“I am Diana, Princess of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta…and in the name of all that is good, your wrath upon this world is over.”
With that line, Wonder Woman pretty much guaranteed her cinematic future. If box office sales over the past few weeks are any indication, people are gonna line up to see Justice League in November just so they can shout “SLAY QUEEEEEEEEEN!!!!” while she takes on Darkseid’s parademons.
Yes, I saw Wonder Woman. No, it wasn’t a perfect film. No film is or ever will be. And no, Diana isn’t perfect, either. But I loved the movie, and I loved her. This is an origin story, similar in some respects to the first Captain America movie–but this one is set during World War I, and Diana’s beginnings are much more magical. She’s the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
Yeah, that’s right…and therein lies one of my biggest problems with the film. Unlike Thor, where the Asgardians are really nothing more than super-superheroes who just happen to bear the names of Norse deities, the Greek gods really are seen as gods. There’s no distinction between gods and superheroes. So from a Christian standpoint, that’s problematic.
On the other hand, Wonder Woman borrows quite a lot from the Christian worldview. In one of the first scenes, Diana’s mother tells her the story of the Fall of Man–and it’s remarkably similar to the first chapters of Genesis. Zeus created man good, but Ares, the God of War, successfully tempted and corrupted Zeus’ creation. Ares was defeated, but he’s still out there somewhere, orchestrating mankind’s ultimate self-destruction.
After Captain Steve Trevor crashes on Themyscira with news of a “war to end all wars,” Diana decides it’s her responsibility to defeat Ares once and for all. If he’s killed, then surely mankind will live in peace and be “good” again forever and ever…right? Or are the seeds of evil too deeply sown in their hearts?
That’s the question this movie poses–not feminism, not gender roles, not even the debate over whether wars can be justified. Wonder Woman is about total depravity and mercy. And while its conclusion isn’t complete (because Jesus as our Savior isn’t offered up as the only solution to our depravity), it isn’t completely off-the-mark, either.
I loved having a movie based on World War I. It doesn’t get nearly enough attention, so I’m hoping this will spark interest in that slice of history. I also loved having such a good, sweet, and honorable heroine! In a world full of Katniss Everdeens and Hope Pyms, where heroines are either unfeminine or tear down their male counterparts in order to appear “strong,” Diana showed kindness and sensitivity to Steve Trevor and his friends. She was graceful, gentle, and joyful. She knew how to fight well, but she didn’t sacrifice her femininity for the sake of “toughness.” She adored babies and reached out with compassion to the traumatized French civilians. She delighted in the beauty of a snowfall. When she got an ice cream cone she relished it and praised the guy she bought it from, saying, “You must be so proud!” And even if she didn’t always think things through, she was willing to fight for the helpless and do what was right.
Israeli actress Gal Gadot was born to play Diana Prince. She’s beautiful, elegant, warrior-like, queenly, but with a sweetness that makes her immediately lovable. I am really looking forward to seeing her in more DC movies.
I’ve heard two major concerns about the film: 1) that it might’ve been misandrist (“man-hating”), and 2) that Wonder Woman’s “pro-Americanism was downplayed.” It was not hyper-feministic or man-hating. In fact, I was delighted by how respectfully Diana treated her male friends. The writers could’ve easily reduced them to a pack of stupid two-dimensional brutes in favor of a “women are superior” message, but they didn’t. Yes, Diana grew up in an all-female society and she was physically stronger than the guys on her team, but she did not hold them in contempt or demean them. And they, in turn, respected her. Immensely.
As for the “downplayed pro-Americanism”…I’m calling “malarkey” on that one. Wonder Woman was created by an American writer in 1941 (the same year Captain America was created), but in the fictional world she’s never been an American. Furthermore, in this movie she worked with the Allies. They of course included Americans. She even fell in love with one. But her team also included a Persian, a Scotsman, and a Native American. She was their hero, too. She didn’t just belong to the Americans. She represented everyone fighting for liberty.
Superheroes are for everybody regardless of your nationality, whether or not those characters were originally written by Americans, or whether or not they originally wore stars and stripes. This is especially true when you have an amazing Israeli leading lady, one who has no problem calling out terrorists.
I did have my qualms with the film. Like I said, director Patty Jenkins didn’t handle the mythology element nearly as well as Kenneth Branagh did in the first Thor film. I wish the “gods” had been downgraded, so to speak, to straightforward superheroes. There’s also the romance. Overall, the relationship between Diana and Steve Trevor (played by the always-delightful Chris Pine) is very sweet and funny. But there are two scenes that you need to watch out for. The first is when Steve is on Themyscira in a healing pool, and…well…he has no clothes on. And while technically you don’t see anything, there is a full-frontal shot where Steve has absolutely nothing on and is covering himself up with nothing but his own hand. Later, there’s a kissing scene–the only kiss in the film–and it‘s implied that they probably…well, you know.
That said, though, it was still a beautiful movie–funny, shocking, thought-provoking, and inspiring in all the right places. I’m so glad that this iconic heroine finally got her own movie, and that it wasn’t just “a good superhero story.”
It was a good STORY. Period.