Wonder Woman (2009) – Femanism? More Like Femanisn’t
Wonder Woman is the fourth film in the DC Universe Animated Originals (god I hate typing that entire thing out every time) and follows in the tonal footsteps of those previous three before it. It’s a compelling, quick-paced plot that is not only brutal, but also oddly bloodless.
Apparently this film earned an R rating when it was first submitted to the MPAA and they had to make cuts in order to keep the film within their PG-13 mandate.
Because of this we’re often treated to ruthless and ferocious violence, such as watching people beheaded in this movie without any bloodshed.
While a fun movie, I’d be remiss if I didn’t lead with one of the biggest lies propagated by this film’s very own trailer. At one point, the melodramatic voice-over dude says about our titular hero:
“Some heroes are MADE… this one was BORN!”
This is a boldfaced lie. It’s the literal opposite of the truth.
Because she was not born, she actually WAS made…
… out of fucking sand.
The film kicks off with a pretty epic battle scene between Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazonians and Ares, the God of War. There’s a lot going on in this action sequence and many of the characters look similar to each other so it can be difficult to know who is who. Luckily there’s juuuust enough exposition given between sword clangs to inform us of the… complicated family dynamics.
Ares is apparently the “husband” to Hippolyta, and I use the term very loosely as it’s made very clear that it’s a relationship of force. “Uhh, what?” you might be asking. It’s a moment that’s half-danced around and happened so quickly I actually missed it the first time. I thought I misheard the line and had to rewind. At one point Ares gets Hippolyta in a rear choke-hold and references “this child you gave me.”
Hippolyta responds with:
I gave you nothing. You forced him upon me like a curse.
Uhhhh, excuse me? Sooo Ares just… straight up raped Hippolyta. Their “son” Thrax, fights on the battlefield with his father against the Amazonians. Instead of calling Thrax a rape baby or using the “R” word at all, they opted to simply call it an “unholy union.”
Hippolyta straight wrecks shit, though. She kicks Ares square in the nuts to get free of his grip and then engages her son Thrax on the battlefield. Then she cuts off her own son’s head. Ares drops to his knees, mournful, and just as Hippolyta is about to take his head off, she’s stopped by Zeus and Hera who are all “Hey, you can kill your own son, but not ours.” They spare Ares on the condition that he be locked up by the Amazonians, and given magical wristbands to curb his ability to draw power from war.
Fast forward a bit, Hippolyta makes her sand castle baby and names it Diana. Years later, Diana, now an Amazonian Princess, practices her fighting but leads an otherwise uneventful life. The Amazonian island is hidden from the world and protected from “man” so she can just do… whatever. But her whole boring existence is shattered by an Air Force pilot who crashes his jet on the island.
The pilot is Steve Trevor and he’s voiced by Nathan Fillion. Steve crashes on the island and immediately stumbles upon naked bathing Amazonians and dials up the creep factor from 0-100.
Steve is arguably both the best and worst part about this film. He’s so tonally inconsistent with what it feels like the producers wanted. There’s a definite feminist angle on the film, which features strong, empowered women… but it’s entirely undercut by Steve’s character. He’s sexist, a creep, and always putting out unwanted advances even after clearly being told it ain’t gonna happen.
Credit where credit’s due, Fillion managed to “help” the role of Steve, even just minimally. Otherwise Steve would have been much more stiff, boring, and intolerable. Somehow Fillion makes a complete asshole kiiiiiinda almost sortof likeable? Or maybe it’s just that he comes off nonthreatening, which makes his sexual advances… charming? I don’t know, Steve’s weird as shit. His main function is to make everyone around him uncomfortable, including the audience.
When he’s captured by the Amazonians for being a creepy peeping tom and watching women bathe, the Amazonians tie him up and bring the Lasso of Truth to find out who he his and what he wants.
What does he say? “I’m into the kinky stuff.”
After this super serious scene, Steve caps off his interrogation with “God, your daughter’s got a nice rack.” And so, the sexual advances and remarks continue.
More of Steve’s Creepiness:
Ongoing references to various women’s chests.
Eventually Wonder Woman takes Steve back to society in the invisible jet because Ares has been released by an Amazonian who fell in love with him. Ares is wrecking shit in the real world so Diana has to stop him. When they arrive to… I think it’s Washington DC? Diana stops her mission to address a little girl. Diana has never seen a child before (which doesn’t make sense, wasn’t SHE a child once?) but makes it her personal mission to get involved with this little girl because the other little boys won’t let her play with them. Girl Power.
What’s odd about this film is that it feels like it’s written by a “NiceGuy” or perhaps an Incel’s wish fantasy. At one point Ares (have I mentioned he’s voiced by the talented and amazing Alfred Molina?) needs help, and the only person who can help him, is the ultimate basement-dwelling neckbeard: Hades.
I was confused at first because I thought the obese Hades was meant to be Dionysus or Hedonismbot or something. Anyway, the Uber-Chad Ares needs help from Neckbeard Betacuck Hades because only another god can remove his power-reducing gauntlets. Ares, now freed, leads an army of the undead to fight in Washington DC. Which, ugh, enough with the damned undead armies, please. It’s so overplayed.
The ultimate Fragile White Male moment was when Steve tries to get Wonder Woman shitfaced so he can mack on her. Unfortunately for him, Diana is a God with a capital G and can seriously hold her liquor. Instead of slapping the shit out of Steve, Diana simply backs away. Steve misses the kiss, and falls to the ground. Wonder Woman leaves and he chases her out the door to scream at and blame her.
The second Diana throws his sexism in his face, he goes full-fledged “woe is me” victim. He yells at her, confused “Hey what did I do!?” because nobody could ever deny his advances practically claiming that she was asking for it, and if she could blame him?
By the end, they save the day and Diana bloodlessly beheads Ares. And after all of that, Diana finally succumbs to Steve’s seduction and they kiss. WHAT!?
You’re reeeeeeally sending some mixed messages, here, movie.
OTHER NOTABLE MOMENTS
Wonder Woman kicks ass while barefoot.
Steve straight executing fools at the Lincoln Memorial, goddamn.
Amazonians arrive in boats and shit on the Potomac River to save the day.
Somehow the undead army is freed from Ares control and joins the Amazonians to attack Ares. Ares is like fuck that, and obliterates all his soldiers
The rest of Ares’ monster army just kinda… bails after his head is cut off.
Ends with the ultimate Niceguy winning, with Chad Ares and Chad Thrax slaves to Hedonismbot.
Diana gets to stick around instead of going back to her isolationist island because she’s tasked with forging a peace between Amazonians and “men”
Which… they’re actually kinda lumping all human women in as “men” too in a way. Really defeats the purpose of the message.
My sword is thirsty Persephone. I intend she gets her fill
This macho bravado, it’s all a facade.
even though we already knew
Yes the Amazonians are warriors, but we’re women too.