Wall-E is startlingly accessible. It carries a few big themes and holds them right out in front from beginning to end. Its symbolism is so basic that it almost isn’t symbolic. Wall-E stands opposed to the Brad Bird-helmed Pixar films The Incredibles and Ratatouille by virtue of its pretty coherent ideology that doesn’t try to be too complex, and thereby succeeds. Not that the others did not succeed, but based on their political incorrectness, ideological holes pop up (particularly in Ratatouille) that render the ultimate message of the film a little conflicting. Wall-E, on the other hand, is a mash-up of the biblical accounts of Adam & Eve and Noah’s Ark that offers both a biblical as well as a politically correct message. This may account for much of the film’s acceptance by diverse audiences. Tack on to that plenty of allusions to cinema history (Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, E.T., etc.) that gratify the films geeks, and you have a product that’s sure to please everyone that wants to be pleased.
One little thing stood out during this re-visitation that could be said to be politically correct but a little opposed to the film’s biblical roots, and that is the re-imagination of the nuclear family. The Adam & Eve story begins consistently enough with the Genesis account, with Wall-E (Adam) alone and working in the (dystopic) garden all by himself. Wall-E is a bit more quirky and clumsy than the original Man, as far as we know, but this helps develop quick sympathy in the viewer for his character. Although it’s been ages and ages for Wall-E, it’s not long for the viewer before a big spaceship (God?) sends Eve (duh) to join him. Once this Eve shows up, however, she outshines Wall-E in a way different from her biblical counterpart. Adam lets out a doxology to the Creator after beholding such a creation. Wall-E, however, is instantly emasculated. His Eve is in no way “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” She’s a Mac and he’s a clunky old PC. She’s not only sleek and sexy, but a whole different creation that renders everything about Wall-E obsolete other than his heart of gold. Perhaps the only potential conflict in the film’s ideology is the role of technology. While humanity descends into a new and pathetic state, the film does rather glorify the arsenal of computers and robots surrounding the humans. Eve is an excellent example. The choice to make Eve look like an iPod is unsurprising (given that Pixar made the film), but her appearance renders Wall-E an obsolete creation. True, he has more personality and ends up helping to save the day, and this contains a message that transcends the glorification of technology. Still, this flips the film’s biblical source material on its head somewhat.
Further, throughout the film, Eve carries Wall-E (quite literally) and seems to embody the contemporary feminine: focused professionalism and seamless beauty. Wall-E arguably is the post-biblical male ideal: really nice but ultimately a house-husband. He’s domestic while Eve is hunter-gatherer. Wall-E has good ideas here and there, but (1) he can’t carry most of them out without Eve’s help and (2) Eve is the catalyst for action and source of strength. The former is actually strikingly biblical, much more than many adherents to the Bible are willing to admit. The latter, however, constitutes a shift that appeals to the film’s attempt to score points of political correctness than rather than something more consistent with the Genesis account and overall biblical ideology. In fact, Wall-E rather effectively balances male and female roles, embodied in Wall-E and Eve, respectively. There are times when Wall-E protects Eve and comes up with great ideas to save the day. Overall, Wall-E probably teaches Eve more than she teaches him. The point here is not that the film downplays the masculine presence or efficacy from its biblical source material, but rather that the film exchanges the particulars of the two gender roles. By all appearances, he is a traditional (rather than contemporary) woman. He is sweet, kind, tender, and draws his strength from his partner. Eve is efficient, single-task-oriented, strong, and extends care to her partner. At the least, all of this seems to illustrate the common phenomenon (also evident in the gender roles of the film Up) of utilizing biblical tropes and narratives while leaning toward a consistently post-biblical ideology.