3 Stars – Empowering
Wonder Woman isn’t a woman just as Superman isn’t a man, but rather a Kryptonian. However just who she is has been evolving since her character was first created by psychologist William Marston and animator Harry Peter in 1941. Originally she was sculpted from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons and given life by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. But in more recent stories she was still sculpted of clay. but given life by Zeus the King of the gods on Mt. Olympus. In this form Greg Rucka informs us that Diana, Princess of Themyscira, is bisexual. However, in the film directed by Patty Jenkins, Diana (Gal Gadot) is not made of clay and given life by a Greek god but is a god herself, the child of Zeus and Hippolyta. She also falls in love with the handsome Cpt. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and through that love comes to appreciate that though humanity is deeply flawed and violent, it is our ability to love that gives us worth.
The story begins with a history lesson of the Amazon women who live on a protected island where the women are warriors preparing for an ultimate battle with Ares, the Greek god of war. Having been given a special sword by Zeus capable of killing a god, Diana longs for the moment when they can kill Ares and end all wars, believing that humans are good and if Ares were dead then all wars would cease.
Ares, whose identity we won’t spoil, is the brother of Zeus who claims not to be the god of War but the god of Truth, with the truth being that humanity is a mistake and needs to be destroyed. In opposition to such a claim, the Amazon women tell the story that Ares was jealous of Zeus’ creation of human beings and therefore tempted them into war in order to destroy them. These two narratives add complexity to the tale and express the underlying message of the film: Are humans a mistake and are we destroying ourselves with war, or are we capable of a love that can transcend this penchant for violence? The film answers this question on the side of love.
There are two ensembles that create this tale. The first are the Amazon women. Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) is the over-protective mother who doesn’t even want her daughter to know her true identity so Ares will not find her, and Hippolyta’s sister is General Antiope (Robin Wright) who wants to teach Diana to fight in order to be ready to defeat Ares when the time comes. The second ensemble is the team Cpt. Trevor gathers in order to stop the Nazis’ use of poison gas. All three are not only unlikely but seem out of place. Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui) is their Persian conman, Charlie (Ewen Bremner) is their Scottish sniper, and The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) is a compassionate American Indian. The villains are several and as in all such tales create appropriate tension and context for the power displays of Diana as Wonder Woman.
In addition to affirming the power of love to defeat evil, the film also is a vehicle for empowering women to do their part to save our world from the warring madness that has so plagued us. This is a worthy message in our troubled times.
- Turning to the Greek gods to find a model woman is similar to our turning to Krypton to find a super man. Do you find these models helpful or hurtful for our shared imagination?
- The relationship of Princes Diana and Cpt. Trevor culminates in a night together. Do you find such behavior degrades the morality of the characters or as unimportant in defining them?
- The decision of Hippolyta to not inform her daughter of her true divine identity is an attempt to protect her. Do you think this was wise? Why do you answer as you do?