silly_cleo: black and white image of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, text: an almost all greek thing (cleopatra - an almost all greek thing)
[personal profile] silly_cleo
So, IDK if you all knew this, but Wonder Woman has a movie now? :D?

I don’t even know how to begin talking about this, but my thoughts are still super loud so I’m going to have a go.

I really loved it? Which I’m so desperately relieved about because that was NOT a given? Like I went to see it by myself Thursday (well, after a LOT of dithering, [personal profile] shinyjenni and I went to the same showing but sat separately and went home separately so we could deal with our feelings at our own pace) and it was a REALLY SOLID CALL. It took me the better of Friday to work out how I felt about it, beyond relief I hadn’t just hated it outright.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the possibility that I could have an easy, straightforward response to this movie was pretty remote, and I was so wound up about actually seeing it, that I sort of forgot I would then...have seen it? And have to deal with my reactions? Which is ridiculous with hindsight, but there you go.

It did do some things I REALLY HATED, some things I sort of liked but wish had been handled differently, but also loads of things I loved, so I’m happy.

And I dunno, I’ve also quite abruptly hit this wall of “I can tease my little sister cuz we’re family, but you better back off” about criticism so, there’s that.


Things I hated:

- Why did they go with the Zeus origin? WHY? And just to make matters worse, why did they then use the clay baby origin as a fucking FAKE-OUT? I mean. I’ve got myself to a place where I’m OK with this one, because having seen it twice, Ares’ wording is ambiguous enough that she could still be a clay baby but being brought to life by Zeus is what makes her a god killer. Which is me splitting hairs and willfully misinterpreting canon but so what if I am. Also it helps I missed all the signs that pointed to this fake-out (tbf, partly I was in the loo for one of them. I was so keyed up about this film I had to go pee during it. TWICE.) so we got to the bit where Ares destroys the sword and THAT was so great it helped me get over my disappointment. More on that not in the things I hated section.

- Why are only Zeus and Ares named? This is a Wonder Woman movie. Like. They did namecheck Hestia’s lasso, but still. I’m actually fine with Ares as the villain, and think that was a solid call for period/WW1, but there was no need for it to be specifically Ares vs Zeus, it could’ve been more of the Pantheon, and that would’ve helped.

- Which leads me to my next point. TOO MANY DICKS ON THE DANCE FLOOR. I feel like this film suffered from the same problem as Frozen, where they were like, oh god, we made a film about sisters, quick, make all the other characters men. So like oh god, we’re making a film about Wonder Woman, and we have to balance out all those Amazons, QUICK, everyone in Man’s World should ACTUALLY BE MEN. No. Sigh. No biscuit. Also Jenni mentioned this one and I agree, I felt like there was too much time spent on men reacting to Diana, and I don’t care. Mostly Steve, but a little her various sidekicks and various generals too. I don’t care.

- Which leads me to my final point. Why so much Steve? I actually liked Steve and a lot of the stuff he got, and Pine, more than I expected to, but still, way too much screen-time and narrative emphasis on Steve.

- Wait, no, one more, what was the point of Doctor Poison? I mean, at all, but also of giving her that mask? It seems super ableist and gross in a really unnecessary way.

I have more to say on all those points, but I’ll unpack that more in a sec.

Also I feel the need to say that...literally all of those were things I knew I was likely to hate from the trailers. Others have talked about this before, but being a Wonder Woman fan can be exhausting, because the criticism is endless, and repetitive, and it’s impossible and unfair that we expect her to be all things for all women, and part of me hates adding to that. And even having made that list, and stepping aside as much as I can from my own baggage, I’ll still stick my colours to the mast and say this actually IS one of the best, most solid superhero movies I’ve ever seen, and yet still we raise the bar, because it’s trying, and because she’s Wonder Woman. But also, if I can’t demand better from the things I love, what’s the point, how do we improve? At any rate, it’s definitely not how I love.

