of the confines of that protection our family afforded us.  I could see my grandmother, my aunts, my mother in many of the Amazons, those teachings that sometimes we shy away from, be strong, be courageous, be yourself, and well help the world are all there and hopefully we'll all embrace them once more.

Once the story progressed from Themyscira to London and to the battle grounds I couldn’t help but think about the amazing legacy Wonder Woman’s helping forge for future generations.  And I hope that this is beyond William Moulton Marstons dreams back in 1941 when he published the first Wonder Woman strip.

Wonder Woman has carved a new path out of clay and breathed a new life into it. This is not only about whether women can carry a movie or not but how we should view women in all aspects of life.

For me as a writer the movie has had an immediate effect in the things that I want to publish and the things that I want to discuss with others. How are we portraying our main characters and their love interests, their friends? Do we show equality? Do we flesh them out with the same care that we reserve for our main character? Do we send our main characters like Wonder Woman through the trenches so they can come up victorious on the other side of them or do we use other characters to protect her and rescue her?

As a woman writer am I doing enough to help the women, girls who’ll read my books to feel empower? Am I doing enough to let those female readers know that a girl is not bossy because she’s assertive? Is my message clear that a girl can lead men, fight in the middle of war, and come the other side with renewed badassery to finish the job? How do we help future generations of men and women to continue working together, equally, to help create, build and enjoy a world where things like equal rights, equal responsibility, equal pay are things of the past? How do we contribute to an equality that is one hundred percent equal where both men and women are respected for their contributing roles not only in society but families?

This movie has given me a lot to ponder about, however, for now, all I want to do is grab a sword and cut a shield out of the cardboard waiting to be recycled; and pretend that I am Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta. Maybe I can get the Frenchman to dress as Steve Trevor. 

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