Last weekend I went to see “Wonder Woman,” if for nothing else but to escape the depressing pattern hanging over our heads, both with the weather and the obsessive news coverage of all things Trump.
I was in no way deterred from attending the movie due to all the hyper-feminist clatter leading up to the movie’s release. I have grown immune to the now all too routine identity politics dialog that seems to surround every aspect of our society. I went to the movie in anticipation of pure escapism. I found something more substantial.
Without getting too deep in the weeds, I am well aware of the fascinating history and evolution surrounding Wonder Woman. I have read all about the “interesting” life of one of Wonder Woman’s creators, Dr. William Moulton Marston. I am also well versed in the more wayward interpretations of earlier story lines regarding Wonder Woman. There were times when our society corrupted the much needed intrinsic worth that Wonder Woman would eventually obtain. Ultimately, even a fictional character can break free of real world constructs.
Heroes are not meant to be perfect. In fact, it is their imperfection that helps bring us closer to them. We want our heroes, fictional or real, to stand for something better than ourselves, but we also need them to have struggles and flaws. They may have inhuman powers, but we need them to demonstrate a connection to a shared sense of humanity.
Putting aside the odd details about the journey the fictional character of Wonder Woman traveled, I can say without argument most of society has shaped Wonder Woman into a positive role model, one whose virtues are appealing to all, male or female.
In the current manifestation of Wonder Woman, the Wonder Woman movie finally represents the proper and complete expression of the true nature of what many people believe Wonder Woman should represent. It is not unusual that a fictional character evolves beyond the original vision of their real life creator. Wonder Woman has long been held up as a role model for girls, but we miss our opportunity to embrace the unifying virtues that Wonder Woman embodies.
My son Matt will tell you those movies and books I am attracted to share one simple belief. There is good, there is evil, and there is very little “gray” in-between. This simple belief is also how I look at the world. I wear neither rose-colored glasses, nor I am I blind. The entirety of my resume has made me very well-balanced. This modern incarnation of Wonder Woman for the most part looks at the world much as I do, but through the innocence of an evolving Wonder Woman.
I know what you are thinking, “but Jeff, Wonder Woman is just make believe.” You are right of course, but Wonder Woman is fictional in the same way that Atticus Finch was (To Kill a Mockingbird). We need heroes; we need to believe we are all capable of the fictional exploits of characters such as Atticus and Wonder Woman. The positive qualities Wonder Woman embodies: strength, courage, honesty and traditional moral clarity, are shared by all the people most of us look to as heroes. However, what this manifestation of Wonder Woman represents best is the simple belief we “cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost” and “If no one else will defend the world, then I (we) must.” The character of Wonder Woman may be fictional, but her heart is real and should be beating in each and every one of us.
Wonder Woman has known many incarnations, and with the release of this movie, has matured to the persona the character deserves. We are drawn to these characters, even in their imperfections, because they are more honest than most of those currently serving in Washington, D.C., and sometimes we just need to believe in good.
I am actually writing this article to encourage parents to take the children to Wonder Woman (age appropriate of course – violent scenes and mild sexuality). As with “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Wonder Woman can be more than just a form of entertainment. It is our opportunity to have a discussion with the next generation about good, evil and personal character. See the movie, grab an ice cream and talk about virtue, strength and courage. I have no doubt it will be a discussion you will cherish later in life.