I was astonished how good a job the producers of ‘Wonder Women’ did. They gave her character a remarkable combination of Strength, obedience, personal power, innocence, romantic love, individualism – and her beauty was off the charts. Gadot is a very convincing and compelling wonder woman. This movie renews in a profound and special way the legend of Wonder Woman; it provides no less than a great archetype of womanhood.
With modern pressures they could of PC’d-out and made her a feminist Icon, but they didn’t do that. It seems to me they stayed true to her mythology and they went for what is most compelling in a super hero, and in a woman. Diana is an archetype for many reasons.
Diana makes a heroes journey from a paradisal island where she lives with her fellow amazons into the real world of world war 2. Her mother, aunt, and fellow warriors bring her up with strong ethics and the skill of a true warrior, one who fights for good and loves peace, but can be fierce and has unwavering courage.
In the real world of WW11 she is at first innocent and naïve, but nevertheless thinks and acts from her own mind and soul. The first day she sails with Steve she encourages him to sleep by her; this is not out of promiscuity at all, but from a simple openness to life and self acceptance (quite the opposite of an uptight traumatized woman). At crucial times she stands up for what she knows in spite of what others say, as when she single handedly charges hundreds of intrenched germans in spite of Steve’ vehement objection that she stay on mission. In one scene she sees a baby and instantly rushes to go cuddle it (but Steve redirects her). She loves people and grieves deeply and spontaneously at seeing the poor, helpless, and wounded suffer, which gives her the magnificent qualities of innocence and courage together, which I will discuss below. She is offended and shocked at some of the dirty and ugly things in London, and is especially offended that evil often is allowed and goes unchecked.
She loves her man, Steve, with true womanly loyalty and a pure love, which is beautiful to behold. At the same time She is no ones fool, very independent, and acts from steely internal conviction. These qualities make her a whole, archetypal figure that is compelling to the heart and psyche of the movie goer. In the romantic scenes the feeling of intimacy and attraction between Steve and Diane is magnificent; it is not only physical but a spiritual force. She is a virgin and innocent to sex, but utterly confident in herself and loves with a fierce tenderness and intelligence. The feeling in the romantic scenes contains a purity that is almost too intimate to watch.
Diana’s naivete is greatly tested by her arch enemy, Aires. He is not only powerful and supernatural but is very adept at swaying and manipulating the mind of others to his evil intent. He is shown to be the evil force behind the Nazi leaders and Dr. poison. He uses truths and a false sense of compassion to persuade others; for instance, he uses the armistice to lull humanity into passivity, but Diana sees through this. He confuses Wonder Woman and reveals new things to her that are a shock to her. For instance he tells her that she was born of Zues; and, also, that She is the sword that was made to kill a ‘god’, not the physical sword as she had been taught from legend. Diana is thrown-off balance but maintains her focus, because her heart is pure and in the right. From her steadfast affections for what is good she can discern the spirit and motives of people and her enemy.
She at first cannot understand how evil is so strong in the world and she resists being part of it. At one point she is disillusioned by Steve’s realism and chooses to remove herself from the evil infested world, but she sees that Steve and his companions keep fighting; she sees that he believes in what he is doing, that he is obedient to his mission as a soldier. He guides her, and explains in simple language that this world is in the balance of good and evil, and that they must fight for the good no matter how bleak it looks. The movie hits its stride of meaning in showing that she comes to see that this is the way the world is, and that it makes life all the more meaningful and honorable to fight against evil for the sake of the people, something that Steve deeply understands and demonstrates. The various characters in the movie, particularly Steve’s loyal battle companions, also personify the theme of good and evil in people, in that they are each crusty, seamy, and faulted in their own way, (they are called ,one by one, smugglers, killers, actors, etc.) but inside are good and loyal and love each other.
The movie begins with myths particular to Greek mythology. During the scenes in the beginning on the Island Wonder Woman is eventually shown to be a demi-god by myth. She takes the sacred sword of legend, and her mother does not reveal that the underlying truth is that she herself is the sword and it is prophiceid that she is made to fight Aries. She has to grow into this awareness from ignorance to full awareness in the process of the movie. But in the desire to make meaning the movie is really not so much about myth, but the majority of the movie appeals to tried and true romantic, spiritual and Biblical themes.
Modern super hero movies like this are full of allegory, archetypes, and underlying Biblical themes; and they provide (potentially) a powerful service to the psyche. The movie never mentions God, but the principles in the movie are inherent to the nature of God. Steve knows what he must do for himself in service to something much greater than himself, and Diana comes to know what she must do also. This is a depiction of self-hood and sacred honor. As warriors they both know that sacred duty to God and country come before their own love, even though their love has grown into a true conjugal love. Why? Because sacred duty serves that which is bigger – God, country and the good of humanity. This honorable knowing in their soul increases their love for each other. At the end Steve sacrifices his life in service and saves the lives of countless others – this is the love that Jesus spoke of: “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another”. He obeyed his duty, he served the good of others above his own self. Diana loved this expression of purity of heart. These are universal themes that are inherently from God and the Bible, which the movie firmly plants itself in line with. Movies appeal to these themes because they evoke the most powerful passions and feelings in our heart. (The themes of self-sacrifice, sacred duty are so common because stir the deepest meanings in our soul. They are just as compelling as love and sex. These themes bring people into the movie and marketing is the bottom read on what works).
