Lessons From Wonder Woman

My son and I finally got to see Wonder Woman last night. Although I’m not a big fan of the comic book film genre, I’ve sat through a lot of them and Wonder Woman set itself apart from the others in many significant ways.

Good is an Active Force, and a Force for Action

Too much contemporary drama treats good as a neutral, passive state that is corrupted. We turn to the dark side. Purity is tainted. Evil corrupts. Contemporary good is relegated to the weak motto of Google’s “Don’t be evil.” which requires nothing of us, except to do nothing.

In sharp contrast, Wonder Woman recognizes good as an active choice, not passive sweetness, but positive action. Good is not making nice. Good is fighting for what is right and fighting to pull up those who are, at the moment, too weak to stand up on their own.

In a direct challenge to Trumpism and the idea that one can only be a winner by making someone else a loser, Wonder Woman demonstrates that we are winners only to the extent that we lend a helping hand to those in need.

Duty is Not a Burden

The 1990s placed the duty-as-burden trope on our heroes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Spiderman to the X-Men. Despite their unique powers, all those superheroes really wanted was to be just normal teens worried about normal white, suburban problems. Oh, poor me. I have extraordinary powers but I’m different, alienated from the ordinary.

Wonder Woman hearkens back to the idea of power and privilege conferring noblesse oblige She doesn’t whine about it. She embraces it. This is what she is made for and this is what she will do.

Heroic Character Matters More than Toys

Sure Wonder Woman has some cool toys. But gadgets aren’t what make her who she is. That’s character…her sense of personal responsibility and justice. She embodies the idea that each of us must stand up to do whatever it is we are capable of doing. Super powers are not a prerequisite for standing up against what’s wrong, or giving someone else a hand up.

Evil is Not an Arch-Villain

Life is not so neat as to imagine that a superhero can kill the super-villain and then everyone lives happily ever after in Paradise.

Wonder Woman, the movie, sticks this point hard…as it is shown as a major flaw in Wonder Woman’s, the character, thinking. “If I can just kill this one bad guy, everything will be perfect.”

Eliminating the “bad guy” or placing all your faith in a savior figure is not the answer. Because…

The Battle of Good and Evil Is a Personal Struggle

Wonder Woman does not portray the battle of good and evil and something external, as a fight between super-protagonist and super-antagonist in which ordinary human kind is just part of the scenery.

Wonder Woman recognizes the real battle as personal. Each of us is fully capable of good or evil and the fight is within us, not without.

Free Will Trumps Destiny

Our recent strange obsession with “destiny” (which seems to date to the first Star Wars movie but also figures heavily in “Lord of the Rings”) gets some push-back.

Each of us chooses to do what is right, or to sit complacently on the sidelines. This is the first time I’ve heard this message since “Hell Boy”.

Intrinsic Reward

Traditionally heroes reap rewards: they find the treasure, they get the girl, or they are showered with accolades from their peers.

Wonder Woman emphasizes that the reward for doing the right thing is the knowledge that you did the right thing.

Photo
Wonder Woman – HISHE Review (SPOILERS)
5 comments
5
9 plus ones
9
6 shares
6
Shared publicly•View activity

Jodi Kaplan
+1
Yes! I really need to see that movie again.
REPLY
Jun 9, 2017

Donna Buckles
+1
Well that certainly makes me want to see it more.
Jun 9, 2017

Peter Strempel
+1
I will have to add it to my list of things to watch. The list of values represented in the story seems to be a return to integrity, obligation, and duty. Values I grew up with, but that seem very much out of favour in the hipster era.
Jun 13, 2017

M Sinclair Stevens
+1
+Peter Strempel I felt it dropped the cynicism that has been prevalent in my own adult life. As Steve Trevor says, “You can do something or do nothing.”
Jun 13, 2017

Peter Strempel
+1
That’s always how I felt about important and trivial choices: they all count, and they all reflect what kind of person you are.
Jun 13, 2017