The Story Geeks voted Wonder Woman as the best geek movie of 2017, so we HAD to talk about it! Hosts Jay Sherer and Daryl Smith sit down and discuss the movie with two very special guests…their wives! Jamie Danielle Smith and Jessica Sherer helped them dig deeper into one of the best superhero movies of all time.
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE: Ashley’s Take on Wonder Woman
Amazons in Wonder Woman were meant to influence men’s hearts with love, but then became warriors themselves. Does that indicate that they didn’t influence men the way they were meant to?
In the film, the Amazon culture is a fascinating study of the dynamics between war, peace, and responsibility. The Amazons treasure their peace, perhaps to the point that they have unwisely shut themselves off from the rest of the world and its problems. We see them regularly training for battle, honing their skills, but they decline to help Steve Trevor defend the world from the tyranny of General Ludendorff, even though that seems like it would be a morally necessary thing to do.
I believe the Amazons became warriors as a means to protect themselves; it was a necessary evil to combat the rising power of Ares. Yet they also don’t seem to have much interest in reaching outside their protective island to influence the world of men, either as warriors or through encouraging people to love one another. I think in some ways, they are too jaded (and perhaps even afraid?) to play a major role on the world stage, because they know from their own history how terrifying and destructive war can be. It isn’t until Steve Trevor unwittingly breaks the barrier between their sheltered island and the outside world that they have to confront the nature of their responsibility head-on. Interestingly, Diana is the only one who answers the call.
How would Diana’s story have changed had she been told the truth about who/what she is?
Diana has no idea that she is actually the “godkiller” — the Amazon weapon designed to defeat Ares. She thinks the godkiller is the special sword safeguarded by her mother. I believe Diana’s story would have been a lot different if she had grown up knowing about her true identity. She probably would have started preparing earlier — and training even harder — so that she would be ready to face Ares when the time came. Diana is a woman who cares deeply about others, and I think if she had known her true destiny, she would have left the island a lot sooner to try to help the world of men and root out Ares before he could do even more damage.
How do you feel about the influence of Steve Trevor and Diana on each other? How do they change each other?
The relationship between Diana and Steve is one of my favorite parts of the movie, and I love how they both learn important lessons from each other. Steve shows Diana that there is a broader world beyond the island, one that is full of flawed, suffering people. Some of these people have made serious mistakes and done terrible things, but humanity is still worth saving. He helps her see the light that is still shining in what initially appears to be a dark and hopeless world.
In turn, Diana gives Steve hope. At the beginning of the movie, he’s a bit world-weary, beaten down by the seemingly unwinnable conflict. He keeps fighting, because he knows it’s the right thing to do, but he’s not sure if victory is even possible. Diana shows him that acts of selflessly bravery still have the power to turn the tide, and she inspires him to persevere and not give in to despair.
Diana and Steve are both better people for having known each other, and that’s what makes their romance feel fresh and authentic. They respect each other’s different strengths, and together they accomplish more than they could have accomplished apart.
How do you feel about the representation of relationships, social norms, and power dynamics between men and women in the movie?
One of the things I really appreciated was how Steve Trevor respected Diana and her leadership skills, even though some other men of his time probably would have doubted her simply because she was a woman. Even though Steve initially tries to get her to conform somewhat to the social norms of the time, once they get to the battlefield he is more than willing to acknowledge her skills as a warrior and follow her lead.
Both in our real history and in Hollywood movies, women have not always been treated as equals or given the freedom to exercise their leadership skills. Sadly, sometimes in Hollywood’s past, women have been left on the sidelines, relegated to simply serving as “the love interest,” or have been pushed out of the narrative altogether. What I really love about “Wonder Woman” is that the male and female characters are able to work together and form a team that utilizes the strengths of every member of that team. I loved that the movie wasn’t bogged down with a gender-based power struggle between Diana and Steve; they may disagree on how to carry out the mission, but that disagreement is based on philosophy, not on the fact Diana is a woman and Steve is a man. I keep coming back to the word “respect,” but the respect between the characters really is one of the things that elevates this film and makes it special.
