Wonder Woman Starring Gal Gadot
Wonder Woman deserves to be celebrated for a number of reasons. It features strong and intelligent female characters, it marries a great script with intelligent wit, and it is a welcome respite to the endless flow of slash-and-burn superhero flicks Hollywood is churning out; but there is more to it. There is a message here, hidden beneath the costumes and CGI, that is truly life-changing.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, it’s relatively straightforward. (Spoiler alert—but chances are you know at least part of the story already.) Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot) is half-god, half-Amazon woman, and she longs to be a warrior like her mother. One day, during Amazonian boot camp, an American fighter pilot (Chris Pine) accidentally flies into the Amazons’ paradise island, followed by a fleet of German soldiers trying to kill him (It’s best not to think too much about the time-space implications of this kind of inter-universe intrusion). A bloody battle ensues, and Diana learns that there is a world beyond her paradise that is at war. She feels that she’s the one who can save it.
Setting out in a London that has been ravaged by battle (“It’s hideous,” Diana remarks), she embarks on her quest to rid the world of evil by killing Ares, the god of war, who has set the war in motion. If Diana can just kill Ares, the world will be saved forever.
The moral landscape of the film is set in the spiritual world. The warfare is representative of a broader cosmic battle between the powers of good and evil, and it is initially clear that the forces of evil are winning, although Diana promises to change everything.
Put aside the Greek mythology for a moment, and doesn’t this sound like something that we, as Christians, believe? Can’t our physical world often be understood as the byproduct of spiritual warfare? Although the powers of darkness seem to have control, we have been blessed by a Saviour who disrupts the war and obliterates the opposition. But the symbolism only gets better.
At the climax of the film, Ares tries to reason with Diana. He tells her that humans are a cancer on the earth, and that if left to their own devices, they will destroy each other and the world. If she just stays out of it, he tells her, humans will self-destruct and the gods will be able to return to the earth.
Diana refuses to stand aside and let the world fall to pieces. In spite of all its flaws, humankind is worth saving, she determines, and in a magnificent act of grace she gives all her strength and the life of someone she loves in order to save it. Sound familiar?
“I used to want to save the world,” Diana says. “But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. I’ve seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world.”
There’s some truth in that.