Wonder Woman's Flawlessness Is Her Biggest Downfall

Warner Bros.

Like many female movie fans, I've grown tired of seeing superhero movie and superhero film starring a lineup of men, with the ladies relegated to supporting roles or hardly in the picture at all. So, naturally, I'm thrilled that Wonder Woman is finally coming to the big screen, as the movie not only features an ensemble of tough, weapon-wielding women, but is genuinely great; it has just as many spectacular action scenes and moving monologues that you could hope for from the genre. Yet while all this is reason to celebrate, I do have some qualms with the film — specifically, its titular protagonist, a character whose total perfection takes away from her relatability as a heroine.

As an Amazon princess who was carved out of stone and brought to life by Zeus, Wonder Woman is never supposed to be the most realistic superhero out there. For one thing, she's immortal, and her unique upbringing — she was raised on a mystical island occupied solely by women — has made her incredibly naive, unaware of basic human tenants like money and marriage. She's familiar with warfare, due to her training on Themyscira, and her education on the island has made her proficient in dozens of languages. But overall, her grasp on humanity is dim, and she stands apart from the people she encounters in an obvious way.

Yet this alien nature, by itself, wouldn't make Wonder Woman hard to like or relate to. It's her flawlessness that disconnects her from viewers. In the film, Wonder Woman is fierce and powerful, the strongest fighter in the room; she's kind and generous, always wanting to help a person in need; she's brilliant and clever, impressing everyone she meets with her wit and charm. And, of course, she's beautiful — she's played by Gal Gadot, Israeli model and actor. Even when Wonder Woman is shown to have problems, they aren't really problems at all; she's too caring, or bold, or giving. As many characters note throughout the movie, she's perfect, in every way possible.


And it doesn't have to be this way just because of her non-human origins. Thor, for instance, is an Asgardian God, but he feels distinctly more human than Wonder Woman, due to the complexities of his personality. He's naive about much of humanity, yes, but he's also arrogant and, sometimes, selfish, needing the introduction of a love interest in order to develop more awareness of those around him (not to mention a sense of humor). Guardians of the Galaxy's Gamora, too, is an alien, but she can be rude and overly aggressive, and actively has to work at being a better person and friend.

As a character sheltered from the human world, where warfare is just an imaginary threat and all people work together to help, Wonder Woman was always going to have an innate goodness to her. But that doesn't mean she has to be flawless. Her perfection makes her distant from audiences, a character who may be an idol, yes, but not a relatable figure. Audiences connect to heroes like Iron Man, Jessica Jones, and Black Widow not only because of their brilliance and abilities, but because of their humanity; they feel like complicated, flawed people, which makes their statuses as heroes all the more interesting. Instead of watching a perfect person be blessed with strength and cunning, viewers get to see protagonists dealing with real problems forced to reckon with newfound power.


Wonder Woman being one of the first female superheroes to lead her own movie is a huge deal, and, as said, that's completely worth celebrating. There's much to love about a powerful, remarkable woman kicking butt on-screen, and hopefully, seeing the movie will inspire countless young girls that they, too, can be fierce, respected leaders. But it'd be nice if they also could see imperfect heroes, too, women who they can look up to not just because of their power, but because of their flawed, realistic, and utterly relatable humanity.