How significant was the recent Wonder Woman film to the feminist movement? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Rachel Stuhler, author of Geek Actually, novel and TV writer:
In my opinion, Wonder Woman is a huge step forward for the feminist movement. The last few years have seen progress for women, most notably Rey's introduction to the Star Wars universe and the amazing Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae in Hidden Figures, as well as Ava Duvernay taking the helm of A Wrinkle in Time. But Wonder Woman is groundbreaking for the feminist movement for other reasons, as well.
The story structure is entirely different from what we've seen in other female-driven movies. While they acknowledge that the Amazons were created specifically for the gaze of men, none of the shots or lines in the movie would lead you to believe that. Though the battle armor is relatively scant, watching the Amazons train for battle makes the outfit choice appear perfectly reasonable.
Much has been made of Diana's (Gal Gadot) "babe in the woods" persona at the outset and whether or not that makes her a female archetype, but she isn't naïve because she's a woman. We see the weight of the world on the shoulders of her mother, Hippolyta, and aunt, Antiope. They're aware of what lies beyond Themyscira's protective border; Diana isn't simply because she's never been exposed to it.
From her first introduction to Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), it's clear that this is a different story than the one we're used to hearing. Diana is not rescued, SHE rescues Trevor. She has no trepidation about going out into the world to battle Ares, heedless of her own personal danger. Her emergence from the trench in the No Man's Land scene is as classic a superhero origin story as we've ever had; pushing back against fear and overwhelming odds to do what is right and necessary. And she doesn't wait for any man to join her.
As the story progresses, Trevor doesn't question whether or not Diana can handle herself in battle. Not only does he quickly come to rely on her, he also comes to expect a positive outcome based on her presence alone. And Wonder Woman's love story with Steve Trevor is one of the first to truly work for me in a superhero movie. Trevor realizes very quickly that he is outmatched by this otherworldly creature, and seems to fight his feelings before ultimately giving in. They are not equals, and he knows it.
I do have several friends who grumbled that Diana summons her final burst of strength from an "I love you," but I disagree. That's not Wonder Woman's style, nor is it Patty Jenkins'. Diana's last push to defeat the big bad comes not from infatuation, but the realization that as flawed as humanity is, we have good at our core. It is not Steve's love that propels her, it's his sacrifice.
Wonder Woman makes feminism look artful and effortless. It's the kind of movie that can shift institutional sexism, and I hope we see countless more like it.