Why Wonder Woman Matters
Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot who tells her about the massive conflict that's raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.
During the 1970s, actress Lynda Carter was the first Wonder Woman – and Carter was the only person to portray the Amazon via live-action until Gal Gadot’s brief appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last year. While the series was trailblazing to some degree, it seems like a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The time has come for the passing of the Boomerang Tiara, and this time could not be better.
Folks around the world have been buzzing good about Wonder Woman since its big screen debut. While it’s grownups writing the official movie reviews, some of the best ones are coming from kiddos. From classroom collectives to solo viewers, they are proving that Wonder Woman has made its mark as a pioneer of the big screen domain this summer. (For once, the girl rescues the dude in distress!)
We’ve seen adorable pics of young viewers going to their multiplexes in costume, and read funny comments written by Kindergarteners published on social media (“It’s way better than Frozen!!!” and one girl said she wanted to grow up and speak hundreds of languages like Diana). Gadot was so touched by the impact the film has had on children, she tweeted that she got “chills” from the overwhelmingly positive impact the flick is having – not only as entertainment, but as a statement on the need for more female superheroes in the spotlight.
What’s more, it’s directed by – almost unheard of in big-league Tinsel Town – a woman. Patty Jenkins made a splash years ago when she directed Charlize Theron to an Oscar-winning performance in the harrowing Monster, but we haven’t seen much from her since. Jenkins has certainly resurfaced in a big way, and in a genre where box office usually drops considerably in the second week, Wonder Woman held at #1. It had the biggest domestic opening of all time for a female director, and overseas the 3D adventure opened in almost every major market, including China.
But why does all this matter for our kids?
Comics maven Sarah Myles wrote at WeGotThisCovered.com, “Simply put, Wonder Woman is unique. There is literally nobody else like her – in the comic book arena, or elsewhere. Created by psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston as a direct, feminist response to the aggressive masculinity that was flooding the pages of comic books everywhere, she’s a female superhero in her own right – not a spinoff from the story of another character. Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comic #8 in October 1941, and graced her first cover with Sensation Comic #1 in January 1942, so – with the exception of a brief hiatus in 1986 – DC has published Wonder Woman stories almost continuously for 76 years.”
As screenwriter Luke Barnett posited to his male counterparts in the film industry, “Imagine if every single super hero movie ever made starred a woman. And the only time a man was in it, it was a stupid character like Super Boy or a side character like Cat Man. Then, decades later, The Dark Knight with Christian Bale comes out. Every man in the world would have a ‘Holy moly, this is everything!’ moment. Perspective, ya know?”
Many studies have shown that young children need to have a visual to make a connection to themselves. That’s one reason having a black President of the United States was so significant. More than any generation before, children of color aspired to be world leaders. Seeing movies like Hidden Figures helped girls feel like they could be good at math, still be cool, and make history.
It's not just children who need to see positive female role models. Forbes reported that for parents, seeing women in charge pushed them to have more “ambitious education goals” for their daughters. “We think this is due to a role-model effect: Seeing women in charge persuaded parents and teens that women can run things, and increased their ambitions,” MIT economist Esther Duflo said. “Changing perceptions and giving hope can have an impact on reality.”
Despite her success, Jenkins remains in the minority. Women make up just 4% of all directors in Hollywood, unchanged from figures in 2007, says a 2017 Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative report by USC Annenberg. “According to their research, females rarely direct in lucrative genres such as action or thriller, but overwhelmingly work on drama or comedy films, which by and large fare worse at the box office. Males, in contrast, work across all genres.”
While it may seem all “kumbaya” – the groundswell of seemingly blind support, and all-female screenings – it really is important, if you want equality for your kids. Kids of all kinds should see the movie, and parents should use the opportunity to talk to them about the themes and principals put forth.
As one Kindergarten school teacher wrote (and Warner Bros. published), “Consider this your friendly reminder that if this movie completely changed the way these girls and boys thought about themselves in a week, imagine what the next generation will achieve if we give them more movies like Wonder Woman.”Tags : film movies action movies girl power