Why is No Man’s Land such an impactful scene?
This is one of my all-time favorite superhero movie scenes, period. I teared up the first time I saw it, and I still do, even though I’ve seen the movie many times. This scene touches me on several levels. First, as a female geek, I didn’t realize just how much this movie was going to mean to me until I saw this moment on the big screen. Marvel has done a great job with their female characters so far, but it’s extra special to see a movie where the female superhero is the lead character and she gets such a badass scene like No Man’s Land.
And No Man’s Land most certainly is a badass scene. The song playing during this scene is my favorite song from the movie’s soundtrack. I love how the music keeps building and building to this epic payoff, when we see Diana climb up the ladder and emerge from the trenches as Wonder Woman for the first time. I also love the imagery of her charging across No Man’s Land, a solitary beacon of hope amidst the bleakness and violence. It’s an epic moment of crazy, selfless bravery, and it’s so awesome to see how this ends up inspiring the other soldiers in the trenches. It’s an instantly iconic Hollywood moment, and I think it’s going to end up ranking alongside other awesome geek movie moments like the Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker duel in “The Empire Strikes Back,” the first team-up shot in “The Avengers,” etc.
Are the villains in this film (i.e., Ares, Dr. Poison, Ludendorff) effective? Do they contribute to Diana’s journey in a meaningful way?
I feel like General Ludendorff/Dr. Poison are mid-level superhero movie villains. They’re not bad, but they’re not as dynamic as they could have been, either. They could have been fleshed out a little more, although I do really like the moment at Ludendorff’s party where Steve is talking to Dr. Poison and then gets distracted by Diana. The film needed a couple more moments like that to deepen the characters.
Still, I do really like the twist with Ares, especially since I didn’t see it coming. I found it interesting that he was content to work behind the scenes and let others take the glory so that his ultimate goal could be accomplished. He provides an interesting contrast to Diana, because they have the same level of power yet Diana is the one who chooses to use her power for good. Ares sees humanity has a resource to be exploited and toyed with, while Diana believes all life is valuable, even if humans are flawed. Her confrontation with Ares helps her fully commit to the cause she’s fighting for — and determine the kind of hero she’ll become.
Diana says, “It’s not about ‘deserve.’ It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.” She also says, “Only love can truly save the world.” Is this a new kind of superhero in movies? How important is Diana’s outlook to our world?
I’ve heard a few criticisms about the film’s “I believe in love” moment but I personally really like it. Love is one of the most powerful forces in the world; it doesn’t have to mean just love for a romantic partner — it can be love for a friend or family member, or even just love for humanity in general. Love inspires us, motivates us, and drives us to do the right thing, even if it’s not easy and requires us to make a sacrifice.
I can’t think of many other superhero films that have dealt with the “power of love” as directly as “Wonder Woman,” and that could be because sometimes love is dismissed as too “mushy” or “wishy-washy.” However, Diana’s love for Steve, for her friends, and for humanity doesn’t make her weaker; her love actually makes her stronger, and gives her the motivation she needs to be a hero.
As a Christian, I believe that love really did save the world — and I liked seeing this theme pop up in “Wonder Woman.” We live in a world where we constantly see examples of hate and violence, and it’s easy to get cynical about the concept of love. But love really does have the power to create change, if we’re willing to step up and fight for what’s right. I hope Diana’s story inspires others to look for ways they can take a stand and make the world a better place.
What are your hopes for the next Wonder Woman movie?
Since I’m not familiar with the original comics, there aren’t any particular events/characters I’ll be looking for in the second film. My hopes for the film are pretty simple, actually — I’d just like them keep doing what they’re doing with the character! 🙂 Gal Gadot really shines as Wonder Woman in all these DC cinematic universe films, even if the film around her isn’t as strong (I’m looking at you, “Justice League”). I love the character’s balance of strength, leadership, and compassion, and I want to see Diana continue to use her abilities to help the world around her. And, of course, I’d like to see her show off her powers in some cool fight scenes!