Just saw Wonder Woman where the writers pose some interesting questions. For example, the bad guy (Ares, the god of war) claims that he was given a bum rap when he led a failed rebellion against Zeus in the good old days. All he was trying to do was to get things back the way they were before Zeus stupidly created the human race. Humans, he argues, are such horrible, selfish creatures that the only thing to do with them is destroy them, or have them destroy themselves in war. Once the last human has been exterminated, then the gods can go back to living in a paradise. Humans are so debased that they will inevitably sink to the vilest, most despicable behaviors. This calls to mind Hobbes’ state of nature where we are all at each others’ throats in the blink of an eye, out only for ourselves, and what we can gain.
The picture Ares describes has a lot of similarities with Trumpworld, where our main concern is being “great,” whether as an individual or as a nation. You can’t be great unless someone else is not great, right? So it’s all about competition, getting ahead, out-maneuvering someone else. It’s a tough-guy, belligerent, pushy kind of world, where if you don’t give me what I want, I’d just as soon knock you over the head to get it. Nice guys finish last, you losers.
But Wonder Woman learns that love can triumph over anger, greed, and war. In the final battle, she snatches victory from the jaws of defeat by drawing on the power of love that her friend Steve has shown her. The message is that we must accept the fact that human beings are flawed, but redeemable. Wonder Woman’s mission is now to help us find our higher selves and keep that Ares-side in check. Not a bad moral. I could hear John Lennon’s voice ringing in my ears: “All you need is love!”
But unfortunately, that’s wrong, that’s not all we need. All we need is justice. No one should know this better than Gal Gadot who plays Wonder Woman and comes from Israel where justice is in short supply. You can flood the Middle East with as much love as you want, but until you solve the land issue—who owns what parcels, who can build where, who will be empowered to make decisions—you’re never going to have peace. Maybe Gal Gadot could use her newfound status as a superhero to smack some sense into the extremists on both sides who are holding that whole blighted region hostage and doing so much to make the world a more dangerous place. Ares has been hard at work there for decades, but in disguise as Jehovah and Allah, in whose name the extremists claim the right to the land they’re killing each other for. Time to unmask him and get serious about some practical solutions, not built on the impossible notion of what land God gave to whom, but rather on what would be fairest to everyone. Love would help of course, and friendships need to be built, but any kind of peace has to be a just peace if it’s going to stick.
Next film up with Wonder Woman is the Justice League—how timely.