Wonder Woman: A Review & Reflection

This is both a review and a reflection on Wonder Woman. Warning: mild spoilers ahead!

Breaking through German lines and through several other barriers to become a highly successful superhero movie, Wonder Woman has been a hit for several reasons–an interesting main character, humor, heart, and thoughtfulness.

Beginning on the idyllic island of Themiscyra, we learn about the youth and training of Princess Diana (played by Gal Gadot). Against her mother’s wishes, Diana trains to be a warrior, which comes in handy when British spy Steve (played by Chris Pine) crashes on the island and brings boatloads of Germans in hot pursuit.

This film succeeds largely due to the likeability of Diana–as many prior films have shown, having a beautiful or “cool” leading character isn’t enough–the main character needs to also be interesting and likeable. Diana is all that, equal parts exotic, sincere, and comedic (her encounters with the “world of men” are played for comedic effect quite well, reminding me of Thor).

Her childlike belief throughout most of the film that killing the god of war, Ares, will bring a stop to World War I provides one of the primary themes of the film–the nature of mankind. Are they basically good, corrupted by outside forces, or is that corruption part of their natures?

This is a million-dollar question and one that Wonder Woman is out to answer. Initially insisting that Ares is to blame for corrupting men’s hearts, Diana believes that once she destroys Ares, the war will cease.

When this doesn’t seem to happen near the film’s climax, Diana becomes disillusioned. Steve comes alongside, insisting that they still have a chance to put an end to the war. Diana responds, “My mother was right. She said that men do not deserve you.”

Steve’s responds, “It’s not about deserve. It’s about what you believe.” This line, though not using biblical terminology, is speaking of grace–grace is something that’s not necessarily deserved but is instead given based on the character of the giver–it’s about what the giver believes, what sort of person they are.

It’s a beautiful moment.

Of course, the writers do their best to ruin it by later having Diana declare, “I believe in love,” but the moment is still powerful and interesting. I don’t know the beliefs of Patty Jenkins or any of the film’s creators, but I think it’s interesting that a discussion of human nature made it into the film and that it came out looking almost…Christian.

The only real sore point for me was the implied sex between Diana and Steve, destroying the purity and principle of two otherwise good characters in an anachronistic infusion of modern values. While as a whole I prefer Wonder Woman to Captain America: The First Avenger, I can’t help but wish for Cap’s old-fashioned virtue in his romance with Peggy Carter and feel that the film would have benefited from such an approach.


Planning their infiltration mission by night, Steve and his compatriots have a drink, clinking their bottles together and saying. “May we get what we want, may we get what we need, but may we never get what we deserve.” Watching the film a second time, this scene took on greater significance, foreshadowing the thematic revelations later in the film. It is a humorous line of course, but it reflects the fact that all the characters (Diana excepted) are wrestling with the fact that they have done bad things and feel some sort of guilt for it.

If DC films continue this vein of thoughtfulness, I think I may be headed back to the theater in the future, for Justice League, and more.

“High Flight,” or “A Squirrel’s Sonnet”

 

Oh, I have skipped the grasses green and sailed between

Tree boughs which bounce and wildly spring beneath

My little nimble paws, and then I lean

And crouch, and sail again, leaving a wreath

Of falling leaves to crown the distant ground.

Oh, I have played a year of hours and days

With my comrades, till we have curled and wound

Above, below, through every tree and maze.

Oh, I have scampered, scuffled, skipped through

Each tree and leaf and hill and stuck my nose

Down holes, till summer’s old and autumn new,

And then I gather nuts the fall wind blows.

But when the winter comes, I eat and sleep

Until spring shines:  then I shall dance and leap.

A Question of Love

“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  9 By this   the love of God  is revealed in us:  that God has sent his one and only  Son into the world so that we may live through him. 10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice  for our sins.” -1 Jn. 4:7-10, NET

After reading the above passage recently, the following question struck me: in the context of saving faith, is the appropriate question “do I love God?” In Christian circles, whenever welcoming someone into the church, talking about ones faith, etc., this is the go-to question: do you love God? However, should the question rather not be the more fundamental, “Does God love you?” Must it not be the latter, for 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he loved us first.” Even in light of passages such as Proverbs 8:17, “I [God] love those who love me,” which seem to intimate the contrary, are, on closer inspection, not actually doing so. For if God in his wisdom and sovereignty can lovingly elect sinners before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6), does this not necessitate His love coming first? Proverbs, rather, is speaking of the proper heart and outward response to God’s love. This outward demonstration of love toward God signifies the love that was already at work in our hearts: our love is a natural fruit, a necessary response (Matt 12:33, 13:23). The criticality of this question is rooted in the fickleness of man and the steadfastness of God. For a salvation dependent upon human love is bound to fail. For before any time is passed our affections are drawn to many things: food, public image, lust, slothfulness, selfishness, but thanks be that while our love is weak and wavering, God’s is most steady.

