arts, movies, music, pop culture

the gospel according to Wonder Woman

There will be spoilers to follow, so proceed with caution.

First off, I enjoyed Wonder Woman much more than I would have thought going in. I read less than one review beforehand, meaning I stopped reading it when it said there would be spoilers. I also tried to pay no attention to the speculation and other talk going in because I just like to go to a movie with low expectations. It really goes a long way to help me enjoy things about 90% of the time. And 200% more than most of you.

Secondly, I get it. I get the hype. I get the feminist appeal. There is something about a bunch of women kicking butt – breastplates and mascara, intact – and I had a couple moments of resisting the urge to yell, “Go, girl” even when others in the audience did not resist. I like when they at least attempt to make the fighting plausible, on a realist scale of probability and, oh, I don’t know, physics. A super thin person with no sign of muscle tissue whose arm could fit through a paper towel roll simply does not have the body mass to punch an athletic, trained soldier and send him flying through the air… unless she’s got the super powers. But in this one at least, the women are also athletically built, fiercely trained, and capable of utilizing their strengths to defeat their foes. Bring her on!

The writing was great, with fun, sweet moments, and decent dialogue that didn’t make you want to trim your nails and toenails so you feel like you’re doing something useful while watching. The action scenes were not ridiculous. My husband and I both feel that most superhero movies these days are getting out of hand. They kind of have to, right? They have to get bigger and better with every passing moment, and how can you not reach ridiculous sooner than later on that schedule? There were one or two lol moments of obvious cinematography that seemed to serve the sole purpose of reminding you, as if you had forgotten, that you were watching a drop-dead gorgeous woman – fires burning, smoke clearing, woman in glorified swimsuit saving the day – but it’s Hollywood just being Hollywood.

So here come some spoilers…

From the first voice-over, we get a central theme of the movie. Why save the world? Does the world deserve it?

What I’ve also come to expect from Hollywood is someone prettier than me, more athletic and trim than me, telling me how people are beautiful and valuable (are those things related?) and that we just have to believe in ourselves in order to save ourselves. Or something along those lines. We listen to monologues about evil being evil and good being good, and we’re given a fairly steady diet of you’re one or the other and if you seem both it’s because you have a dark back story and you’re probably way cooler than you should be.

What I don’t expect from the summer blockbuster scripts is a main character saying, “Maybe I don’t [deserve to be saved].”

We don’t deserve to be saved. It’s something we don’t hear often from mainstream outlets, especially not Hollywood. We’re told we’re worth it. We’re told we have value. Don’t get me wrong. We do. I believe we are made in God’s image, imago Dei, a glimmer of glory in every soul. But I also believe we are sinful from birth, total depravity, not ever choosing solely on our own to honor and follow God and His moral law. In fact, we are too busy attempting to change the moral law and make it more palatable and less likely to cause tension. We are easily tempted to do our own thing, to somehow deeply and wrongly believe that we know more than we do, that we can therefore make our own decisions and choose our own fate. We want to be our own gods. We so desperately want to be our own saviors.

And when that goes horribly wrong for us (i.e., the War to end all wars) we like to blame. It’s always someone else. It’s Satan. It’s Germany. It’s, in this movie’s case, Ares, the god of war. A dialogue between Captain Trevor and Wonder Woman tells us that she believes Ares is the cause of all mankind’s hatred and urge to fight, and just killing him will end the war. But when that doesn’t seem to work, she falls apart. She doesn’t know what or whom to blame. She wants to run and hide from the destruction and can’t find a reason to help save the world any more. People are too far gone.

But it’s Captain Steve Trevor that hits the nail on the head here. He says something like, you’re right. Maybe we don’t deserve to be saved. Maybe I don’t. But we try to save the world because of one reason… love. It’s love.

The three men, sidekicks really, have a moment when they toast each other and say, “Let’s get what we want. Get what we need. And never get what we deserve.” I think it’s my new go-to toast. You know, as if I am often in the situation where I need a go-to toast. I like it. I can get behind that. As a believer who has wrestled her whole life with my value, my identity, and my worth, I finally had come to the conclusion that Wonder Woman’s writers seem to have come to. We don’t deserve it. I mean she’s WONDER Woman. She’s a goddess. She’s perfect. She’s everything we will never be and more. Her mother told her, “They will never deserve you,” and it couldn’t be truer.

And just like the evil man monologuing (yes, we caught you monologuing, Ares) we have to admit that humanity is a mess. We don’t believe enough. We don’t act like gods. We don’t treat each other well. We are hateful and arrogant and entitled. We treat the planet like a trash bin and then refuse to clean it out. We have this sense that we deserve to be happy but we can’t give any valid reasons for it. And so, we should be wiped out. hashtag AmIRight? hashtag yes.

But what I have also come to know is that it has never been about us. Not really. It is and it isn’t. It’s about love. It’s about us being loved. It’s always been about love… or rather capital L Love. Love Himself. The One who made us. The One who loves us and shows us both what we deserve, and what we most definitely do not deserve.

The analogy always falls apart somewhere, so I can’t really say that Diana Prince is Jesus. But in some allegorical ways, the character holds up ok. Another character does the self-sacrifice thing so the savior figure is broken up into two characters. (hey, I did say spoilers!) It was Love that held her/him there. It is love that drives the plan to save. It did and it continues to do so. Only love can save the world, as we hear in the end. And it’s true. The world – you, me – needs to see it. The world needs to know they don’t deserve it. That the Lover of our souls didn’t come to save us because of us but because of Him, who He is, who He has to be. A Savior. A loving Savior who takes on our death, who takes on our weakness, who takes on our arrogance and stubbornness. He takes it and he destroys it all. Instead of destroying us. He takes the plane filled with poisonous gas and he flies it far away so it will not kill us any more. This is love. We don’t deserve it. We cling to it.

O love incomprehensible
That made Thee bleed for me!

###

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