The Politics of Action: Reading Wonder Woman’s Body Image

Mackenzie Belo

1. Introduction

Wonder Woman (WW) has become a social and pop culture phenomenon that storms the box office. The hero has become a symbolic artifact of the entertainment and superhero industry. Her diverse story of femininity and power draw in a new segment for the franchise that her male superhero counterparts fail to encompass. For over 80 years, the superhero franchise’s beloved Wonder woman, formally known as Diana, has symbolically represented powerful themes of equality, truth and justice. Introducing the franchise’s latest film Wonder Woman 1984 (WW84), captured by a female director, Patty Jenkins, the film speaks for itself as its 2019 debut draws in over 150 million dollars through the hardships of release during a global pandemic. However, several critics panned the film, suggesting that its cinematics were lacking compared to most male superhero film franchises. Through film analysis, this essay will explore the film techniques of personalization used to illustrate WW’s action narrative’s in Patty Jenkins’ direction of WW84.

As a summary, this essay will investigate the heroes strategic body image, concluding that WW’s generational influence as a pop culture personification propagates audiences through the consumption of erotic action. Moreover, erotic consumption promotes objective viewership’s “visual pleasure” of WW’s physical appearance as a Femme Fatale. This essay depicts the high political intent of capitalization from WW’s body image by analyzing censorship as the film’s influential function. Further depiction analyses the patriarchy of feminine censorship that serves the high political intent of capitalization by objectifying the characters function as a sensory illusion that visually stimulates the narrative by exploiting the cultural icon’s body image. In contrast, the essay examines the discourse of WW subjective imagery and reflects on pop culture to effectively criticize the low political content of ideological nationalism.

Furthermore, it will critique audiences’ inability to critically interpret the iconic character’s individualism, criticizing the false mythology resulting from modern propaganda. Cinematic inconsistencies of personalization analyses of nationalism as a form of low political content reflect WW’s body image. The essay concludes that it considers cinematic propaganda a type of theatrical manipulation that conditions social relief without desired resolve. The paper aims to fully understand the magnitude influence within WW’s imagery and its effects in shaping the overall narrative of WW84.

2. Directors Film technique

Firstly, female director Patty Jenkins captures Diana’s sole narrative in WW84 as the movie follows the convention of personalization. The film concentrates on WW’s character development through the chaotic tribulation of war and battle. The film aims to preserve the time of the American ’80s shaping the subjectivity of women’s liberation in patriarchy illustrated through the setting of Washington, D.C. The director’s choice of opening scene sets the Ideology of the movie referencing “”Ideology in this usage refers to implicit views and assumptions that seem to be common-sense truths or natural beliefs, neutral in their apparent universality, but that serve the interests of a ruling class or dominant force in society. By definition, this kind of Ideology or “false ideas” can be difficult to discern. Yet Douglas Kellner suggests ideology “functions within popular “culture and everyday life” and that “images and figures constitute part of the ideological representations of sex, race, and class in film and popular culture.” In this view, most movies can be useful sites for uncovering ideological meaning not restricted to obvious political content” (Haas et al.) The film opening set depicts the Roman Empire, and it presents a young Diana participating in a valiant competition against her elder Amazonian counterparts. The director’s effective use of censored product design combined with aggressive framing and sound visually portrays a subject for younger and new consumers through the opening scenes introduction. Close-up shots of young Diana and her Amazonian foremothers, combined with horses’ heightened sounds and cheering, reflect the modernized femme Fatales narrative’s. Including the strong personalized themes of war, duty, and empowerment, Jenkins’s use of formalism in product design, particularly the image of Diana’s costume, alludes to the youth’s intellect. Unlike previous franchise films, the idea of a censored Diana is unrecognizable compared to her modern imagery. Her childhood is illustrated with a brown armoured jumpsuit that reveals the young woman’s shoulders. Diana’s comparative garment is resourceful relative to her senior Amazonian competitor’s scandalous attire, allowing Diana to throw arm mobility. Through a family-friendly introduction to the narrative, the mise-en-scene captured through Jenkins techniques crafts the foundation of WW’s Ideology. The audience is primed for the characters narrative’s action by the censored tension roused in the opening scene. Surprisingly, the westernized super icon becomes familiar to a devoted audience as the progressive film uses full-body frames. Sticking to the character’s origins, actress Gal Gadot tends to match the superheroes generational picture, as her appearance adds an element of allure to the beloved character.

