Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
Biblical super strength: Samson
Courage / bravery / self-sacrifice
Greek pagan mythology and idolatry
Feminist subtext of the film
World War I
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
War in the Bible
WHO IS GAL GADOT?
She is an Israeli model, former Miss Israel and now an actress who served in the Israeli army as a combat instructor. She is married to multi-millionaire Israeli real estate developer Yaron Varsano. Their faith is Judaism, but they met at a retreat for yoga, chakras and healthy eating. They are based in Tel Aviv.
Gal Gadot … Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
Chris Pine … Steve Trevor
Robin Wright … General Antiope
David Thewlis … Sir Patrick
Connie Nielsen … Queen Hippolyta
Elena Anaya … Maru / Doctor Poison
Lucy Davis … Etta Candy
Doutzen Kroes … Venelia
Ewen Bremner … Charlie
Danny Huston … General Erich Ludendorff
Mayling Ng … Orana
|Director:||Patty Jenkins—“Monster” (2003)|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
On the secret island of Themyscira, Diana (Gal Gadot) is raised among a group of women warriors named the Amazons. When she grows up, something unusual happens. A man finds the island! Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy working for the British army, crashes his plane into the sea. Diana saves his life, only to unintentionally bring additional trouble.
It turns out, a German brigade chased Captain Trevor to the island. After a scuffle with the Amazons that causes catastrophe on both sides, Captain Trevor is held captive by the Amazons until they know his mission. Using the “lasso of truth,” he tells Diana and the Amazons about World War I, and all the devastation it has caused. Upon hearing this, Diana believes that the war is being caused by Ares, the Greek god of war who has the power to influence others for his benefit. In the meantime, he also reportedly killed many other gods in the past.
Diana decides to leave Themyscira to try and stop Ares. But, trying to adjust to a world completely different than hers, as well as trying to stop a world war is going to prove more challenging than she would ever imagine.
For the most part, the film’s action scenes are a refreshing break from the CGI-heavy effects of recent action blockbusters. The battle scenes are pulse-pounding, painstakingly well-shot, and succeeded in keeping me glued to the screen. It’s only at the very end when things finally start relying a little too heavily on CGI effects. The script is tight and to the point. It also wisely avoids spending too much time on backstory as well as trying to connect the dots with past and future DC movies. As we get to the end, the script brings in some surprising depth that I haven’t often found in superhero films.
Following her first appearance as the character in “Batman v. Superman,” Gadot once again shines. She does a terrific job of depicting the multi-faceted personality for which Diana/Wonder Woman is known. From her kindness and innocence to her toughness and unwavering bravery, she does a great job. Pine also gives a great performance as Captain Trevor, with some heart and humor along the way. Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen play Diana’s aunt and mom (Queen Hippolyta), and despite relatively limited screentime, they are both convincing. Also, Lucy Davis provides a few humorous moments as Captain Trevor’s secretary, Etta Candy. She isn’t given a lot to do, however, and I would have liked to hear more from her.
Rupert Gregson-Williams” music score often soars. The costumes and sets are all fantastic. The contrast of colors between the bright, peaceful Themyscira and the darkness of Earth during wartime is well done. One other worthy note here is that with a female director (Patty Jenkins) and female lead, I was a little concerned that the film could have chosen to limit men or treat them as dimwitted or not as strong as the females involved. I will say, I was pleasantly surprised. Jenkins portrays Captain Trevor to be just as much of a hero as Diana herself. And other male soldiers that fight in the war are also portrayed respectfully.
For the most part, Diana represents a true, honest hero. She looks out for others ahead of herself, and only desires to protect the world. She cares for everyone who comes to know her. We see her devastated and nearly moved to tears by observing all the injured in the war. In many ways, she looks at the world with a naiveté similar to Giselle from “Enchanted.” Ultimately, her selflessness and love for humanity is very inspiring and brings to mind 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love suffers long and is kind;
love does not envy;
love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
—1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV
Characters repeatedly sacrifice their lives to save others. The movie goes into a surprisingly thoughtful discussion about how honest love makes a real difference in the world.
Wonder Woman is given the chance to destroy a human villain [a female], before ultimately deciding not to. She is scolded for this decision, and is told, “They don’t deserve your protection!” She replies, “It’s not about deserving, it’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.” Later she admits, “I believe only love can save the world.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. …He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already… And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” —John 3:16, 18-19 NKJV
In this part of the movie, Wonder Woman decides that war is not necessarily based on influence from any divine power; it’s based on free will. Everyone is given a choice to do good or evil. In the film, war is condemned, and positive choices are shown to be honorable.
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
Language: I was happy not to hear the s-word or Jesus’ name misused. Vulgar and profane language is refreshingly rare here. I did catch 4 uses of “h*ll,” one of “bloody” and one of “d**n it.” “Oh my g*d” is interjected in shock one time, and there may have been one other use, though it was hard to distinguish.
