Wonder Woman set records at the box office and is the topic of conversation everywhere. Critics loved it. Today I want to talk about just one thing. The personality and character of Diana Prince, Wonder Woman.
Starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman gives us a character with the qualities needed in the real world. Even though the film is set in World War I, the moral character of the heroine is needed desperately today.
She’s a leader. This quality includes a cluster of related characteristics. She’s courageous. She listens to her own inner voice and acts out of moral certainty. She has agency on her own. She speaks up for the suffering, the endangered, the downtrodden.
Diana Prince is an example for us all.There’s a reason the image of Wonder Woman rising up out of a muddy trench to walk across No Man’s Land is a favorite. (If you haven’t seen the film yet, it’s the image above.) It’s the first time the audience has seen her dressed in her full battle regalia. She’s revealing herself as a demigoddess in this scene. She’s prepared to cross No Man’s Land into the German front line to bring freedom to the war-torn village behind the Germans. She doesn’t care whether the men in the trench behind her follow her lead – she’s going.
Leaders do what’s right, whether they have the support of others or not. How do they know what’s right? They have the moral training, the emotional intelligence, and the kindness of character to help people when they need it. Leaders don’t fight to conquer. They fight to save.
Wonder Woman understood her own strength. She knew she had the power to do great harm. She didn’t use that power to enrich herself, to take from others, to subjugate others, or to take advantage of them.
Wonder Woman is brilliant. She speaks 200 languages. She learns quickly. Through about 95% of the movie, Wonder Woman was convinced if she stopped the god Ares, the war would stop. Peace was her goal. She’d been told all her life that Ares was her enemy and the cause of war. When she finally defeated him and war continued, she reevaluated. She considered the words of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who explained the corrupt nature of mankind. She rethought the way to peace.
She didn’t run home to Themyscira to complain that she’d been misled. No, she found new ways to work for peace to the world. Informed by evidence, Wonder Woman adopted a new position, a new strategy. That’s fact-based leadership.
As a kid, Diana was eager to learn, determined to set her own destiny. She had the internal drive to do her best, always. Kudos to Lilly Aspell as 8 year-old Diana for showing how strong and brave Diana would grow up to be.
Wonder Woman treated everyone with equality. Every person she encountered was as worthy as anyone else. She defended the weak. She only fought when attacked.
Diana won’t judge based on sexuality. On her island home she’s clearly been with women. When she meets a man she tries him out. As a leader, she’s won’t malign or rain hate down on anyone’s sexual choices. Peace, love (and pride) is what’s she believes in. (But it would be wonderful for the Amazon princess to share a kiss with a woman in the next Wonder Woman film.)
What about political reality, not movies? It seems every democratic country, every state, every congressional district, every school board is fighting a battle between a radical right wing philosophy exactly opposite Wonder Woman’s and a progressive philosophy that Wonder Woman could endorse.
Like Wonder Woman, we need to rethink our voting, reevaluate our positions, walk on the path to peace and equality. Many people are doing that, but not enough. If we need the moral lessons of a fictional character to teach us how to be better people, then Wonder Woman is a good place to begin. Diana Prince is an example for us all.