Wonder Woman is the real deal. With the relatively unknown Gal Gadot in the title role and Patty Jenkins as director, DC has finally produced a superhero movie with both action and heart. If you are expecting a feminist polemic, you will be surprised. This is a story about humanity, our virtues and sins, and the choices we make between the two.
Diana (Gadot) is a young woman raised for a special purpose, one that is unwrapped throughout the film. Raised as the only child on an island of Amazons, the real world intrudes on her tranquil (although martial) environment when the plane of American Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes into the sea nearby. This begins her journey into a larger world as she pursues the mission for which she was destined.
The film has a strong cast both among the Amazon women and the rag-tag force that Trevor recruits to accompany them on their mission. There is humor, social satire, romance, and certainly action (some of which may be a bit over the top). The film is both fun and touching but may be a bit too intense for younger viewers.
There are some significant theological themes present as well. As the Amazons prepare on the hidden island of Themyscira for their mission to save the world, the world is engaged in the Great War resulting in the deaths of millions, both combatants and innocent bystanders. They are unaware and indifferent to this calamity. The time has come to act, but they refuse to do so and are reluctant to bless Diana’s mission.
As I watched this part of the film, I was reminded of the church. We prepare for engagement with the world, but when the opportune moment arrives, we fail to act. We train for the work then we refuse to do it. Are we ignorant or afraid to engage in the mission of God?
This is a redemption story, of course, but the role of the Redeemer is assumed by two protagonists--a female and a male. One gives up life to save humanity while the other chooses to stay in the world and fight evil. If you doubt the messianic theme, consider the pose that Wonder Woman (Diana) assumes in the final confrontation with the villain.
The story is full of non-Christian and mythological themes, but the bottom line is the free will of humanity to decide its own fate. The right choices arise out of self-sacrifice and love for others. As Diana says at the end of the saga, “Only love can save the world.”