Even if you don’t know anything about me, you can glean from the name of my blog that I have a Wonder Woman problem. If you saw my office? Well, nevermind. So, when I heard that a movie was finally in the works, I was cautiously excited. “Please, please, please let it be good,” I thought. I love the campy 70s TV show, but I knew the modern version would be different. I just wanted it to be good. Really good. I wasn’t even planning to do a Wonder Woman movie review–I just wanted greatness!
So when I got online and bought my tickets, I had purely selfish motives. I wasn’t even thinking about the blog, which seems crazy now that I think about it. But I was in the zone. I put on one of my Wonder Woman T-shirts, a pair of WW socks, and of course, my boss WW Chuck Taylors, and off we went.
It wasn’t long into the movie when I started noticing themes and elements that were very consistent with a Christian worldview. They carried through to the end, and by the time the credits started to roll with the glowing gold lasso around them, I knew I’d be writing this review before I went to sleep. So, let’s dive in!
Spoiler alert: This review is going to reveal a few things about the movie that you may not want to know before you go in. The ball is in your court.
First, the Rating
It’s PG-13, and I’m going to tell you exactly why. First, there are battle scenes, and there are a lot of them. They are intense, and the slow-motion effects are really, really cool. It really heightens the drama of the battle. There’s hand-to-hand combat with swords, guns, bows and arrows, spears, and fists. But there’s not gore. No blood spray or entrail-spilling. In fact, the color scheme for the World War I segments is very gray. There’s one scene where Diana and Steve are passing by injured soldiers, but there’s nothing gross. There’s limping and bandages, but even the veteran in a wheelchair with what looks like an amputated hand injury isn’t obvious or bloody. There are some people killed by poisonous gas, but again, nothing graphic at all. You can’t see anything.
Bottom line: The battle scenes are no joke, but they’re not bloody.
The second reason for the rating is suggestive romance. Here’s what happens. Steve and Diana are alone in a room one night, they get very close, touch each other’s faces, kiss, and the camera moves to the outside of the building. That’s it. Earlier, Diana talks matter-of-factly about books she read about “biological reproduction” and “pleasure”. She says Steve wouldn’t like the books because they conclude that men are necessary for reproduction, but not for pleasure.
There’s also a scene on the island when Diana walks into a cave-like place where Steve is bathing in some kind of healing or restorative waters. He gets out of the water, and she sees him. The actor is almost naked, covering his private area until he can get a towel. Her reaction is completely unemotional, and she has an otherwise normal conversation. So, even though you don’t see anything (no backside), that scene is there.
Bottom line: The sexual content isn’t really there. And what is there is awfully subtle.
So, How Was the Movie?
This movie is almost flawless. And this isn’t just because I fangirl on Wonder Woman or because I’m in my movie honeymoon. Believe me, if the movie tainted Wonder Womanhood, I’d be really disappointed. But it’s pretty great. Heck, if Rotten Tomatoes is giving it high marks, it’s gotta have something going on, right? The characters are well-developed and interesting, we get a lot of backstory on Diana. The bad guys are bad guys, and the good guys are flawed but still good. The storyline is fun, exciting, and well-paced. It opens and closes with Diana receiving something from Bruce Wayne and emailing him about it. Fun.
The character Diana was super tough, phenomenally trained, and highly principled. She was very focused on her mission, and she didn’t always follow the rules. I appreciated that the character was written with all of those qualities, but without sacrificing her femininity. She’s still a woman; she looks and acts like a woman, and she loves like a woman. She is compassionate, tender toward those who are suffering, and she loves babies.
I can’t do a Wonder Woman movie review without commenting on how visually stunning the movie is. Paradise Island is gorgeous and vibrant, and is intentionally placed in stark contrast to the world under the siege on World War I. Great use of angles and perspective. Even in its drab tones, the movie manages to be at times beautiful, moody, mysterious, and lively. There are some really cool effects like the lasso of truth and the Ares’ transformation back into his god state.
Great characters, an exciting and meaningful storyline, and visual appeal–that’s how the movie was.
(Hey, Princess Bride fans, look for Buttercup as a ripped warrior so fierce she’s in charge of training everyone else. Yes!)
My Only Gripe (Is it Just Me?)