Anyway. I have more to say on THAT too, but on to things I sort of liked, but wish had been handled differently:

- I actually liked the choice of WW1 rather than WW2, and I think the execution was off, rather than the idea itself. It fits well with Ares as the villain, and Diana’s themes and how she relates to us. (Though I guess with WW2 you could’ve gone down the route of fascism and people becoming complicit through passivity/neutrality, which would ALSO have worked awesomely.) I actually think where this went wrong was the Ares fakeout. I don’t think anyone thought Ludendorff was actually him at any point, so trying to have the audience believe along with Diana that the job is done when she stabs him was a waste of time. The point of Diana believing it’s Ludendorff isn’t strengthened by trying to trick the audience into believing it too. It also undermines Ludendorff and Dr Poison as villains, they’re essentially placeholders until the evil Remus Lupin reveal, and set-up for Steve’s heroic sacrifice, which didn’t need all the time it got. I think it would’ve been better to have Ares be present sooner, or at least show the idea of him whispering to people on both sides sooner, if that makes sense? I am picturing a kind of Darth Sidious/TFA giant shadowy evil Sith Lord thing here. Like I do get the point of Ludendorff, it’s sort of like Umbridge, he can just think war is great without being Ares but IDK, it didn’t quite work.

- I’m still not over all the dudes, tbh. This was so easily fixable. I know they’re working with the photo from BvS, but putting that aside (there have been bigger continuity gaffes), any kind of gender mix would’ve been great. Take Etta! Make Charlie a lady! Sharp-shooting nurse with PTSD anyone? Make Samee a lady! Imagine if he was Archie Panjabi. (The Chief is apparently from comics canon and I read a thread on twitter of someone happy with him as good representation so that’s nice.) Since they WERE all dudes, I wish more than just Steve had died, because much as I liked him being fridged for her, the focus of that still felt off?)

- Further to this, I wish her connections to our world were more than just...Steve. Like I’d have given most of that Steve screentime for more developed relationships with other people from our world, most definitely all of them (ANY OF THEM) WOMEN, ffs. Women supporting women is a big Wonder Woman thing, for it to end at Themyscira sucked. Like I’m glad she and Etta interacted but I would’ve liked them to do so over things other than clothes.

- I was going to put Etta in things I loved, and I still will, cuz I loved her casting, but I also wish they’d given her more to do, and not played her for comic effect QUITE the way they did.

- I thought the middle act was a bit messy and WAY too full of dudes. (I may be repeating myself now.)

OK. ONTO things I LOVED:

- GAL GADOT. She’s actually perfect. I love everything about her and I just want to yell it from the rooftops. Her wee face, and she’s GORGEOUS, and the COSTUME, and her accent, and she just IS Diana and it is a JOY.

- THEMYSCIRA OMG. That whole opening is BEAUTIFUL and PERFECT.


BABY DIANA. THAT CHILD WAS PERFECT AND SO FUNNY. “What if I used a shield? No sharp edges.” “You’ve TOLD me this story.” Her wee face, and her desire to train and her boxing and watching the other Amazons train and eeeee :D :D :D :D

- I felt like they got the balance of her introduction to Man’s World right? (Apart from the too many dudes thing.) Like her naivete about finding and killing Ares fixing things and how Steve and others reacted to that was never mocking her. Relatedly, when she’s figuring things out, that leads to funny situations but SHE herself is not ridiculous, like the revolving door. Like Thor and the coffee cup, I guess. Which I so desperately wanted for her. I loved seeing her get that. And yeah, she loves babies and ice cream. <3

- The humour mostly really worked for me, actually. I could’ve done with more misandry, and less Samee and Charlie leering at Diana, but like, hi.

- Of which, Etta. <3


- THE FIGHT SCENES. ANY of them. ALL of them.

- The MUSIC. Her THEME is SO EPIC, but the whole score was WONDERFUL. And it prob doesn’t need to be said I’m now on Day 4 of listening to nothing but Sia’s credits song.

- I actually don’t normally notice this sort of thing but I LOVED the direction. I loved how the camera lingered on Diana, but not in a way that invited us to ogle her, I loved how much it took time to just...stay on her face while she worked things through. Even though I’d have liked more colour (why do you hate colour, DCCU), I loved the contrast of her then appearing like this splash of vibrant colour on dark landscapes, particularly in No Man’s Land and after her final fight with Ares.

