Today’s needull discusses why Wonder Woman’s theme is not the usual feminism.
The story of Wonder Woman, far from being a feminist fable, is actually the archetypal tragedy of the goddess who falls in love with a mortal man who must die while she lives on immortally. It’s a version of Eos and Tithonus in classical mythology—and of Arwen and Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. There is also, dare I say, a Christian theme. “They do not deserve you,” Diana’s Amazon mother warns her daughter before she goes off with Trevor to save mankind from more ghastly slaughter than even the historical World War I entailed. The film’s arch-villain, the war-god Ares, dueling with words with Diana in a fashion that can remind readers of the Gospels of Jesus’s verbal duels with Satan in the desert, reminds her that while he is the powerful tempter, it is human beings themselves, with their weakness, greed, vanity, and murderousness, who have brought on their own self-destruction. Like Christ, Diana makes the choice for humankind anyway. She sees that men and women, despite their capacity for monstrousness, are also capable of selfless love. Her own human lover, Trevor, sets the example: He sacrifices his life to bring at least a temporary end to the destruction.