At the Movies: Wonder Woman

“At the Movies: Wonder Woman”
1 John 4:7 & 1 John 4:18
Jill A. Kirchner-Rose, MDIV, DMIN
July 1, 2018

A couple of months ago, I met with our Worship Area Leaders, Erin Beardemphl and Cindy Rinne to plan our sermon series “At the Movies.” As we planned for today, I asked, “What movie has come out in the last year that would speak to 4th of July?” Immediately, Cindy and Erin came up with the idea of “Wonder Woman.” Why? Wonder Woman wears red, white and blue. Let’s also remember that she wears stars and strips and her original breastplate is an eagle!

How many of you saw the Wonder Woman movie? Wonder Woman is revolutionary. We’re in an age of cinema where Superhero movies dominate blockbuster releases. The superhero genre, however, focuses on young men ad nauseum. Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Iron Man, and Aquaman. The list is seemingly endless. Finally, we now have a female superhero movie – Wonder Woman! It took Hollywood 76 years to make a big screen version of Wonder Woman. Fittingly it was released in 2017 – kicking off the year with the Women’s March!

Who is Wonder Woman? She is Princess Diana of the Amazons. Her mother is the queen of the Amazon and a great warrior. Her father is the Greek god of Zeus. Wonder Woman grows up on an island of all women. She has never seen a man before until this scene. Diana is standing on a cliff overlooking the sea when she sees a plane crash into the ocean.  Diana dives into the water and swims toward the wreck. In a brilliant move of role reversal, a woman becomes the protector and savior of a man, Steve Trevor.  (Show scene.)

Wonder Woman meets her first man. In funny scene, Wonder Woman asks the question of Steve Trevor, “How representative are you of men?” He answers, “Above average.”

Who is Wonder Woman? She is both superhero and human. Wonder Woman is stately and emotive, powerful and innocent. She has hope and she has fear. She can love and lust and she can feel sadness and joy. She is tender and compassionate toward the vulnerable and besieged. She tells an attacker “I’m sorry” for subduing him.  She is motivated by empathy as much as be her “sacred duty to defend the world.”

Wonder Woman finds herself in the midst of World War I. Steve Trevor tells her about the war being fought and what’s at stake. She then witnesses firsthand what the god of war, Ares, is doing. While she is not an American, she certainly upholds the American values of liberty, peace, and justice for all.

Her mother does not want her to go and fight the war. “Who will I be if I stay?” Diana asks her mother before leaving home to fight in the war.  Sometimes values are worth fighting for.

During one battle scene, Diana crosses no man’s land into the tensions. She draws the fire, she blocks the bullets so that others, including Steve Trevor, can follow behind her. Heather King, Wonder Woman resident expert, shared with me how this was such a moving scene for her because it’s not a scene of aggression, but endurance. Strength and endurance are necessary in this fight for liberty, peace and justice. Women, in particular, endure for the advancement of humanity. Sometimes it feels like we are on the frontlines, all alone. But we continue to endure for those coming after us. (Show scene of no man’s land.)

What motivates her? Love. She simply refuses to yield in the face of Ares, the god of war. Ares uses his power to destroy. Wonder Woman uses her power to protect and nurture. That is most clear in the climax of the movie. Woman Wonder and Ares are standing in the middle of a war. Flames and destruction surround them.   Ares: “Look at this world. Mankind did this, not me. They are ugly, filled with hatred, weak…”   Ares thrusts the evil Dr. Maru in front of Diana:  Ares continues to pressure Diana to destroy the evil Dr. Maru. Ares says, “You know that she deserves it. They all do. Do it!”   Diana, in her mind’s eye, sees Steve and remembers his unselfishness, his love. Diana knows that humanity is not all evil.   Diana says, “You’re wrong about them. They’re everything you say, but so much more.”   Ares furiously says, “They do not deserve your protection!”   Diana: “It’s not about deserve. It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.”  (Show scene.)

Ultimately, Diana declares, “It’s not about deserve; it’s about what you believe. And I believe in love…Only love will truly save the world.” This is theological. Which God will Wonder Woman serve? Ares, the god of war and destruction or will she serve the God of love and protection? She undeniably chooses love. Love is the highest ideal. And sometimes it requires that we fight for love.

In our scripture passage, we hear these words. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7) and “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Wonder Woman chooses to serve the God of love.

In a few days, we will celebrating the 4th of July. I am aware that there are some among us who do not feel very patriotic these days. Some who are deeply dismayed by the actions of our country. In particular and most recently, in light of the way we have treated immigrants and refugees as of late. Some of us participated in a protest yesterday. In fact, there were over 700 protests yesterday around the country. What were we protesting? The “zero tolerance” policy as well as the past policy of family separation. Although we are grateful that families are no longer separated, we are aware that there are at least 2300 children who are currently separated from this families. We want to make sure that they are reunited and will not rest until they are. We are a country called the “melting pot.” We are a country where our beacon of hope, the Statue of Liberty declares, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The Statue of Liberty is undoubtedly weeping. There are some who may not be celebrating the 4th of July this year. But I…I am going to celebrate.

I am going to celebrate the vision and values of this country. I believe that our country can be better than it is. Along with the list of Founding Fathers and Founding Mothers, I add Wonder Woman (who by the way was an immigrant, too) as a model for the ideals of liberty, peace and justice for all. Values more important than ever in this county, though they are not exactly getting a hero’s welcome at the moment.

Like Wonder Woman and our scripture this morning, I believe in love. The kind of love that demands more and strives for excellence. A love that drives out fear. No doubt, Wonder Woman wears the stars and stripes. And I will be joining her this 4th of July in wearing the red, white and blue, too.