Review: Wonder Woman: "Traveling Like an Amazon"

Since it's comic con weekend here in the Omaha Metro area, I decided to go with a superhero theme. It may initially seem odd to start my first review post on a new travel blog with a film review of a movie that, on the surface, is not specifically about travel. Yet it's Wonder Woman's highlighting of many themes for women that are still - sadly - pervasive that makes this a perfect topic to discuss a continuing source of fear for women travelers: going it solo.

First, if you haven't seen this movie, you need to go do it right now. For the first time, we have a female superhero movie that stands on its own as much as it is part of a larger universe. ...and it's good. Really good. Second, spoilers everywhere in this post, so again, go see it.

It should come as no real surprise to hear that this movie is the culmination of a number of psychological and societal themes that have piled up over history. Wonder Woman is the first female superhero, right after Superman. This is in the early age of comic books, and was the result of the social climate of the times [Read more: The Man Behind Wonder Woman: The Secret History of the Bizarre (and Kinky) Life of William Moulton Marston]. Wonder Woman became an icon to girls, young and old, that women could do anything. She inspired other comic book creators to bring more amazing female characters to comicdom. Unfortunately, it would be more than 75 years before we would have a female superhero movie worthy of similarly inspiring new generations, and it is somehow fitting that it would be the Amazonian princess herself.

Wonder Woman is helmed by Patty Jenkins (director of "Monster," an intense biopic about female serial killer Aileen Wuornos), and stars Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress who has far surpassed my expectations. The movie has managed to deliver equivalent - if not greater - levels of badassery (technical term), humor, depth, and social relevance as the male-helmed superhero movies. The trench scene alone actually made me tear up. The love interest is an incredibly likable guy, honorable, charming, and an incredibly well-timed balance of confidence and modesty. The FX were decent, costumes and sets were beautiful, and the Amazonians and their world left me pumping my fist in the theater during numerous scenes. Badass, indeed. There was so much to like about it, in fact, that I didn't even need to turn on my critic brain.

If I have any complaints about the movie, it's that the villain could have been fleshed out better. I like to love my villains at least as much as my heroes, something DC is actually pretty good at. The character of Ares didn't have as much rage and empathy as I would have liked. He came across as a tired old man who didn't even care if he won the battle and, by the time he was revealed, he was pretty much already dead. Still, this little fact didn't ruin the movie for me, and since the movie had been so excellent up to that point, I was willing to be okay with a slightly mediocre villain portrayal. The story isn't about Ares, anyway. And that's sort of the point.

This was an opportunity to highlight women's contributions and struggles. Diana remarks to her love interest's secretary that her job was more like slavery, a sentiment to which many women in administrative positions can relate. When she walks into a room full of men, she has to prove her worth, something the Amazonian is not used to...and she doesn't. budge. an inch. Likewise, in the aforementioned trench scene, it is Diana who is the shield to her group and other soldiers. Her intense training - shown in the early scenes - makes her a truly formidable warrior, and she rains down all kinds of hell on the Axis powers army. And she does it on her own terms. In the end, she remains compassionate, not turning hard to deal with a world that doesn't want her to succeed.

Her fight was mirrored in the real world as a number of theaters (namely Alamo Drafthouse, out of Austin, TX) decided to run all-female screenings of the movie, to which there was a flurry of angry response from the populous (mainly men), who didn't feel this was in keeping with the spirit of equality, and called the screenings out as a form of hypocrisy. People of all sorts took to the internet in defense of this historic moment, most notably Austin's own mayor. Wonder Woman proved, without even having opened yet, that women's struggle is not over, that the true job of feminism is not done. This portrayal of Diana is a great role model for all generations, whether looking to the future or in hindsight. All in all, the movie was great. I actually cried a couple times, and not out of frustration.

But what does that have to do with travel? Well, if you've seen the movie, you know that Diana embarks on a journey on many levels: geographical, emotional, and spiritual. Diana traipses over half the world, and she does it like a boss. She is a woman traveling, and while she has companions, you know she really doesn't need them. This got me considering how many women feel about traveling alone. Attempting to take your own solo journeys is rife with its own sets of minefields. Aside from real dangers, women are often scoffed at or warned to within an inch of their life that traveling just isn't safe for women. So, here are some thoughts on that.

Amazons weren't badass because they were supernatural beings. They were badass because they trained, and studied, and were masters of strategy, tactics and their own destinies...and most important of all, they didn't see themselves as inferior to or dependent on men in any way shape or form. Mythologically, Amazons are a symbol of women's lack of dependence on anyone - male or female - in choosing how they live their lives. I wish to do my part in helping women finding that part of themselves that dreams of travel, but may still be too afraid. I want women to recognize the Amazon in themselves, the one who embodies all those things, because that woman exists inside us all.

So, below you will find a video on some ways to travel like an Amazon. I hope you will enjoy. And go see Wonder's been worth the wait.

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