Princess Diana of Themyscira is portrayed by Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman (2017).
I have had many different heroes. Ever since I was young, I have been drawn to heroes and over the course of my life, there are have been many that I have either looked up to and/or have idolized in one way or another. Sometimes that hero was a real person, but more often than not that hero tended to be a fictional character. One that I had read about in a novel, a comic book or one that I had seen and watched in a movie or a cartoon television show.
I have often wondered what makes a hero as there are many different interpretations and many different understandings of what it means to be heroic. Is it the mask they wear, the one they shed off. Could it be the cape they drape or the way they take a stand. Perhaps it’s the selfless acts they perform. The helping hand that reaches out or the extra leg that gives support. The values they stand by. The cause they fight for. The difference they make.
Presumably, it is all of these things and more.
I’m not drawn to these types of characters because they put on a costume and go out and fight crime or beat up bad guys. That is what I saw when I was younger but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I am drawn to these characters for a very different reason altogether. Of course, these fictional characters don’t always necessarily represent who I am, but rather they affect what it is that I want to be and who it is that I am striving to become.
I’m drawn to who they are because of their journey and how that has shaped them into becoming who they are. Their stories are told with morals and underlining undertones, but those stories are only meant to act as a guide that help lead the way when it comes to making my own decisions in those times when I myself hear the call to become “heroic”.
The most important thing that a hero does is inspire. Whenever their name is brought up or their symbol bears down, the first thing that should be thought of is their traits and their characteristics that they embody. As I walk down the path on my own journey, hopefully the inspiration that I take from my heroes will inspire me to be the best version of myself.
Diana of Themyscira
I wanted to write about Wonder Woman because there is a lot of talk about the “strong female character” in terms of both the trope and the architype. There have been a few female action characters who have graced the silver screen over the decades, with even fewer of them being able to stand out or make a mark on cinema. I feel that Diana of Themyscira is worthy of being called a strong female character because that is what she is.
Out of all of the female led comic book movies, Wonder Woman (2017) is my favorite. It resonated with me in a way that no other female led comic book characters were capable of. It may not be the best comic book movie ever made and it is far from perfect. But I’m not here to talk about the quality of the comics or the movie, nor Gal Gadot‘s acting abilities. I want to talk about the character of Princess Diana and the journey that she went through.
There are a few things that drew me to Diana. More so when I was younger, when this movies was first released. It’s only after all of this time can I look back on Diana’s journey and reflect on just how she was able to inspire me with whatever it was that I was going through. I wouldn’t say that I always related to Diana as a character but there are a few things that she taught me and was able to learn about myself that I also saw in her.
I’ve never related to a character by what it is that they look like nor the weapon that they wield. I’m drawn to the complex nature of who they are on the inside and what has shaped them into becoming who they are. The thoughts and the decisions they make. The best heroes are the ones whose journey not only defines who they are as a character but it also should make them grow, adapt, learn and evolve from their experiences along the way.
The Hero(ine)’s Journey
Diana’s journey in Wonder Woman (2017) is about a hero who is trying to find her way. Her story doesn’t necessarily follow ‘The Heroes Journey’ but what her journey does is give her internal and external challenges to overcome. More importantly, the decisions that Diana makes are based off of her own experiences and her own outlook on the world. Her actions are solely based off of who she is and they are what shape her into who she becomes.
One of the characteristics that a hero should value is to seek out the truth. Not only truth in the sense of telling the truth, but also in the sense of being honest. Every hero has a moral compass that they choose to follow which points them in the right direction when they are in the process of doing what they know is right in their heart. What I hero needs to do more than anything is be honest with themselves. A hero needs to be able to look themselves in the mirror and able to ask themselves the tough questions, if for no other reason that to keep their own motivations in check when they chose to walk the path to become a hero in the first place.
While on Paradise Island, Diana had a loving relationship with her Mother and whenever she would have question that would need answering, her mother would answer as honestly as she could. This was a value that Diana was raised with and it taught her that she should always be honest and truthful when it comes questioning to her own actions. Diana has the courage to not only seek out the truth but she also has the courage to speak her own truth.
The next trait that a hero should value is that of enforcing justice. A hero chooses to fight because they are able to see the injustice that is being waged around them. Whether that be fight for a change corrupt nature of those who would seek to manipulate the unsuspecting. A hero fights for what is right because they have the power to make a change. They fight for those who are incapable of fighting for themselves. Change can happen in an instant, and it’s only after a hero decides to use their power that they become a force for what they say should be. Hopefully, that decision will be beneficial to the situation to bring about change in a positive way.
When Diana overhears that Steve Trevor is ordered to stand down and not interfere with the war despite the knowledge he has gained to stop it, she questions the sense of justice that goes into this decision. She doesn’t have to following the limitations of mankind, she has the power to do things that normal men are capable of doing. She decides to use her power to help advance the war in a way that she feels that will be beneficial to stopping it.
Another trait a hero should value is instilling a mindset that is fueled by their hopes and dreams. A hero can set out with a specific mindset of what it is that they want to accomplish. Of course, it’s only natural that they will eventually run into challenges and obstacles that they are going to have to overcome to reach their goals and demonstrate that they aren’t so quick to give up or back down. How they are able to work through these setbacks through the values of hard work, determination and perseverance and are able to be a source of inspiration in any situation even if things aren’t going in their favor and the odds are stacked against them.
