"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

TTUF REVIEW of – WONDER WOMAN: A Heroine Whose Time Has Come

~ by James Fire

Wonder Woman is a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, directed by Patty Jenkins, with a screenplay by Allan Heinberg, from a story by Heinberg, Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs, and stars Gal Gadot as the titular character with Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, and Elena Anaya in supporting roles. Wonder Woman is the second live action theatrical film featuring the titular character, following her debut in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Jenkins' role as director makes her the first female director of a studio superhero movie.

Wonder Woman was released in the United States on June 2, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, with many praising Jenkins' direction, Gadot and Pine's performances as well as the screenplay, action sequences, and musical score. It is the first film in the DCEU to receive generally positive reviews. The film set records for the biggest domestic opening for a female director ($103.3 million) and the biggest opening for a woman-led comic book film. It has grossed over $598 million worldwide, making it the sixth highest-grossing film of 2017.



A SYNOPSIS Of the Film based on this Wikipedia article 

In present-day Paris, Diana Prince receives a World War I-era photographic plate couriered by Wayne Enterprises and recalls her past . . .

Diana was born and raised on the hidden Amazon island of Themyscira, home to the Amazon race of warrior women created by the gods of Mount Olympus to protect humankind. In the distant past, Ares, the god of war, slew all his fellow gods, but his father, Zeus, struck him down. Before succumbing to his injuries, Zeus left the Amazons a weapon capable of killing his renegade son: the Godkiller, which Diana believes to be a ceremonial sword. Queen Hippolyta, Diana's mother, believes that Ares will never return and forbids Diana from training as a warrior, but Diana and her aunt General Antiope defy the queen and begin training in secret. When the two are discovered by Hippolyta, Antiope convinces her sister to allow Diana's training to continue.

Set in 1918 during World War I, the film tells the story of Princess Diana (Gal Gadot), who as a young woman, rescues American pilot Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) after his plane crashes off the coast of Themyscira.

The island is soon invaded by a German landing party pursuing Steve. The Amazons engage and kill the German soldiers. Interrogated with the Lasso of Hestia, Steve reveals that he is an Allied spy in the fight against Germany and that he stole a notebook with valuable information regarding the manufacture of a deadlier form of mustard gas under the orders of General Erich Ludendorff. Believing Ares is responsible for the war; Diana then leaves her home, armed with the ceremonial sword to end the conflict, destroy Ares and becomes Wonder Woman in the process.

Arriving in London, they deliver the notebook to the Supreme War Council, including Sir Patrick Morgan, where Diana translates the notes and reveals that the Germans plan to release the deadly gas at the war front. Steve is forbidden by his commanders to act, but with secret funding from Sir Patrick, recruits some men to help prevent the gas from being released. When the team reaches the Western Front in Belgium, they are halted by the enemy lines of No Man's Land but Diana pushes through and rallies the Allied forces to liberate the village of Veld.

A gala is held at the nearby German High Command and Steve infiltrates the party, intending to locate the gas and destroy it. Diana, however is intent on killing Ludendorff who she believes is really Ares and that by doing so will end the war. Steve stops her to avoid jeopardizing the mission. Ludendorff unleashes the gas on Veld, killing its inhabitants. Diana blames Steve for intervening and pursues Ludendorff to a base where the gas is being loaded into a Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bound for London. Diana fights and kills Ludendorff but is confused when his death does not stop the war.

Sir Patrick appears and reveals himself as Ares and tells Diana that although he has subtly given humans ideas and inspirations, it is ultimately their decision to cause violence as they are inherently corrupt. Destroying the ceremonial sword, Ares tells Diana she is the true Godkiller, as she is the daughter of Zeus. Ares tries to persuade Diana to help him destroy humankind to restore paradise on Earth but while the two battle, the rest of Steve's team try to destroy Maru's laboratory, Steve pilots the bomber carrying the gas to a safe altitude and detonates it, sacrificing himself in the process. Ares attempts to harness Diana's rage and grief at Steve's death by convincing her to kill Maru, the creator of the deadly gas, but Diana's memories of Steve inspire her to decide that humans have good within them, and she spares Maru before destroying Ares. Back in London, the nation celebrates the end of the war.

In the present day, Diana sends an e-mail to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photographic plate of her and Steve and reaffirms her mission to protect the world as Wonder Woman.

HER SHOCKING BEGINNINGS

Dr. William Moulton Marston*, an internationally famous psychologist, was her creator, having fashioned this character who became as popular as her male counterparts, Superman and Batman, in 1942. In his own words, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”

*- PROFILE ON MARSTON:

Dr. Marston held three degrees from Harvard, including a PhD in psychology [was also] a lawyer, a scientist and a professor. He is generally credited with inventing the lie detector test: He was obsessed with uncovering other people’s secrets. He’d been a consulting psychologist for Universal Pictures. He’d written screenplays, a novel and dozens of magazine articles)

Olive Richard” was the pen name of Olive Byrne, who lived an adulterous lifestyle with him. She was also the niece of Margaret Sanger, (she and Marston kept their ties with Sanger a secret)
,  one of the most important feminists of the 20th century. In 1916, Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne, Olive Byrne’s mother, had opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States.

