By Celia Coates
There’s a lot to enjoy in movies about super heroes: special powers, superhuman abilities, sweeping shifts in space and time – and happy endings. In the new Wonder Woman there’s a little more. Along with the standard swashbuckling action, battles, danger, deaths, and fast action special effects, it presents the idea that the hero is dedicated to more than fighting crime and protecting the public.
TIME Magazine published an interview with the movie’s director, Patty Jenkins. Here are two of the twelve questions that Belinda Luscombe asked and Jenkins answered,
“Wonder Woman has always been a proxy for America; scarily powerful, but a force for good. Did you make love her superpower with current affairs in mind?
She has always stood for truth and love. Her genesis was based on Artemis. However, I do think that it’s very important right now to celebrate that quality.
Our fantasy of a hero is that he’s the good guy who is going to shut down the bad guy. That has got to change if we want to deal with the crisis we’re in. There is no bad guy. We are all to blame. New kinds of heroics need to be celebrated, like love, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, diplomacy, or we’re not going to get there. No one is coming to save us.” *
So, we have to save ourselves.
America could do with less “me first” and more of the kind of love that meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg writes about. In an interview, when she was asked about her reason for publishing another book about love, she said:
“Someone in publishing said to me, ‘the love market is saturated.’ I think they meant the ‘relationship market.’ REAL LOVE is not about relationships. It’s about connection – starting with the connection to ourselves and then to close others … and then moves on to love for all beings and for life itself. These connections are all intricate and powerful. That last piece – connection for all others – is puzzling to a lot of people. It’s important to remember that just because you use ‘love’ doesn’t mean that you like them, approve of them, would enjoy having dinner with them or stop challenging them. It’s a fundamental sense of connection, an understanding that our lives are interconnected with one another, that everybody counts and matters, and that strength, fierceness and intensity are all born of that interconnected understanding of the world.” **
Diana, Wonder Woman, does connect to herself. As a young girl she is wonderful in her determination to follow the path she knows is hers. And she is clearly close to others in her world. She expands that to a very different “other” – the American man she rescues when his plane is downed in her land. Then they fall in love. Together they fight the bad guys of World War I, and love powers much of the action. But this film does not tell the true, whole story about love. It’s still a movie about good guys and bad guys and having to take sides. We will save ourselves and our planet when we grow beyond even that kind of heroism to understand that love is the universal creative – and healing – force.
* From TIME Magazine, “12 Questions,” June 26, 2017
** From THE WASHINGTON POST, “Recapturing the awesome meaning and power of ‘love,” June 17, 2009, Interview by Emma Seppala, the science director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University