W and I sat down to watch the first few episodes of the newest season of Doctor Who the other day. I’d been eagerly awaiting the debut of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor, and I was not disappointed. She falls through the ceiling of a train car in her first moments on Earth, and it wasn’t long before my eyes were full of tears, and I grabbed W’s hand. I love her already.
Walking into The Force Awakens several years ago, I thought Finn would be the new Jedi. When Rey’s moment with the lightsaber happened, I cried in the theater. The same thing happened when I saw Wonder Woman. During the “No Man’s Land” sequence, I broke down.
What these three moments have in common, other than the tears, is that I realized I had been waiting for characters like these. The Doctor goes on all sorts of adventures, and she’s brilliant and complex. And she’s the leader of the group. Rey is cool and smart, brave and optimistic. She’s learning who she is and how to approach her immense power and potential. Wonder Woman is a leader who inspires courage in those around her.
Here’s my favorite part: all of these characters are allowed to be more than one thing. They get mad. They get sad. They figure things out. They navigate the world around them. They fight for the oppressed. They make judgment calls, often on their own. They save lives. They make mistakes. They face moral dilemmas. They have impact. And absolutely all of it is without creepy camera shots panning and zooming on their bodies. The Doctor wears overalls. Rey is often disheveled or covered in dirt or sweat. Wonder Woman wears her classic look from the comics, but in her solo movie, the Amazons never feel sexualized in an overt or male gaze-y way. They feel strong.
There are other characters that come to my mind when I thought about this, like Jessica Jones or Shuri and Okoye from Black Panther, but I want to write about them another day. Today I just wanted to say that the ladies are HERE, and I am HERE for it!