When Marston created Wonder Woman, in 1941, he drew on Sanger’s legacy and inspiration. But he was also determined to keep the influence of Sanger on Wonder Woman a secret
.

At a time when war was ravaging Europe, comic books celebrated violence, even sexual violence. In 1940, the Chicago Daily News called comics a “national disgrace.” “Ten million copies of these sex-horror serials are sold every month,” wrote the newspaper’s literary editor, calling for parents and teachers to ban the comics, “unless we want a coming generation even more ferocious than the present one.”

Marston and Wonder Woman were pivotal to the creation of what became DC Comics; in 1941 he submitted a draft of his first script, explaining the “under-meaning” of Wonder Woman’s Amazonian origins in ancient Greece, where men had kept women in chains, until they broke free and escaped. “The NEW WOMEN thus freed and strengthened by supporting themselves (on Paradise Island) developed enormous physical and mental power.” His comic, he said, was meant to chronicle “a great movement now under way—the growth in the power of women.”

And yet Marston seemed obsessed with describing scenes to artists involving Wonder Woman in bondage: “In his original scripts, Marston described scenes of bondage in careful, intimate detail with utmost precision.” He said himself that “the secret of woman’s allure is that women enjoy submission—being bound.”

One Army General who read the Wonder Woman comics was aroused to see her regularly bound; the editors for the comic were concerned about these scenes depicted among its pages, and showed the General’s letters to Marston, who replied,

“I have the letter in which he expresses his enthusiasm over chains for women—so what?” As a practicing clinical psychologist, he said, he was unimpressed. “You can’t have a real woman character in any form of fiction without touching off a great many readers’ erotic fancies. Which is swell, I say.”

The shocking beginnings and scripts of Wonder Woman gets even darker than this – for those who want to investigate this further, read the entire article upon which this section is based. 

There came a day though when there was a ‘clean-up for comics’:
“In the wake of the 1954 hearings, DC Comics removed Bender from its editorial advisory board, and the Comics Magazine Association of America adopted a new code . Under its terms, comic books could contain nothing cruel: “All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.” There could be nothing kinky: “Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.” And there could be nothing unconventional: “The treatment of love-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.”

From that time on, until our more recent history, comics towed the line where morality was upheld and respected. It seems however, that among today’s comics – or the more preferred term – graphic novels are becoming more, well, graphic!

The recent film LOGAN, the third solo film of X-Men character, Wolverine received an R rating, and for good reason: the violence and mayhem was unprecedented in a superhero film (and for that reason I passed on seeing this one!). You can see these gory scenes on youtube clips if you have the stomach for it – I don’t recommend it however.

In the comics, the son of Wolverine named Daken is an openly practicing bi-sexual. And the violence factor has stepped way up, most notably among the super-hero video games.

FOCUSING On The FILM

This is a period piece that harks back to early 20th century and the producers did an excellent job of creating lavish sets that depicted life in those days. The choreography, lighting and visual feel of the film was captivating – as was the sense of movement and timing. The fabric of the film felt very much like another film based on that period, War Horse
.

Think of Wonder Woman as a combination of the two Marvel films, Thor and Captain America. Thor for its references to ‘the gods’ and mythic legend, and Captain America for its superhero in the midst of a war story – and she even carries a shield like Cap’!

One scene after another shows Wonder Woman charging fearlessly into battle, facing off myriads of armed soldiers and inspiring Allied troops to follow her and breach the impenetrable German blockade that was known as No Man’s Land – go figure, that it took a woman to go boldly where no man could go before her!

In a moment of righteous rage, she hoists up a tank and and with epic strength throws it at her enemies! And yet for all her feats of marvelous intrepidity and physical strength, what attracted me to this more modern incarnation of Wonder Woman, was that she never allowed her super-human abilities to compromise her femininity, her heart of compassion and sympathy that women have in abundance, exceeding what is typically observed in the average man; and in her case specifically sets her apart from her male super hero counterparts.

Throughout the film she says things like:

I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves . . . [At one point Steve Trevor tries to discourage Diana from charging out into No Man’s Land, saying it’s a hopeless situation trying to save all the Allied soldiers, and her response is:]
Diana Prince: So... what? So, we do nothing?
Steve Trevor: No, we are doing something! We are! We just... we can't save everyone in this war. This is not what we came here to do.
Diana Prince: No. But it's what I'm going to do. I cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost!

It was her unswerving allegiance to justice and caring for those too weak to defend themselves against oppression, giving her a kind of maternal motivation in protecting others which Gal Gadot, the actress that portrays Wonder Woman in both Dawn of Justice
 and her debut solo film did with such believable heart and conviction.

There is of course the prevailing theme of ‘gods and monsters’ in this film, as has lived in legend and myth among ancient civilizations, comprising of the pantheon of the gods and demi-gods – all of which is, I believe, a warping of the GENESIS 6 account. 