The entire point of Diana leaving Themyscira was wrapped up in the hopes of being able to stop The Great War, stop mankind from fighting each other and and bring peace to man’s world. Although unsure of just how exactly she would go about it, she never wavered from her goal of bringing down Ares, the God of War and stopping him from manipulating humanity into destroying each other despite what she lost in the process. By all accounts, she succeed in her quest … however, her journey of self discovery would be far from over.
There are many ways in which Wonder Woman (2017)proved the Diana is a hero. Her journey had many hurdles to endure and obstacles for her to overcome that showed that she didn’t just survive on luck. We were shown that she is a skilled warrior who has a natural gift with a sword and shield and was able to fight, survive and thrive in Man’s World all on her own.
Throughout everything, she was able to use her bravery to stand up to those who would seek to keep her down. She used her wisdom and insight from her time on Paradise Island to navigate her way through Man’s World. Time and again her values were tested against those who had opposing views on what constituted as true justice and she still stayed true to herself. When she was finally faced with the ultimate test and unsure of what to believe, it was her inner wisdom that she looked toward and relied upon to make sure that she would never forget just exactly what it was that she had been fighting for all along. Diana of Themyscira is a warrior and no matter what comes her way, she will keep on fighting.
There have been a lot of “strong female action characters” in movies with many of them portraying the trope and failing to resonate with audiences. It’s an architype that hasn’t fully been defined because “strength” itself isn’t the only trait that a character should have when it comes to being defined as a hero. Not only does a hero need to have strength but they also need to be authentic … because true wisdom can only come from authenticity.
… and that right there is what separates Diana from the pack and makes her stand out from the many so-called strong female characters who acquire that label but just don’t have the journey to back it up. Diana isn’t a strong female character for the sake of being a strong female character, she has a complete story arc to back it up. Diana is a source of inspiration when she is strong but she is relatable when she empathetic and speaks her truth.
The biggest thing that makes Diana stand out from the plethora of others is the fact that she trained for years to acquire the skills. She is smart but can also be quite naïve and gullible at times. She has an unwavering spirit but she also questions whether or not she is doing the right thing. She allows herself to be vulnerable during the times when she knows she is in need of support. Diana is relatable because this is what makes her human.
All of these weaknesses are just as admirable when it comes to being defined as strong, because inner strength just as much, if not more important then outer strength. The struggles that a character goes through to find the motivation to endure and preserver is what defines them to be truly heroic. So when the time comes for Diana to show her strength after a moment of weakness, it’s not only warranted … it’s more than justified.
Diana isn’t a hero because she was able to save the day, she had a series of trials and tribulations that put her through the paces. She is a hero because she has the qualities of what make a character heroic. Diana is brave, she’s honest and she is true to herself. When we look to heroes, these are some of the traits that see our heroes embody and what we too aspire to have in ourselves. These are the traits that make Diana inspirational.
What also makes Diana a hero is the fact that she didn’t always win. There were times where she felt defeated. She felt hopeless. There were times when she felt lost and confused and unsure of herself. Times when she didn’t know if she had what it took to end The Great War that would bring peace, hope and prosperity to Man’s World. She had to dig deep down and find that inner strength and motivation to keep on fighting.
This is why I wanted to talk about Diana, because she isn’t just a strong female character for the sake of being a strong female character. She wasn’t just thrown into a situation and suddenly she was miraculously able to come out the other side victorious. Throughout everything that she went through, there was a viable reason as to why she was able to earn it, which is what makes her heroic journey one for the cinematic history books.
Diana would make the choice to stop the God of War from destroying humanity but it wouldn’t be because she wanted to be seen as a hero, it would be out of hope because she felt in her heart that it was the right thing to do. Through this action, she would help to gain ground across enemy lines that would lead to confronting those who would chose to sacrifice those innocent lives. Although confused at first, she refused to allow doubt creep into her mind and be manipulated when the true enemy tried to persuade her from her quest to save humanity. Diana stepped into the role of a leader and along with a group of others, they would take the fight past the front lines and would be responsible for bringing justice those who had sought the destruction of humanity.
In the end, through her one heroic action, Diana would end up gaining a new perspective on life. Since spending so much time on Paradise Island, The Amazons taught her to survive but they were also only focused on one single narrow minded way of life. It was only after Diana finally went out into the world that she was able to find a new way of thinking which would ultimately lead her to become a wiser person than when her story first started.
Witnessing the flaws within humanity, she choses to fight for truth and justice.
Diana was able to grow, adapt, learn and evolve from the experiences that her journey provided her. She has thoughts, feelings and emotions and a unique perspective on life that make her stay true to herself. She is no longer the little girl from Paradise Island who was sheltered from the real world, she is now a warrior who is capable of doing things that she never dreamed were possible. Diana is a female action character who actually feels real.
This is what draws me to Diana and how she inspires me. No matter what it is that I am faced with that I have to preserver and endure, I know that I will eventually be able to come out on the other side; scarred but healed, tattered but intact, broken but repaired, wounded but secure, damaged but whole, flawed but complete. These are traits that I feel make a hero worthy of being called “heroic”, and that is why I feel that Wonder Woman is one of the greatest female comic book characters to have ever graced the silver screen.