Wonder Woman has been a resounding success. You have no idea how much of a relief it is for me to be able to write that. It is hideously unfair, but a lot was riding on Wonder Woman’s Amazonian shoulders – the last female-fronted superhero film was 12 years ago (there have been 19 male-led superhero films since 2008) and director Patty Jenkins is only the third woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of $100 million ever. A lot of people saw Wonder Woman as a test of whether female-led films can succeed, but guess what – they absolutely can.
Final numbers are still coming in, but Warner Bros has predicted that Wonder Woman will bring in $220m internationally, making it the biggest opening blockbuster for a female director ever. The film currently has a score of 93 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s the first modern Marvel or DC film with a majority of women in the audience on opening day – although, as 48 per cent of the opening-day audience were men, we can drop that “Men won’t see a female-led film” nonsense, too. Almost everyone loves Wonder Woman.
But, yes, I have to say “almost” everyone, because obviously some men are being awful. Firstly, there are the men who threw a hissy fit when a cinema in Austin, Texas, decided to hold one – one – exclusively female showing of the film, bombarding the cinema’s Facebook page with frustrated wails that, for once, the world wasn’t about them, complaining to Austin’s mayor and even suing the cinema for discrimination. Thankfully, this hasn’t stopped the cinema, who have decided to put on more all-women showings nationwide and who are donating profits to Planned Parenthood, or the cinema-goers, because all of the screenings are sold out.
And just in case anyone is questioning why we would want an all-women screening of Wonder Woman:
Secondly, there are the reviews. There is nothing wrong with criticising Wonder Woman – it isn’t perfect and it’s absolutely fair to point out its flaws – but some of the critics seem to have been having a competition to say the stupidest and/or most offensive thing. The Guardian review, for example, contains the line “Confusingly, Diana later explains that ‘men are essential for procreation but when it comes to pleasure, unnecessary’” and had women on Twitter laughing into their sleeves all weekend.
But, then, there are the less funny reviews. Armond White’s review in the National Review is headed with the pronouncement that Wonder Woman was “a tomboy superheroine designed for our PC times” and contains lines such as “One cannot ignore the fact that Wonder Woman was made under cultural pressure. Jenkins is not an action director; clearly, she was hired only as a politically correct token.” He complains about “Diana’s refusal to understand social tradition or to witness and perhaps admire masculine competence”. White also thinks that Gal Gadot was only seen as the highlight of Batman vs Superman because men liked to ogle her, rather than her being the sole shining light in a film universally panned for being miserable.
Diana's unwavering belief in herself will inspire us to be unbothered by what these grumbling idiots say
Actually, ogling makes up a huge section of the stupid responses that Wonder Woman has received. For all White’s disdain for the film, he can’t help but talk about Diana like she’s a sex object, rather than an Amazonian hero – “she combines a grown woman’s voluptuousness with the athleticism of a naïve tomboy”. Although that’s not as bad as David Edelstein for Vulture – the review has to be read to be believed, but contains both the phrase “Israeli women are a breed unto themselves” and the complaint that “fans might be disappointed that there’s no trace of the comic’s well-documented S&M kinkiness. With a female director, Patty Jenkins, at the helm, Diana isn’t even photographed to elicit slobber”. How dare a film about an ass-kicking demigod not ensure that men have a good money shot to wank over while their female friends and relatives are being empowered next to them?
Thankfully, these reviews are in the minority. Most people recognise Wonder Woman for what it is – a well-made, joyful, inspiring film starring the first truly heroic DC superhero for a very long time. Women and men will continue to enjoy and be empowered by Diana saving the world with her belief in love and the inherent goodness of humanity, and her unwavering belief in herself will inspire us to be unbothered by what these grumbling idiots say. If they can’t be touched by the joy and power of Wonder Woman, then that’s their problem, rather than ours. In the words of Queen Hippolyta, they do not deserve her.