In an interview at the Jimmy Kimmel Live show, Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman in the movies Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, and the upcoming Justice League, shared a story about her five year old daughter. While they were playing in a park, her daughter told the parents of other kids that her mother was Wonder Woman. When the parents looked at Gadot, not recognizing her, she told them, “You know, every mother is a Wonder Woman!”
The funny part of this story is, of course, that Gadot is actually Wonder Woman in the movie. However, the sentiment behind her response of “every mother is a Wonder Woman” may be the main reason why the film Wonder Woman has gotten so much positive feedback: the fact that Wonder Woman embodies the truth that women have the power to make a positive impact – whether that’s saving the world from villains, or being a caring mother and wife.
Unlike so many female characters, Wonder Woman is a multidimensional and complex character. She’s naive about basic social norms, such as dress codes in World War I England, the fact that women are not allowed in some places, to how to dance with a man. She’s also extremely tough and physically strong, surprising men throughout the movie with her incredible fighting skills. Emotionally, she shows hate towards evil, but also an ability to see the good even in people considered evil by others. She is a total idealist, wanting to help everyone along the way, but her idealism and kindness towards others is based on her own strong convictions and belief that there is indeed good among the bad.
Despite positive reviews, the movie has received some criticism regarding its attempt to be a feminist movie, citing, for example, Gadot’s model-beauty as perpetuating a stereotype that female heroines must be physically attractive. However, I believe the movie has more positive than negative aspects, perhaps best exemplified in Gadot’s own life as a model, wife, and mother of two (she even filmed part of the movie while pregnant!), who served two years the Israel Defense Forces.
Women can be intelligent and athletic, sexy and caring, all at the same time. Gadot’s own life is proof of all that women are capable of, and the complexities that make us as human as men.
It’s also worth mentioning that the movie was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins – the first woman to direct a movie that had a budget of more than 100 million US dollars.
In October 2016, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s first appearance in comics, the United Nations appointed her as UN honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, a controversial decision that ultimately led to the end of Wonder Woman’s role representing the UN.
On this controversy, Gadot stated: “There are so many horrible things that are going on in the world, and this is what you’re protesting, seriously?” […] When people argue that Wonder Woman should ‘cover up,’ I don’t quite get it. They say, ‘If she’s smart and strong, she can’t also be sexy.’ That’s not fair. Why can’t she be all of the above?”
I would be cautious to call Wonder Woman a “feminist” movie—she is, after all, a fictional character, portrayed by a white model-actress. But I would still praise it for the positive and hopeful message it gives about humanity as a whole— that we shouldn’t give up on the good humans are capable of just because at times humans can be evil. The main message I left the movie with is this: regardless of gender, race, social status, talents and abilities, we are capable of making the world a better place – and that can include sexy and physically strong women too.