The demigoddess of the Amazons has been having a good summer.
Since its opening on June 2, Warner Bros.' DC Comics adaptation "Wonder Woman" has dominated the U.S. box office — earning an estimated $371 million as of Tuesday, according to the numbers-crunching website Box Office Mojo.
That's good enough to make "Wonder Woman" the third-biggest movie of 2017, behind two Disney-owned franchises: "Beauty and the Beast" ($504 million domestic) and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" ($386 million). And it's possible Diana, princess of Themyscira, will overtake those wise-cracking Marvel heroes in a couple of weeks.
After a hearty $103 million opening weekend, it held on to the No. 1 spot its second weekend — staring down the former king of the box office, Tom Cruise, and his lackluster "The Mummy." It stayed at the No. 2 spot for two more weeks, up against "Cars 3" and "Transformers: The Last Knight." Neither toy-based challenger had any staying power. Over the Fourth of July weekend, "Wonder Woman" maintained a respectable third place behind "Despicable Me 3" and "Baby Driver."
One of the reasons "Wonder Woman" generated those kinds of numbers was that it was not just a movie, but a phenomenon. It even generated talk of how the Hollywood landscape had finally shifted, and equality between male and female characters in movies would be achieved any time now.
Then Hollywood went back to its male-dominated routine.
After the July Fourth weekend, the blockbuster opening was Sony's "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Not only was this the sixth "Spider-Man" movie in 15 years, it was the third reboot of the Marvel Comics character. By way of comparison, "Wonder Woman" was the first movie treatment of the DC title since it was first published 76 years ago.
For some moviegoers, and a few critics, that's just fine.
Early this week, the moviecentric quadrants of social media got in a lather about a commentary by Kyle Smith, critic-at-large for the conservative The National Review. In a labored screed against the Bechdel Test, Smith opined that the gender inequality in movies is the way things should be.
For those who don't know, the Bechdel Test (devised by comic artist Alison Bechdel) is a simple yardstick for a movie's sexism. To pass, a movie must have two female characters (with names), those characters have to have a conversation, and that conversation cannot be about a man.
It's a remarkably low bar, yet many movies fail to reach it. Among recent movies that failed are "Baby Driver," "Captain Underpants," "Alien: Covenant" and, yes, "Spider-Man: Homecoming," which can barely manage to get two women in the same scene — and then all the talk is about Peter Parker.
In an argument that makes Ozzie and Harriet look progressive, Smith wrote that "movies aren't intended to be a proper demographic cross-section of America. Movies (at least Hollywood movies) are about people on the extremes of society — cops, criminals, superheroes. These extreme characters tend to be men, and men tend to be the ones who create them. Women enjoy much more prominence in the milieu of low-budget independent movies, where the stories are more focused on ordinary people with real-world problems, but those movies usually attract small audiences."
To further display his sexism, Smith continues, "women tend to write movies about relationships, and men tend to write movies about aliens and shootouts. Have a wander through the sci-fi and fantasy section of your local bookstore: How many of these books' authors are female? Yet these are where the big movie ideas come from."
First, if Smith went through a bookstore and didn't encounter J.K. Rowling, Ursula K. LeGuin, Suzanne Collins ("The Hunger Games") or Madeleine L'Engle ("A Wrinkle in Time," being adapted into a movie by Ava DuVernay), he did it wrong.
Second, Smith is displaying a "born on third base and thinks he hit a triple" mentality. Guy movies have always made the money, his argument goes, so that must mean they're the only movies that will ever make money.
The success of "Wonder Woman" deflects that ridiculous argument as easily as Diana Prince deflects bullets off her bracelets. If only fighting the ingrained sexism of Hollywood were as easy as defeating the Kaiser.
Sean P. Means is on Twitter @moviecricket. Email him at email@example.com.