Some movies are harder for me to write about because I’m literally overwhelmed with all that I could say, all the connections I see between the story they tell and Biblical truths. Wonder Woman is such a one. There has been a lot of focus on the feminist perspective, and I do want to just comment how refreshing it is that while upholding women, it does not do so by degrading men in any way. In fact, it shows men and women, both, being both heroic and, well, not—because they are evil or weak or wounded and broken, etc. Overall, there’s a feeling of honor, love and hope toward all mankind—something that is often lacking in any activist movement that is striving to defend their rights. That, however, is not what I want to focus on. I want to show you how beautifully the gospel message is woven throughout this story.
It starts with the story of mankind from a Greek mythology perspective. This version, however, is strikingly similar to the Christian version—not the same, but similar. Zeus creates man in his image to be pure and good. Ares (the god of war) is jealous and leads man into corruption and war because of which, Zeus has to separate himself from his creation. He then forms a savior, Diana (Wonder Woman), who is part god and part man who is the only one who can defeat Ares when the time is right. Sound familiar?! (Note there are some differences, like Jesus was fully God and fully man, not equal parts, half and half. Jesus was one with the Father, while Diana never knew Zeus… etc. But the general storyline is strikingly similar.)
Steve Trevor, a WW2 pilot, ends up on Diana’s island and he tells them about the war and the horrors happening on the earth among men, and it stirs her heart. She immediately recognizes that this battle isn’t just a battle among men, but that Ares, the god of war, must be behind it. So she leaves paradise island to free mankind from Ares and his schemes of war, death and destruction.
Again, don’t you see the parallels?! Jesus willingly left paradise to come to earth that He might save mankind. Both of them help people along the way, and both of them never lose sight of the real battle they must fight. No one believed Diana about Ares. No one understood that Jesus came to die. Both of them were crystal clear, however, that the enemy wasn’t mere flesh and blood, but a spirit, a force of evil in the spiritual realm that only they could finally defeat. Diana knew that if she defeated Ares, the war would stop. Jesus knew that if he defeated Satan, sin and death could stop.
When we finally learn that Ares is, in fact, real, he shows Diana how he has been working behind the scenes, whispering in the ears of mankind, giving them ideas for weapons and poisons, whispering hate and power and evil to their minds, letting them think all the while that those are their ideas. It’s actually a very accurate portrayal of Satan and his ways.
Just as Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, Diana was tempted by Ares. He tempted her with power and ease. He tried to get her to think mankind was a lost cause. He made her question her identity and what she knew about her father, Zeus. She held fast, however, and once she passed the test and rejected his offer, she moved into a new level of power and confidence. Much as Jesus’ life had a marked change after his temptation in the wilderness.
Diana also has a small band of misfits with questionable pasts that go with her—a liar, a murderer and a thief, and Steve, who you could argue has been all three of those things himself. These men believed in her, served her and became better because of her. When things got bad, they agreed to stay and fight alongside her, knowing it wouldn’t pay and might cost their lives. This is very much like the band of misfit disciples that followed Jesus. They weren’t much in the eyes of the world, but they believed in Christ, served Him, and became better because of His influence in their lives. They too gave up their careers, risked (and even gave) their lives for the cause of Jesus, just for the joy of being at His side.
As the battle ensues, Steve realizes that he must give his life and “save the day” so that Diana can “save the world.” So he, Christ-like, lays down his life for the good of his fellow man, giving Diana the time she needs to defeat Ares, which she does. This is the biggest departure Diana’s story makes from Christ’s. She doesn’t die and resurrect, but there is still the concept of a man laying down his life to save the world.
After Ares is defeated, there is peace. The war does stop. And yet, she also comes to realize that man is not completely free from darkness because they still have freedom of choice. Just as, Jesus defeated sin and death so that it need not rule us, but we still have to choose to live by His Spirit. In both cases, there was a war that had to be won for all time, but there is also a daily living out of that victory that has to take place. Because of that, the need to daily live out that victory, Jesus left behind his Holy Spirit to live with us and help those who want His help. Diana chose to stay with man (rather than return to Paradise Island), to love, to fight when needed, and to give.
There’s so much more to be gleaned if you have the eyes to look for it, beautiful little tidbits of wisdom and inspiration, but this is a solid start for some of the ways we can find shadows of Jesus in the story of Wonder Woman.
Questions for Discussion:
- How do the stories of Wonder Woman and Jesus parallel each other?
- The Bible says our war isn’t with flesh and blood but with spirits and principalities… how can you see this truth in the movie?
- What was Wonder Woman’s motivation for leaving Paradise Island? How hard would it be to do that if you were her? Why do you think Jesus left Paradise to come to earth?