Movie review: Wonder Woman reinvigorates tired superhero conventions

The story is repositioned to the trenches of World War I

“Wonder Woman! All the world’s waiting for you,” rang the theme song to the classic 1970s television show as one-time Miss World America, Lynda Carter, transformed into the star-spangled superhero. Yet while gun-toting raccoons headline today’s superhero movies, the world has waited a long time for its most famous female superhero to receive a dedicated film.

Female superheroes have been confined to sidekick roles (Black Widow is the highest profile Avenger without her own movie) or relegated to TV (where Jessica Jones and Supergirl kick ass on a weekly basis). Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is the first major female-led superhero movie – and as a hero, her antecedents reach back to the suffragettes.

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As historian Jill Lepore details in The Secret History of Wonder Woman, the formative years of Wonder Woman’s creator, psychologist William Moulton Marston, took place against the backdrop of the suffragette movement. As a freshman, he had heard Emmeline Pankhurst speak when she visited Harvard in 1911.

An advocate for women’s rights, Marston would later describe the “blood-curdling masculinity” of comic books as their “worst offence”. His remedy? To create a “feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman”. So in October 1941, All Star Comics introduced Wonder Woman, “to whom the problems and feats of men are mere child’s play”. Read more

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