3. Censored Capitalism

Second, the essay explores the relationship between the solid political intent of WW’s appearance as a woman and the patriarchy of censorship. It dissects the narrative’s thematic ideologies that critically endorse capitalism. Based on the facts and prior judicial ruling, it is evident that capitalization is a critical factor of the film industry examining

In Mutual Film Corporation vs Ohio Industrial Commission the court reasoned that movies were a profit-driven business and, unlike the informative print media, served no larger purpose than to make money; therefore, they did not merit freedom of the press or free speech rights. At the same, time the justices warned that movies possessed “a capacity for evil.” That meant that legally movies were matters of interstate commerce, not forms of protected artistic expression, and therefore were subject to state regulation like other goods and services. (Haas et al.)

Previous franchise updates, such as Black Panther, had characterized fresh and thrilling storylines that heightened the thematics of woman’s subject matter, but WW84 was sadly met with mild criticism. Despite the film’s representation of a feminist narrative that involves women’s rights, war, and race, the objective lens deliberately being viewed turns attention away from the urgent concerns of early twentieth-century culture. It, therefore, promotes the objectification of entertainment as a pornographic and sentimental spectacle for viewing.

As a result, the action genre in WW84’s cinematography captures political gender mythology marked by WW’s female heroism’s sexual stimulation. The censored underlying messaging represents WW’s imagery as a feminine manipulation of the Femme Fatale trope to parallel her pop culture providers. The censored underlying messaging signifies WW’s imagery as a feminine manipulation of the Femme Fatale trope to parallel pop culture predecessors. The documented imagery of her objectification as a femme fatale propagates her patriarchal function as an erotic spectacle, as per Jenkins’ representation of the imagery. The illustrated imagery of her objectification as a femme fatale reproduces her patriarchal role as an erotic spectacle, thus according to Jenkins’ portrayal of Woman’s life. Laura Mulvey, a feminist film theorist, argues that cinema’s active gaze facilitates women’s functional role in providing a sexual sensation for both the protagonists in the film and the spectator viewing.

Moreover, Mulvey suggests that “Cinema… (its sphere of influence) arose, not exclusively, but in one important aspect, from its skilled and satisfying manipulation of visual pleasure. Unchallenged, mainstream film coded the erotic into the language of the dominant patriarchal order.” The narrative’s introduction of a love interest for WW only stereotypes the character’s visual gratification as a seductive defender. Since WW’s admirable nature transforms into visual gratification, the film adaptation conveys the characters’ cliche rational symbolized through her tender performance to children and her depicted love.

In contrast to her gentle approach to these narrative dependent characters, the film fails to articulate femininity’s power, reiterating WW’s directed narrative. This mythology supports the Femme Fatale, wherein she offers to give up her strength for love. The stereotypical portrayal of feminine ideology encourages viewers to glorify women’s representation as a profit source systematically. The movie’s objectification further extends women’s mythology, whereas the film’s high political purpose serves capitalism above subjectivity.  WW’s portrayal of a noble military figure who battles political disasters socially portrays feminism as an available position in patriarchy’s economics. Consequently, WW84’s narrative reflects mirrored ideologies that merit no other political ideology but pop culture capitalization. As a result, WW’s portrait serves the century of general society. WW’s visual satisfaction as a seductive protector is further stereotyped by the narrative’s inclusion of a romantic cliche in the presence of heroic nature.