As I have mentioned in other articles – like the TTUF article on Thor which comments on the film industry (particularly super-hero movies) that this concept could be used by the enemy of the church to promote the idea of such ‘super-hero’- style “mighty men of great renown” are actually good, and to be admired . . . even worshiped?

This article by no means wishes to express any such ideas. However, there are some statements made in the film that are worthy of examination.

In the Man of Steel film, the theme was “hope” (The ‘S’ symbol on Superman’s chest, on his homeworld of Krypton signified hope). In the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice film, the theme was “faith” (Bruce Wayne had lost faith in having allies, being betrayed repeatedly by those who were sworn for the cause of right, only to turn to become a villain; case in point – Harvey Dent, aka Two Face. But by the end of the film, Wayne’s faith in allies was restored). In Wonder Woman, the theme was “love” (She held the conviction that not brute force, but love will save the world) – and there we see the triad of faith, hope and love as spoken of in 1 COR 13:13.

At different points of the film, the idea of “being worthy” and “deserving” is brought up:
Queen Hippolyta, Diana's mother said to her on the eve of her departure from their Island Paradise to join in the war against evil, “Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you. You have been my greatest love. Today, you are my greatest sorrow.”
In raising a toast to their successful secret mission, one of Steve Trevor’s team members added:

Charlie: May we get what we want...
Steve Trevor: ...and may we get what we need.
Sameer: But may we never get what we deserve.

Ares/Sir Patrick says to Diana regarding the creator of the deadly gas to be used in the war: “Destroy her, Diana. You know that she deserves it. They all do.”

Diana Prince: [in tears] My mother was right about the world, they said they didn't deserve me...
Steve Trevor: Maybe it's not what you deserve, but what you believe. I believe that this war should end. If you believe the same, then help me stop it! Help me, please!

And in the final scene in the battle between Ares and Diana/Wonder Woman, the villain implores her that man does not deserve mercy and to join forces with him to wipe out mankind and all of the corruption he has wrought, she responds with:

Diana Prince: It’s not about what they deserve. It's about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.
And her last statement at the end of the film:

Diana Prince: I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know... that only love can truly save the world. So, I stay. I fight, and I give... for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.

I have said so many times – justice is getting exactly what you deserve; mercy is not getting what you deserve; and grace is getting something that you don’t deserve.

The film touches on the corruption of man, particularly where the lust for war, wealth and violence is concerned. Diana falsely assumes that it’s entirely Ares’ doing (who fills the role of Satan*, as it were) that mankind hates and kills – but as Ares said in the film,

“I am not the god of war. I am the god of truth. Mankind stole this world from us and ruined it day by day... I’ve been whispering into their ear—ideas for weapons... but I don’t control them.”

*- Incidentally, Mars or Ares is the god of war in ancient mythology; in Babylon, he is referred to as Ba’al or Beelzebub (MATT 12:24), which biblically is a type and in some cases a synonym for Satan himself.

So, none of us can say, “the devil made me do it” because while he can provoke and entice and within certain God-ordained boundaries, drive fallen humanity into depravity, deception and destruction, it is essentially man’s own heart that is destructive and wicked and must be dealt with.

The film would have us believe that both good and evil exist in all of humanity and that we must choose on an individual basis which way they will follow: the light or the dark.
The Scriptures are evident in their declaration that the heart of man is purely wicked (JER 17:9; MARK 7:21; 2 PET 2:14) and that no choice we make can bring us to a ‘self-improved’, ‘evolved state’ of betterment.

The only choice we can make to be truly free of the darkness is to call upon the LORD and seek Him, at the leading of His Holy Spirit, for deliverance:

ROMANS 10:13
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

1 PETER 2:9-10
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy
.

And along with mercy, and believing – despite what we justly deserve, which is holy judgment at the hand of God – in love, and biblically speaking, the love of God, and what sacrifice He made on our behalf (and not the other way around as the pagan gods demand in their blood lust) we who know the LORD understand that this is the very heart of the GOSPEL.

PSALM 103:9-11
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear
[revere] him.

TITUS 3:4-6
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour
;

ROMANS 4:5-8
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin
.
ACTS 16:31
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house
.

JOHN 3:15-19
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil
.

The idea of love that is redemptive is the very message that God delivered to us in His Word. That Wonder Woman carries the same theme – albeit, a love that we as a race are supposed to allow to shine as the inherent light within ourselves that cuts through our own darkness, and thus a kind of self-redemption – is certainly something that we can relate to those who have seen this film and use it as a launching point in sharing the love of God.

That love through which the only One Whose Love led Him to the cross at Calvary, where He took upon Himself the entirety of evil and sin that thrives in the hearts of humanity as well as the Judgment of God against such and allowed the road of righteousness to be opened for our traversing into the Kingdom of God. The LORD Jesus Christ is no mere ‘super-hero, He is LORD, Savior and God made flesh, but if He were, He’d be the ‘Super-est’ Hero of them all!


We shall see more of Wonder Woman, along with Batman, Superman as well as Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg in the upcoming Justice League film, November 17, 2017.

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