The tights-and-fights crowd continues to dominate Hollywood and pop culture via DC and Marvel's endless parade of movies. Hardly a month goes by without some costumed adventurer—including, improbably, the likes of Ant-Man—showing up in theaters.
But female heroes have been left out of the party for the most part, other than as a token member of a superteam. Not even Stan Lee himself could explain why Black Widow hasn't gotten a Marvel movie yet, but the real issue is that there hasn't been a female superhero movie at all. Finally, this supremely sexist situation is improving thanks to the Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot.
Wonder Woman has long been considered one of DC Comics' trinity of major characters, along with Batman and Superman, but she hasn't been given nearly the number of opportunities in film. It's been approximately eleventy-bazillion eons since the classic 1970s TV series introduced Wonder Woman into mainstream culture. If this movie is as good as it looks, we could be at the beginning of a long, awesome ride in Diana Prince's sweet invisible jet—a ride that will include many more female-centric films.
But for now, let's just enjoy the fact that a classic female character is getting her due. Strap on your invisible seatbelt and get ready to lasso some vocabulary.
For an even more powerful vocabulary, practice this list: Wonder Woman's Superpower Words
This word for a person who wages war has been mostly associated with men, but Wonder Woman isn't the type of princess who needs to be rescued: she's the one doing the rescuing and brawling. Wonder Woman has a lot in common with Princess Leia, another royal type who wasn't afraid to mix it up.
Wonder Woman comes from an all-female society of Amazons who live on an island—Paradise Island, in fact, which sounds like the best vacation spot ever, except it's populated by warriors who would slice a rude tourist in two. Although there are magical explanations for why Paradise Island is isolated from the rest of the world, being an island is itself an easier way to stay hidden than being landlocked.
The lasso is mostly associated with cowboys: it's a rope with a loop tied at the end, and a skilled roper can swing the thing so accurately that it lands just right on a bull, or some other critter, to bring it down. Wonder Woman's home of Paradise Island is pretty far from the Wild West, but her main weapon is a lasso—the Lasso of Truth, which has sometimes been called the Magic Lasso and Golden Lasso. When she wraps it around someone, they're forced to tell the truth. That comes in handy when roping supervillains, who tend to lie like they're running for office.
Mythology refers to the stories of a group of people, especially stories that explain how the world came to be and what the gods (there are usually a bunch of them) are up to. The Norse tales of Thor and Loki and the Greek adventures of Zeus and company are two of the most famous mythologies. However, myths exist all over the world, and anyone would benefit from learning more about the myths of Native Americans, Persians, and other folks across this big blue ball. At the time people believed in these deities, mythology would not have been the right word-choice: they were religions. Wonder Woman's history involves a lot of interaction with mythology: in one version of her origin, she's the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus. Also, mythology can be used more loosely these days. The back story of a TV show is often called its mythology, and superhero stories are a type of modern mythology too.
This word for a female hero is a little out of fashion, depending on who you ask. Over time, people have tended to throw gendered words in the lexical dumpster, replacing stewardess with flight attendant and actress with actor. But sometimes people want to emphasize the femaleness of a hero, so heroine still has a place in English. As a zillion articles on Wonder Woman appear in the near future, expect this word to appear a lot, as it did in a recent headline from The Inquisitr: "'Wonder Woman' Heroine Gal Gadot Pledges: 'I Will Fight For Good.'"
Most heroes fight for justice in some way, but this word is extra-applicable to Wonder Woman, who has been a member of the Justice Society of America (the very first super-team, founded in 1941) and the Justice League of America (an updated version founded in 1960). Unfortunately, Wonder Woman was originally the secretary for the Justice Society, so let's just say American society has evolved a little bit since then.
Psychologists are experts in the field of psychology, and they study human behavior and all the psychological issues possessed by the mentally healthy and ill. This word probably seems out of place in a list about Wonder Woman, but it is crucial to her history: Wonder Woman was co-created by psychologist (and inventor) William Moulton Marston. Marston was an interesting fella who, besides writing comic books, helped develop a device that's remarkably similar to the lasso of truth: he contributed to the invention of the polygraph, commonly known as the lie detector.
Let's hope Wonder Woman is just the beginning of a slew of superheroine movies. Men and women both deserve role models that aren't constrained by reality—especially when there's a magical lasso involved.
Mark Peters is a language columnist, lexicographer, and humorist who has written for Esquire, The Funny Times, New Scientist, Psychology Today, Salon, and Slate. He contributes to OUPblog and writes the Best Joke Ever column for McSweeney's. You can read Mark's own jokes on Twitter, such as, "I play by my own rules, which is probably why no one comes to my board game parties anymore."Click here to read other articles by Mark Peters
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