4. Subjective Propaganda

Finally, Jenkins’s rationale for keeping to WW’s sentimental portrayal represents the film’s low political material as a societal expression of propagandist mass culture, following the thematics of the director’s parallel usage of the environment. WW’s colour scheme, which is based primarily on the American flag’s colours, is a fitting tribute to the American Femme Fatale’s liberation struggle of ideas and philosophies. Similarly, the gold accents in WW’s imagery, and her golden weapon, exemplifies the capacity of true Freedom, acting as a conceptual mirror that protected femininity is not granted but fought for endlessly. The imagery of Diana’s transformation, on the other hand, effectively mirrors a melting pot ideology that propagates the feminine mythology of patriotic philosophies amid the opening scenes individualist perspective into the character’s growth. While her cultural roots are shown in the opening scene of WW84, her image’s social assimilation represents nationalism ideologies. The film’s bland interpretation of historical imagery, on the other hand, merely encourages the appropriation of her image as a historical pop-cultural force. Even though capitalism was established to satisfy and exploit pop culture for commercial gain, WW’s influential role as a social and political activist is similar to the well-known propaganda poster “We Can Do It,” promoting women in the workplace. J. Howard Miller’s organizational campaign is a cultural artifact and is one of World War II’s most famous icons After World War II, women’s advancement in the defence industry was a sexist sign of the expanded female patriarchy of nationalism. When the war ended, however, military veterans recognized that all specialist associations that employed women needed temporary help to deal with the labour shortage, which terminated women’s normality in the workplace. As a result, Wonder Woman’s timeless identity establishes her as a societal construct based on suppressed historical philosophies.

Consequently, the nostalgic sentiment of the film attracts viewers by remaining faithful to the narrative. The discourse portrayed encompassed either the audience’s present reality or the past, thereby maintaining a distance from historical accuracy. The escapism of personal memory inclined through WW’s image allows reflective relief of berating issues in society. As WW84 draws narratives of women’s historical hardships, the film’s superficiality eroticizes the nostalgic idea that overshadows the history showcased. About the social art of sculpture, Frederick Jameson theories help classify the deviant art of replication as the foundation to why audiences are unable to analyze thematic messages of art critically.

Additionally, in terms of postmodern culture, Jameson theorizes a replication or “empty copy” counter-intuitively drives audiences to support pop culture’s imagery rather than the importance of the narrative. Formulating the understanding of replication reflective of Jamesons theories follows “the key sculptural relation is that of replication. If, in the most conventional sense, a replica is a “copy or duplicate of a work of art,” especially “a copy made by the original artist,” then the act of replication always involves an interplay between sameness and difference (OED). This interplay is especially complex ….because certain practices,… strive to effect sameness in difference.” (Alworth, David J.) In comparison to propaganda, technological advances have developed cinema to serve as propagandist entertainment that reflects nationalism’s ideological biases. Contrasting through a modernized model image of femininity, WW’s identification as a pop culture artifact symbolizes the comparative influence of previously incited propaganda methods. Seemingly, WW84’s narrative interprets the monumental effects of technological evolution regarding replicated compliance of ideology. However, the individualism absent from the pop culture person mirrors a mere replication of political content that conditions the fetishized allure of capitalism.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, this article suggests that the compelling and eroticized imagery associated with WW honours her character as a cultural artifact. Unfortunately, WW84’s supports feminist mythology’s supplying false narratives by generational objective personification. Furthermore, it is essential to compare and contrast the visuals depicting Diana’s childhood with WW’s contemporary recognizability. Describing the director’s progressive choices of WW’s costume design,  the mise- en scene’s subjectivity signifies the generational fight for femininity in freedom. Although WW character development becomes objectively lost in (pop) cultural translation, WW84 sheds light on the female experience and the endless combat of patriarchal representation. It helps decipher the visual stimuli of the female hero complex and its opposite influence on the characterization of femininity by technique.

In contrast to other myths that culturally artifact the superhero franchise, WW’s body image provokes the active male gaze to fixate customer fetishism, further justifying the heroes’ eroticized negative body image. The essay explores the design of “replications” and their propagandist function of practical nationalism.

 Furthermore, it criticizes pop culture’s empirically-based interpretation of sensory fixations, which tends to deny the subjectivity of individualism favouring the government of simplistic and naive capitalization focused primarily on a storyline of desire. Overall, the political agendas that form WW’s character profit from the Femme Fatale’s destructive behaviour help perpetuate feminist mythology, bolstered by the most recent female-directed version of WW84.

Works Cited

Alworth, David J “ Henry James, Fredric Jameson, and the Social Art of Sculpture. “ The Henry James Review, vol 36, no. 3,2015,pp.212-225

Haas, Elizabeth, et al. Projecting Politics: Political Messages in American Films, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.

Jenkins, Patty, director. Wonder Woman 1984. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2020.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,”                  , 2016.