Sexual Content/Nudity: Diana accidentally walks in on Captain Trevor as he is getting out of a bath (the camera focuses on his chest up). She asks, “What’s that?” He stutters to answer, thinking she’s referring to his anatomy. A few seconds later, it’s revealed that she was actually asking about his watch. As he then walks out, the camera glimpses his whole body at a distance for a few seconds (with his hands covering his private parts). Diana questions whether or not he is average for the male species. He replies, “Above average.”
Later, while on a boat, Diana innocently asks Steve to sleep next to her on a blanket. Steve hesitates to do so, as he believes it is “impolite to do so outside the bounds of marriage.” They both discuss the ideas of procreation and “pleasures of the flesh.” Diana says she read a book that told her all about it. She also mentions that the book says men are necessary for procreation, but not for recreation. He then asks if she has the book with her.
In one scene, Captain Trevor takes Diana into a room for the night. He then closes the door behind him, kisses her, and the scene ends. The audience is left with the implication that they slept together. On a positive note, we don’t see anything beyond a kiss. However, considering Diana’s character, it is particularly disappointing.
The Amazons all wear tight, leotard-like outfits that are meant to help them in a similar way a leotard helps a gymnast. Wonder Woman dons a similar battle outfit that is somewhat low-cut. The camera resists the temptation to ogle Diana and the Amazons, but men do clearly ogle Diana, at times. One man says, “I’m both frightened and aroused.” One piece of art shows Amazons crawling out of the water unclothed, though their sensitive areas are obscured by water or their arms.
Violence: A couple of battle scenes are shown to some realistic effect, with lots of gunfire and weaponry, but with very little bloodshed. On Themyscira, soldiers and horses are hit and killed with arrows. Amazons are shown hanging dead after a gunshot. In the war, things are more grim. We see rapid fire. Diana defends with her shield and bracelets, resulting in a boomerang effect to the shooter. Diana throws a tank against a building, and runs right through a church steeple, causing the top of the building to crumple and fall.
A plane explodes in the distance. A poisonous gas causes a gas mask to break apart, and a handful of people die off-screen, with some coughing/gasping heard. We see an ugly scar on someone’s face. Wonder Woman is nearly squeezed to death at one point. In one scene, we briefly witness a soldier who apparently has lost part of a leg. Horses are briefly whipped. In a bar fight, someone receives multiple punches to the face. Someone is slammed against a wall. Characters are accosted in an alley, and are nearly hit with a gunshot. The war is described as women and children being killed, and millions of people dying.
Drugs/Alcohol: A bar scene shows some alcohol being consumed, and a couple of characters appear inebriated. A few characters toast with beer bottles at one point. Alcohol is offered during a dance.
Other: Being a spy, Captain Trevor does deceive others as a part of his job (though Diana clearly isn’t thrilled with this). The film discusses Zeus and other Greek gods, and Ares plays a role. According to a friend who attended the movie with me, the overall mythology presented here isn’t in line with real Greek pagan idolatry.
In an age of superhero movies, “Wonder Woman” stands out as something different. Up to this point, there has been no movie in this rapidly-expanding genre with a female superhero lead. I had heard of the character before, having seen moments of Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman” TV show with my parents, but I didn’t know much about the character.
Her first big feature film is better than I was expecting. The film is entertaining, and despite being almost 2½ hours, it never seemed too slow or too long. It has an old-school, old-fashioned feel that reminds me of “Captain America: The First Avenger.” And despite a CGI-heavy ending, the movie packs in some surprising emotional depth, particularly towards the end. The film’s discussions about humanity, free will and the cost of war are particularly moving. In the meantime, some strong Biblical messages show up that might leave believers pleasantly surprised.
Overall, “Wonder Woman” is a cleaner film than many of its superhero movie brethren. This doesn’t mean this movie is appropriate for all ages. There are intense war scenes, and the movie regrettably does include a couple of awkward, uncomfortable conversations that suggest inappropriate and mature ideas, as well as a scene of near complete male nudity.
Being rated PG-13, parents are especially advised to take the content problems into consideration before making a decision for their family. “Wonder Woman” is definitely one of the better, more inspiring superhero movies I’ve seen to date.
Violence: Very Heavy / Profanity: Mild—My G*d (1), OMG (1), h*ll (5), d*mn it (1), bloody (1), bug*er (1) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate—nude man (only slightly covered), passionate kiss, couples kissing, inferred fornication, skimpy female costumes, cleavage, sexual comments and innuendos, reference to lesbianism
The creator of Wonder Woman was originally a secret. It eventually came to light with the headline, “Noted Psychologist Revealed as Author of Best-Selling ‘Wonder Woman’”. The character and original stories were created by American psychologist William Moulton Marston, Ph.D. (and drawn by Harry Peter who had previously been doing editorial cartoons featuring suffragists). Marston invented the polygraph, hence the Lasso of Truth was featured in his stories.
