67 Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman as a Sign of Feminism

by Alanna Martines


The classic DC comic we all know and love is brought to life in Wonder Woman (2017) starring Gal Gadot as the iconic Diana Prince, better known as Wonder Woman. The film serves as an origin story of the beloved hero and follows her journey as she steps into the outside world. Diana is portrayed as a strong, compassionate, determined, and willing to challenge traditional gender roles to become a symbol of female empowerment. The film explores themes of war, sacrifice, and the complexities we face as human beings. With the compelling storytelling and the impactful message, Wonder Woman has become a groundbreaking film, celebrating the strength and quality of women. The film uses its narrative and characters to shed light on DPD issues such as gender inequality, abuse of power, and discrimination. We will be taking a deep dive into the gender equality and feminism seen in Wonder Woman.


Wonder Woman movie poster
Wonder Woman movie poster


Wonder Woman stands as a powerful testament to female empowerment and representation. By showcasing the strength, courage, and compassion of its protagonist, the movie shattered gender stereotypes and celebrated the ideals of women. In a world where women have historically been treated as less than men, feminism emerged as a movement for women’s rights and equality. At the time of the movie, in January of 2017 there was a worldwide protest called The Women’s March. The march aimed to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues. Ghaisani writes that “Women have been treated as lower than men ever since in the biological level ”. Throughout history, feminism has led to significant achievements, such as the right to vote and work. However, societal ideals of women, shaped predominantly by men, have persisted. This is particularly evident when examining portrayals of women in comic books, where they are often depicted in skimpy clothing and possess invisible powers, reinforcing traditional gender roles. Wonder Woman challenges these ideas by defying traditional stereotypes and featuring a lead actress from Israel, thereby improving the representation of feminism and women’s empowerment. Ghaisani writes that “Wonder Woman was firstly created by a man, psychologist William Moulton Marston. Even Marston portrays Wonder Woman as how the future ideal woman should be.” Marston believed that women possessed inherent qualities that made them superior to men in many ways.


Wonder Woman subverts the ideals of women by setting Princess Diana on an island where such traditional notions do not exist. The women on the island rely solely on themselves and do not require assistance from men. Cinematography techniques that are used are when Diana is shown climbing the wall and there are close up shots that show her strength. This portrayal challenges the societal construct that positions men as dominant and powerful, and women as weak and submissive. Moreover, the film aligns with real-world efforts towards gender equality, as the United Nations appointed the fictional character Wonder Woman as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. This recognition underscores the film’s emphasis on portraying Wonder Woman as powerful, resilient, and independent, going beyond her physical beauty.


In addition to defying traditional ideals of women, Wonder Woman contributes to feminism through its choice of lead actress. Gal Gadot, hailing from Israel, becomes an icon for girls to look up to. Her journey from winning the Miss Israel beauty pageant to serving in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat instructor challenges stereotypes and demonstrates that women can occupy leadership roles. Gadot herself has expressed her belief that everyone should be feminist, emphasizing that feminism is about freedom of choice for all genders. Her casting in the film helps bridge cultural gaps and promotes inclusivity in the realm of superhero representation.


However, it is essential to acknowledge alternative perspectives that critique the film for objectifying women through the male gaze. Some argue that the film employs visual techniques that cater to the male audience and perpetuate the objectification of women. The portrayal of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, characterized by her slim figure, fair skin, and revealing costumes, is seen as intentionally flaunting her body. This can seen by having a Wonder Woman dresses in a corset and shorts, emphasizing her body and figure. While the film celebrates feminism in many aspects, it is important to recognize and critique instances where it may inadvertently reinforce traditional gendered expectations.


Despite these criticisms, Wonder Woman remains a significant milestone in promoting female empowerment and representation. Its success at the box office and positive reception among audiences highlight the demand for strong, complex female characters. By featuring a female superhero who possesses agency, strength, and compassion, the film provides a much-needed alternative to the male-dominated superhero genre. It offers a new model of heroism and inspires girls and women to embrace their own power and potential. Moreover, Wonder Woman films contribute to the broader feminist movement by sparking discussions and raising awareness about gender equality. It serves as a catalyst for conversations about representation, female empowerment, and the need for diverse voices in the entertainment industry. The film’s impact extends beyond the screen, inspiring individuals to challenge gender norms and fight for equal rights in their own lives and communities.