Our love is a fruit, a natural and necessary response to the love God has extended to us, a Christian that claims Jesus and continues to live on with no fruit calls into serious question the veracity of their faith. However, the first question does not address the true source of faith -because that rests in God alone. We must never confuse which love saves and which is a response. For if we look at our own fervency for assurance it will always leave us doubting; by resting in God’s love, only then can we find the solid rock.

“It is a blessed thing when the faithful soul in prayer fixes his uplifted eyes of faith on Jesus only; when he does not look about him to lay hold on his own scattered thoughts, nor behind him at Satan who threatens him with the thought that his prayer is in vain, nor within him at his sloth and lack of devotion; but looks up to Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us.” -Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God, p. 202

Dear Sir

Dear Sir,

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How may I fully express the thrill of flattery that I felt as I unfolded thy note and discovered those two sonnets written for my eyes alone, not for some other supposed vision of perfection! But my pleasure was short-lived, for though the lines sounded sweet, to tell the truth, I could not at first make head nor tale of them. I was forced to spend a full hour unraveling their serpentine turns of phrase, and, to be frank, sir, thy sonnets are not as attractive as first they appeared. Poetic verse really is quite the cloying perfume. Dissolve it with a good bucket of prose and thou wilt be able discern the wearer’s true sourness.

I do not quarrel with thy first conclusion that “…never resting time leads Summer on, to hideous winter and confounds him there.” I know, as do all with any sense, that one far off day my eyes will loose their luster, my hair will whiten, and my skin will shrivel. There is not much gallantry in reminding me of that. What is more, thy solution to this natural ill does not seem very efficacious: “That’s for thy self to breed an other thee.” Hast thou perhaps spent too much time in the company of my mother? For she and thee are alike in thy eagerness for me to bear children. Yet, it cannot help but occur to me that producing children will most likely leave me bereft of beauty much more quickly than natural aging. And, though a parent may be fair, who is to say that their offspring shall be likewise as lovely? A tree may be strong, and yet bear wormy fruit. Or perhaps there shall be no fruit at all. Hast thou not considered that?

Of course thou hast not. Thou seest but a rosy world where rosy women have their own rosy babes. Thy sonnets are constant in their idolization of my beauty and the need to preserve it, as if nothing else about me mattered, not even myself. “Be not self-willed,” thou sayest, “for thou art much too fair, to be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.” When the frost has finally done its work, it seems as if none shall mourn any aspect of my character, nor any good work I have done. My appearance is all I shall be missed for, and heaven help my soul should I have failed to produce any natural progeny.

Be that as it may, I yet propose another course of conduct. As thou suggest: “Beauty o’ersnow’d and bareness every where, then were not summer’s distillation left a liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass…flowers distilled though they with winter meet, leese but their show, their substance lives sweet.” I shalt take thy first advice, and disregard thy second. Deep roots are not reached by the frost, and thus I shalt keep summer’s distillation in my heart. I will do so, and perhaps, when winter has done its outer work, and I lie barren upon my deathbed, those nearby will remember me, myself, in love, and not cluck their tongues in pity for what is lost.

To come to the point, sir, it seems that thou art infatuated with my beauty and its supposed contagion. Not a sonnet I have received has been addressed in praise of any other facet of me. Thus, sir, I must order you to stop hanging round. Depart and attempt to ensnare some other bird with thy tangled web of pretty little words. After all, my parents have not been much pleased with my unfortunate fancy for a mere scribbler.

Yours (no more),

Lynn

 

 

Intersection

We came from all over–America, Sri Lanka, China, India, and more. Big schools, little schools, public schools, private schools, home schools. Some came loaded down with scholarships while other found a job and a loan to get them through. Some came with good study habits developed from a rigorous high school, while others arrived with an academic nonchalance.

Some washed out after a year or two. Others moved back home, found a job and started working full-time. Some buckled down and struggled through, overcoming their natural limitations through discipline and hard work, while others coasted through school without changing dramatically. Some are headed for greatness–a high-paying job, a happy marriage, fame, anything the world can give, while others are headed for trials–a series of dead-end jobs and forsaken dreams before one day, maybe, they’ll find what they’re seeking.

All these lines of people’s lives, running in different directions. But for a brief moment, the lines intersected, and we had this shared experience that we called college, an experience that brought us together. And at that locus, for a split-second, we were the same.