I feel strongly about certain characters in literature.
So when there was talk about a Wonder Woman film, I perked up my ears, but I did not let myself hope too much. Hollywood has a way of messing up good stories, especially good stories with female protagonists. I was encouraged when I heard that Patty Jenkins would direct; her writing and direction of Monster (2004) was miraculous.
I was even more encouraged when I heard that Gal Gadot had been cast as the lead. She is beautiful, she is strong, she can be very funny, and I liked the idea of the world hearing an Israeli accent in that role. A Jewish woman as a superhero? Oh, yeah!
I saw the poster and dared to hope.
As sexualized as the comic book figure was, as campy as the TV show, the image in the poster is that of a warrior. She kneels on a beach, at the edge of her world. The sun behind her is either rising or setting, with no clues as to whether it is dawn or dusk. Is she at the beginning of a journey, or recovering from battle? Is her grave expression sadness or something else?
I won’t spoil the film for you. I spent quite a bit of it in tears, watching a brave woman do terrifying things in defense of innocents. Some of those tears were that I was finally seeing the movie I’d wanted to see ever since I first found a Wonder Woman comic book discarded on a sidewalk in Nashville 50 years ago and recognized her as mine. Some of those tears were the tears of a graying feminist who finally got to see a great movie about a wonderful woman, directed by a woman. Some of them were because the movie is genuinely moving, and occasionally pretty scary (take that PG-13 rating seriously, please.)
Does the film have Jewish content? You bet. It stars a Israeli woman, but that’s not all. Wonder Woman may have a Greek name but she learns a very Jewish lesson: humanity was born good, with a terrible capacity for evil. The fight is to free that which is good while curbing that which is evil. It is not a simple task.