Wonder Whedon

| November 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

In my opinion, there are some things that should stay in the past. Like, say, bell bottom jeans. Or segregation. Or the black death. Or Joss Whedon.

Four months ago, Wonder Woman, the first female superhero movie in the DC franchise (or the any recent superhero franchise, for that matter), hit the screens. And, a while later, an unreleased, early version of the script with good ol’ Jossy’s name on the cover started gaining attention on twitter. The script had actually been leaked a bit before the movie had come out, but it was after Wonder Woman had dropped – and become wildly popular – that people began to pay more attention to what exactly Whedon’s original vision had been.

And it had been, predictably, a train wreck. In fact, it’s almost impressive how quickly the train crashed.

On page five of his script, Whedon introduces Diana, the main character of the movie, by writing that:

“To say she is beautiful is almost to miss the point. She is elemental, as natural and wild as the luminous flora surrounding. Her dark hair waterfalls to her shoulders in soft arcs and curls. Her body is curvaceous, but taut as a drawn bow.”

And things go downhill from there.

Joss Whedon’s vision of Wonder Woman is of a beautiful, badass woman who is constantly being underestimated by the people around her. What I presume Whedon was trying to do was craft an underdog, someone who saves the day and proves everyone who was doubting her wrong. But, what he ultimately does is prove that he hasn’t grown a bit since his Buffy the Vampire Slayer days.

photo credit: Brickolaje 142c via photopin (license)

photo credit: Brickolaje 142c via photopin (license)

I’ll be fair and say that the version of feminism that Whedon attempts to portray was progressive in its time. Female characters rising up and kicking butt, even when the boys tell her she can’t do it, was a novel message back in the 90s. But in 2017? It’s exhausting.

I don’t want to watch a movie and have to watch a woman proving the men around her wrong. I want to watch a movie and have the men just… not underestimate the woman based on her gender. There’s an anxiety to the former that many girls are familiar with: the feeling that if you mess up, if you don’t do everything the boys are able to do, if you don’t prove them wrong, you’re somehow giving girls a bad name. And, worse, you’re proving the boys who thought you couldn’t do it just because you were a girl right.

The magic of the Wonder Woman we saw on screen is that it doesn’t ignore the misogyny of the time period, but explores it in a way that doesn’t make the movie about Diana Proving that Women Can Do Things. Diana, who grew up on an island of entirely women, strolls right into social spheres dominated by men and is very visibly confused when she is dismissed. It makes the men around her uncomfortable, not her, and makes it even clearer how ridiculous the misogyny she’s experiencing is. Not once are we given the feeling that Diana needs to prove a point to these men– in fact, they’re treated as nothing more than minor inconveniences to her. And the main cast of male characters, like Steve, never once falter in their respect for Diana, nor do they underestimate her because she’s a woman. They worry about her in dangerous situations as any human being would for another, but once they realize that she’s practically indestructible, they adjust their reactions accordingly.

On the other hand, if I took a shot every time Diana’s called a “bitch” in Whedon’s script, I’d probably be dead. The entire story is a stressful celebration of the Badass Female Character archetype, one that might have been exciting and novel in the 90s, but can get tired and old for the women of today. I don’t want to have to watch a woman prove that she’s worth something every damn time I watch a movie. Sometimes, women can’t do things. I, for one, can’t do many things. But that isn’t because I’m a woman, and it doesn’t mean that other women can’t do them. And it definitely shouldn’t diminish my worth as a person.

What feminist audiences are looking for are stories where female characters are afforded the same courtesies as their male counterparts: an ability to walk into a room under the assumption that everyone there will take you seriously.

When Whedon introduces the character of Captain America in his Avengers Script, he writes:

“Somewhere in an old, almost WWII-esque boxing gym, STEVE ROGERS, the man out of time, THE FIRST AVENGER, FUCKIN’ CAPTAIN AMERICA, is PUMMELING a punching bag.”

Note the lack of the word “curvaceous.” He is not “elemental” or “beautiful.” His appearance isn’t talked about at all. He’s fuckin’ Captain America, and we’re supposed to just get with the program. And I’d like to live in a world where a woman can appear in a script with the same brisk, let’s-get-going gusto.

featured photo credit: TooMuchDew Wonder Woman #36 LEGO variant cover via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, The (Sex)es, TV and Movies

Isabella Amorim

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Isabella "Izzy" Amorim's hobbies include writing for Culture Shock, spending inordinate amounts of time in BU dining halls, and purchasing children's tickets at movie theaters with her baby face. Play the system, kids.

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