Monday, July 25, 2016

I can't stop watching the Wonder Woman trailer

This is actually happening, people.
We live in an age where big budget movies are promoted a year or more out from their release dates and their trailers—especially the all-important debut trailers—can make or break their success. I watch most of the trailers when they first blow up online, when my friends' Facebook and Twitter feeds won't let me ignore them. But I still tend to ignore most of the hype around these movies because, frankly, it's just a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I kind of miss the days when a movie wasn't spoiled a year out, or when people hadn't made up their minds about it based on a few trailers. That said, I saw the Wonder Woman trailer along with the rest of the world after it debuted over the weekend at San Diego Comic Con. Any sense of cynicism or annoyance with the big studio machines and their endless cycles of promotions completely vanished after I watched that trailer. Folks, this movie looks phenomenal. I mean, I can't stop watching it and geeking out every time I watch it. Here, check it out and tell me you aren't excited, too.

Okay, I hear what you're saying: it's one trailer, Mike, isn't it a little too soon to get that excited? Of course it's too early, but I'm throwing any notion of caution out the window because, come on now, this is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman kicking major ass on the battlefields of World War I. You might remember that Ms. Gadot was my favorite part of Batman v Superman, so my anticipation for this solo movie was already high but after viewing the trailer, it's shot into the stratosphere. The recent Warner Bros. movies based on DC Comics properties have been, to put it kindly, a bit disappointing. Sure, they have vocal fans, but the overwhelming opinion of the first two Superman films was mostly "Eh" or "Hell no, that's not my Superman!" That second reaction is important and also my biggest complaint about the films so far: Warners seems to fundamentally misunderstand Superman and the qualities have made him so popular for more than seventy-five years. That's a shame because he's so important to our pop culture. It also concerned me for how they might interpret Wonder Woman on screen—in her first solo movie ever, remember. That fact is mind boggling, first of all—she's the most popular female superhero of all time and is only know starring in a movie!—and it's also leading to a lot of pressure on Warners to get it right. Based on this first two-and-a-half minute trailer from Comic Con, they're off to a great start.

I've read a lot online about how Gadot is too small to be Diana, too slight and not beefy enough. It's made me realize how everyone has different mental images of characters like Wonder Woman. Clearly, a large group of fans see her as possessing more of a bodybuilder shape, while others see her similar to Gadot and her lithe but powerful looking frame. I fall into the latter category, mostly because I never recall Diana being drawn as exceedingly muscular—her strength derives from her fantastical Amazonian roots,  not from working out at the gym. That said, she's usually tall and powerfully built, while also remaining slender and agile. I'll concede that she does normally seem to be drawn with a bigger frame than Gadot possesses, but she's not usually drawn as muscularly as, say, She-Hulk. So, I'm okay with the fact that Gadot isn't overly muscular because of a few reasons. One, Wonder Woman is a fantasy and allows for major suspension of belief when enjoying her stories. Two, have you seen Gadot in her costume/body armor?!? She rocks it and absolutely looks the part—I'll fight anyone who disagrees (see, I'm throwing rationality out the window, like I said earlier). Seriously, Gadot looks fabulous and iconic in both the Wonder Woman getup and when she's wearing cool Amazonian robes or dressed in evening gowns and business attire. Gadot just looks right in the role to me. Her face certainly screams "Diana!" to me. It's not just her physical attributes either, but also the way she's playing the part that impresses me. She seems to understand the importance of this role. A lot of people, especially women, feminists  or anyone who cares about women's representation in film and popular culture are watching this one closely, hoping for the best. Gadot's treating it with respect and that's important. It can't be understated how important Wonder Woman has been and remains in our culture, so it's refreshing to see how much Gadot seems to appreciate this and wants to honor the tradition of the character.

I haven't talked much about the trailer itself yet, but let me start by simply saying this: WOW. The action scenes are incredible, with Gadot's use of the magic lasso in particular being ridiculously cool. Like, off the charts cool. Watching Gadot emerge from the foxhole into battle, where she begins mowing down the armies of men attacking her was one of those moments where I felt like I was thirteen again and all I could croak out was "Whoaaaaa." My toddler son likes to say, "Whoaaaaa" after he does something that he clearly thinks is super cool, like throw his ball and hit daddy in the head with it. So I'm with him on this one: Whoaaaaa, indeed. Gadot, the filming, the editing, and the choreography of the fight scenes are all on point in this trailer. The quieter scenes are just effective, with a look at Themyscira, Amazons on the battlefield, Chris Pine looking suitably amazed at Diana and her world, and Gadot bringing some humor to the proceedings in the trailer's final scene featuring Etta Candy. Throughout, Wonder Woman looks and acts just like she should: badass, powerful, honest, stoic, elegant, knowing, and intelligent. There's a moment that perfectly encapsulates who Diana is when Pine's Steve Trevor tells her, "I can't let you do this" and she replies, firmly, "What I do is not up to you." Badass! That's Wonder Woman in a nutshell, son. That's why she's been a feminist icon for decades and why director Patty Jenkins and the filmmakers seems to understand her essence better than any of the Superman films understand his. If the movie really does portray Diana in the way she's presented in the trailer, then you're going to see geeks the world over lose their minds. Euphoria in the streets, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Why? Because geeks take this stuff seriously and Wonder Woman is the feminist role model in comics. A lot of us care about that fact and know the character deserves the best representation possible in a film this big. Because over the years, she hasn't always been portrayed in this light, due to changing social mores and clueless male writers, but in recent years there's been a concerted effort from DC's writers, editors, and artists to bring her back to her pioneering roots as an icon. Now it looks like Warners is following suit, which is a big reason why this trailer blew up over the weekend—people really love Wonder Woman and have waited decades for her to star in a movie.

June 2017 can't get here fast enough.
I must admit I'm very excited to watch this movie with our kids one day. I'm not sure they'll be old enough to see it in theaters next June, but we'll definitely watch it together at some point. I'm especially pumped for my daughter to see it. I want her and my son to grow up with heroes, characters they can see themselves in or aspire to be like. I did, and it's healthy for kids to have that outlet growing up. For a lot of us, that geeky fandom never really leaves you (ahem, I speak from experience) and you get to relive those feelings of awe and wonder all over again when you see something as inspiring as this trailer. It's important to still be able to feel awe and wonder over simple things like the Wonder Woman trailer because life is so unrelentingly hard sometimes that we need these outlets, if only to remember to breathe. It's encouraging to think that my daughter will have a feminist hero to look up to at a young age, a woman who makes her decisions based not on a man's opinion, but on her own. Reading X-Men comics as a kid showed me how women could be portrayed just as autonomously as men, which was rare back then. Today, kids have more positive female portrayals in pop culture than ever before, and this movie will seemingly add to that list. If the first trailer is any indication, it looks like we might be getting the Wonder Woman we actually deserve. The only downside so far? That we have to wait almost 11 months to see it! Excuse me, I'm going to watch the trailer again.

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