This post will contain spoilers for the 2017 movie, Wonder Woman, as well as encouragement and probably more than a little gushing over what I am calling an incredible movie. Consider yourself warned.
I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice now. Both times I cried through pretty much the entire two and a half hours. Some tears were happy ones, delighted by terrific dialogue or visuals or displays of pure girl power. Some of them were tears of solidarity and frustration as Diana realizes how flawed our world is and how impotent one person’s good intentions can be. Some of them were tears of sadness, because some parts of the movie were sad.
But the most poignant tears I cried while watching Wonder Woman were the ones accompanied by shoulder-shaking sobs. The ones that sprang from my eyes and my heart when our hero refused to stand by and do nothing, when she stood up to evil, alone and strong and beautiful in a way that has nothing to do with her makeup or hair or dress size.
Steve Trevor, the soldier and spy played by Chris Pine, is a good man. But he’s also a man who’s seen a lot of evil in the past few years, and he’s worn down. He’s still standing, willing to fight, but he’s a little wobbly on his feet (so to speak) and pretty sure even his best efforts are futile in the big picture. He also takes responsibility for explaining this wearying, war-torn world to Diana, and several scenes feature our two main characters debating both principles and strategy.
STEVE: “This war is a great big mess, and there’s not a whole lot you and I can do about that.
I mean, we can get back to London and try to get to the men who can.”
DIANA: “I am the man who can.”
Boom! She IS the man who can!
If she wasn’t so busy, you know, SAVING THE WORLD after that proclamation, she’d surely have dropped a mic right there. Diana Prince, or Wonder Woman, has no time and no patience for all the reasons why we shouldn’t try to help. She is not interested in all the explanations or excuses in the world that tell her one person cannot possibly make a difference. And while I don’t think she’s implying anything negative about men in this scene at all, she does seem to be saying that women can most certainly be the ones to stand up and fight for what is right.
I have this cousin. He is about as different from me as a person can be and still be related in the most obvious of ways, sharing family mannerisms and memories the way cousins do. I love him dearly, but whenever I hear him bring up politics or current events, I hightail it out of the room. We do not see the world in the same way at all, and I have no desire to debate him about those things. (What’s that? Anti-confrontation, party of one? Yeah, that’s me.)
Last summer, though, I found myself sitting at a table with him and some other family members. Current events came up, as they are so wont to do these days, and I heard him apologize to his nephew, because our generation is giving his younger generation a terrible world to live in. I rolled my eyes and protested in the most Pollyanna way, urging the teenager to look for the good in the world. Or some such platitude. I don’t remember exactly what I said or even thought at that moment, but I was not interested in such a negative outlook. That I remember clearly.
Fast forward many hard months to this summer.
Every morning I open my email and read the news summaries from the day before, clicking on the most interesting or terrifying or depressing or infuriating stories for more information. Staying caught up on what’s happening feels like a necessary evil and one I hold loosely in order to also hold onto my sanity and faith. If I’m not careful I can begin each day feeling heavier and darker than the day before, and more than once I’ve found myself thinking that perhaps my cousin was right.
Since when am I a defeatist? Since when do I not believe I can make a difference in this world? Since when am I not willing to get out of bed one more time, to fight the good fight, to stand up for what I believe in, to do the work I am called to do, the work I believe will make an eternal difference for good?!
The world is dark these days. And maybe it’s always been dark, and I’m just now noticing. Or perhaps time is cyclical and we (as a society or a nation or a planet) have faced ugliness before the way we do today. Maybe I shouldn’t let it get to me. Maybe things aren’t that bad… But they feel bad. And in this world where information — no, where opinions and insights and predictions and theories and, somewhere buried in the midst of all that other stuff, facts — fly at our faces at a million miles an hour every hour of the day, it’s hard not to feel a little bit like Wonder Woman crossing No Man’s Land.
When Wonder Woman and her team arrived at the front of the war, she learned that the space between the two sides was called No Man’s Land because no one could cross it. Civilians were being starved and enslaved, tortured and killed, because they could not escape — and Wonder Woman was having no part of that. Rather than look away or accept the impossibility of changing this horrendous situation, she climbed up out of the pit and marched across the scorched field. She deflected bullets left and right with her magical cuffs and when the Germans turned their machine gun on her, she held her shield steady and took all the fire so the Allies could take back that ground.
I don’t know how the creators of this movie decided how long to have her crouch behind her shield, but what they did was perfection. Because that scene went on just a smidge longer than I expected, just a bit longer than I think anyone could expect a woman to endure, and that was when those sobs I mentioned earlier started.
Because who has not felt like Diana in that moment? Who hasn’t felt like the blows will never stop, like the rain of bullets has gone on longer than any one person could stand, like the constant barrage of bad news is just too much?
We don’t have to talk about current events or politics to find common ground in Wonder Woman. All we have to do is remember that time we were certain our shoulders, our backs, our arms could not hold any more, any longer. We just have to lift our tired eyes to another pair of tired eyes and recognize the battle scars of another soldier fighting a brutal war.
I have felt like that. I have carried my own burdens and the burdens of others, taking fire for my choices and sometimes for the choices others have made. I’ve faced down enemies on my own behalf and for the people I love and even for people I don’t know. And the shield I carry? Sometimes it gets so heavy, so hot, so dented and bent that I don’t know if I can hold it any longer.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m bothering to take fire for something I didn’t choose or people who might never say thank you. I wonder why I think the blows will ever stop, why I’m poised to march onward as if the battle can be won. I wonder why I’m the only one standing in this field, while everyone else seems to be cowering under cover.
Do you ever wonder? As you stand behind your shield in the battlefield? This is why Wonder Woman is the hero we need right now.
Wonder Woman is the hero we need, right this second, because we are weary. We are afraid the bad news won’t stop, afraid our actions won’t make a difference, afraid we aren’t strong enough to withstand the fire. We are tired of going it alone, of being told it doesn’t matter, of facing an enemy we can’t see or can’t understand or can’t figure out how to beat.
We need Wonder Woman because we need to remember that we ARE the [one] that can.
We need to be reminded that we are stronger than we know, that love will save the world. We need Wonder Woman, so we can remember that we are the heroes we need today.
You, my friend, you are the one who can. YOU CAN. You can fight this battle you’re facing right now. You can withstand the fire and give others cover. You can fight for those who cannot fight. You can stay, you can fight, and you can give. You are the hero you need. You are stronger than you know, maybe even stronger than Wonder Woman herself.
You know why? Because you have the God of all things on your side, going before you, holding you up, serving as your Shield.
And that God, the one true God, has given us the power to do all things, and He will finish the work He’s begun in you and with you. With Him, you are a superhero. With Him, you are making a difference.
With Him, you are Wonder Woman and we need you right now.
For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!
Deuteronomy 20:4 NLT