By Chloe Cushing
In the last nine years, since the beginning of Marvel’s cinematic universe with Iron Man, the world of comic books and superheroes has been spearheading our modern day mythologies and dominating the entertainment experience on the silver screen. But in those nine years and nineteen superhero movies, there has yet to be a superhero picture with a female lead.
That is until now.
DC’s Wonder Woman, coming out this Friday, is set to be a blockbuster. Set in 1918, at the end of the First World War, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is an Amazonian princess who is thrust into the dark, brutal world of man when she rescues American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) after his plane crashes off the coast of her home island, Themiscyra.
Uproxx’s Mike Ryan says, “Wonder Woman has a vibe reminiscent of Captain America: The First Avenger (a shield-welding superhero in the middle of a World War) meets the first Thor (a powerful god has to learn to fit in with humans and is a fish out of water).”
Indeed. Upon finding out about the horrific circumstances of World War I, morally-bound Diana struggles to help war-stricken Europe to a male-dominated world in stark contrast to her Greek island where Amazonians – an all female tribe represented by Connie Nielson, Robin Wright, and a wide variety of the world’s best female athletes – rule.
The dark themes of World War I and Diana’s struggle to be a strong woman (in a time when they didn’t even have the vote) doesn’t stop Wonder Woman from being an amazing movie though. Critics find themselves only able to praise it, faults and all.
“…a fun, romantic, and enjoyable movie, perhaps even the best entry into the DC Extended Universe so far.” The Hollywood Reporter says.
Entertainment Weekly‘s Chris Nashawaty writes, “How deliciously ironic that in a genre where the boys seem to have all the fun, a female hero and a female director are the ones to show the fellas how it’s done.”
A week before it’s release, Rotten Tomatoes has given the movie a 96% freshness rating.
Even before special viewings were made for critics, a lot weight has been placed on the success of this movie. Many people believe that it would make or break the female lead superhero franchise only dared so far by DC (who is also putting a lot faith into Wonder Woman after the mediocre successes of Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
And controversy already surrounds the movie, as any movie of sociopolitical importance does.
The country of Lebanon announced on Tuesday that Wonder Woman would not be shown in it’s theaters due to an old law banning anything of Israeli production. Actress Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, is Israeli. Authorities believe the Lebanese Ministry of Economics was put under pressure by mounting anti-Israeli boycott groups, as the four Fast and Furious movies, as well as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, that Gadot starred in were not banned when they came out.
One such Lebanese group called, “Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon” posted a picture of Gadot in her Wonder Woman guard with the message, “Playing a film in which [Gal Gadot] is featured (as the main actress) is against Lebanese law. In addition, she supported the Israeli army during its attack on Gaza, served in the Israeli army for two years, and boasted about the army training her for Hollywood.”
Wonder Woman has also received criticism from loyal fans due to the change in the character’s origin.
In the comics, Wonder Woman is introduced to the modern world during World War II, but writer Allan Heinberg and executive producer Zack Snyder thought the movie would have a greater impact to society today if Diana experienced the dawn of the modern age through the rise and fall of World War I.
“We are in a very WWI world today with nationalism and how it would take very little to start a global conflict.” said Allan Heinberg on the subject. “It’s the first time we had an automated war. The machine gun was a new invention. Gas was used for the first time. New horrors were unleashed every day.”
“At first, I questioned it because it wasn’t her actual origin story,” Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who’d been juggling with the idea of making the superhero movie for almost a decade, admitted. “but very quickly I saw the genius behind it,”
Beyond that, a theater house in Austin has extensively criticized in the last few weeks after it announced that it would hold a female-only showing (with female-only staff for the showing as well) of Wonder Woman. Backlash against the Alamo Drafthouse ensued. Most of it came from men, who suddenly insisted that equality was now becoming “selective” and that it was unfair to not have male-only screenings of other superhero movies with male leads.
The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas insisted, “This has zip to do with equality. This is a celebration of a character that’s meant a great deal to many women since 1940. ”
Marvel (DC’s rival) actor Don Cheadle, who plays James Rhodes, aka War Machine, even chipped in when his local Alamo Drafthouse theater in Kansas City also scheduled an all
women screening of Wonder Woman, taking on haters on Twitter. People considered it a double standard, as the nation would be bouncing of the wall if there were an all-white or an all-men screening of a movie.
And yet, there was no such argument when theaters raised money for free, all-black showings of Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures when it came out in 2016 – another movie with a female lead. Three of them, actually.
Despite all this, however, actress Gal Gadot reassures us.
“…the way Patty [Jenkins] has captured the Wonder Woman character, she is very relatable to everyone. Boy, girl, man, woman…” she said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
DC Studio’s Wonder Woman hits theaters this Friday, June 2nd.
And in case you were wondering – all the evening screenings of the movie at Galaxy Theaters in Tulare that day are already full.