Why “Wonder Woman” matters to me — a female, action-film fan

Growing up, most of my friends sang the praises of rom-coms like Bridget Jones’s Diary, 13 Going on 30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and anything with J. Lo. I, on the other hand, spent a lot of my time watching action franchises such as Star Wars, The Matrix, Bourne, and Fast & Furious.

I’ve started coming around on rom-coms — years later, Bridget has become a regular in my rotation because, hello, Colin Firth — but high-speed car chases, batshit crazy fights, and wonderfully ridiculous one-liners will always reign supreme in my book. But, as much as I love all that, it’s still very much a male-dominated genre — both in front, and behind, the camera — and that’s just not okay by me.

This should go without saying, but it appears Hollywood needs the reminder: Women are kickass too, and should be represented as such in lead, layered roles.

It’s not totally bleak, though. The aforementioned franchises have so many complicated and dynamic characters within them, like Carrie Fisher’s Princess-turned-General Leia, Daisy Ridley’s force-to-be-reckoned-with Rey, and Felicity Jones’ tough-as-nails Jyn. To anyone who would say differently about their kickass stature, look no further than this tweet from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

Then there’s Carrie-Anne Moss’ tenacious Trinity and Michelle Rodriguez’s ride-or-die Letty. These are only some of the actresses and characters who inspired, and continue to inspire, me through their power, strength, boldness, and bravery. So, there are some great examples, but the representation could be much better, on screen and off.

But now, finally, there’s Wonder Woman, with a female star and director.

I watched director Patty Jenkins’ brilliant, empowering, fun, romantic, feminist film in a theater full of teen girls who had participated in a launch event celebrating the partnership between Google’s Made with Code and Wonder Woman. Throughout the screening, I cried…a lot. I cried during character deaths, sure — I may be a proud Slytherin, but I’m still human.

However, what caught me by surprise was how emotional I became while watching dynamo Gal Gadot — another one of my Fast & Furious favorites, who expertly executes this new role — suit up for the first time and head into battle on her own, simply because it was the right thing to do.

In that moment, I thought, “We’re finally getting the lead female superhero we need and deserve.” It felt monumental and, in a way, cathartic. To have a female character who not only embodies strength, morality, beauty, and courage, but also has the support of her male counterparts, is just beyond. In a turbulent political climate, it’s so empowering and meaningful to see a woman, against all odds, thrive. Frankly, I think we could all use that positivity and optimism right now.

I wondered if the girls in the theater were thinking about these things, too. I think they had to have been, because the audience erupted into applause at this fiery, full-fledged look at our new Wonder Woman in action. That’s when the floodgates really opened for me, just hearing this excitement and getting that validation that yes, people — young women in particular — are really responding to this movie.

The enthusiasm and support was there in that moment — and when the Amazons rallied together to fight the invaders on the beach, when Diana saved a village, and when she single-handedly destroyed Ares, to name a few. To see Diana finally get her silver-screen due after 75 years, and be embraced with such warmth in all of that, is huge.

That said, I hope those young wonder women weren’t too focused on what this all means. Of course it matters, but I hope that they were mostly enjoying the film for what it is — one about a superhero who, gender aside, kicks some serious ass in the name of good and love. I hope that, one day, they’ll look back on Wonder Woman as one in a long line of female-fronted superhero films. Hell, maybe those girls will even help move that needle. I hope that as they get older, the need to shatter a cinematic glass ceiling will only seem like a distant memory. With a record-breaking, box-office debut and stellar critical and audience responses, that — thankfully — seems like a real possibility.

We hear this a lot, but Wonder Woman could actually be the film to, at long fucking last, prove to the industry that it’s about damn time to create an equal cinematic landscape across genres.

By film’s end, I wiped away my many tears. I was a blubbering mess, just like many of the people around me and, to be clear, that’s a good thing. I took a moment, and thought: “This is actually going to change things.”

I honestly believe that it will, and the action film-loving kid in me could not be more excited to feel represented and inspired, by Diana Prince no less.

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