Wonder Woman is an accomplishment for many reasons: it's the best and most successful DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie yet, it's the first time we see the character appear in the big screen with outstanding results, and its director (Patty Jenkins) became the most successful female director of all time. With the international box office gross for the film having surpassed $615 million, Jenkins's film is the highest-grossing live-action film ever to be directed by a woman.
Hopefully, this true blockbuster will herald an era where women take the reigns of the director's chair for different genres, stories about leading female characters, and topics that aren't limited to "just women" — topics that empower to all genders.
The reason I say hopefully is because 25 years ago A League of Their Own managed to do exactly what Wonder Woman has done today, but after its resounding success, the onscreen diversity issues persisted for years, signaling not much had changed. Geena Davis, who played Dottie Hinson in the film, said it best in this interview:
"It was quite a one-two punch as far as really making me so hyper aware of how few opportunities there were for women to come out of movies feeling excited and inspired by the female characters. The same predictions were made about ('Thelma and Louise'): 'This changes everything. We're going to see so many more movies starring women about women in road pictures or female empowerment movies' — and that didn't happen either"
The same goes for the film's director: Penny Marshall. Immediately after her hit comedy Big, starring Tom Hanks, Penny managed to hit a literal home-run with A League of Their Own. The movie became not only one of the best sports films of all time, but it was considered a victory for female empowerment. So, what happened then?
This article won't try to solve the ins and outs of the movie industry, but my hope is for the article to become a reminder that what Wonder Woman accomplished was not a small feat and it shouldn't be taken for granted. The powers that be must continue and build upon its success, keeping this flame alive.
Geena Davis is the prime example of leading by example and keeping the message alive. She was already a movie icon, but that didn't mean she couldn't relate to the problems inside and outside the industry, She founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2007, which thrives though its motto:
If she can see it, she can be it.
The best thing about A League of Their Own is that it never tried to force a feminist message. A woman is already defined by what she is: a human being. The World War II setting proved that both men and women had a battle to fight. This movie showed us the battle at home. Men were in charge of keeping this nation safe, and women were in charge to keep this nation united and in one piece.
Yet, this movie is an accomplishment in feminism. Every time someone asks me if I consider myself a feminist or if I know what it means, I always says yes, and I use this movie as a template. This movie showed me the struggles both men and women have to go through.
Wonder Woman and A League of Their Own's biggest accomplishment is that, although both are great, they are not aimed at a specific audience. I know that one is a comicbook film and the other one is a sports film, but both have been enjoyed by people that aren't necessarily into either genre because both are relatable.
People love sports films because, more often than not, we all rally behind the story of an underdog. However, the underdog in A League of Their Own is a whole gender, and we end up rooting for sisters, daughters, mothers, wives and athletes to succeed. In Wonder Woman, we end up rooting for her because she represents the goodness that humankind desires to achieve but is afraid to show. Wonder Woman might seem naive to our cynical eyes, but it's her drive, courage and faith in humans that force us to rally behind her, and in a way, we come up with the realization that we do not deserve someone like Diana.
Instead of thinking that after the success of A League of Their Own people decided to ignore the talent and strength that women can bring to the table, I like to think that, just like Wonder Woman, these remarkable women decided to wait for the right moment to come back.
After all these years, there are still several hurdles to overcome for women be truly equal, but there have been improvements and steps towards achieving that ultimate goal. That's why it is imperative that people consider successes like A League of Their Own and Wonder Woman as their own.
Even if we are not actors or Hollywood executives, it falls on us to keep that voice loud and clear. Wonder Woman has open the ears of the powers that be, and it is our duty to make that voice heard. Thanks to A League of Their Own, I understand this message.
What do you think is the largest hurdle facing society today in regards to gender equality?