Note: This article contains light spoilers for Wonder Woman.
A warrior dressed in ancient armor leaps over the front, charging across No-Man's Land. The beleaguered soldiers firs watch in awe, and then join the charge, inspired to claim the victory that this goddess has given them. It's a central scene in Wonder Woman, and one of the most powerful moments we've ever seen in a superhero film.
It's also surprisingly close to a very real legend.
The Angel Of Mons
There's a strong sense in that war itself is the main villain of Wonder Woman; in fact, my fellow Creator Matt Timmy Creamer has already discussed that in detail. That said, the First World War is also a fitting setting for one specific reason: the legend of the Angel of Mons. Between 1914 and 1918, the horrors of the Great War inspired a desperate new belief in the supernatural among soldiers at the front. Time and again, British soldiers spoke of supernatural forces that supported and strengthened them.
It all started at the Battle of Mons, with accounts of miraculous intervention dividing the German attackers, making them vulnerable to precision fire from riflemen. By May 1915, preachers across Britain were referring to angels who championed the troops, and we even had reports of what the soldiers believed to be Joan of Arc — a mysterious female figure clad in ancient armor.
The modern theory behind the Angel of Mons is that it's all tied to a supernatural tale told by Arthur Machen in September 1914, and that high-ranking military figures were inspired to have soldiers quietly spread the rumors. At the time the legend first begins to appear, the British soldiers were in desperate need of a morale boost, and the suggestion that God Himself was on their side and fighting their corner would surely do the trick.
Importing This Into Wonder Woman
Of course, Wonder Woman is set too late in the day for Diana of Themyscira to be the female warrior some soldiers claimed to have glimpsed; still, it seems a pretty major coincidence. That's especially the case when you dig a little deeper into the legends: you hear tales of mysterious crackling halos of energy, arcs of lightning from the sky, and even a strange, orange-glowing vapor. It's pretty easy to see parallels with Wonder Woman. As one military website observed:
"Wonder Woman doesn’t explicitly name-drop the Angel of Mons, but when Diana, princess of Themyscira, leaves the trenches and faces down a German machine gun nest, the movie is paying tribute to that myth. Clad in ancient armor, possessed of the power of the gods and righteous in her hatred of war, Diana deflects bullets and mortars as she rampages between the trenches and descends on the Germans with the fury of a god made flesh."
Right now, it's not clear whether or not this is just a cool coincidence — or something director Patty Jenkins planned. The truth is, the horrific experience of war is one that inspires many legends and myths, and the First World War is no different in that. If this is a coincidence, though, it's a pretty remarkable one — and adds a whole new depth to a blockbuster hit!
Do you think the legend of the Angel of Mons inspired Paty Jenkins's 'Wonder Woman'?
(Source: War Is Boring; Poll Image Credit: 'Wonder Woman', Warner Bros.)