If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you will probably have heard by now that the Thirteenth Doctor will be played by a woman, Jodie Whittaker (British, of course). You may also have Opinions about this.
Well, so do I. But first I need to tell you a story…
I didn’t grow up reading Marvel or DC comics, but I do enjoy superhero movies, and this decade has had lots of them to enjoy. I loved parts of the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy. I particularly loved Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. And at first I was quite excited about the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), especially once Joss Whedon got on board.
But…who are the women in these movies? The love interests. The sexed-up Russian super-spies (come on, I like Natasha, but she’s clearly written and dressed for the male gaze). The dead mothers. The side characters. Look, I have no problem identifying with male leads (see above), but I was really feeling the lack. (Though The Force Awakens and Rogue One helped. I tried Supergirl, too, but the tone of the series isn’t quite my thing.) I was drifting away from the superheroes, back to books, where I knew I could find as many female leads as I needed.
Then came Wonder Woman.
And the tone was pitch-perfect all the way through. The filmmakers took her seriously, as a character and as a woman. They put her in armour and that’s when I knew…this movie wasn’t about the male gaze. It was for the other half of the audience. The ones who’d been waiting so long for a movie just like this.
Sure, her hair is in perfect waves and she’s drop-dead gorgeous, upstaging both the secretary (fat!) and the female villain (disfigured)! That part is problematic, I grant you. But she spends a chunk of the film in a perfectly-tailored, historically-accurate and not at all sexy coat (after the shopping scene which is also mostly historically accurate). And when the coat comes off and she’s charging through the aptly-named No Man’s Land, strong and fearless and ready to save a village and forcing her ragtag band to follow her…reader, I fell in love.
She’s both innocent and serious about her mission. She has a moment of serious self-doubt and comes back wiser but no less determined. She has a lovely understated romance (kudos to Chris Pine for signing up to be a love interest!). The characters who dismiss her for her gender are quickly put in their place. And, um, there’s that sword-in-the-dress trick, which promptly forced fans to try it for themselves to see if it was possible.
…and isn’t that the highest form of praise?
I didn’t have strong feels when the film was announced. I didn’t dress up as Wonder Woman when I was little. I have no shortage of other female characters in my chosen genres (heck, I’m watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sense8 right now). And even still…I needed this film.
So what do I think about the Thirteenth Doctor? I don’t have strong feels about the show’s history and what’s allowed and not allowed by the rules of that universe. I also don’t have strong feels about the decision to give the role to a woman. But I’m willing to make room for her, to give her a chance. I suspect that once I see her onscreen, I’ll fall in love. She’ll take up the sonic screwdriver and step out of the TARDIS…and it’ll turn out to be exactly what I needed.
There’s a lot more I could write about Wonder Woman, but instead I’ll turn it over to you. What did you think about the film, or about the announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor? Weigh in below, and let’s talk!