Where Does She Put Her Shield And Sword?

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Title: Wonder Woman

Rating: 4 Stars

It was a good movie. As should be apparent by now, I’m not a huge fan of either DC or Marvel movies but kind of feel obligated to go to them since they’re such a part of our cultural fabric. So, I’m not going to spend much time on the plot or characters or much about the film itself and write more about what I was thinking as I was watching it. I do have to say that her little lasso of truth thing was pretty crappy CGI.

Wonder Woman as a character in a comic book was first created in 1941. As is obvious, this was the apex of Nazism, and yes, as can be expected, she took on the Axis powers of WWII.

What’s interesting here is that the movie moves her creation story (which is pretty close to the same as the comic book) to the time of WWI. In WWII, the Germans are clearly the bad guys. Without going back to someone like Vlad the Impaler, it’s really hard to find a more evil guy in history than Hitler.

However, in WWI, this is significantly more ambiguous. Sure, at the Treaty of Versailles, Germany is assigned prime responsibility for starting it, but that was pretty much the victors dictating the terms. In a war in which both sides gunned, gassed, and bombed each other with impunity with no other obvious war aims than to gain some territory, it’s really hard to paint Germany as the purely evil force.

In particular, General Ludendorff was certainly a leading general in Germany. However, there is no evidence that he was some diabolical force of evil. In fact, in 1918, when it became clear that his army was collapsing, he and Hindenberg went to the chancellor to plead for an armistice. Having said that, he’s not totally in the clear; even though he asked for the armistice and said that the army was collapsing, after the war he claimed that it was actually the politicians that sold Germany out and that the soldiers could have continued fighting. It was this ‘stab in the back’ argument that helped doom the Weimar Republic and ultimately helped to lead to the rise of Hitler (he actually participated in the ill-fated Beer Hall Putsch).

Wonder Woman becomes convinced that Ludendorff is actually Ares, the god of war. This seems asinine because clearly, if anyone is Ares, it would be Hitler. And, although WWI was imaginably horrible, it turns out that mankind has a very active imagination, because WWII, with the Holocaust, atomic weapons, and the mass slaughter on the Eastern Front, pretty much eclipses it.

So, why move her origin story to WWI? This calls into question Wonder Woman’s reason for existence. Allegedly she was created by Zeus to be the god killer of Ares so that mankind can live in peace. Well, if Ares is killed and yet war continues on, what does that say about her mission? And mankind?

To the film’s credit, moving her story to WWI actually allows these questions to be asked, which in of itself adds a layer of complexity to the film that was unexpected. It’s not often that a superhero movie leads me to question the origin of evil and the nature of evil in us (usually it’s more like finding evil and then removing it and saving the world). Killing off the evil Hitler would have been the easy route to take, so I have to give credit to the film for not taking it.

By the end, Wonder Woman discovers herself to be a goddess. This brings up the same question that Thor and, for that matter, Superman (who on this planet is effectively a god) have. Why should they give a fuck about the human race?

Sure, all three of the characters discover love and somehow love is a driving motivation for all of them. The point is, they are effectively immortal. The person that they love will die and yet they still have millennia to live on. It’s the equivalent of me falling in love with a house fly. Civilizations will be born and will die and they will still just be. They will see unimaginable changes. As essentially immortal gods with what appear to be human emotions, how will they not go insane? At least Thor has his own universe to go home to. Superman and Wonder Woman are pretty much stuck here.

Interestingly enough, this topic is broached in the overlooked but I personally think pretty amazing movie “He Never Died”. Henry Rollins stars as Cain, as in the brother that murdered Abel, now in the current day, doomed to wander for eternity and to feed on human flesh. Cain, in the present day, is simply overcome with boredom and barely finds the motivation to feel anything.

This has to be the end result for all of these immortal superheroes. I’d really love to see someone tell that story.

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