Guest Contributor, Nicole Tanner, host of the Gaming with the Moms podcast and lifelong fan of Wonder Woman, explores her emotional reaction to the recent Wonder Woman movie. It’s easy to overlook the significance of representation that we see in this film. Nicole’s piece reminds us that having a well rounded, fully developed female character moved so many people (myself included). Enjoy! ~Regina
What Wonder Woman Means to Me
I just saw Wonder Woman for the fifth time. I know that probably sounds ridiculous. It even sounds ridiculous to me, but the Wonder Woman character and the current movie featuring her serve a larger purpose in my life than pure entertainment.
But let’s back up a bit. When Spider-Man was released in 2002, it spawned a massive comics superhero movie craze that continues today. Since then, some characters garnered the focus of more than one film, and, in some cases, more than one adaptation. After two subsequent Spider-Man sequels, we’ve seen four Batman movies (if you count Batman vs. Superman), three Superman movies (again if you count Batman vs Superman), a slew of Marvel Universe movies including individual character-focused movies (like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and yes, more Spider-Man) as well as ensemble films in the Avengers series. As all of these films were released, I kept asking, “Where’s Wonder Woman?”
As she was continually passed over by Hollywood, I wanted to dig deeper in order to see if there was some reason she wouldn’t make a good film star.
Wonder Woman’s Non-Movie History
My first exposure to Wonder Woman was in the ‘70s television series starring Linda Carter. The show aired while I was very young, and I don’t really remember much about it except that it featured a woman in a red and blue outfit with special golden bracelets. As I got older Wonder Woman became more of a symbol than a specific character. She was a superhero and she was a woman. That’s all that mattered.
Then, a couple of years ago, my husband bought me The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. After reading that book, Wonder Woman took on new life for me. But as fascinating as that book was, I wanted to go straight to the source.
I started with The Wonder Woman Chronicles, a series of three books featuring all of the original Wonder Woman stories from the 1940s. In those stories, she falls in love with Steve Trevor, and that becomes the driving force behind everything she does. They’re pretty cringe-worthy to anyone reading them now. You also see the origin of Etta Candy and that’s… well, let’s not go there.
Since then, Wonder Woman in comics has continued to evolve, becoming more independent and, in the recent stories, a demi-god. Some of these stories feature Steve Trevor. Some do not. The story in the “New 52” Wonder Woman series is excellent, and I highly recommend it.
And then it happened! Wonder Woman was getting her own movie. Despite her introduction in the disastrous Batman vs. Superman, I was still excited. I watched every trailer, read every article and devoured any other information I could get.
I remember literally bouncing up and down waiting for the movie to start. If it turned out to be awful, I would have been heartbroken. But it wasn’t awful. It was exactly the opposite. It was at least as good as, if not better than, the other superhero movies throughout the last dozen years.
My reaction the first time I saw it took me by surprise. I thought there would be a good chance that I would cry. And I did, but not when I expected to. The part of the film that has been the most emotionally moving for me is when she reveals herself without her disguising clothes. After deciding to cross No Man’s Land, she puts on her tiara, lets her hair down, and then climbs out of the bunker and stands up, fully revealed as Wonder Woman. And for me, that’s when the tears fall. It’s been the same every single time I’ve seen it.
I’ve tried to think about what it is about that moment that causes that reaction in me. Is it just because I’ve been waiting so long for a Wonder Woman movie? I don’t feel like that’s the reason.
The last three times I’ve seen the film, I went because I was feeling sad, depressed, and powerless. And that’s what I think is so special about that part. We already know she’s powerful by that point in the movie, so it’s not a huge revelation. But her power, as Wonder Woman, is shown step-by-step as she climbs out of the bunker and onto the battlefield. And when I finally see her, she gives me the strength that I need. For me, it’s a symbol of what it takes to overcome any obstacle. It has to be done in steps, and when you finally reach the top, you’re more powerful than you were before.
That’s why I want to keep seeing it. It reminds me that I’m strong enough to overcome whatever is happening to me at that time. And that’s what I feel like this movie represents: strength and perseverance.
What was your emotional reaction to Wonder Woman? Were you moved by the No Man’s Land scene like Nicole? Or did another scene stand out for you? Tell us in the comments.