This is how
Wonder Woman, one of the most iconic superheroes of the last century, made her entrance into modern cinema. When Israeli actor Gal Gadot walks on screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it marks the first time the character has appeared in a live action feature film in her 75 year history.
For context: Batman has appeared in features nine times played by six different actors. Superman has hit the big screen seven times with three different actors donning the red cape.
The importance of this moment -- in a world where female comic fans fend off harassment online, where female action stars are paraded around in sexy jumpsuits and where promised female superhero movies like Marvel's Captain Marvel are continuously delayed in favor of the umpteenth Spider-Man movie -- can not be understated.
Wonder Woman is not the first female superhero in Hollywood.
Scarlett Johansson has been holding down the Marvel female fort since her first appearance as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 in 2010. Characters like Storm, Jean Grey and Mystique have been a vital part of the X-Men universe for more than a decade. Jennifer Garner even took the Marvel hero Elektra to a headlined movie back in 2005.
But none of them were Wonder Woman. And that means something.
When she was created by
Charles Moulton in 1942, Wonder Woman (and her alter ego Diana Prince) became one of the first female superheroes to gain name recognition. Since then she has continued to be one of the most recognizable, despite a presence in pop culture that is markedly smaller than her counterparts.
The revolutionary thing about Wonder Woman, and perhaps why it’s been so hard to get her on screen, is her status as a feminist icon. An expressed intention on Moulton's part.
“Not only is she one of the first to show up, not only does she get the name recognition almost immediately on her debut, but she’s also a character who has feminist values and a sense of wanting to fight patriarchal power structures, within her very essence,” says Sam Riedel, a writer for feminist geek site The
“That’s why the
Amazons wear bracelets,” she added. “To remind themselves never ever again to let men chain them.”
In Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman is not the secretary she she was relegated to in early incarnations of the Justice League. She’s not the love interest or the sexual object or the sidekick. She’s the hero. Wonder Woman is an integral part of the film’s climactic final battle, swooping in to save both Batman and Superman.
Watching Gadot explode onto the screen with such energy, with such determination and strength, I erupted into applause. She belonged. And she is there for millions of young girls to look up to. Wonder Woman, unlike her male peers, is driven by an overwhelming sense of empathy. And as I watched her take her rightful place in the film, it was almost as if she knew how much I needed her. I still need her.
It's a beacon of hope for fans who have been craving a female hero like this for so long. I cannot wait to see what she’ll do.