It seems that “Wonder Woman” has been at the center of controversy for weeks, even though the superhero movie only hit theaters this weekend. Everyone from overly sensitive men, to the anti-Israel minister of economy and trade in Lebanon, to patriotism-questioning Fox News commentators seem to be up in arms over the film. But why all the fuss over a simple comic book movie?
Wonder Woman has had a long 76-year history as a feminist and American icon — though ironically, she was created as neither — and those issues came to a head with the release of her first solo movie ever.
Outside of her brief debut in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” this was Wonder Woman’s first turn on the silver screen, despite numerous attempts to make her a bonafide Hollywood star over the years. Many have pointed to her complex Greek-influenced mythology and the lack of success of other female-led superhero movies, but judging by the uproar that has sprung up around the film, those were only minor issues that “Wonder Woman” had to contend with.
‘Wonder Woman’ is steeped in gender politics
Created in 1941 by psychologist William Moulton Marston, “Wonder Woman” has had a complicated history as a feminist icon. Marston believed that women were superior to men, but that they could only realize it by giving into submission — hence the constant bondage imagery in early “Wonder Woman” comics (Seriously, Wonder Woman spends a lot of time chained or tied up). But the imagery of Wonder Woman in chains had a second meaning: Marston also intended it as a reference to the women’s suffrage movement. Protesting suffragists would often chain themselves to railings, or wore chains as a symbol of their oppression by men — Wonder Woman, in turn, could lose her powers if her bracelets were chained together by, you guessed it, a man.