WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND!
GO WATCH FIRST THEN COME BACK, CAN?
Wonder Woman (2017) introduces us to strong fierce Amazonian women who were created by Zeus to restore peace and stability to a war torn world. Set in the context of World War 1, the movie brings two worlds together to understand one truth: Love does bring redemption.
Captain Steve Trevor crashes his plane into the waters of Themyscira while escaping from German authorities and is rescued by Diana, a young budding Amazonian. She begs him to bring her to this war front as she cannot bear to hear of women and children slaughtered.
She fights, inspired others who do not have her physical superpowers and works in a team of 5 to defeat the enemy. She matures to understand the depth of humankind, the relationship between gods and man.
The two protagonists are beautifully complementary, as both try to save what they cherish in ways unique to themselves.
The idea of redeeming a race that chooses the path of wrongdoing strikes me as quintessentially Christian.
With elements of Greek mythology – the gods’ relation to humankind, coupled with really badass fight scenes and fantastic graphics – this film successfully fuses the wonder of fantasy and myth to the nearness of reality.
As a Christian and 21st century university student, I can’t help but observe how Wonder Woman possesses religious as well as feminist undertones. Most refreshingly, I love how the two seem perfectly compatible.
Allow me to share some takeaways.
1. The need to intentionally broaden our perspectives
It’s very important to seek understanding about what we aren’t used to – because that’s the path to maturity and growth.
Steve and Diana both needed to understand things that were out of their comfort zone, and getting there can be the most uncomfortable, ridiculous thing.
For Steve, this “magical place” called Themyscira was an absurd, silly entity. Furthermore, given Diana’s extreme innocent ideals about war, he was often left in disbelief. While it would’ve been a shock to his mind, he never directly dismissed her claims.
No trumping. No interjecting. No mansplaining.
Diana’s mother had a very protective approach to raising her child. She didn’t want to tell Diana the truth for fear of the consequences of living a violent life. But the thing is such helicopter mothering policy reinforced Diana’s ignorance about the outside world, revealed by her interaction with Steve.
Thankfully, I really appreciate how she eventually relented (albeit with some emotional blackmail). Diana’s mom just let her daughter go out and experience the world for herself. As Diana’s aunt said – the best way the girl can defend herself is if she learnt to protect herself.
For Diana, it was a journey of testing all her pre-existing foundations of truths while remaining true to her values. Her renewed understanding of humankind in all its imperfections adds richness and depth to her character.
Moving on to religious ideas/allusions …
2. The world neither desires nor deserves redemption
The idea of redeeming a race that chooses the path of wrongdoing strikes me as quintessentially Christian. It is interesting that Hippolyta tells Diana that the world doesn’t deserve her.
Diana’s raw, passionate love, desire to save humanity from killing themselves and empathy sets her apart as a hero whose superpower seems to be that. I don’t deny she’s powerful (deflecting bullets, summoning lightning or her truth rope). But her compassionate and courageous heart seems to be the source of her exploits.
Sacrificing himself to save the front from being exposed to the mustard gas, Steve’s last words to Diana were, “I save today so you can save the earth tomorrow” is reminiscent of Jesus saving mankind so they could share that salvation with others.
What a powerful allegory of the Father’s love for us.
3. Evil is not a simple clash of two sides
In contrast to a simple love versus hate battle, Steve laments to Diana on the boat to London that war is a complicated affair. It’s not always clear who’s in the right or wrong when everyone’s caught up with survival and their rights.
In our depravity, we wonder if human beings really bring about their suffering themselves. Ares tells Diana he didn’t start wars; he merely whispered thoughts into human ears to fan the flames of what already lay hidden.
Original sin? You bet.
Nevertheless, justice isn’t a one off thing, because after World War 1, World War 2 came. and yet for a brief moment, the world had respite thanks to the courage of a saviour who stepped up when no one else dared to.
We see this in Wonder Woman and in Jesus. We ought to step up in our own spheres of influence too (Micah 6:8). In His Kingdom, God empowers us to champion righteousness, justice and love as He does.
You must fight the good fight. Whoever you may be – male, female, whatever – you already have what it takes to make a difference wherever you are. As Steve encouraged Diana, it is what you believe that defines you.
4. Women can be empowered alongside men, not always at the expense of men
What a compelling message about the power of women.
My breath was stolen every time the Amazonians threw themselves into a fight scene on horseback and with bows and arrows. Such feminine strength and confidence is rarely presented on-screen without coming across as satirical or erotic.
My heart raced when Diana ran across No Man’s land, aptly named because no “male” could cross it for years. I adored the way director Patty Jenkins flung gender stereotypes out the window without spiting the other side.
She provoked an uncomfortable empathy, when a man kneeled afraid at the mercy of powerful females, but most of all, she also allowed both genders to shine in their own light.
Yes, the superhero was a woman this time, but the male lead was equally iconic, valiant and honourable. Men and woman alike have the power, the desire, and the ability to make a change, lead, or save the world.
To understand others.
To feel, and be free to express those feelings without fear of judgement.
An inspiring and moving call for justice, equality, honesty and courage, Wonder Woman brilliantly sheds much needed light on how Good tackles the complex, convoluted problem of evil, and our special little place in the whole thing.
And I’m definitely excited to see how that will unfold in our real world.