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The “Gal” we’ve been waiting for

“Wonder Woman” offers a new kind of superhero

Photo: Illustration by Emily O'Connell

Photo: Illustration by Emily O'Connell

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Wonder Woman has been my favorite superhero since I was a kid. I had a lunch box with her picture on it and a book about her that my mother read to me. Even today, my mom talks about the original 1970s television series starring Lynda Carter and how much of an inspiration it was for the women of her generation. Naturally, when I first heard news of a Wonder Woman solo film, I was ecstatic, and I am happy to say that it exceeded my expectations.

We got a taste of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in the 2016 DC blockbuster “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” but this new feature provided the audience with so much more. Director Patty Jenkins’ film broke the traditional mold of patriarchal heroism and gave fans the superheroine we’ve had our hearts set on.

As a connoisseur of all things superhero, I enjoy a well-done origin story, and this one hit the mark. Growing up on the hidden island of Themyscira, Princess Diana, or Wonder Woman, learns the history of her people, the Amazons, who were created by Zeus to protect mankind and kill the god of war, Ares, if he was ever to return to earth.

Diana is a fighter, born and raised, adept at archery, sword fighting and horseback riding. After American pilot and intelligence operative Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane near her island’s coast, she decides to enter the fray of World War I to locate and kill Ares before he wreaks more havoc on the European continent. Wonder Woman’s journey takes her and her ragtag team of Ally sympathizers all the way to the Western Front.

The superhero world is full of strong women, but until now, they have always seemed to take a sideline position to their male counterparts. That isn’t to say that representation has been 100 percent lacking. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow entered the scene in 2010 in “Iron Man 2,” and more recently, The CW’s “Supergirl” and Netflix’s “Jessica Jones” have gained popularity as female-led television shows. But the thing that sets “Wonder Woman” apart is the quality of Gadot’s performance. She portrays Diana with a certain fierceness and absolutely refuses to be overshadowed. Gadot brought to the table not only the naivete you’d anticipate from a nonnative thrust into a foreign war but the strength expected from a woman with battle in her blood. She did a terrific job balancing Wonder Woman’s innocence with her intelligence (including her knowledge of hundreds of languages).

The thing I appreciate most about this film is that Wonder Woman was not portrayed as strong simply to make a statement. She was not a chick filling a role a man could have taken on. Additionally, I enjoyed that, to Diana, her presence as an influential female wasn’t

anything revolutionary, given she had grown up surrounded by empowered women. In her mind, she was only fulfilling her duties.

On the surface, “Wonder Woman” is a superhero movie, complete with Princess Diana’s iconic “Lasso of Truth” and “Bracelets of Submission,” yet underneath the spectacular battle scenes and explosions lies a story of one person’s growth and a message to girls around the world, young and old alike, that they can do anything they put their minds to and that they are strong enough to overcome any odds.

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