The prophet Jeremiah alludes to the complexity of the human heart when he says, “More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” (17:9 NABRE). I was reminded of this Bible verse while watching the new Wonder Woman, the latest film from DC Comics.
It’s refreshing to me as a lover of superhero films to finally see that it’s a woman who uses her abilities and talents to bring peace and love to a world hurting. The first superhero film to be directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman showcases Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), who is compassionate, gentle, and peace-loving while at the same time strong, uncompromising where important, and unwilling to be pushed around.
Diana grows up on the exclusively female island of Themyscira, created by Zeus for the Amazon women and hidden from the rest of the world. Longing to be trained as a warrior like all the women, Diana defies her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), and convinces her Aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) to train her. When Steve Trevor (Christ Pine), an American spy in the German army, crashes his plane off the coast, Diana saves his life.
Trevor tells Diana about “the war to end all wars” and she is struck to the heart. She is deeply troubled that people she has never known are suffering the horrors of war. Fueled by the stories of the gods told to her by Hippolyta, Diana believes that Ares, the Greek god of war, must be responsible. In her naiveté, she thinks killing Ares will end the war. She travels with Trevor to London.
Gadot and Pine have a wonderful chemistry as Trevor tries to introduce Diana to the world circa 1918. They inject just the right amount of humor and gravitas into their performances. When Diana tastes ice cream for the first time, it seems a miracle. She tells the vendor, “You must be very proud.” Soon enough, however, they get to the business of war as Trevor as his merry band of misfits (Said Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner, and Eugene Brave Rock) try to stop General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his pet evil scientist, Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), from releasing a chemical weapon that will kill soldiers and civilians alike.
It is delightful to watch Diana grow throughout the course of the film. When Trevor first tells her that not everyone is good, she’s confused. Themyscira was a place of harmony and she can’t fathom the evils people can perpetrate on each other. She cannot understand the human heart. In the course of the story, she comes to understand that eliminating one source of evil, doesn’t necessarily mean that evil is gone for good. She begins to realize that darkness dwells within each human heart and that each person must take responsibility for doing his or her best to overcome it.
Her journey doesn’t end there, however. Yes, she witnesses darkness but she also sees light, love, and hope. Through her experience of love, she realizes that people can be forces of good. This gives her the hope to carry on as Wonder Woman, using the powers she discovers for the good and protection of humanity.
Yes, the human heart is torturous, as Jeremiah said. Both light and darkness reside there inside each of us. It is up to us to make sure it is the light that wins out, with each and every choice we make.