“FREE LOVE” without restriction—Marston had a mistress (Olive Byrne—a staff writer for Family Circle magazine under the pseudonym Olive Richard—and formerly Dr. Martson’s student in psychology class. She lived with him and his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston in a long-term polyamorous sexual relationship. (There was at least one other woman in this relationship—Marjorie W. Huntley.) Byrne is credited as being his inspiration for the character’s appearance and the bracelets. Dr. Marston gave the bracelets to Olive as a symbol of their love.
“During the years when she lived with Marston and Holloway, she wore, instead of a wedding ring, a pair of bracelets. Wonder Woman wears those same cuffs.”
BISEXUAL—“She was a little slinky; she was very kinky,” wrote researcher Jill Lepore (Smithsonian Magazine). Wonder Woman DC Comics writer Greg Rucka clearly stated that the character’s sexual orientation is bisexual, and gave her a backstory that includes relationships with women.
Dr. Marston was a fan of PARAPSYCHOLOGY, METAPHYSICS, EROTICISM, BONDAGE AND SUBMISSION, and he worked these into his Wonder Woman stories. Her appearance was similar to Esquire’s Varga pin-up girls (centerfolds) at that time (1940s).
Prior to writing Wonder Woman, he wrote a BDSM novel, Venus With Us. In his Wonder Woman stories, characters are frequently tied up, and her Amazon sisters engage “in frequent wrestling and bondage play… in his other writings and interviews he referred to submission as a noble practice and did not shy away from the sexual implications…”
Her abilities included ESP, astral projection of herself, magic, telepathy, the ability to speak any language and to leave the planet through meditation.
FEMINISM—In writing Wonder Woman, Dr. Marston was strongly inspired by early Feminists, especially contraceptionist and anti-Christian Feminist Margaret Sanger, who secretly was a member of his family—Olive’s aunt.
“Marston hired Joy Hummel to help write Wonder Woman. And Marston’s mistress, Olive, gave her one book and told her to read this and you’ll know how to write Wonder Woman. And that book was… Margaret Sanger’s Woman and the New Race.”
Sanger claimed that promoting sexual abstinence was ridiculous and “is injurious—often highly so.” Her book directly opposed Biblical teachings and attempted to create “a new sex morality,” as well as promoting population control and eugenics to eliminate groups of people she called “defectives” “…to raise the human race on to a higher level.” Sanger insisted that a woman’s “mission is not to enhance the masculine spirit… not to preserve a man-made world, but to create a human world by the infusion of the feminine element into all of its activities.” Out of her work grew a militant Feminist political movement and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.
Years later, Mrs. Marston “boasted about how well she had known Sanger.” “I spent a lot of time with M.S., both at her home and mine.”
In 1937 (4 years before Wonder Woman’s introduction), Dr. “Marston held a press conference in which he predicted that women would one day rule the world.” After creating and writing Wonder Woman stories, he said,
“Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”
Thus, in “Wonder Woman,” a female run society is a PARADISE—on an island resembling Lesbos. All the women are wonderful and good. Without men, everything is beautiful, and the women live in harmony with Nature. That is, until a MAN appears on the island bringing war in his wake, and everything that is ugly, brutal, corrupt and incompetent.
FEMINIST ICON—“Wonder Woman evolved as a frontrunner of emancipation for the suffragettes who fought for the rights of women in the early 20th century.” In 1971, self-described “radical Feminist” and well known atheist, abortion activist, and Liberal political activist Gloria Steinem placed the character on the cover of Ms. magazine and said,
“Looking back now at these Wonder Woman stories from the ’40s, I am amazed by the strength of their feminist message.”
Wonder Woman was named a “Symbol of Feminist Revolt.” In 1972, Dr. Marston’s wife walked into the offices of Ms. and said, “Hello, I’m Elizabeth Marston, and I know all about Wonder Woman.” She told the staff that she was “100% with them in what they are trying to do and to ‘charge ahead!’” (The following year, abortion was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court.)
Wonder Woman Researcher Jill Lepore reports that the character owes a debt not only to Feminism, but also “to Greenwich Village bohemianism, socialism, free love, androgyny, sex radicalism…,” etc.
CELEBRATION OF FEMALE EMPOWERMENT—The design decisions for this new “Wonder Woman” film reportedly came primarily from Director Patty Jenkins and costume designer Lindy Hemming as a “celebration of female empowerment.”
“Hemming crafted a look to show off the Amazons’ ripped shoulders and toned legs, emphasized by wrist braces and heeled sandals, because, Jenkins explained, ‘As a woman, I want Wonder Woman to fight and look great at the same time.’”
Thus, the film gives us a hot Amazon supermodel secretary with super powers—a woman who has no idea how attractive she is, and has the strength to defeat any man and can toss a tank.
In 2016, the United Nations named Wonder Woman a UN Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Later, due to controversy, she was dropped.
(Sources: The Secret History of Wonder Woman—Knopf 2014, Smithsonian Magazine, NPR, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Sanger Papers, Wikipedia, etc.)
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.