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6 Ways "Wonder Woman" Is A Breath Of Fresh Air In This Cruel World

Warning: All of the spoilers.

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1. Literally just the fact that it's a major superhero movie that is centered on and named after a woman.

Warner Bros.

YOU GUYS! It's been so long! We're living in the era of superhero franchises, but until Wonder Woman, it had been more than a decade since a woman got to have top billing and the title role in a major studio superhero movie. Characters like Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in Guardians of the Galaxy, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in Avengers, and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in Suicide Squad had big parts, but they were always treated as second-tier or part of an ensemble, not the center of the whole damn thing. This movie is literally called Wonder Woman. And it's about — you guessed it! — Wonder Woman, also known as Diana. It's hers. FINALLY.

2. Diana's male love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who's stripped down for laughs and ogles.

Warner Bros.

It's 2017 — by now we know the general function of a superhero's love interest. They spend most of the movie chasing after the hero in awe as the threat of danger hangs over their heads. There's also often some sort of scene that proves why they might be worthy of a superhuman love story — they're super smart, or super skilled, or super beautiful, or all of the above.

In Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor is a skilled spy who literally crash-lands onto the mystical matriarchal island of Themyscira. Diana saves his life, takes him back to her home — and then walks in on him naked. Diana (and the camera) circles him. Naked. It's a familiar trope, but one that's often reserved for female characters, e.g., that Star Trek: Into Darkness scene where Alice Eve's character stands there in her skivvies, walked in on while she's changing. In Into Darkness, Pine's the one doing the ogling. But in Wonder Woman, he's the one caught with his pants down, his assets on display.

3. AND he dies to further her story.

Warner Bros.

You might have heard of the term "fridging," which refers to a trope in comic books, TV, and movies wherein a character is killed to further the emotional arc of another character. It's also sometimes known as "Women in Refrigerators," because of an instance in the Green Lantern comics when a woman's corpse was literally left in a refrigerator for her boyfriend to find. If you want another example: After Gwen Stacy plummets to her death in Spider-Man (both in the comics and the movie), Peter Parker is so heartbroken, it motivates his heroism forever after.

The character who ends up dead is, most often, female; and the one whose story is pushed forward by their grief is, more often than not, male. In Wonder Woman, though, it's Steve who dies — in his own heroic moment, sure, but he's dead. Super dead. And his death is designed to deepen Diana's dedication to her cause. It's a symbol, and one that has more power because of the trope it's subverting. Steve's death really hammers the point home: This is Diana's story, and any man who plays a role in it — no matter how great he might be — is not going to outlast our girl.

4. We get to spend some wonderful time on a matriarchal island far, far away from everything.

Warner Bros.

When The Handmaid's Tale came out, there was a lot of talk about the bleakness and horrors of the world it depicts — wherein the US government has been overthrown and replaced by a regime that enslaves all the fertile women in a mandated effort to impregnate them. The first 30 minutes of Wonder Woman feel like the opposite of that. There's an island populated only by women, who protect and support one another. Sometimes, they even have differing definitions about how best to protect and support one another. They're also fierce warriors and senators. Can we move there?

5. It confronts the dark side of humanity in a particularly resonant way.

Warner Bros.

One of the major themes of Wonder Woman is that human beings are kind of shitty. That, as a concept, is probably not a surprise to anyone in 2017. But it's a surprise to Diana, and the way Wonder Woman picks at the topic feels resonant. Maybe it's the scene where Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) points out that it was people like Steve — white men in the United States — who massacred Native American communities like the one Chief comes from. Maybe it's all the talk about how we keep finding new and more creative ways to try to destroy one another, and how that might one day lead to...the actual destruction of mankind. Humanity's destructive tendencies have always been absurd and tragic, and a blockbuster movie's interpretation of that isn't going to change the world. But there's just something about hearing our foibles spelled out to a woman who's never before had to deal with the full tragicomedy of human existence before — something that makes it feel like it's not the oldest revelation in the book.

6. But we also get to see the joy of human life through Diana's eyes.

Warner Bros.

Look, the DC movie universe, as repped by movies like Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, has never been averse to darkness. It's kind of been its thing. But part of what makes Wonder Woman's theme of human complexity shine is what surrounds it: the sheer earnestness of Diana's worldview. Yes, humans suck a lot sometimes. But there's ice cream. And babies. And sex. And humor. And people who will try to be better. And, on the big screen, there's Diana — and she'll fight for us even if we don't always deserve her.

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