Notes from The Buffer Zone: Wonder Woman

Notes from The Buffer Zone:

Wonder Woman

Kristine Kathryn Rusch


For the first time in my life, I cried through a superhero movie. I should probably say, in fairness to me, that I’m a pretty easy crier, especially when faced with stories or something particularly heartwarming.

When I was a typically moody tween, I even declared to friends that I would consider no movie good unless I cried during it.

I now have different standards. In fact, on the nights when I want to escape reality, I often go for the shoot-em-up, Explosions R Us movies rather than anything that’s heavy, intellectual, or tear-inducing.

Except Star Trek. I’ll be honest: I’m such a big Star Trek fan that when the Chris Pine reboot happened, I was adamantly against it all. (James T. Kirk is perhaps my favorite media hero—in more ways than one. Confession: all of my notification ringtones are from classic Star Trek. All of them.)

I was convinced that no one besides William Shatner could play James T. Kirk, and I figured that no reboot of classic Trek would ever meet my exacting fannish standards. So . . . …the film opens, with Chris Hemsworth’s George Kirk, saving the day in delightfully Kirkian fashion—just as baby James T. was being born—and okay, I cried. Those were happy tears. They came straight from my fannish heart, pleased that there would be more classic Star Trek in my future.

Wonder Woman, on the other hand—I liked her but I had never warmed up to her. I liked her a hell of a lot better than Supergirl who simply pissed me off. Sent to Earth to frickin’ babysit Clark? Seriously? Why didn’t Mom simply get in the pod and hold the baby? Or Dad? Or someone responsible. And why was she Supergirl, not Superwoman?

Wonder Woman was a woman, though, and she was strong and pretty—and her secret guise was Steve Trevor’s secretary. AAAAAARGH! Plus, I never much got the bracelets or why, if the dang island was so perfect, she left, or why no one had discovered it, or how the Greek Gods fit into this whole mess in the first place.

As a teenager, I dutifully watched the Lynda Carter TV show, but I just didn’t fangirl over it. It didn’t speak to me.

So, when it came time for the reboot, I noted how the DC movies had done recently and decided I would withhold judgment on whether or not to see the film until I knew whether or not it would be turgid. (So many of the superhero films had become slow and pretentious.)

Then I saw the trailer and decided, Okay. I’m heading to the film on opening weekend.

Which I did.

And cried.

Not from fangirl joy. But because the movie is damn good. It is a treatise on war and humanity and being strong and fighting for what you believe. There’s lots of love in there, and a big fight scene (I love big fight scenes), and a woman who constantly surprises men because she just doesn’t listen to them.

This Wonder Woman is Steve Trevor’s secretary for one sentence—literally—and then that stupid plotline (sop to fans) is completely forgotten.

The sidekicks are a man suffering from PTSD, a Native American, and a man whose skin, in his words “is the wrong color.” The world of myth is bright and sunlit and beautiful; the world of man (and I do mean man here) is gloomy and dark and rainy.

The film is well done, and its depiction of war and its aftermath so accurate that I couldn’t watch one sequence; I had to keep my eyes covered.

The film also explained the Greek myths in the superhero universe well enough to me to make this entire film work.

So, why did I cry?

Because the film—the story—the characters—moved me to tears. Wonder Woman isn’t just a great superhero movie; it’s a great movie. The events in it captured my heart.

It’s also the kind of movie that can’t be replicated. This particular origin story has closed the door on any sequels set 100 years in the past. The sequels might occur, but the power and the impact of some of the characters (I’m trying to avoid spoilers) won’t be there. Nor will Wonder Woman’s delightful naiveté—which was necessary and natural for this kind of story. She’s still in our world, according to the film, and after 100 years, she clearly understands it better. She will (and does) make different choices now.

Just like all of us make different choices than our younger selves.

My younger self would have loved this movie—and not just because it made me cry. She would have loved it for a variety of reasons, most of them having to do with a strong female lead.

I appreciated a few other things: I appreciated the steady hand of director Patty Jenkins. She avoided a lot of the traps that others make in doing films with female leads. Even the clothing sequences are accurate. You can’t fight in Edwardian clothing. Just not possible. And that was noted, and then used as a plot point, not as a joke. (Well, it was funny, too.)

So yeah. I cried. And I’ll probably cry when I see it again.

Because I will see the film again.

I love great movies. They hold up to repeated viewings, to sharing with friends, to three days of thinking obsessively about it.

This is a great movie. Go see it.

But don’t forget the tissue.



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