Now that Wonder Woman has opened and is actually good, there are going to be a lot of think pieces about how representation in movies is important. It is important, but most of these pieces will likely be on the subject of gender representation and the effect this movie can have on little girls. That is great, and it’s fantastic to see pictures of the little girls looking at pictures of Diana like she’s the second coming. However, there was another awesome group represented in Wonder Woman that I didn’t know about until a certain article showed up on my social media feed.
The character of Chief is played by Native American actor Eugene Brave Rock, and he’s a great addition to the team. In a powerful scene where Diana asks him why he isn’t fighting on either side of the war, Chief replies that he doesn’t have anything left to fight for. When Diana asks about it, he says that Steve’s people (the white man) took it all from him. That is a great little detail; but according to a review of the movie on Indian Country Today by Vincent Schilling, there was another awesome little detail that I, as a white woman, did not notice – and that most people won’t notice:
“What I didn’t expect was to be overcome with emotion when Eugene Brave Rock’s character ‘Chief’ met Wonder Woman, who was spectacularly portrayed by Gal Gadot. Why? His first words to her were in Blackfoot. Even better, he introduced himself as Napi, the Blackfoot demi-god who is known as a trickster and a storyteller.”
Schilling speaks about how that moment moved him so deeply. That is an Easter egg that will go unnoticed by a majority of the audiences, but for someone who speaks Blackfoot, it’s an important addition. Schilling goes on to talk about how he was also moved by the fact Chief was not only good guy, but continued to be one throughout the entire movie:
“His character could have exited for good at that point and I would have walked away thrilled. Then something magical unfolded: Brave Rock continued to play a significant role of the film. I watched in awe as one of my own people continued to act heroically in an amazing movie.”
Schilling also went on to mention an interview with Brave Rock, where he spoke about how director Patty Jenkins let him choose what he got to wear for the film. These little details mean a lot to cultures that are so often portrayed in stereotypes.
“I was filled with pride and tears of joy as I watched him act in a way that would bring admiration and respect to his fans and the people and cultures of Indian country.”
Wonder Woman is a movie that had a lot of excellent moments lingering in the corners. Sameer mentions that he wanted to be an actor, but his skin was the wrong color. The film depicted Charlie’s PTSD and actively showed compassion for an illness that is so often seen as weak. To know that Chief was even more amazing and how important he was to an often unrepresented community just makes me think even more highly of Jenkins and her team.
Representation matters, and little moments can help someone look at a movie character and think, “that could be me.”