I was young – too young to remember how old I was – when I first saw a spectacle so revolutionary and colourful that even after 15 years of countless shows and double the number of movies and books, it remains to be one of the few constants in an ever-shifting memory – Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman.
I was sifting through the repeats of numerous cartoons when my bored eyes spotted a red and golden top and a headband. I had to investigate that. Upon closer inspection, it was a woman, clad in red and blue, with a lasso in her hand, punching someone in the face. That was the age of Shaktiman, of Harry potter and Hardy Boys. The only famous superhero this poor girl had known was “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Its Superman.” Every important role featured a tall man with/without a moustache, going around saving the city, being worshipped, zipping through, catching females falling from rooftops for no apparent reason. Naturally, being a child, I was very curious as to why there was no one like me doing all the above. The real world was not devoid of tall females being authoritative (cue my teachers). My mom wasn’t falling from rooftops – she was busy working and making me do my homework. So if anyone could be a superhero, as the movies were so adamantly claiming, why was there no one like my mom or my teachers standing up against evil?
When I asked my mom all this, all she said was, “Because we can’t fly and tie up our hair at the same time” and “A girl couldn’t do all that.”
And yet here this woman was, doing things I was conditioned to think were impossible – standing up for justice and what she believes in. I watched her do so for 20 minutes straight, without faltering, stopping only to question anything and anyone, the opposite of what I was taught to do. “Don’t question your brother”, “Don’t question your dad” and yet strangely enough, questioning my mom wasn’t considered rude.
Wonder Woman never stopped questioning. She didn’t stop when the person on the other side was bigger or taller. She brought them down to her level.
Every time I wanted that new loud truck toy, everyone around me would say, “You’re a girl. What’re you going to do with it?” This goddess was driving an armoured tank around the city like it was her birth right.
When I told my mom what I wanted to be when I grew up, she scoffed and said “But you’re a girl. It’s not feasible. It’s not possible.” Wonder Woman was always there doing the best she could, even when she knew she was outnumbered. All on her own. Unbiased and unafraid.
She stood her ground. She fought both her self-doubts and mine. She fought the fight this little girl wished she could. She wrapped my dreams and hopes around her waist and secured it for eternity. She trapped my questions in her headband and let it crack the skulls of those that laughed at her. She held hope in her sword and as it gleamed in the shining sun, so did my teeth as I imagined myself laughing at the question “You’re a girl. What can you even do?” before showing them that red and blue figure flying in the distance, smiling as she ties up her hair.
From that day since, Wonder Woman – my first powerful, elegant, beautiful, brave role model – has always had my back. “But Wonder Woman can” and “Do you know about Wonder Woman?” echoed all the answers I’d confidently toss at anyone whose questions would otherwise have left me embarrassed and incompetent.
The world needs Wonder Woman – a voice to represent all those unheard and all those heard and yet ignored. The world needs Wonder Woman because men and women all need to be told that justice, power, truth and pride are equal for all. They need a strong, graceful figure rising proudly among the ashes of a million questions whose only answer is that skip of a step and that twinkle in her eye as she stands side by side as an equal with those that now ask the question “Is she with you?”
As I wait for June 2, I wait for a new era of a more powerful Wonder Woman but no less inspiring; I wait for this 20 year old’s heart to light up with the pride that she so effortlessly seems to radiate; I wait for the boys and girls to finally see Wonder Woman in their moms who face everything the world throws at them with a smirk, in their sisters who now know they can grab what they want with a lasso, their friends who stand by them with pride and grace, their shields all the way up, who finally know they can be as strong as they want to be.
Wonder Woman is not only a comic book character- she is the embodiment of everything good in the world that a little girl saw 15 years ago, an image of red and blue she carried in her heart whenever she felt frustration and rage. If Wonder Woman could do it then so could she. If Wonder Woman wouldn’t compromise then so wouldn’t she. I saw myself in her as would and did a million others. Her unflinching courage and wisdom was a live lesson on what I had the potential to be. She wasn’t just eye candy. She wasn’t the helpless by-stander who’d wait for someone else to save them. She’d do the saving. She was a just warrior, a wise princess, a friend, a leader, an ideal, an inspiration.
I hope this movie,75 years in the making, finally makes Wonder Woman a common household name, with the grandeur and the larger than life image intact. I hope Gal Gadot makes everyone around me realise that a woman can be who she wants to be. She can be an ambassador of peace, a warrior, a friend, a menace, someone who has the power to stand for truth and justice even if she has to fight through demons to be heard. It was Lynda carter who gave me an ideal to strive through and it will be Gal Gadot who will cement it in everyone’s minds. The red has become darker, the gold brighter, which only means she has been waiting for a while to be heard and now that she has her stage, you had better turn up the volume and watch awe-struck as she crashes through the window and single-handedly does the impossible – make everyone love her. Oh, and also kick ass. That’s important too.
“Don’t kill if you can wound, don’t wound if you can subdue, don’t subdue if you can pacify and don’t raise your hand at all until you’ve first extended it.”