Why I’m glad I was forced to watch ‘Wonder Woman’

Kiki is “my person”. It’s a term that originated from one of my favourite television series, Grey’s Anatomy. “My person” is the one I go to for just about everything. She’s the one I can’t stay mad at and the one who supports me even when I refuse to say sorry. Being someone’s “person” is a commitment.

I’ve started my blog with this explanation to contextualise why I capitulated – despite my every nerve railing against it – to watch Wonder Woman with Kiki as part of her birthday celebration.

I’m not a superhero junky at all – I remain blissfully unaware of the difference between Marvel and DC characters.

But the idea of Wonder Woman appealed to me on a number of levels. Here was a strong woman able to hold her own in a world of superhero men. When I was little she was the woman I would want to be if I were a superhero.

As a child, I remember very few extraordinary superhero women. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Thor – there were enough men to worship. But bar Wonder Woman, Supergirl – whose name still grates – and She-ra, the saviours of the human race were all men and all white.

As I think back, I assume it’s one of the reasons superheroes did not interest me. Too many flaxen-haired damsels in distress and too few raven-haired kick-ass tigresses. I just didn’t relate on so many levels.

Banned

So, getting back to Kiki – there I was not innocently uninterested in the launch of Wonder Woman in cinemas despite it breaking box office records. I’d seen enough on my Facebook feed to give me pause for thought. Tunisia and Lebanon had banned its screening. Their objection lay primarily with the main character herself – Gal Gadot – who embraces Zionism.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Having lived through apartheid in the 80s as a teenager of colour (albeit a more “privileged” colour), I cannot in good conscience support an apartheid state in any form.

But with a bit of foot-stomping from Kiki and the promise of an extra-large raspberry slushie, off I traipsed to watch Wonder Woman.

Yes, I was forced by my beloved Kiki to watch a movie I had no intention of watching. But as I think back on the experience today, I’m glad I did for a number of reasons.

Knowing the background noise around Gadot and the general responses among western feminists and media, I went into the theatre with many pre-conceived ideas.

Yep, this woman has a body to die for. Tick the box.

Yep, the special effects are “amazeballs”. Tick the box.

Yep, it’s fantastic watching all these men’s jaws drop to the ground as a woman kicks ass left, right and centre. And this to many may be construed as feminist.

Procreation v pleasure

Undoubtedly my favourite scene was our female protagonist telling an uncomfortably naked lead actor that women realise men are important for procreation but not so much for pleasure.

There were instances of clever wit. But the overall story was what I expected.  For me, it was great fun picking apart and interrogating ironies and inconsistencies.

I drew a few stares at the timing of my laughter. Only Kiki, bless her soul, could understand my derisive snorts.

My problem with the movie is not simply Gadot’s Zionism. It is also about how feminism is portrayed. For me, Gadot’s personal and on-screen character is a flawed one and it is troubling that most western media explain away her position rather than interrogate it. The irony of her character is glaring when you watch the movie itself.

I recently read an opinion piece by Susan Abulhawa, author of the acclaimed Mornings in Jenin. Abulhawa is a woman I admire immensely and her analysis was on point. But I had to question whether it was wise to simply ignore what doesn’t appeal yet criticise it. It hints at a paternalism that does not sit well with me.

So, I’m glad I watched Wonder Woman. I’m glad I could understand the furore surrounding the movie and Gadot herself. But I’m especially glad that I was able to draw my own conclusions from an informed position, having sat through some two hours of watching a rather wooden actress who really does have a body to die for.

Kiki, I love you. I really do. But next time – I’m picking the movie.

  • Here’s the movie trailer for your entertainment

Share This:

Meneesha

Online and books editor by day, mum even while I sleep, individual all the time. I live in the beautiful city of Durban – the unpolished gem in South Africa. If I didn’t have a family, I’d be that crazy cat lady your mum probably warned you not to feed! Blogging is where I share, vent, rant, laugh and generally be myself. Join the ride!

4 Comments

  1. Great review. I saw this on the plane the other day and actually snored through most of it. It was predictable. That’s all. I want to take my 10 yo just because there are so few femheroes out there, but we will be having the talk on the interpretation of feminism from a masculine, patriarchal society. Thanks for starting the conversation.

    1. Thank you for the response. It was interesting hearing my son and daughter thought of the movie. They asked questions and had opinions that gave me pause for thought.

  2. Hey M, and Kiki. It’s KK here, and while I constantly chat with myself, I don’t have an alter ego, superhuman or not.
    There was a time, light years ago on a planet far, far away, when superhero movies were just that. Back then, Axel Foley could have been your superhero, but in the modern sense of the overused term, I guess Michael Keaton’s Batman was the first real superhero of the modern era. Yet my favourite characters seem to be Jack Nicholson’s and Heath Ledger’s Jokers. Beyond that, all these superhero movies, whether Marvel or D.C., seem to melt in a common superhero pot making the characters, stories and plots indistinguishable from each other.
    The most recent – in this case Wonder Woman – remains memorable for the standard 3-4 weeks before the next one comes along.
    I am in no way qualified to comment on this problem, but am of the opinion that attempting to cram as many superheroes into one movie draws focus away from developing characters and emphasizes action.
    Life teaches us that moments, actions, are fleeting and that relationships are what we travel this journey with. This probably explains why characters like Jack Nicholson’s and Heath Ledger’s Jokers are more memorable than how Batman defeated Superman.
    Superhero movies these days are all action, no content, but it’s a formula designed and aimed at the masses because Hollywood is a business and art doesn’t pay the bills.
    Meanwhile, I’m baaaaack (said in sheep’s voice) at the movies this weekend to catch the “new” Transformers movie. So excited 🙄

    1. I agree completely KK. And while I don’t enjoy all this Batman, Superman nonsense I have to say I’m a sucker for the “Transformers” franchise. Go figure, hey!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *