Three years after a truly inspiring superhero film, Patty Jenkins’ sequel uses faux feminism to push a reactionary agenda
I remember very clearly, three years ago, going to the cinema to see Wonder Woman. It was an afternoon showing and the entire experience – slinking off work while the kids were at school, paying extra for the posh seat, walking out on to the street two hours later confident that, if push came to shove, I could probably bend metal – reminded me how transporting big movies can be. Superhero franchises are, for the most part, made by men for men, but this movie, directed by Patty Jenkins, felt like a rare exception. It was almost pitiful: how gratifying – moving, in fact – it was to see a woman at the centre of a $150m (£108m) movie.
Sentimentality for a commercial beast of that size was probably always misguided, like celebrating the “empowerment” of women pole dancing in clubs run by men. If Wonder Woman didn’t feel cynical, it was still formulaic and subject to the usual requirements; it is hard to imagine Batman fighting crime in a suit that ended at the bum-line. And yet, it seemed to me, you could tell there was a woman in charge. If the fight scenes at the top of the movie had a slightly porny aesthetic, the intended audience was other women. For once, it wasn’t about the men.