- I’ve seen others note that the final fight with Ares felt like a final fight for the sake of it, cuz that’s what we have to have in a superhero movie, and I see that, but it also really worked for me. I WANTED that beat in a hero’s journey for her, I loved that her hero’s journey was basically social justice, burnout, but then picking it up again anyway, in the space of two hours. I see why people say it’s the film we need right now, I found all of that to be so much. Like as I said above, I do wish there’d been more than just Steve helping her on that path, and the fact they went down a romance path for her and Steve kind of adds to my issues with it too, but yeah, the content itself I loved. You go into the world seeing it needs fixing and thinking it’ll be hard, but simple, and then it isn’t, and you suffer setbacks and sometimes you want to throw all your toys out of the pram, but then you realise you have to go on somehow anyway. I wish they hadn’t used the trope they did for her pity, I’d kind of have liked her to maybe turn against her friends, for instance, or at least for Dr Maru not to inspire pity cuz of her appearance, geez.

- Also yeah, for all that I hate the clay baby fake-out, the fact that that stupid sword was a fake-out too? YES GOOD. I’m so here for Diana as the weapon, even as I hate that it’s because she’s Zeus kid. (I am vast and contain multitudes, OK, bite me.)

- I think the thing I’m happiest about is that I felt like, despite all the flaws, they got what she’s about, so many parts of what I love about her, so many things I never truly expected to see on the big screen? <3

I have some more amorphous thoughts that are less about the movie and more about my responses to it, and reacting to other people’s reactions, and feminism, and I don’t know if I can untangle them but I’d love to try.

So. I’m really glad the film’s doing as well as it is, both critically and at the box office. It’s a huge relief. I’ve loved every Rotten Tomatoes score RT, that Forbes article about the box office taking is so happy-making, the angry yelling about sexist takes on the film, or Patty Jenkins, or the women-only screenings is also giving me life. (The Drafthouse Alamo though.) I’m loving the portion of my twitter feed that’s just waves of people seeing it, loving it, and squeeing about it. Gail Simone loved it, Greg Rucka loved it, their opinions both hold value for me. I love that I’m by far not the only person who’s already seen it twice. I’ve had a lot of people come find me specifically to share their feelings, and I’ve loved that too. I’ve had people ask for recs, and that is also wonderful. The constant stream of little girls particularly, but women and people of all ages dressed up as Wonder Woman, posing with the posters, that’s everything I wanted for her, from a movie about her.

I think that all more than proves how overdue this film was. Which wasn’t a thing that needed proving, but anyway. I’m aware of Wonder Woman as a thing loads of people besides me have desperately wanted, for a long time, many for longer than I have wanted it. I’m honestly just plain relieved this is the response it’s getting. I don’t know how I could have dealt with it getting the kind of responses BvS got.

I think part of why it took me a while to work out how I felt about the film apart from sheer shock at having actually seen it was if I’m honest I DO feel ambivalent about it? As in: really strong feelings in both directions? And mixed in with that I desperately wish I just straightforwardly, uncomplicatedly loved every bit of it? Even though I know that was not really ever on the cards?

And even though this film avoided some traps I needed it to avoid for me not to hate it (Steve Trevor did not, at least, mansplain why feminism was bullshit and #notallmen to Diana, and Etta Candy was not, at least, a slim woman the narrative set Diana in opposition to over a man) I still wanted it to be even more unapologetically feminist than it actually was, which was not very? And I can’t decide whether it still would’ve gotten the response it’s getting if it had been? Did Patty Jenkins get the balance right so as not to alienate people and so it’s doing amazingly well? Or would it have done just as well regardless because people still want this film and the things I want would, I think, have made it an even better film?

It doesn’t really matter. This is the film we got, and on balance it is more full of things to love than to hate or wish were different. And this first film is, thank god, DONE now, and done WELL, so I look forward to many, many sequels (at LEAST ONE CONFIRMED :D), and reboots, until there are as many Wonder Woman remakes as there are Batman and Superman, and hopefully all the things I still want will get addressed there. (I can’t decide if this response is optimistic, realistic, or really pessimistic.) (The flipside, and true pessimistic side, is now we’re going to get stuck with the Zeus origin forever but tbh that’s a reason to be glad the clay baby origin made it into the movie too, which now I think about it, is not nothing and has cheered me even further.)

Like the worst case scenario was me hating it AND it doing so badly we had to endure another decade and change of ‘but the public doesn’t WANT *lady* superheroes’, and the best case scenario was me loving it AND it doing spectacularly well, and considering where we’ve landed is ‘I have complicated but mostly positive feelings AND it’s doing spectacularly well’ that’s a lot nearer one end of the spectrum than the other.

OK. I’m not actually sure I covered everything I wanted to but my head does feel a little quieter.
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