Tag Archives: Character Agency

Power Heroines Part I: Wonder Woman

I can’t help it. I love powerful heroines, both real ones and fictional ones. My plan is to post about many of my favorites and what makes them so great. So, who better to begin with then Wonder Woman. Half Amazon. Half goddess.

hero_Wonder-Woman-2017I saw this movie with my husband and I will be honest, I got teary eyed many times while I was watching. My husband, on the other hand, fell asleep. Like seriously, we are in one those theaters where the chairs fold out into beds and I had to wake him up after it was over so we could leave the theater. My reaction: men, they just don’t get it. I will agree that the movie wasn’t perfect. There were some secondary characters that just didn’t do it for me (not the Amazons, I loved those women, especially Robin Wright), there was some plot points that were a bit over-dramatic, but I can overlook all of that. I became emotional because for the first time I’m watching an action movie where the focus is on a woman who doesn’t need anyone but herself to accomplish her goal. For men, this is nothing new. This is what they’ve been taught since the moment they took their first breath. And I don’t care where you were born or what culture or race you are. This seems to be a commonality for men.

Another reason why he might not have got it is because of this post by Barbara O’Neal on Writer Unboxed. http://writerunboxed.com/2015/05/27/scars-and-shame-the-secrets-of-female-haracters/

In most stories about women, the story is mostly an internal story to finding herself. Here, this was not the case. Wonder Woman already knows herself. She has never been sexualized. Her society has never told her that she is inferior to men. She has never had to worry herself about physical desirability. The story was an external quest to stop or destroy Ares from causing war. Her inner self is definitely tested, that’s for sure, but she doesn’t waiver.

So why do we like her then if the story does not give her the usual positive change arc? Why do we want to be her?

Because she has agency. I can’t say this enough. In 21st century literature, a protagonist needs to have agency. A character’s agency pushes, creates and changes the plot. Every moment of this story, this is exactly what Wonder Woman does. When she was a child, she was the one who wanted to learn how to fight. When she saves Steve and learns about the war, she’s the one who goes against her mother’s wishes and decides to leave Themyscira to destroy Ares. When she sees the people affected by war’s devastation, she’s the one who crawls out of the bunker and walks across the front line deflecting every bullet, every bomb in her way (which was by far my favorite part of the movie). Each of these moments changes and shapes the plot. Each of these moments pulls the audience, captivating them and giving them no other choice but to want to follow her through the movie.

The other thing I find so interesting about Wonder Woman’s character and what makes her so three dimensional is that she is full of contrasts. She’s fierce, yet kind; brave yet humble; smart, yet naive.