Before I start this properly let me preface this; yes, there will be some spoilers for Wonder Woman (2017), which is a badass film that everyone should see. Well done DC you finally got an ace in the hole with this one.
Going into a Detective Comics Extended Universe (DCEU) film you expect a certain amount of imagery. Depicting larger than life characters doing what ‘us mere mortals’ could only dream of achieving. The new Wonder Woman film is no exception, in fact It relishes in it.
Being a film about the old gods, the Greek Gods, Zeus, Ares the son of Zeus, the God of War, and what you find out by watching the film, Diana daughter of Zeus, Wonder Woman; it was obvious that there was going to be plenty of religious imagery especially during the action scenes.
The DCEU created this trend during Man of Steel, eloquently associating Superman with Jesus Christ, or a deity of immense power. Take the following still. It depicts Superman surrounded by a crowd of people who are all extending their arms to touch him. To be in the mere presence of someone with immense power, they are fearful yet thankful. They are worshiping him as a higher power.
Films exist as they appear, just films. It is the added meaning and context that we bring to the film. The perception of a film differs from viewer to viewer; age to age. However, there is clear intention where the director is trying to evoke hidden meanings.
This is all achieved through symbolism. Symbolism is a filming technique that hides further meaning behind techniques or objects, and other items that many would consider to be unrelated to the greater meaning. Symbolism can induce actions, feelings or emotions, and beliefs about things that are initially unrelated.
For a further introspective piece on the quality and importance of Symbolism in film, check out u/Kashiss’ reddit post on an analysis of symbolism.
These religious symbols are commonly accepted as a part of the religious film theory, and how it dictates what each of these symbols mean.
Standard religious film theory is heavily based upon the acceptance of the Judaeo Christian God and the mythos and commonly accepted pieces of history around it. Religious film theory also sees the masculine hero’s journey as normative and imperative to success.
So, if by following this outlook, it would directly contrast with the ground-breaking imagery in Wonder Woman. For example, just have a look at the last trailer for Wonder Woman, it depicts Wonder Woman in an eerily familiar shot that appeared in Batman vs Superman.
Regardless, what is evident in Wonder Woman is a clear example of Feminist Religious Theory.
Feminist Religious Theory believe that the body, earth, and sexuality are inherently linked, and through this connection, more complex discussion and depictions can be expressed through various medias.
Wonder Woman and the symbolism used within it exemplify a Goddess, even though it is in light of a Ancient Greek Goddess, as opposed to the interconnected nature of the earth, body, and sexuality.
It is clear that by looking through traditional and through a feminist lens, Wonder Woman, and the entire DCEU have a love affair with religious symbolism.
If the three main entries into the DCEU (with Suicide Squad as the fourth… but we try not to talk about that one), are exemplifying this many religious symbols, then it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch to say that in the next DCEU film, Justice League, will be filled with symbolism. Especially if they follow the rebirth of superman line from the comics. Prepare for plenty of Christ symbolism is all I’m saying.
Tell me what you thought of Wonder Woman, was it all that you expected? Did it disappoint? What is your opinion of the DCEU utilising so many religious symbols? And finally if you have yet to see Wonder Woman I’ll leave you with the final trailer to hype yourself up.