Why was the new Wonder Woman movie (2017) so Bad?

I finally saw Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman. As part of my focus on Mythology and Modern cultural story telling I will be critiquing fantasy film.

Sorry, but this was another horrible comic book film devoid of myth and any emotional connections to characters. Though I like Gadot the actress and the director, the story and film suffers from what most modern American film continues to suffer from….to much focus on modern conflict and desires and less on transcendant myth and human connection.
The main issue is the hyper-focus on modern empowerment, conflict resolution, and love-seeking. Those tie into our own frustration culturally with drives for money, marriage, and social hierarchy. But like all comic book hero movies Ive seen, when the focus is devoid of the spirit and of myth, it leaves us with films and screen writing that is souless.

In Wonder Woman, there was the exact same problem of too much focus on backstory and world building, less on actual adventure and journey. As all these films are fantasy hero-stories, they have a connection to Greek myth and the story of Oddyseus where after his ships are driven off course following the Trojan War, he and his men must face trials and monsters before returning home. That tale is told over and over in Western literature and film and forms the psychological archetype of the mythological hero-journey.

But Wonder Woman disolved that journey and hijacked the spiritual hero-journey completely. The struggle of good versus evil is even removed from this movie and replaced with rapid computer-generated fight scenes and sword fights on battle fields where no one dies but empty gunfighters and random sword wielders who are just dummies there for the victor to vanquish.

In a sense, Wonder Woman’s reason to fight anyone or use violence to solve anything is meaningless purposeless as we have no connection to her enemy at all. She never has a real reason to have a real journey after all even the enemy in her is sterile and purposeless to begin with. She is already a sword master and beautiful and flawless therefore has attained all the Godship, wealth, and self love. Therefore we have no connection to her at all.
The hero journey has been replaced by some meaningless death she must avenge and the odd entry of her love interest into her world from abroad to drive her forward. Her archetype as such is stripped of its personal journey and replaced with some modern writers view of the “sign posts” of life….which is gaining adulthood, finding love, have a few financial struggles, beating some dark patriarchal figure, then winning in some final sword battle.
What makes me sad is Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 92%. That shows not only how BAD past comic book hero films are but how thirsty we are for myth and meaning beyond Modern cultural tropes we truly are. Realism in 2017 has destroyed our connection to mythology and our focus on conservative religious dogma and the hollowness of it has eroded away our desire for myth.

Im convinced that the reason 1977 Star Wars became the hub of mythological modern meaning is because of the understanding by George Lucas of Ancient Myth and his friendship with Mythologist Joe Campbell before he died.

After 2000 we saw a rapid change in how movies told stories. There was a rapid decline in quality film and story telling, replaced with Realistic portrayal related to modern meaning and stripped of fantasy and adventure. Ive argued this is a result of current changes in culture from the rugged rebellion of the Postmodern Spiritual Baby Boomers to the authoritarian Groupthink of the MetaModern Millennials of today.

With that change has sadly been a reburial of myth and risk-taking with adoption of the acceptance and repair of the destroyed modern world and the challenges it faces. A massive reconstruction is underway in parallel with its last destruction by the boomers their parents. Its this rebuilding of government and social bonds thats just now beginning that embraces the needs of the conscious mind over the unconscious one we have seen so vividly in film stories since the 1960’s. And its this reconstruction that will continue the next 50 years. But at what expense will this new embrace of the goodness of the real world have on the darkness we have experienced in fantasy? Is the result more bad super hero films???
Im happy and thrilled to see the younger generations finally shuck the rebellion of their parents and advance towards rebuilding institutions and government. But with that has come a dramatic shift in the role of story telling I fear….away from the inner often imaginative, troubled, and violent fantasy we have been used too, and a new desire for wholeness, protection, and acceptance of the individual as a part of the outer culture, his/her inner having no purpose or value as before.

We will see many more hero films like this in the future, Im sad to say, where story is no longer designed to emotionally stir us or connect with our unconscious desire to reject modern culture and seek the hero journey, but instead use story and film to “acknowledge” the validity of the world and its political and financial struggles we all now face. Expect 50 years of this type of Metamodern fantasy film that reject myth and emotion and glorifies the “us” thats here now, the celebration of unity, of the State, or the reality we have long rejected in film.

Wonder Woman is us now not in myth…..ironically this film like many being Metamodern film being made says its reality and modern culture is the fantasy. its flip-flopped that identity crisis we are having and this leaves us empty and hollow. It therefore says all of fantasy is no longer about story but about life being one big TV commercial to be consumed.
A much healthy, lawful, loving world will come from this new Metamodern ideal, certainly, as the new authoritarian generation changes it on multiple levels to be inclusive of other value systems an cultures as the younger generations work to indoctrinate us all into the new kinder more humane world they envision.

But we are entering an age now where we will lose again our understanding of myth and the purpose of mythological story telling we so desperately need now. And from that will grow a deep and desperate hunger for film and myth that future generations with use to rebel against this one and topple it just as the Baby Boomers so bravely but violently toppled their parent’s 50 years ago.

– the Author

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