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In Focus: Why We Need Heroes Like Wonder Woman And Darna Right Now

In Focus: Why We Need Heroes Like Wonder Woman And Darna Right Now

Something flew by and crushed the box office over the weekend. It wasn’t a bird. It wasn’t a plane. And it was certainly not Superman. Despite the skepticism surrounding its initial announcement, the princess we’ve been waiting for has finally made a superhero landing on the silver screen, and to say that Wonder Woman’s cinematic debut was satisfyingly epic is an understatement.

In recent years, we’ve seen progression when it comes to the female representation in movies, but there hasn’t been a female-led, big-budget comic book adaptation in over a decade. Sure, we’ve seen Furiosa steal the spotlight from the titular character in Mad Max: Fury Road and have watched Black Widow fight alongside and against the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, but given that both 2004’s Catwoman (portrayed by Halle Berry) and 2005’s Elektra (portrayed by Jennifer Garner) received an underwhelming critical feedback, female superheroes are rarely called to save the day on a larger scale. Apart from the lack of representation, the divisive response for the DC Extended Universe’s recent efforts Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad put Wonder Woman in an even tighter spot. But against all odds, Wonder Woman powered through expectations and had a triumphant opening weekend. Perhaps, that’s what happens when you trust a talented woman to take over the director’s chair

People might get tired of reading the word “female” whenever a headline regarding Wonder Woman pops up on our feed, but it’s there for a reason, and that's all it is–despite the progression we’ve been witnessing in the past years­–aren’t still given a fair shake. While a filmmaker’s gender isn’t really something most movie-goers think about going in to the theaters, only an embarrassingly small handful of women are hired to work on blockbuster films. Prior to Wonder Woman, director Patty Jenkins was known for her 2003 Oscar-winning film Monster, where Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her leading role in the film. Clearly, she’s more than qualified to be in charge. So, hearing about the overwhelming success of Wonder Woman, following the news of Sofia Coppola becoming the second woman to win the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival since its founding in 1939, gives us a glimmer of hope. Not only did Patty Jenkins save the floundering DC comic book universe, but she has also changed the course of history by making Hollywood’s first female-led superhero movie in 12 years the biggest domestic opening for a female director, beating the previous record set by Sam Taylor-Johnson for Fifty Shades of Grey in 2015.

Apart from making a historic debut, the film itself works wonders. Without going into too many spoilers, Wonder Woman hits so many important beats: it’s generally a well-made film, it has some kickass action scenes, and it sends a positive message to the audience. But above all, it’s got a strong female role model to look up to, especially for those little girls who are surrounded by comic book films led by men. Loaded with a perfect amount of passion and power, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman is a great tool in boosting the morale of females over the world. Created with the desire to fearlessly do good, her moral compass is exactly what we want to see in ourselves. One might say that looking up to a fictional character is a bit zany, but Diana said it herself in the movie: “It’s about what you believe.” With everything that’s happening around the globe, having a little hope in us wouldn’t hurt.

From one kickass female superhero to another, Erik Matti’s film adaptation of Mars Ravelo’s Darna couldn’t come at the perfect time. Since her comic book debut in 1950, our beloved Darna has been played by over several actresses on TV and in films, but we haven’t seen her on fight evil on the big screen since Regine Velasquez’s portrayal for Captain Barbel in 2003. As our country’s most celebrated superhero, it’s about time that we see an updated narrative. With Liza Soberano locked in to play the warrior from Planet Marte after Angel Locsin, unfortunately, backed out of the role due to health reasons, Darna is geared to put women empowerment in the spotlight. That’s one small step for women, one giant leap for mankind.

Main image by Jana Jimenez

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