If you’re looking for a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man, then look no further than the recently released Wonder Woman.
Its huge success testifies to the achievement of its (female) director, and boldly flouts concerns that a female superhero would limit its appeal.
But as I sat there silently applauding each of Wonder Woman’s somersaults, it struck me that this isn’t a film which is restricted to questions of gender portrayal. It tackles wider themes of compassion, sacrifice, and justice. And at its heart, this is a film which confronts the problem of evil.
It tells the story of Diana, a demi-god who leaves her island home in order to defeat the villain Ares and end the First World War. As the film portrays the horrors of suffering, it becomes increasingly apparent that the problem of evil is not one external to humanity, but deeply inherent. Ares explains that he is not the one driving acts of evil. Humans are doing that themselves. And Diana is left despairing that ‘the closer you get, the more you see the great darkness within’.
She longs for a world which is good, but humans are not. She yearns for justice but knows that the just punishment of humanity is its destruction. Her heart aches to save the very people that everyone tells her ‘do not deserve you’.
How does Diana respond? ‘It’s not about deserve,’ she says. ‘I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.’
Her answer speaks so clearly of grace – of love in the face of suffering and of justice tempered with mercy. It reflects something of Paul’s wonder that ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).
At a moment when we are so acutely aware of the suffering we’re capable of causing one another, and when the tangle of politics makes it hard to know where to put our trust, I think our longing for a hero like this becomes all the greater.
So as Diana promises to fight for a world which is tearing itself apart, her choice points to self-sacrifice as the ultimate expression of love. It reminds us of the one who offers hope and ultimate resolution to the problem of evil – one whose grace fills us with the greatest wonder of all.
Katherine is in her second year studying English at Cambridge University. She blogs the odd thought at chatterandscribblings.wordpress.com