Wonder Woman, and the traditional gender division in superhero films.
Source: Dakota Corbin
The other day I saw the new Wonder Woman film and there has been a strong consensus that it has been a success both at the box office and with the critics. I am glad to see another superhero film with a powerful woman as the main protagonist. Women needed this film and, to be honest, I was getting tired of the same old type of hero movie with its boring standards. There are right now, more than 90 superhero films plus yet to be released, so I doubt we have evaded the ‘man saves the world storyline’ just yet.
I have to confess! I am a feminist, not the type of feminist that wants to change the image on the traffic lights into one of both sexes, no. I am a feminist that believes in the equal rights and opportunities between men and women, a Liberal feminist. One of the main issues with superhero movies is that they feed into old patriarchal notions were; men are overvalued and women are undervalued. Calling this notion old may be wrong when you see it being played out every day. There are differences in salaries for doing the same job, globally the law is not distributed equally (there are nearly 20 countries where women experience far reaching infringements on their rights), sexism and being sexualised/judged by their bodies. This is a big problem and fortunately, worldwide organizations fight against these situations, but improvements are coming very slowly.
Let’s divert attention to the overvalued positions of men. More specifically, I want to focus on the male figure typically pushed through Hollywood and other western movie outlets. The figure of the macho man. Since birth in almost every action movie, we see there is the same structure. The woman is alone in this dangerous world, naïve, without any help, she doesn’t know what to do, she is weak and she needs the presence of a man to give sense to her life. Meanwhile, the man is tall, strong, always confident, never scared, womanizer, never doubting and especially unemotional. The best example of this figure is James Bond, but other notable nominees include; Superman, Captain America, or females with female protagonists like Sleeping Beauty. This stereotype reflects an old version of masculinity which is having its boundaries tested by men who reject what it offers (rigidity, isolation, pain).
Source: Wil Stewart
Those roles may be matched our grandparent’s society. But in this ‘modern’ society we should start to adapt these gender roles to their diverse reality. It is possible, take Axe (Lynx) the deodorant brand, which in their latest campaign redefined masculinity, and made the whole advert experience more personal. Or the British actor Eddie Redmayne, who in the last film of Harry Potter shows a different version of what maleness means, a very sensitive character. This is a good example of how the Hollywood industry should refocus their future projects to show the true diversity of expressing masculinity and femininity.
Certainly, it does not make sense why these ideals continue to persist. The last few decades have seen governments promoting the equality of men and women. Even the tremendous progress made by the LGBT community. Women have come so far. That is why every time a new film like Wonder Woman is released, we gain an insight into how things can be done in a different way so I will support these ventures to the detriment of films like Rambo.
By Oier Sola Bilbao
Facebook: Oier Sola Bilbao