Last year, Wonder Woman was dropped as the United Nations honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls, just two months after her controversial designation. A petition citing the character's large breasts, "impossible proportions," and overtly sexualized "thigh-baring body suit," in addition to the desire for a real-life woman to take the post, led to Wonder Woman's swift demotion.
But limiting Wonder Woman to her image demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the iconic DC Comics heroine. After all, she's been a beacon of female empowerment since her creation in 1941. Just ask the cast of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, director Angela Robinson's tale of Wonder Woman's unconventional origins.
"I was blown away that a character that I assumed was just another comic book character has actually this root in feminist theory and was conceived of as this peace-keeping icon that could change the world," Rebecca Hall told MTV News. "I found myself looking at all the comic books throughout time and suddenly seeing Wonder Woman as this metaphor for feminist history."
The brainchild of psychologist and polyamorist William Moulton Marston (played by Luke Evans), Wonder Woman was a controversial figure in the comic book industry thanks to Martson's overtly feminist ideology. "It is important to me that young girls of today realize that they have the power within themselves to create their own destiny," Marston says in the film, "to be President of the United States if they want."
It was a radical idea in the early 1940s. (In some ways, more than 76 years later, it still is.) Wonder Woman was just as strong as Superman, but she never relied on brute force. She was as just as Batman, but instead of the incarceration of criminals, she preached rehabilitation. Her compassion was her greatest strength.
Yet, critics still continue to call the character's feminism into question because of her preference for armored bustiers and thigh-high boots.
"You could say that it's a different sort of misogyny to suggest that there can only be one way to be a feminist," Hall said. "Or only one way to be a woman. That's very restrictive and oppressive."
Besides, have you seen what male superheroes can get away with? "Superman's got pecs!" Hall said. "He's in a skin-tight, latex onesie where everything's on display," Evans added. (Literally everything.)
And the most damning of them all: "Batman's got nipples!"
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is out in theaters now.