In the original TV series, Steve Trevor was an American. Here, he’s a British spy. Okay, fine. But why doesn’t he have a British accent?!? There’s never any explanation. He talks like an American. At one point, he affects a German accent, so I really don’t know what’s going on with the accents. Oh, well.
[Update: A friend informs me that when he was on the island being interrogated a la lasso, he said he was with some kind of American forces assigned to British intelligence. I missed that, so I feel better!]
Why This Is a Gold Mine for Christian Parents
When you see this movie, you’re going to have loads of material for family discussion. Like:
- The original story was that Zeus made man “in his image”, and he was good. But wait, Ares was jealous and set out to destroy man, so he created war in men’s hearts to turn them against each other. According to the story, everything was fine until Ares messed men up. Any of this sound familiar?
- Diana’s mother says that she made Diana out of clay and prayed that Zeus would bring her to life. We can only assume that is how all the Amazon women came into being. It sounds a lot like the Genesis account of Adam’s creation where God made him out of dirt and breathed life into him, doesn’t it?
- Ares takes on a form that is not just non-threatening, it’s downright pleasant. He disarms people in order to carry out his plan, which is ultimately to destroy all mankind. It’s precisely what Satan does. Ares even tries to woo Diana to his side by showing her a restored earth where everything is lush and wonderful (but without people). It looks like a twisted version of the New Earth. And that’s what Satan does. He takes God’s ideas and twists them so that even though they are poison, they still look good.
- Before she leaves Paradise Island to find and kill Ares, Diana gets her armor. She knows the value of good armor and how each piece serves an important and unique purpose. We know this from the Ephesians passage about the armor of God. What’s more, she believes the sword is the most powerful part of the armor. In Christian vernacular, the sword in the armor of God is the only weapon we need because it’s the Word of God.
- Steve’s little band of brothers is hardly the Navy Seals. They are all unique and interesting and likeable, but flawed. And they’re not great warriors. It reminded me of the kind of people God called to do important jobs in the Bible, and today.
- Throughout the movie, there’s something about Diana we don’t know–and she doesn’t know. Turns out, she’s the daughter of Zeus. Yep, she’s a child of the “head god.” And she defeats Ares. Only a child of God can stand against the schemes of the devil, and only a child of God can have ultimate victory over evil.
- This is probably my favorite. There’s a saying that’s repeated in the movie about how people can be terrible to each other, and just like Diana’s mother told her, the world doesn’t deserve her. “It’s not about what we deserve.” Whoa! Hello, grace! They add, “It’s about what you believe”, which isn’t consistent with a Christian worldview. But at the end, Diana adds something, so it goes like this, “It isn’t about what we deserve. It’s about what we believe. And I believe in love.” Boom. That’s a central Christian message–Instead of giving us what we deserve, God gives us grace because He loves us. Our response to that love is trusting in Him and putting our faith in the Gospel. So when Diana says that the world is saved by love, she’s exactly right! How great is this?!?
- At the end of the final battle, Diana defeats Ares. The Satan figure is defeated…at the end of a battle. Regardless of your eschatology, that’s end-times imagery. And if you don’t want to be that specific, it’s a basic truth that Satan’s rule on earth will come to an end, no matter what your understanding of Armageddon is. (By the way, I’m not saying Diana is a Christ figure because I don’t see it that way. I don’t think there is one in the movie. But remember, these Christian themes I’m pulling out weren’t written into the script, as far as I know. They just really work well for having some faith-based discussion in the car or at home.)
Make a Night of It
I’ve put together a printable with some discussion questions for you and your family, complete with Scripture citations. In addition to the points above, I’ve got a few extras.
After you’ve seen the movie, pop some more popcorn, and make a fun night of talking about these things. Be sure you give your kids the floor to do a lot of the talking. Kids have more fun when they get into a discussion and feel heard instead of feeling overtly taught. You may be surprised at some of their insights.
You can get that printable right here:
Free Discussion Questions
One-page printable sheet of TEN conversation starters about Wonder Woman. Easy to tailor to your kids' ages and interests. Have fun!
And if you have a Wonder Woman tiara, rock it. Always rock a tiara.
Have you seen the movie yet? What do you think about the Christian themes? Did I miss anything?