Warning: Mild SPOILERS ahead for Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is set to take the global box office by storm. Directed by Patty Jenkins,Wonder Woman has a lot to prove; not only in terms of proving that the DC Extended Universe can produce quality movies, but also that a female-led superhero movie deserves a place on the world’s stage, and that Wonder Woman is every bit as capable of being a fierce, strong superhero as any of her male counterparts.
So far, Wonder Woman has far surpassed all the expectations placed on it and then some. With overwhelmingly positive reviews, which led to a “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems as though Wonder Woman is the superhero we’ve all been waiting for.
One of the reasons audiences are flocking to theaters this weekend to catch it, is the novelty of having a female-led movie. As Diana Prince, Gal Gadot perfectly encapsulates the strong female role model we all wish for our daughters to have. Sons too, since Wonder Woman has many admirable attributes that we should all aspire to, and the character is a perfect introduction to kids about how to conduct yourself with dignity in the face of adversity, how to overcome all the odds, and how to strive to be the best you can be. The question is, with Wonder Woman rated PG-13, is it really suitable viewing for young children?
The First World War setting is the most unsettling aspect of the movie. War is brutal, and WWI was particularly bloody, fraught, and upsetting. Wonder Woman doesn’t shy away from all that, and if the small people in your life – be they your own kids, other relatives, or friends’ children – are of a particularly squeamish nature when it comes to gunshots and bomb blasts, then it might be best to stay away. Death is shown, as the result of a variety of weapons, and Diana herself kills others. Though there is a lack of blood and gore, it can still be hard to explain to young children how someone who is, in essence, a good person, can kill. Then again, war is a difficult, but necessary subject to address with young kids; understanding that bad things happen is all part of growing up.
Diana kills in order to protect others; to try and bring an end to the war. She believes she is right in doing so, and sometimes we must have the courage of our convictions. A recurring theme throughout Wonder Woman is taking action for the greater good – whether that is sacrificing your own life, or knowing that others will die as a result of your actions in order that, ultimately, more will live. For some children, that can be a hard concept to grasp. Arguably, the best way for them to understand something so altruistic, is to have it shown to them. Wonder Woman certainly serves that purpose.
This is not a movie for very young children. Because of the war setting there are also non-graphic scenes involving the use of deadly gas on civilians (including children) that could be frightening for the very young, but kids from age 7 upwards should be fine as long as they’re with an adult. The plot of the movie is not its strongest point; far more powerful is the message it brings, and the themes of acceptance, tolerance, justice, peace, and love. There’s something so utterly captivating about Gadot striding across No Man’s Land, deflecting bullets, grenades, and machine gun fire, that makes the audience themselves feel empowered.
Sitting next to a 12-year-old girl who has never seen a superhero movie, and watching as she sits upright in her seat and grins delightedly while Diana kicks ass, makes everything come together. Wonder Woman is not a kids’ movie, but it is a movie with a powerful message for kids of all genders to learn. It’s okay to stand on your own, to be strong, powerful, independent… but it’s also okay to love; to open your heart, to show your vulnerabilities, and to rely upon another person’s strength and resilience to get you through. That is something that both Steve and Diana learn, and again, the greatest way for kids to learn about something like that, is to have it shown to them on screen.
Beyond the violence and adult themes of the movie, the other mature content is fairly tame. Diana and Steve talk non-explicitly about sex, mainly through a collection of humorous innuendos, and it’s implied that they have sex – though the movie only shows them kissing before cutting away. There is also a scene where Diana walks in on Steve taking a bath, during which Chris Pine is shown nude in a wide shot, covering his genitals with his hands. There is very little in the way of strong language (Ewen Bremner’s character says “bugger” at one point, and that’s about as harsh as it gets).
Each child is different and there are some who will be upset by soldiers dying from bows and arrows, or bomb blasts decimating entire towns. Equally, there are others who will let it go over their heads. Wonder Woman’s themes far outweigh the action on screen though, and ultimately, it is our duty as adults to make sure those themes carry over into our everyday lives, giving our kids examples to live by.