“Zing, Bang, Boom!” Ironman has us on the edge of our seats. Ant Man slims down, Batman pummels bad guys and Flash zooms in-and-out chasing the Reverse Flash.Welcome to our community – a place that’s littered with inside jokes, Hulk T-shirts and dedicated Comic book readers. Confession – I am one of them. Ever since the first Spiderman movie made its way to the big screen, my eyes bugged out and my soul knew that my life would never be the same. I was sold. Topher Grace caught me in his spider web and brought me along to fight against the snares of Green Goblin.
In the midst of these fantasy-driven adventures we’re groomed to fight, to stand against injustice and risk everything for others. In these short moments of screen time, we’re prepared for life. However, at the core of these teachable moments, we can’t help but see the discrepancies in gender responsibility and roles. The Washington Post observed that, “Marvel and DC Comics have made a combined 19 superhero movies since they started turning their respective comic characters into interconnected movie franchises in 2008. Of those 19, a woman has played the movie's top role in exactly zero.” What’s wrong with this picture?
Countless women protect our shores from enemy attacks, many start Fortune 500 companies, others perform heart surgery or gain tenure at Ivy League universities. However, we these ‘type’ of females are hidden from view. We’ve allowed the media to cast females in the shadows and accepted this as normative. Could Wonder Woman break the mold? Could one movie truly such a have a massive cultural impact? Absolutely!
Here are 5 ways the Wonder Woman movie could make a HUGE cultural impact:
1. Wonder Woman was Trained to WinDiana was encouraged to be strong before she even had to exercise her strength. According to the Wonder Woman website, “Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an ‘unconquerable’ Warrior.” She wasn’t taught to subdue her independence or tone down her strength. Diana was trained to embrace her power as part of her identity. She was trained to win.
Can we say the same about how we raise our own daughters? Are we training them to win or to doubt their strength? Are we teaching them to live just above a whisper or louder than a roar?Diana was empowered and encouraged to live her life without second-guessing her strength. She didn’t tone down her calling to make others comfortable.
2. Wonder Woman was Raised to See Herself as EqualDiana fought alongside men. Egalitarianism was normative in her culture and therefore accepted by both genders as normative. Her strength was not seen as a threat, but as an asset.Is this normative in our culture? Are we creating the same opportunities for men and women to accomplish goals side-by-side, or holding onto a segregated concept of gender-specific groups?Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, avid philanthropist and bestselling author suggests, “If you ask men why they did a good job, they'll say, 'I'm awesome. Obviously. Why are you even asking?' If you ask women why they did a good job, what they'll say is someone helped them, they got lucky, they worked really hard.”
When we separate men and women into isolated arenas, we reinforce this type of poor behavior and insecurity. When we separate men and women into varied groups, one gender grows up to simply ‘dream’ and the other finds the strength to ‘do’. What if both were empowered and encouraged to work as one to accomplish their goals?
Wonder Woman dares to prove this type of gender dichotomy as flawed. She dares to prove that her strength and ability to lead are attributes to be embraced. Diana dares us to look at Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Junia, Phoebe and countless others in scripture and embrace the God-given identity of females to walk in their purpose. Wonder Woman challenges us to consider the validity of female leadership and dares us to break down the walls of assumption.
3. Wonder Woman Risked her Life for the StrangerWhen an American pilot crashes on their shoreline and reveals that his home is experiencing massive conflict and war, Diana leaves her home and risks everything to save those she’s never known.
This truth about Wonder Woman leaves me amazed and a bit humbled. This warrior was raised to protect ‘her shore’, yet she chooses to use her talents and training to protect those she’s never met. Like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us…” Diana allowed the love of Christ to compel her to fight for the voiceless. Would we dare to do the same? Would we be willing to travel to the ends of our comfort for the sake of someone else’s community?
4. Wonder Woman Embraced her Identity, Not a RoleJesus commissioned us to love our neighbor, but what is love? Is it simply an emotive response or an empathetic ear? Many of us see the love of God as feeling-based. We see it as a nurturing type of behavior; however, the love that God calls us to is greater than a vacillating feeling.
Luke 10:27 challenges us to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” Men and women are called to reveal the love of Christ by using their heart, soul, strength and mind.
These characteristics are not gender-specific, but a responsibility of all of us. We are all without excuse.Wonder Woman dares to love others with her mind and strength. She exemplifies the heart of Christ by living out the love of Christ.
Pew Research gives us a glimpse at other warriors who have risked everything for a stranger’s freedom. “From 1973 to 2010 the number of active-duty enlisted women in the military has grown from about 42,000 to 167,000.”These women have left their homes, their family and their country. They are loving the Lord and their neighbor with their strength and mind. With each step and every maneuver – their talents and passions are being used to be a voice to the voiceless. These women are warriors.
We have countless women who are executives, police officers, entrepreneurs and part of the military. Where do they fit in our churches? Where do they fit in our business? Wonder Woman challenges us to engage with the individual, rather than a generalized assumption. Not all women are alike. Not all men are alike. When we see people as made in the Image of God and distinct, we enable the ‘church’ to truly be a community.
5. Wonder Woman Doesn’t Ask for PermissionWonder Woman embraces her God-given purpose and stands against injustice. She doesn’t ask permission or wait for someone else to take the lead. She walks out her purpose and gives others the courage to do the same.
Diana finds her full potential and purpose by living out her identity without apologizing for her specific gifting. She doesn’t embrace gender roles; she embraces her God-given identity and lives for the approval of One. What Now?
We’re all waiting with anticipation – booking our tickets and gathering the troops to see the latest Marvel adventure on June 2nd. We start the countdown, brag about Wonder Woman on Facebook and camp out in front of AMC at midnight just to catch a glimpse of this next mission. Why? What is it about this movie that captures our attention and empties our bank account?Maybe Batman introduced us to Gotham and Superman made us wonder about Kryptonite, but Princess Diana will definitely make you question equality. Each Marvel and DC Comics film challenges us with the question ‘what if’.
What if the world was more equal? What if Wonder Woman became the norm? What if all females were empowered to embrace their strength? As we purchase our tickets and step into the theater to watch Wonder Woman, let’s challenge ourselves to make this fantasy world more like our reality. Let’s dare to live without apology and fight for equality.
[Submitted by Dion Ringgold]