Wonder Woman Lassos Into History
Wonder Woman pioneered the female comic book. Now, she's pioneering the female superhero film.
She's broke the chain and the wheel, so what's next for the Amazon?
Wonder Woman landed at a time when comic books did not have female heroines. In fact, the female superhero is lauded as comics' first real female hero. Originally, her gender made her special.
Now though, Wonder Woman has become an icon for the new wave of feminism. Wonder Woman as a comic book character was often hindered by other characters, making her decisions the byproducts of others. For a so-called independent Amazon, that is just not very independent.
Originally in the 1940s and 1950s, Diana of Themyscira's actions were defined by one thing and one thing only: her affections towards the American soldier Steve Trevor. In fact, in her debut as Wonder Woman (All-Star Comics #8), Diana willingly enters an Amazonian competition for his affections. The prize: to go to Earth and the United States of America to eventually become Wonder Woman.
In fact, it is not until the modern comic book rendition of Diana as Wonder Woman that she places full importance on her identity and her self-determination. This could be attributed to the times and evolution of humanity, but it is also because of the evolution of Diana as a character.
So what exactly makes Wonder Woman such a powerful character now? As a comic book character, Wonder Woman was the first comic book character women could relate to. She was a strong woman who could fight her battles. While her original evolutions had her easily influenced by other characters, Wonder Woman was still able to maintain enough power to carry her comic throughout the ages.
In the modern era, Wonder Woman became a staple comic book character for all. She took on this universal role as a female icon. Wonder Woman was the seeming gold standard for DC's female superheroes. In fact, she is oftentimes the first female superhero that comes to people's heads who aren't familiar with comic books at all.
In this sense, Wonder Woman has transcended her literary roots to become a symbol of female power, of strong women who are capable of fighting their own battles and for what is morally good.
But this is not the reason why Wonder Woman has gained such notoriety in 2017.
Wonder Woman has been able to create a movement over the past couple years, pushing forward women in the film industry in roles and genres that used to previously be described as too risky.
The public screamed with support during her cinematic debut in DC's extended film universe. During the opening weekend of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, #WonderWoman trended in the United States. This, combined with the large support over Wonder Woman's stills and marketing campaigns throughout the Batman v. Superman campaign, was the first sign of change in the industry.
Next came the campaign and publicity for Wonder Woman, the female superhero movie that aimed and proved to be different.
Notably, female superhero movies are critiqued, as comScore's Paul Dergarabedian stated, to have "a tougher time gaining traction and favor with audiences" than most movies, except video-game adaptations. Because of critiques like this, the female superhero film is underproduced and underfunded. 2017's Wonder Woman changed that.
It is important to note that Wonder Woman comes in a time of female-led action movies, with the Oscar-winning Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the Hunger Games saga. Women have proved that the can lead a significant film. So the female lead of Gal Gadot as Diana Prince's Wonder Woman fit in.
But this is not the only reason why the Wonder Woman film has made its place in history.
As of Friday, June 23rd, 2017, Wonder Woman has broken an elusive record to become the highest grossing live-action film directed by a female director, surpassing $600 million. The movie was directed by Patty Jenkins, of 2003's Oscar-winning Monster. Because of Wonder Woman, Jenkins also gets to lay claim to another record: best opening weekend from a female filmmaker.
Moreover, Wonder Woman is the most favorably reviewed film in DC's cinematic extended universe.
This makes the film, industry-wise, a heavy-weight piece of art. Not only has Wonder Woman proven that a female superhero is compelling. It has proven audiences will come in droves to watch a strong, independent female character they relate to. If the world is full of different stories, the superhero genre can be as well.
Wonder Woman has also proven that female directors are strong members of the film industry. In an industry that faces a decline in female directors, Wonder Woman can prove to make that difference. In fact, in 2016 woman made up only 7 percent of directors in the top 250 films, a worse showing than 9% in 2015. Both percents are appalling.
But, if Jenkin's film has proven anything, it is that executives of major film companies can and should take chances on female directors.
In this sense, Wonder Woman is more than a comic book hero. She is an active female pursuing the equality of women in typically male-dominated industries and genres.