Wonder Woman explores the theme of the abuse of power through its portrayal of Ares, the god of war, and the larger context of World War I. Ares represents the embodiment of power and its corrupting influence. He is depicted as a manipulative and malevolent force, fueling the war and manipulating individuals to carry out his destructive agenda. This can be seen by Ares acting as someone who is on the side to help end the war, when in reality, he was the one creating the war. The movie illustrates how power, when misused, can lead to devastating consequences. Ares takes advantage of human vulnerabilities and weaknesses, exploiting their desires for power and control. His actions perpetuate the cycle of violence and suffering, showcasing the destructive nature of unchecked power. By exploring the abuse of power through the character of Ares and the larger context of war, Princess Diana highlights the need for individuals to be mindful of their own power and its potential consequences. It prompts viewers to reflect on the moral implications of power and encourages them to strive for a more just and balanced world.


Additionally, the film touches upon themes of discrimination and prejudice. Diana, as an outsider to the world of men, faces discrimination based on her gender and her origins. She encounters skepticism and disbelief from those who underestimate her abilities and dismiss her contributions. This serves as a commentary on the discrimination faced by marginalized groups and highlights the need to challenge and overcome prejudice. This can be seen throughout the whole movie especially, but a scene that stands out most to me is when Diana is willing to run out to the battlefield in order to stop Ares and save the village of people. Diana’s friends deny the request and instead insist on camping out behind the front line. Diana is furious with this and charges out onto the battlefield, also known as No Man’s Land, by herself. The film puts Wonder Woman in slow motion as she goes onto the field. Additionally, the film emphasizes the power by adding music that is powerful. By doing this, she showed Steve and the rest of the group what she was capable of, while also giving the men a chance to take the front line of Germany.


Wonder Woman, despite some criticisms, serves as a groundbreaking representation of female empowerment and challenges long-standing gender stereotypes. Through the strong and capable character of Diana Prince, the film inspires and empowers audiences, especially women and girls, to believe in their own strength and potential. By defying traditional ideals of women and featuring a lead actress from Israel, the film expands the notion of feminism and offers a diverse and inclusive perspective. While no work is without its flaws, Wonder Woman contributes significantly to the ongoing dialogue surrounding gender equality and the representation of women in media and popular culture.



Driscoll, Molly. “Why Female Comic Book Fans Are Cheering for ‘Wonder Woman’.(The Culture).” The Christian Science Monitor, 1 June 2017, p. NA. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edscpi&AN=edscpi.A493902825&site =eds-live&scope=site.


Ghaisani, Marinda P. D. “Wonder Woman (2017): An Ambiguous Symbol of Feminism.” Rubikon : Journal of Transnational American Studies, vol. 6, Nov. 2020, p. 12. EBSCOhost, https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.libweb.linnbenton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db= edsair&AN=edsair.doi.dedup…..ec9d92e44c874885010193dd319d304c&site=eds-live&s cope=site.


Marcus, Jaclyn. “Wonder Woman’s Costume as a Site for Feminist Debate.” Imaginations Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, July 2018, pp. 55–65. EBSCOhost, https://doi-org.ezproxy.libweb.linnbenton.edu/10.17742/IMAGE.FCM.9.2.6.


Potter, Amandas. “Feminist Heroines for Our Times: Screening the Amazon Warrior in Wonder Woman (1975 – 1979), Xena: Warrior Princess (1995 – 2001) and Wonder Woman (2017).” Thersites. Journal for Transcultural Presences & Diachronic Identities from Antiquity to Date, vol. 7, Nov. 2018. EBSCOhost, https://doi-org.ezproxy.libweb.linnbenton.edu/10.34679/thersites.vol7.85.




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Difference, Power, and Discrimination in Film and Media: Student Essays Copyright © by Students at Linn-Benton Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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