Scott Wilson: Angry men furious at all-women Wonder Woman screenings highlight why we need them

As the first female-centric superhero film of the modern era is upon us, some cinemas are hosting all-women screenings of Wonder Woman. Not everyone is happy about it...

AFTER A STRING of critical failures (which didn’t hamper their box office success), it looks like the folks at DC finally have a film on their hands. Early social media reviews of Wonder Woman have been glowing, and the studio is in talks to bring the release date forward in some areas. The review embargo (typically in place until just before a film’s release) is also speculated to be brought forward.

It means DC is going all out. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was widely ridiculed, and launched the internet’s adoration of a sad Ben Affleck. Even though it brought in $870m for Warner Bros – not to be sniffed at – it was done without the adoration its Marvel rivals seem to court with ease. Suicide Squad is no Deadpool (which, in turn, is no Lego Batman Movie).

Respect where it’s due: DC has bested Marvel by being the first in this modern cinematic universe era to have a female-centric superhero film. Fans have repeatedly called for a Black Widow Marvel entry, and it’s not as if Scarlett Johannson isn’t a box office draw (Ghost in the Shell aside), but Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson, is going to get there first in 2019.

Wonder Woman is also the first of these competing Marvel and DC superhero films to be directed by a woman. It’s been 14 years since Patty Jenkins’ last film – the acclaimed Monster featuring an award-winning performance from Charlize Theron – and now it seems she’s ready to turn DC’s cinematic fortunes around.

After years of watching Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America movies, girls are finally going to have a hero front and centre to look up to.

For the first time in a while, there’s a genuine buzz in the air about a superhero film. The market is filled to the brim with them: Marvel is releasing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok within six months of each other, and Wonder Woman is to be followed by Justice League later in the year.

To mark the event a cinema chain in America, the Alamo Drafthouse, announced it would host a few women-only screenings of Wonder Woman. The rule also applies to “venue staff, projectionist and culinary team”. There’s nothing overtly political about it, since the event’s synopsis celebrates it as a chance to have a geeky girl’s night out and nothing more, but undoubtedly it can also be used as a rare safe space opportunity too.

A consequent backlash to the news was both reliably fast and ridiculous. Men on social media asked whether there would be, or had been, any all-men screenings of films, to which the Alamo Drafthouse replied: “We've never done showings where you had to be a man to get in, but we *did* show the Entourage movie a few years ago.”

Wonder Woman is a feminist icon, and this is her first big-screen solo outing. After years of watching Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America movies, girls are finally going to have a hero front and centre to look up to. That such a sexist response is inevitable is depressing, but all announced screenings of the all-women shows have sold out and more plan to be added. A screening in New York will be donating all of its proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

If these events make it easier for a group of people to relax and celebrate cinema, then both the audience and film win.

And why not? I could understand the moaning if it was over a film with a limited release, making it more difficult to see if restricted to certain audiences, but Wonder Woman will be one of the year’s easiest films to access. A recent account by film critic Sarah Jane of a particularly horrible trip to the cinema shows why women might not feel entirely comfortable in the filmhouse environment, and all-women screenings might alleviate some of those anxieties.

The vast majority of people would be equally understanding if there were LGBTQ-only screenings of certain films. If these events make it easier for a group of people to relax and celebrate cinema, then both the audience and film win.

Again – these women-only screenings are exceptions among filmhouses which will be showing Wonder Woman from the moment the doors open until they close for weeks on end. Event cinema, anything outside of the norm, is always exciting and I would love to see Scotland do something similar for Diana Prince’s solo outing.

When it was announced Ghostbusters would be remade with an all-women cast, men protested and said it ruined their childhood. Now they’re not invited and suddenly they want to come. If these are the people women are sharing filmhouses with, is it any wonder these all-women events keep selling out?

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