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, which the film’s initials also stand for, besides Wonder Woman, 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. Chris Pine plays partner protagonist to Prince and yet beautifully complements. The film ends with the war’s conclusion. A combination of Greek mythology – the gods relation to humankind, coupled with really badass fight scenes and fantastic graphics, this film is certainly a heart-stopping one.
Wonder Woman possesses both religious as well as feminist things and both do not have to contradict each other.
That’s perhaps why a very important first lesson taught in this movie is that it’s very important to gain understanding about what is not in your sphere/world because it brings maturity and growth. Steve and Diana both needed to understand things that were out of their comfort zone. Knowing something that is out of your comfort zone can be the most uncomfortable thing ever, it can even border on ridiculous. For Steve, this ‘magical place’ called Themyscira was the weirdest and most stupid thing ever, furthermore given the extreme idealism and straightforwardness of Diana to him in the context of the war. He shook his head, and then continued listening, until he realised it was true. He saw it with his own eyes and of course it would have been a major shock to him, but never once did he dismiss her claims. I was amazed at the way he handled her ‘one track mind’ and did not try to ‘mansplain’ the ‘real world’ to her. In Diana’s case, her mother didn’t want to tell her the truth because she was afraid that her daughter would be killed even faster. But the thing is, without the knowledge of the world outside Themyscira, there would be, as her mother said, a lot of things she would not know. (On a side note, I really appreciate how Diana’s mom just let her daughter go out there and experience it for herself. She didn’t try to teach it but 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 growing up, a really steep one, to realise that all the foundations of truths she was brought up in and that Ares needs to be defeated to bring peace to the world are not entirely true and as simplistic as it appears to be. Her understanding of humankind, the darkness within them and gradual appreciation of love and hope deepens her character.
So, about the religious ideas/allusions in the movie…
Firstly, certain characters identify to religious figures, Diana as a Jesus/Savior figure and Ares as the devil. It is interesting that Diana tends to move in a vertical direction when she attacks and her last battle with Ares show her commanding power from on high to defeat the force on earth, paralleling Jesus defeat of the devil.
Secondly, the idea of redemption and that man are the ones who choose corruption and the path of wrongdoing strikes me as quintessentially Christian. It is interesting that Hippolyta tells Diana that the world doesn’t deserve her. Her 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 because she can harness the Celestial powers like lightning or whatever it was. But her empathic heart seems to be the source of her exploits. Steve Trevor’s self sacrificial act to save the front from being exposed to the mustard gas and his last words to Diana, ‘I save today so you can save the earth tomorrow’ is very much reminiscent of Jesus saving mankind that they could be the saviors of others whose paths they cross. It made my heart ache when the camera zoomed in on Steve’s last moments before shooting the plane full of bombs and killing himself in the process, then cross cutting to the grief that wrecked Diana as she saw Steve die (and also think of Hippolyta letting Diana go and knowing she would never come back). Perhaps here we see visually the love of the Father (through different characters) im giving His only begotten Son for the World.
Thirdly, the interesting thing about this movie as I mentioned earlier is that it is not just a simple love versus hate battle. It is a nuanced question of whether human beings were bad by nature and how many of them realize their need for a savior, Ares mentions that he did not make the wars happen, he whispered thoughts and intentions into human ears but the doings were all of their own. This is a very Christian perspective. Many like to believe we are born good but here the movie reflects a different perspective.
There is also, an undeniable message about the power of women. My breath was stolen everytime any of the Amazonians threw themselves into a fight scene, it was wonderful to see such strength and confidence exude out from the characters onscreen. What an overwhelming and also breathtaking scene it was to behold Diana run across No Man’s land, aptly named as though no ‘male’ could cross it but it took a female to push past the boundary. Of course, it means no man’s land because no one could cross it but that’s just my take. I adored the way gender stereotypes went out the window. THANK YOU PATTY JENKINS, I am in awe at the raw power and strength of the women casted, stereotypes that were always associated with men were for once, not in play. It was funny to see a man awkward and afraid in the middle of a group of powerful females, but the greater thing for me here is not female power or men bashing or anything like this, it’s about equality. Men and woman alike can and do have the power, the desire, and the ability to make a change, to lead, to save the world, to understand others, to love. Emotions are not limited to one gender. Empathy is a great thing to have, we all should have more of it.
These combine into an idea that redemption is given to Man, using instruments of justice to execute the evil and bring back peace. In this case the instrument used is not a male as a lot of superhero movies are wont to do. It is not a one time thing, because World War 1 ended but as we all know it, there was World War 2, and yet for a brief moment, the world had respite thanks to (in this movie) the courage of a saviour who stepped up to exercise judgment when no one else would. It is a call for equality and also for honesty and to take action, whoever you may be, to stand up for what you believe. As Trevor told Diana, it is what you believe that defines you.
Picture credits here