After so many years of superhero saturation (with no foreseeable end in sight), Wonder Woman proves that the genre has not yet been exhausted. The film is not only a triumph for moviegoers, but a victory for the industry.
My first thought while walking out of the theater was: “what took so long?!” Seriously, how has it taken so many years and so many billions of dollars spent elsewhere before someone was willing to green-light this movie? Sadly, Hollywood is a frustratingly difficult and stubborn industry, and it’s not hard to see how even the mere idea of Wonder Woman on the big screen would turn executives and companies away. Kudos to Warner Bros. for making this movie happen, even if it did take forever.
The logic in Hollywood for decades has been, “women don’t sell tickets,” and “women don’t buy tickets.” It’s not much of a secret when you just take a look at some of the highest-grossing films in recent years. Just take a guess at the intended audiences of these films. Hollywood must not think woman can make movies either, considering only 7% of directors for last year’s top 250 movies were women.
Enter Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot has proved that she can be a first-rate star. The opening weekend audience was 52% female in a genre where 60% male audiences are the norm. And the real wonder woman of this film? Patty Jenkins. In her first feature since 2003, Jenkins breathes much-needed life into the DC Universe with confident and inspired directing. My greatest hope is that this movie provides compelling evidence for Hollywood that in fact, women can sell tickets. And they’ll buy them too. And will somebody please put women behind the camera?
My original intention was to write about the actual movie, but clearly I got sidetracked. However, I think this issue is worth lingering on. It’s so rare to see a production like this. I hope there comes a day when women leading in films aren’t worthy of special mention and don’t warrant a litany of articles and opinion pieces, but that day has not come. Today, there is a responsibility to acknowledge the exceptional work of women in this movie. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot truly are wonder women. But no matter how much heavy lifting Jenkins and Gadot can do, they can’t change everything on their own.
“I can’t take on the history of 50 percent of the population just because I’m a woman,” says Patty Jenkins.
Because of this movie, the door for women (and minorities for that matter) cracks open just a bit. But that little beam of light coming from the other side isn’t enough. Prying open this door will take years of struggle against a Hollywood system resistant to change. Let’s be clear here, as much as Hollywood champions itself as a liberal, forward-looking industry, it consistently fails woman and minorities on all fronts. Standing on a stage and throwing thinly veiled insults at President Trump does not pass as “liberalism.” Hypocrisy, maybe. The veins of sexism and racism still run deep in this industry, just as it does in this country.
As someone trying to find a future in film, maybe it’s not wise for me to make these claims. After all, Hollywood has a history of keeping its dirty secrets under wraps, but these realities are too important to leave untouched. And don’t get me wrong, I fully expect that the future of Hollywood be different than it is today. Wonder Woman has reminded me of that hope. There are plenty of reasons to be excited for the future, especially in the superhero realm. Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler starring Chadwick Boseman), Aquaman (dir. James Wan starring Jason Momoa), and Captain Marvel (dir. Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck starring Brie Larson) are sure to be exciting releases. The door is being opened. Maybe I’ll even have a part in this!
In my next post I’ll actually write about the movie (lol) and why I think it’s worth a five-star rating. And no, it’s not because Patty Jenkins is a woman, it’s because she’s a damn good director.