By Lee Travis
As a platoon of German soldiers invades a beach, looking for a spy, an army women emerge from the cliffs to rebuff their advances. On horseback and foot, these Amazonian warriors defeat a modern army with swords, shields, and bows. This is what they have trained for. This is what they do. Wonder Woman is a film about removing misconceptions. The trials that Wonder Woman endures takes the classic twelve labors of Hercules and modernizes the feats to keep up with the modern world. Acts of strengths alone wouldn't pose much of a test for Wonder Woman. Instead of Olympus testing her strength, the world of man tries its best to overcome Wonder Woman. Through each trial, Wonder Woman persists.
Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, is a formidable warrior, but also a brilliant mind who is well read, speaks many different languages, and is a quick study in learning about the outside world. Wonder Woman is no one-dimensional brooding hero. She brings the hope and positivity that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has been lacking. Both from critical and fan praise, Wonder Woman shatters the preconceived notion that the DCEU cannot make a film that captures the essential spirit of the comics. Wonder Woman is full of optimism, overcoming the gloom and complacency that surrounds the globe in World War I.
Wonder Woman defies the expectations that she inherits when she reaches man's world. On Themyscira, her homeland, the idea that a woman is limited in her ability to fight, learn, and lead is unheard of, unlike that in the world of man. Though used as the lighter moments in the film, Wonder Woman shows how these preconceived notions challenge those that Diana has known her entire life - that a woman is just as strong, if not stronger than a man. Diana doesn't take a passive approach to being oppressed. She speaks her mind, goes after her goals, and shapes those around her into seeing how heroic she truly is.
The fans were out in force back in April for WonderWon. It was very moving even then to see so many girls dressed as the iconic hero.
It isn't until Diana is on the front of the war that we see Wonder Woman in her iconic armor. This isn't to say that we haven't already seen the characteristics and spirit of the hero already in the film, but the actual reveal is powerful none the less. As Diana throws off her disuse, one she was made to wear because of man, she ascends a ladder into No Man's Land, after being told that no man would cross into that combat zone. Luckily for us, Diana is no man. And she doesn't need man's preformed ideas holder her back. Diana commits to becoming Wonder Woman in this scene. The hero she knows she needs to be to save the world.
Are any of these realizations groundbreaking? They shouldn't be. Wonder Woman weaves these threads throughout the film in such a way that Diana overcomes them all. After each labor, Diana learns more about herself and the importance she has in the world. Wonder Woman tackles this herculean quest with tremendous thought and care. By force alone, Wonder Woman wouldn't have been able to adequately combat everything thrown her way. Through caring for those around her, Diana became the hero the world needed in a time of darkness.
Early on in the film, Queen Hippolyta tells her daughter, Diana, that the world of man does not deserve her. Hippolyta is right, both in the movie and in our world, we don't deserve the kindness and strength that Diana shows. But we need it. Now more than ever.