Another superhero movie hit theaters last weekend to usher in the summer blockbusters. This one is noteworthy for being the first superhero movie to feature a woman. It’s also the first of the genre to be directed by a woman. There’s plenty of action though, with enough shooting, sword-fighting, and explosions to satisfy anyone who loves a super-sized smack-down.
Like all the superhero movies, this one involves a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” with Chris Pine’s character actually using those terms to help Diana, the Amazonian princess, understand what’s going on as she encounters mortal humans for the first time.
The film also provides the “origin story” of Wonder Woman, much like the many versions of the origins of Superman, Bat Man, and all their counterparts in the Marvel Universe. But unlike those movies, Wonder Woman also provides an “origin story” for mankind, leading to difficult questions about whether mankind is inherently good or evil and whether mankind is worthy to be saved.
According to Amazon legend, the chief god Zeus created mankind “in his image” and essentially good. Out of jealousy, Aries, another god, corrupted mankind by placing war and dissension in their hearts. The all-female race of Amazons was created by Zeus to be peace-makers among men and—inevitably—to destroy Aries and save mankind.
Aries has a different story, though, one he shares with Diana near the end of the movie. He claims mankind was corrupt from the beginning, and all he has done is whisper encouragement in their ears to get them to destroy themselves.
The similarities between this origin story and the Christian story of the Creation and Fall are striking. In the Bible we read that God created humans in his image and set them over his “very good” creation (Genesis 1-2). Another spiritual being caused the first humans to question God’s commands and disobey him, leading to separation from God and the need to be “saved” (Genesis 3).
Just like the Amazons’ legend, the creation account leads to some difficult questions. Did God know his creations would rebel against him, but he made us anyway? Did we rebel because of something inherent in us or because of some outside influence? Are we worthy of being saved because it’s not really our fault, or because there is still good in us (along with the evil)? Or are we unworthy because of our sin, but God loves us anyway and he offers us his grace?
The movie raises other questions just as important, because it’s not just Diana who struggles with understanding why humans act the way they do. The humans question it, too, and they question what they should do about it. As humans, it’s all too easy to look for the “worthy” among and be willing to fight, and even die, for them. It’s much harder to sacrifice for the “unworthy” in our world—the poor, the sinners, the lepers of society, the people who hate us, the people who persecute us.
Jesus loved all those people and paid a great price to make it possible for them to be saved. He also said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:9-12).
There aren’t many movies out there which can spark a good discussion about sin and grace, but Wonder Woman is one, and I hope you’ll go see it.
What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.