Is Wonder Woman really feminist?
Lexi Kilcoin | Friday, April 16, 2021
Last week, Notre Dame Student Union Board screened, “Wonder Woman 1984.” Directed by Patty Jenkins, “Wonder Woman 1984” acts as a sequel to 2017 film, “Wonder Woman.” Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot, is a princess of the Amazons and lives a low-key life as a museum curator, while simultaneously missing her boo, Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine. She is obviously very good at her job as she has lived through many historic events and can identify historic items easily. When Barbara Minerva, played by Kristen Wiig, meets Diana, they become a tag-team of supposed female empowerment. Their boss asks them to analyze a strange, citrine stone, which Diana immediately recognizes as the Dreamstone, cursed by Dolos, god of lies and capable of granting any wish at the cost of the user. The plot revolves around the Dreamstone and it obviously falls into the wrong hands, because anything with that sort of power usually does, cue the insane Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal. While there are many subplots that I could diverge into like Maxwell and his son, or Diana and Steve, I would like to draw attention to Barbara’s character and the horrific display of, dare I say, female un-empowerment.
When the 2017 “Wonder Woman” film was released, many found the film exceptional, filled with female empowerment and inclusivity of women in Hollywood. It made me wonder if they saw the same movie I had watched, where a strong independent woman suddenly meets a man and willingly follows his every order, even though she’s a grade A baddie all on her own. While “Wonder Woman” 1984 showcases two strong women who have enough strength to literally throw a man, Barbara’s character is only respected once she wishes to be like Diana, “strong, sexy, cool and special” is granted via the Dreamstone.
While there is no doubt the world needs more female icons that are strong and powerful, there is certainly a way to do it without sexualizing her. Gal Gadot is sexualized in many of her films, including her first appearance as Wonder Woman in “Batman vs. Superman,” so why would it be different in “Wonder Woman 1984?” It’s not. Barbara is often ignored by others in her workplace and is portrayed as “unattractive” to certain beauty standards — I mean will we ever accept the fact that glasses are attractive too? Barbara idolizes Diana because she is stereotypically the “perfect” woman who gets attention from others — specifically men — in the office, even though Barbara herself is a gemologist, geologist, lithologist and part-time cryptozoologist, which I don’t know about you, sounds like she’s pretty darn successful.
Unfortunately, these micro-aggressions get the best of Barbara, and when she wishes to be like Diana, things take a turn for the worse, and we see these two strong women fighting against one another. To me, that doesn’t sound like empowerment at all, rather a competition between two women who are both successful and gorgeous in their own way. I’ll admit that Diana does try to tell Cheetah to renounce her wish, which is the only way the curse of the Dreamstone can be lifted, because Diana knows the truth behind the stone, but it’s not enough to make me feel empowered or change Barbara’s mind. Diana can even be considered a bad friend — if you wanted to go deeper down that rabbit hole — because she could have encouraged Barbara’s abilities to begin with.
But, I digress; there is much more work to be done in Hollywood if “Wonder Woman 1984” is now the standard for female inclusivity in films. And, of course, there are many opinions on “Wonder Woman” and the reputation she has among women in society, and while she is a step in the right direction as far as her strength and power, we need to see films where women stop worrying about men and have their lives revolve around them … please.
Movie: “Wonder Woman 1984”
Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine
If you Liked: “Batman vs. Superman,” “Justice League,” “Wonder Woman”
Shamrocks: 2.5 out of 5