Joss Whedon’s version of the movie is entirely told through Steve Trevor’s perspective. The script reeks of the typical male gaze that is already rampant in mainstream media.
By Roslyn Talusan
If you’ve been on the Internet at all this month, you’ve probably seen countless pieces on the amazing progressiveness that is Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. Women all over the world have been moved to tears by the revolutionary scene of strong female warriors training in combat, with nary a man in sight. I personally cried at least 8 times throughout the film – I think it’s the best superhero film to date.
However, that doesn’t mean the film is free from critique – it hardly solves the issues that affect non-cishet, non-white, disabled women, and it basically wasn’t that much of a win for diverse representation in mainstream media. For one thing, Gal Gadot is a Zionist. She is also not someone who black and brown women see themselves represented in. The Amazons of color are relegated to background, non-speaking roles, and do not appear past the first act of the film.
Moreover, while directed by a woman, the screenplay was written entirely by white men. Aside from Jenkins, Deborah Snyder is the only other woman credited in the production of the film.
The next DC film to star a woman as its main character is Batgirl, and Joss Whedon has been announced to direct the film. I know, I know – Whedon wrote one of the most feminist pieces of media out there, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Don’t get me wrong, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a formative part of my feminist identity. But given Whedon’s recent track record as a so-called feminist, I’m worried for the film.
Last night, Twitter user @_sashayed livetweeted her reading Whedon’s proposed script for Wonder Woman back in 2007. Folks, this doesn’t look good for us – sure, it was written in 2007, but for someone who has always championed himself as an ally to women, Whedon should know better than to pull the stunning amount of bullshit in this script.
reading the wh*don wonder woman script was never any fun but after seeing/crying at actual WW it becomes a viscerally insulting experience
— Rave Sashayed (@_sashayed) June 15, 2017
Joss Whedon’s version of the movie is entirely told through Steve Trevor’s perspective. The script reeks of the typical male gaze that is already rampant in mainstream media. A direct example of this is the way Whedon describes Steve versus the way he describes Diana and Hippolyte:
Here we have a man with a simple descriptor that speaks solely to his character. In contrast, Diana’s description entirely focuses on her appearance, objectifying her, and ignoring her character completely with creepy, male-gaze descriptors:
“To say she is beautiful is almost to miss the point. She is elemental, as natural and wild as the luminous flora surrounding. Her dark hair waterfalls to her shoulder in soft arcs and curls. Her body is curvaceous, but taut as a drawn bow.”
For some reason, Whedon needed to specify that Hyppolyte is middle-aged, but despite this, she is “very much in her prime.” These descriptions perpetuate the tropes that women are nothing more than their appearance, and that women past the age of 25 become less capable and less useful to society.
Later, Diana meets an antagonist who immediately calls her a whore and shoots her in the chest. Another villain, steeped in racial stereotypes (as if this shit show wasn’t bad enough as it is), refers to Diana as a “crazy strong bitch in a tiara.”
Subjecting women to misogyny and violence wasn’t revolutionary in 2007, and certainly isn’t now. It only repeats the tired point that men hate women. Trust me when I say we fucking get it. It’s time we move on and start developing media where women are treated as goddamn humans with respect and dignity.
On top of Diana’s constant objectification and being torn down by the men around her, Whedon’s script sees the primary villain of the story, Strife, a strong-ass woman and Diana’s half-sister in the comics, written as a man. For a supposed feminist, it’s baffling that Whedon would take away even more female representation in Wonder Woman’s story.
I’m not sure what his end game in this was – perhaps he just really wanted to convey that Men Are Bad – but ultimately, this only serves to uphold the male-heavy status quo in the film industry.
In Whedon’s canon, the Amazons were imprisoned by Ares out of his jealousy for their strength and powers. He creates a special chain that when bound, robs the Amazons of their power. Strifes bests Diana in combat, holding Steve hostage – the only way Strife will spare him is if Diana submits. Unsurprisingly, she sacrifices her powers to save a man’s life, even if that man spent a whole scene telling her she wasn’t good enough, despite being a goddess, to save the world.
Whedon makes it a point in the ensuing scenes to illustrate how weak Diana is, and how much she suffers just to survive. Her experience in the jungle, weak and alone, is graphic and upsetting, and I can only imagine how it would have played out on film. He writes that Strife’s touch is “almost invasive” to her weakened body – as if being brutalized and stripped of her strength to within inches of her life wasn’t violating already.
The rest of script plays out predictably and somehow gets even more sickening. Diana seeks refuge in a small village, where she begs for food, and is reduced to tears in her shame. Rebels attack the village, and upon discovering Diana, their leader just has to look down her shirt. It isn’t until she realizes that Hyppolyte has been watching her this whole time that she realizes her strength, and breaks free of the chains binding her powers.
Diana’s story culminates in her finding the invisible jet, battling a mechanical chimera, and saving the world. She and Steve share a passionate kiss, and despite her miraculous triumphs throughout the entire film, he doubts her when she says she can fly. End.
Thank God that’s over.
Whedon’s entire script, written post-Buffy, is full of tired tropes and misogynistic bullshit. This shit isn’t progressive, it’s redundant. I’m tired of seeing stories where women sacrifice themselves and suffer to the ultimate benefit of men. Women face this in reality enough as it is, and I’ve had enough of our media constantly bombarding us with this narrative.
Given that Whedon, to this day, is confident in this shitty script is a glaring red flag for the Batgirl movie. We have enough female characters who have been interpreted by men, and we have enough violence against women in real life. We don’t need anymore in our media.
For someone who claims he’s an ally, Whedon takes up a lot of space that he could relinquish to women who have the lived experience to do Batgirl the justice it deserves. All I can see happening is another Wonder Whedon-esque shit-storm full of problematic narratives we’ve seen a million times before. I’m really hoping that Whedon proves me wrong here, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he didn’t. So much for being an ally.
Author Bio: Roslyn is a Filipina-Canadian freelance writer in Toronto. She’s a passionate feminist and advocate against sexual violence, and found her soulmate in her cat. In her spare time, she dances to Britney Spears, and practices hot yoga and hot Pilates. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.