Wonder Woman,” the new, smash hit superhero movie starring Gal Gadot as the title character, has been described as everything from a feminist story to a Christian allegory. But the film is actually a meditation on the nature of war, dressed up in Ancient Greek myth and legend set during that bloodbath known as the “war to end all wars.”

Diana’s conception of war growing up

While growing up on the hidden island inhabited solely by Amazons, Diana trains for war as if the classical age of Greece was still around, using sword, spear, and bow. Battle, as far as she is concerned, is a heroic exercise by handsome, toned warriors clad in bronze.

No doubt her impressions of what war is like are driven home by the accounts of the Trojan War by Homer and the history of her people.

Diana’s impression is not substantially altered by the arrival of a landing party of German soldiers on her island with modern (circa 1918) weapons. The Amazonian warriors get among the invaders in short order, and their lifelong lethal combat skills negate whatever advantage rapid fire rifles give them. Some of the Amazonians die, but the German invaders are wiped out.

Even Steve Trevor’s description of what World War I is like deters Diana. Apparently, she concludes, marinated in Greek myth, the god Ares is corrupting the hearts of men. All she has to do is defeat Ares in heroic single combat, and the war will end, and peace will return to the world.

Wonder Woman confronts the reality of early 20th Century War

The first time that Diana starts to suspect that the way war is waged outside the confines of her island is different is when she, Steve Trevor, and their companions board the boat to the Continent from England and see some of the wounded being disembarked. She sees men with horrible wounds, many of which could never have been inflicted by edged weapons.

Later, Diana finds herself in a trench on the front line, with the mud, horror, and constant artillery bombardment. A village of innocent civilians resides beyond no man’s land and the German trench system. She brings the heroic age of Greece to the battle by crossing the blasted, ruined landscape with her super powers and magic weapons, warding off machine gun fire.

Trevor, their companions, and the war-weary British soldiers are inspired to follow her. They sweep through the German defenses, penetrated to the village, apparently it of the enemy, liberating the inhabitants.

But then, during the raid on the German gas making facility, Diana thinks she has slain Ares. Yet the fighting continues. She finally realizes the truth. Men do not wage war because some outside force causes them to. They do battle with weapons of horror such as poison gas because it is in their nature. All her ideals of humankind as people worthy of her powers to save are shattered.

Her mission forever

Yet, Diana’s faith in humanity is restored when Steve Trevor sacrifices himself to save millions.

Maybe humanity is a cussedly evil lot who blunder into inflicting horrors on one another for no reason and cannot bring themselves to stop. But some people are worth saving. Trevor was the best of that race known as humankind, and a world where such do not have to die is something worth striving for. That fight is her new mission – forever.