Wonder Woman and Spirituality 101
I am not a DC comic guru nor have I really been a comic fan at all—except maybe Archie in my pre-teen years. But after getting caught up with the general media hoopla of the recently released Wonder Woman, I was compelled to see the movie. I confess, I am now a fan of the superhero.
Before going to the movie, I was aware of the UN granting the 75-year-old character ambassador status for girls—and then two months later having a change of heart and revoking it amidst protests of her being overly sexualized. I’ve read heartwarming letters from parents, one from a father to his son, guiding him to see the absence of men in the first part of the movie and overall theme of women’s strength and power, as an opportunity to understand how most young girls must feel in viewing other superhero movies. Other parents just basked in the message this movie gives to young girls that they too can imagine themselves as superheroes.
What’s more, this movie captures a different worldview. Through the lens of the superhero, people are full of promise with light that can out shine darkness, when given the chance. Evil exists, but people don’t have to fall prey to its claim. In one of the film’s moments, a choice needs to be made that would neglect the few to concentrate on the bigger picture – but Wonder Woman challenges that small view in seeing and giving victory to both views. Wonder Woman challenges the status quo and the limitations that come from that lens. She imagines a world that doesn’t need to succumb to the restrictions of what our minds can fathom. She pushes for imagination to lead to vision and vision to be imagined in hope.
Could there possibly be a spiritual message in Wonder Woman? Perhaps with a bit of imagination that doesn’t get stuck in the costuming, or stereotyping of gender projections, or unrealistic strength of a demi-god. Perhaps if we could just look past all that, there is a message.
Two of my favorite lines might demonstrate this. For those unfamiliar with the movie, Princess Diana’s (Wonder Woman) father, Zeus, leaves her to be raised by the Queen of the Amazons (an island of women). The women are warriors in training for the day that Zeus’ son, Ares (the god of war) might return. Wonder Woman comes face to face with that reality, when an incident encroaches on their paradise. To the queen mother’s deep angst, Diana feels a sacred obligation to leave the island and save the world! As she is leaving, her mother approaches her knowing the inevitable choice she is making. Diana says these incredibly challenging and deeply profound words: “What will I be if I don’t go?” Isn’t it true that inaction, or being comfortable, or a lack of moving on a conviction can be just as destructive to our character as those intentional activities that we know are unethical? Diana wisely sees that who she is destined to become rests in her imminent decision.
Diana also gives us a glimpse of grace. She says, “It’s not about what you deserve but what you believe, and I believe in love.” Likewise, grace isn’t about what we deserve but rather God’s choice of offering us grace because of his love.
Seeing beyond the parameters of optics and political statements and limitations of what a comic book character can deliver then yes, Wonder Woman seems to have spiritual breadth.