Diana suffers a crisis of conscience after she meets and kills the first leader of the Nazi’s for she realizes he is not Aires as she had thought. This experience exposes her fantasy version of herself from childhood. She feels that it is no longer worth fighting, that there is too much evil in this world, and that she is too good for the humans. This is her mother in her head; her mother has told her exactly these words when they left each other. The paradise was a wonderful place where Diana was brought up to be strong and believed in the best values of the Amazons, but the island paradise represents an un-integrated state where there is only women. The unintegrated state always comes with illusions for it is only half the equation of life. It is Steve that initiates Diana into her destiny and teaches her that she needs to believe – the unstated context of this is to ‘believe in God’ (from which all wisdom comes). He helps her to see that the struggle of life is worthwhile, no matter how great the evil as mentioned before. It is common in movies like this that the producers don’t mention God by name but the principles of God come out in the desire to make meaning and to appeal to what moves people in the deepest way inside. Lets look further how Godly principles are inherent in the movie:
A woman is predominantly a form of love, and a man a form of wisdom; and both have qualities of the other in the manner of yin and yang. Diana demonstrates beautiful and tender love for the suffering, for babies, for community and will do anything to protect these. Steve teaches her what her mother could not – how to deal with the world outside and see the good in people in spite of evil. He also demonstrates the greatness of submitting to God’s will. He does this in the end, but also in the beginning when Diana asks him why he must go back and fight; he says, ‘Not because I want to, but I have to try”; Diana admires him for this. It is also Godly principle that innocence only becomes true innocence when it is integrated with wisdom, and wisdom only wisdom when it is integrated with innocence. Diana has the great quality of innocence and obedience to truth, and this brings real wisdom and perception to her when she learns to integrate in the world of good and evil. The relationship between Diana and Steve is equal (even though she has phenomenal abilities), as it can only be in true love. Diana shows all the men the strength and power and tender love for all things. During her battle with Aires they are at a standstill exchanging blows, but at the climax when she sees in the sky above Steve blow up the plane (and himself) that has tons of bombs in it, (and thus saves millions of ives) – she explodes with passion and love which gives her the power to destroy Aires. She knows Steve fulfilled his sacred duty between him and God – that he sacrificed himself and his desires for the sake of the people.
There is a great value in movies like this that reminds the public of Godly principles, and that helps to open, even if unconsciously, deep feelings in hour heart. I realize most people do not see all these things I am pointing out in these movies, but people are deeply moved by the movie, and it may be that for those that don’t know how to connect with God this is a seeding or preparation for realizing deeper things of God. On this point, I am reminded of something Swedenborg describes that has to do with the way angels teach young children in heaven:
“Children are taught chiefly by representatives suited to their capacity. These are beautiful and full of wisdom from within, beyond all belief. In this way an intelligence that derives its soul from good is gradually instilled into them. I will here describe two representatives that I have been permitted to see, from which the nature of others may be inferred. First there was a representation of the Lord’s rising from the sepulchre, and at the same time of the uniting of His Human with the Divine. This was done in a manner so wise as to surpass all human wisdom, and at the same time in an innocent infantile manner. An idea of a sepulchre was presented, and with it an idea of the Lord, but in so remote a way that there was scarcely any perception of its being the Lord, except seemingly afar off; and for the reason that in the idea of a sepulchre there is something funereal, and this was thus removed, after wards they cautiously admitted into the sepulchre something atmospheric, with an appearance of thin vapor, by which with proper remoteness they signified spiritual life in baptism. Afterwards I saw a representation by the angels of the Lord’s descent to those that are “bound,” and of His ascent with these into heaven, and this with incomparable prudence and gentleness. In adaptation to the infantile mind they let down little cords almost invisible, very soft and tender, by which they lightened the Lord’s ascent, always with a holy solicitude that there should be nothing in the representation bordering upon anything that did not contain what is spiritual and heavenly. Representations are there given as plays adapted to the minds of children, whereby they are guided into knowledges of truth and affections for good”. (Heavan and Hell)
This movie and others like it do something similar for us as adults. Basically superhoroe movies repeat over and over the story of a supernaturally empowered man (or woman) that saves the world from destruction; which is in a nutshell, the story of Jesus – the greatest superhero! Superhero movies may be remote from the heavenly description above, but Good superhero movies intuitively appeal to deep childhood yearnings that come from innocence, or what is called ‘remains’ in the Word. (See in this blog the article on remains for a full explanation). The innocence from remains stored in our soul is what makes it possible to receive God; an example of this would be the enthusiasm with which children believe in Santa Clause, and that this belief is a precursor to faith in God. Superhero movies potentially depict archetypal stories that connect us to this Godly source. Jung wrote about how within us there is the animus and anima that is the male and female principle from which we can find wholeness within our self, and which are also the root of our yearning for a soul mate. (Jung actually learned these terms from Swedenborg.) As an example, Jung described that the woman in the book ‘She’, by H. Rider Haggard, is a genuine archetypal figure from the creative unconscious; that the book stimulated images and yearnings from the soul that heal psychic wounds and bring to life universal meanings of womanly strength, of chivalry, honor, and true marriage love. Wonder Woman does something similar, and to a remarkable degree makes traditional values and integrity look very good, something modern society has greatly neglected and needs to see! For me watching the flow of this story and images helped to heal negative role modeling toward women in my psyche, and see the goodness of innocence, power and beauty in women.