Shared from the 2017-06-06 Chattanooga eEdition

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Why I cried during ‘Wonder Woman’ fight scenes

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ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Gal Gadot arrives at the world premiere of “Wonder Woman” last week in Los Angeles. The actress said she felt empowered by six months of pre-production that included horseback riding, swordplay and dramatic fight choreography.

I did not expect to cry during “Wonder Woman.”

Specifically, I did not expect to tear up during the fight scenes. OK, maybe if Gal Gadot’s Diana, Amazon princess, had given some terrific speech, or if a character I liked had died, but I certainly did not expect to get all mistyeyed during the battle scenes.

But that’s exactly what happened; when Wonder Woman started fighting, out came the waterworks.

It started on the beach, when Gen. Antiope (Robin Wright) rode into battle with a smile and Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) leaped off her horse, spinning into the air to wipe out two armed men with her sword. As the battle raged on, it became clear the scene was not window-dressing, 10 seconds of Amazon showtime before the real film started. This was the movie — female warriors kicking butt.

They were fierce and powerful, highly trained soldiers who knew what they were doing, and the film took that, and them, seriously. It was overwhelming.

And then came No Man’s Land. Having left her people to help end World War I, Diana travels with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) to the battlefront in France. Along the way, she is told “no” by just about every man in Europe, including Steve. “No, you cannot go into the war room; no, you can’t fight Ares; no, you can’t carry your sword on the street.” Deep in the trenches, she learns that a nearby village is caught in the crossfire. She wants to help and is once again told “no.”

But Diana has had enough. When Steve tells her that they can’t save everyone in this war because “it’s not what we’re here to do,” she agrees.

“You’re right,” she says. “But it’s what I am going to do.”

Pulling off her disguise to reveal her true Wonder Woman self, she climbs a ladder and walks solemnly into No Man’s Land. Deflecting bullets with her bracelets, leaning into machine-gun fire with her shield, she marches forward, spurring the men to follow her. Wonder Woman takes the town.

It was tremendous, and I cried through the whole thing.

I felt like I was discovering something I didn’t even know I had always wanted. A need that I had boxed up and buried deep after three movies of Iron Man punching bad guys in the face, three more movies of Captain America punching bad guys in the face, a movie about Superman and Batman punching each other in the face and then “Suicide Squad.”

“Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins wasn’t too surprised when I described my tearful reaction. “I’ve heard that a lot,” she said.

And sure enough, as “Wonder Woman” blazed through its opening weekend, the Internet was flooded with tales of tears.

Amazingly, Jenkins had to fight for that No Man’s Land scene. “Nobody understood what I was trying to do there,” she said. “It was a scene that everybody was like, ‘Ah, OK, but we’re doing this cool thing in the town, why are you worried about that?’ I think to some of the people I was working with it was confusing. ‘Who’s she fighting?’ [But] it’s not about that, it’s about her.

Maybe the tears that fell while watching Wonder Woman flip a tank were an emotional release for years of frustration, of being told “no” or that I “didn’t get it.” Here was proof of what many of us have known all along: There aren’t “types” of female characters and types of male characters that movies must perpetuate or else.

A movie starring a superhero woman can be just that. And make money: “Wonder Woman” grossed an estimated $100.5 million in the U.S and Canada in its first weekend.

Diana Prince can love ice cream, babies and sex but can also slay on the battlefield with the same amount of screen time given to her super predecessors. She doesn’t need to be some complicated, male-skewed Hollywood vision of damaged or broken or misunderstood. She’s Wonder Woman. And that is more than enough.

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