Last night, my husband and I took our two daughters (ages 14 and 11) to see the movie "Wonder Woman." I had my soda and popcorn and settled in to what I hoped would be another cool superhero action flick. I expected fight scenes and love scenes and reality-suspending action. But I did not expect to cry, yet, that's exactly what happened.
I must interject here that I'm not often moved to tears by movies, not even the tear-jerker films that typically have most viewers searching for the Kleenex. And while I will say that in my childhood, I watched, and liked, Lynda Carter in the 1970s TV show, I was not a dedicated "Wonder Woman" fan. In fact, before the movie, I didn't know anything about the character aside from those bullet deflecting cuffs and that she had an invisible jet.
All of this is to say that I didn't go into this movie with any deep expectations about what I wanted or needed from a "Wonder Woman" film. Yes, I thought it was cool that the star of this particular action film was a woman, but I wasn't expecting anything more or less than I expected when I went to see "Captain America" or "Guardians of the Galaxy" or "Star Wars." (And none of those movies brought me to tears.)
I didn't cry when Captain America saved the world by plunging his plane into the ocean. Nor when Iron Man tried to call Pepper to say his last goodbyes before carrying that nuke into space. I didn't even cry when my favorite ass-kicking botanical declared "We are Groot," before giving his life to save his friends.
So I can't even describe to you how surprised I was to become so overcome with emotion during the battle scenes in "Wonder Woman" that I almost couldn't catch my breath.
It happened for the first time in a scene called No Man's Land. No spoilers here, but I will say that it's a powerful scene in which Wonder Woman decides, against the wishes of practically every other person in the film, that she's going to save a community in distress. She climbs up from the military bunker and in true superhero action-flick style, begins a slow motion march across the World War I-era battlefield. She isn't shooting or cartwheeling or even punching, she's just marching with the will and determination of a woman who knows exactly what she's going to do. And the men fall in behind her.
In the heat of the moment, I couldn't have put words to the feelings that were overwhelming me. In fact, I was actually a bit embarrassed by my outpouring of emotions. But this morning, as I was clicking around to catch up on the news of the day, a post entitled 'Why I cried through the fight scenes in 'Wonder Woman' in the L.A. Times caught my eye.
Apparently, I was not alone.
"I felt like I was discovering something I didn’t even know I had always wanted," said the post's author, Meredith Woerner. She continued, "A need that I had boxed up and buried deep after three movies of Iron Man punching bad guys in the face, three more movies of Captain America punching bad guys in the face, a movie about Superman and Batman punching each other in the face and then 'Suicide Squad'. Witnessing a woman hold the field, and the camera, for that long blew open an arguably monotonous genre."
That was exactly it. Wonder Woman was not the sidekick ("Black Widow") or the female lead who gains her strength from her male counterparts (Rey of "Star Wars" Jedi fame.) She isn't just the star of the show, she is the show, making decisions and choosing actions based on what she knows is right, not because some guy told her to do it. Wonder Woman is not the superhero that I wanted; she's the superhero that I needed.
And women around the world feel that way, too.
I just thought about the No Man's Land sequence & started crying again.— Julia Hart (@juliahartowitz) June 4, 2017
Just finished #WonderWoman for the 2nd time. I'm crying. A lot. I've never cried in a fight scene before. It's so beautiful. I'm so hungover— Maude Garrett (@maudegarrett) June 3, 2017
As for my daughters, while they thought it was cool to finally see a female as the lead character in a superhero flick, they were not moved to tears by it like I was. For them, it was a natural progression to go from women as sidekicks in their favorite films to women as the star of the show. I can only hope that they will continue to expect such progression for women in every aspect of their lives.
Because that would be something amazing — and definitely worth shedding more tears for.