Swords, Shoes, and Sorcery

Last night I watched the new Wonder Woman animated movie. As usual, Bruce Timm and his merry minions don’t let us down – it’s exciting and fun, and a far cry from the dreadful tv series of my youth. (Plus, terrific music by Christopher Drake: I didn’t want to start the film because I was enjoying the music on the menu screen so much.) [Note: MILD SPOILERS follow.]

Here’s a trailer, though as it’s just a bunch of quick clips from fight scenes it makes the film look more formulaic than it really is:

Wonder Woman Official Trailer

(Ironically, as those who recall WW’s origin story can attest, the trailer’s tag line “Some heroes are made – this one was born” is precisely, literally false.)

Here’s a more representative clip. That’s Keri Russell as WW, Nathan “Mal Reynolds” Fillion as Steve Trevor, and – I believe – the Timm himself as the mugger:


I like takes on Wonder Woman that remember that she’s essentially a badass pagan warrior from an Iron Age culture who’s not afraid to maim and kill (hence I also liked her portrayal in Justice League: The New Frontier – a great flick until the last couple of minutes when we have to listen to a harangue from the fascist-lite JFK), so I was particularly fond of this exchange from the new film:

Wonder Woman: What’s wrong, little one?
Little Girl: They won’t let me play pirates with them.
Wonder Woman: And why not?
Little Girl: Because I’m the girl, and they need someone to save. It’s okay. I don’t even know how to swordfight.
Wonder Woman: Neither do they. In battle they’d be slaughtered instantly. Would you like me to teach you how to swordfight? They’re using the horizontal cut. But in close as they are, the thrust is a better move as it’s more likely to cause real injury and less likely to be blocked by your opponent. Do you understand?
Little Girl: Uh-huh.
Wonder Woman: Now go. Unleash hell.

(Oddly, although the girl then sends her male playmates scattering with a sword attack, she doesn’t actually use a thrust! A screw-up by the animators? Or an incompetent attempt to mitigate the “bad influence” of the preceding dialogue?)

Wonder Woman - this is the one-disc DVD, which has the better cover, but the version I've linked to is the two-disc version, which has better contentAnother of my favourite scenes is actually truncated in the movie and explained only in the audio commentary. Apparently the original plan was for WW to complain about the impracticality of high heels when she’s in her civilian identity; then later when she’s fighting the baddy’s henchman they both smash into a clothing shop and she grabs the nearest object – a high-heeled shoe – and jabs the heel into her opponent’s eye, thereupon remarking that maybe these shoes aren’t so impractical after all. This sequence was shortened in the final film for time constraints, so that while WW still jabs the guy’s eye with a shoe heel and then glances briefly at the shoe with interest, there’s no longer any dialogue on shoes either pre- or post-jabbing.

On the down side, the film’s attempts to deal with feminist and gender-relations issues are often, predictably, rather inept. (Newsflash to scriptwriters: it makes no more sense for someone from an Amazon culture to say “we may be warriors, but we are also women” than it would for Leonidas of Sparta to say “we may be warriors, but we are also men.”) But the film has some virtues from a feminist perspective too; this post by Sarah Warn (who likewise picks up on the dumb “we are also women” line) does a good of scoring the film’s hits and misses (there are plenty of both) in this area.

Incidentally, fans of Ninotchka may find this bit of dialogue familiar:

Wonder Woman: Must you flirt?
Steve Trevor: It’s only natural.
Wonder Woman: Suppress it.

In the original:

Ninotchka: Must you flirt?
Léon d’Algout: Well, I don’t have to, but I find it natural.
Ninotchka: Suppress it.


2 Responses to Swords, Shoes, and Sorcery

  1. Black Bloke March 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    I knew I wasn’t the only to hate that JFK thing thrown in there at the end of New Frontier. I think they did it for the tie in of his policy name.

    • Roderick March 16, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

      It’s in the original comic too; the connection with JFK was always an intended part of the title.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes