Wonder Woman

I was SHOCKED, SHOCKED I SAY that Wonder Woman is based on Greek mythology! No, I wasn’t. I had the misfortune to catch a bit of Steven Greydanus, Catholic film critic and larval SJW, on Al Kresta in the Afternoon where he wondered about how the Christian community would react to having Greek mythology as the basis of the story. As if Christians had never encountered such a thing before. (Makes me think that maybe I’m wrong about how sheltered I was being homeschooled. I mean, my parents let me watch Clash of the Titans as a kid.)

Tomas Diaz has a series of posts about the movie and he professes to be a Catholic. He didn’t seem shocked either. In fact he has something very interesting to say about the ultimate point of the movie:

It’s at this point where the movie both demythologizes and reaffirms the myth of the superhero in one fell swoop. Diana’s original assumption is proved as naive. You can’t fix the world just by beating the bad guy. Killing Ludendorff doesn’t halt the war. And killing Ares won’t fix the heart of men. Diana is confronted with an enemy she can’t beat into submission or slay with a sword – sin.

What has Jerusalem to do with Themyscira? we might ask. Even something based on mythology can contain pieces of the truth.

The movie succeeds in showing both the fallen nature of man and the goodness and valor which remains nonetheless. Diana, despite beating people up left and right, is innocent and compassionate. She isn’t the type of female character who angrily refuses help because she doesn’t need no man. In fact she makes a point to include the guys in her success of liberating a town.

Making a female action character work is somewhat difficult. If you give her superpowers or make her a literal goddess then that negates the annoying and unrealistic, twig-armed, able-to-beat-up-a-man-three-times-her-size action girl but then introduces the problem of how to put a man next to her that doesn’t look weak. During the climax, Wonder Woman is clever in this aspect by giving Diana a “god” sized problem to deal with and Steve Trevor and co. a human sized problem to handle concurrently. It’s not perfect but it certainly makes it better.

There are a lot of similarities between Captain America: First Avenger and this movie. Wonder Woman is what CA:FA should have been. The plot is better. No stupid montages. The sacrifice is more moving and makes more sense plotwise.

I had an unfortunately thought, however, halfway through the film. Watching one of the action sequences, I realized I just don’t like this. Not the movie as a whole but the style of fighting and the cinematography. Perhaps my biggest complaint about the movie was too much CGI and too much slow-mo. The action felt fake. Part of this may have been caused by the fact I’d gone a chanbara binge the previous week. I prefer cinematography which allows the camera to STAND STILL. Why does it have to move and move and move and move… The interesting thing about that though is that when it does stop, the moment is emphasized, more poignant, like the last lingering shot of Steve Trevor.

Despite my problems, Wonder Woman is really a breath of fresh air in a movie genre that’s starting to get tired. Diana is innocent and naive. The big bad isn’t going to literally zap the world into non-existence with his giant, glowing skybeam of doom; he’s using mankind’s own faults to make them destroy themselves.

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2 thoughts on “Wonder Woman

  1. I never understood the whole fright of mythology thing among modern Catholics of a certain stripe. St. Basil of Caesarea actually promoted reading Homer for it’s portrayal of virtue. The monks clearly had no problem with copying this stuff down, both the greeco-roman and the germanic, and handing it to future generations. The Middle Ages lauded pagans like Hector and Julius Caesar (see the nine worthies, three of whom are pagans). You seen some of those renaissance cathedrals? You’ll see pagan gods among those angels!

    And I completely sympathize with your comments on the choreography and visuals. For DC, it’s the plague of Snyder – his visual style was interesting for 300 (until it got boring…) but now has become hackneyed and annoying.

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  2. It’an attitude that I find frustrating and confusing. Catholics used to be good at recognizing good things in non-Christian sources and appreciating them for what truth they held.

    Having watched a bunch of old Japanese movies recently I can’t help but think that someone like Greydanus would recoil in horror at these films with a Buddhist or Confucianist world view regardless of the good that they have in them.

    It’s interesting to watch movies from the era where cinematographers had started to figure out how to move the camera. It was used carefully and often (not always obviously) to good effect. Nowadays it’s like they’re all on roller-skates and can’t stand the idea of not moving. “Hackneyed and annoying” is right!

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