Saturday, August 24, 2013

What is so interesting about Wonder Woman?

This image currently graces the wall of my home gym.

In case you missed it, this morning there was a pretty epic Twitter discussion about the validity of a Wonder Woman film. I would link to it, but there's not really anything to link to. I wish we had developed a hash tag. You should see my mentions feed, though. It's bananas. Shit got twittercrazy.

It began with a question that has been asked before in various ways by various people:

What is so interesting about Wonder Woman? Why does anyone want a Wonder Woman movie? Is it just because she's a woman?

So I'm going to give you my answer. I can't speak for everyone else who loves Wonder Woman; I can only speak for myself. Anyone with an opinion is welcome to chime in with a comment as long as you're not a dick about it.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I want the Wonder Woman job. I'm sure I'm not alone; I know of at least one other wonderful bitter writer who would probably shoot me and step over my corpse for the opportunity. I like to imagine that one day we will be meeting back to back with DC to give our pitches, and by the time the producer comes to collect us, he will open the door to find us beaten and bloody and exhausted on the floor, seconds from death, like in the War of the Roses. Winner take Wonder Woman.

But back to the question, which is "Why does anyone care about Wonder Woman?"

Well the obvious answer is: Why does anyone care about Batman or Superman or Iron Man or Green Lantern or Thor or Captain America or The Punisher or Jason Bourne or James Bond or Marty McFly or Sarah Connor or any character ever?

But I get the point. The point is, why her, specifically? Why do some people seem to need her so desperately in film form? Is it just because she's a woman?

Well, yes and no.

First of all, I'm going to talk about her as a character in general, not in any specific version. There have been too many reboots, too many different takes on her character to pick one on which to hang her entire story. I think a large part of that is because as the nature of feminism has changed, she has changed with it. Things that seemed really ahead of their time when she debuted seem completely outdated now. But there are aspects of her that have always been pretty consistent, and that's what I want to embrace.

First of all, the fact that she is a woman is absolutely relevant.

You remember the Power Puff Girls? I loved The Power Puff Girls. Bubbles was my favorite. My favorite episode was Equal Fights , about a female bank robber named Femme Fatale who only stole Susan B. Anthony dollars. The episode poked a little fun at feminism while at the same time embracing it. In one scene, as the girls are chasing Femme Fatale across the sky, she tries to convince them that girls should stick together. As proof that men have run the world for too long, she asks the girls to name a major female comic book superhero who is not just a male superhero's opposite or sidekick. They immediately name Wonder Woman. Then she asks them to name someone else. They hem and haw and in the end, they got nothin.

There is nobody else, not like her.

She brings something to the comic book table that none of the other big stars have - she is a woman. But she hasn't been taught that she's a woman; she's been taught that she's a person. She didn't grow up being told she was nothing but a sex object, or that her mission was to get married and make babies, or that she had to pretend to be stupid so boys would like her, or that there were jobs she'd never be able to do. For that alone, she's kind of a hero to the rest of us who did grow up with those ideas being thrown at us day after day. It is so awesome to see a strong woman who treats herself as a person just like a man would. She's a role model, because every woman should be so confident. When you've been beaten down and your confidence completely eroded by some sexist prick you were forced to deal with on the Metro or at work or at home or at the store or just about anywhere - you can look at a photo of Wonder Woman being a compete badass and pretend for just a second that you are her.

Isn't that what super heroes are about? Wish fulfillment?

But is the fact that Wonder Woman is a woman all that makes her interesting? Absolutely not.

Unlike Superman, Diana was an adult when she crossed the threshold into the unknown. She already knew who she was and what she believed in, so she had to adapt to a world completely unknown to her. I can't think of many other heroes who had that experience. Most of them were born here and turned into superheroes, and as I mentioned, Clark Kent came here as a child, so he was raised in the American way. But Diana has always been a little foreign to our culture.

She became an ambassador for her island so that she could use diplomacy to solve problems because the Amazons believe first and foremost in peace. Sure, they can kick your ass if they need to, but they'd really prefer it if you'd just be cool. They live on an island away from men so they don't have to deal with the bullshit the violent world offers.

But Diana rejects the isolation that island provides, instead choosing to help the violent world get its shit together. This isn't her world. She has no obligation to save it. She CHOOSES to stay because she wants to help bring peace to the world.

And she brings peace by beating the shit out of people who cause trouble. She is righteous, but that doesn't mean she can't be wrong. Because how hypocritical is that? She fights to maintain peace? That's a problem in her very mission, and one she must come to terms with if she wants to make the most out of her gifts.

I don't care about the lasso of truth or the invisible ship or the bustier (although seriously something has got to be done about that bathing suit. I don't care if you are an immortal goddess, you can't expect to fight anybody successfully in that thing.) or the tiara. She's got a great body. Of course she has a great body. She's genetically perfect. Plus she works out a lot.

But the body, the outfit, the props - those are just trappings. Wonder Woman is much more than that. And she means so much to so many women. I LOVED the Linda Carter show as a girl. She was cool, and she didn't take no crap from nobody. I needed that. We all needed that.

And we need Wonder Woman. It's okay if you're not interested in her story. I don't expect everyone to love Diana the way I do. I don't love (insert thing you love here) as much as you do, and that's okay too. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't exist.

I'm actually glad the studio hasn't thrown together some piece of crap Wonder Woman movie just to get it out of the way. I'd much rather they take their time, find the right writer (Me) and create the best possible story for her. But we do need that story. There is a great one in all that convoluted history. Even if I'm not the one to tell it, I hope someone great gets the chance to. Because I want to see her on that screen, just as important and ass kicking as all those boys.

It would be the ultimate chick flick.

14 comments:

  1. You should check this out: http://smodcast.com/episodes/more-with-morrison/

    Grant talks about the history of WW and his upcoming WW graphic novel.

    If I were the studio exec responsible for developing a WW movie, I'd wait the year until Grant's comic comes out, because you know he's going to have a completely different take on the whole mythos, which ihmo is going to be a prerequisite for anyone trying to write a WW movie that embraces Nolan type story, tone and production values.

    I'd also be telling my creatives to read the modern version of DC's Batwoman, written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, which deals maturely with issues of female sexuality.

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  2. I think Wonder Woman has even more male fans than female fans. I don't know a single guy that wasn't in love with the Linda Carter Wonder Woman when they saw the rerun on cable. It's like wow, who is that? I'm sorry, but her sex appeal is completely intertwined with her appeal. A superhero's appeal is usually reflected in whether you want to be that superhero or be with that superhero. That's why I'm not as into more convoluted characters like Green Lantern. But, Batman....woo, dark brooding guy worth a billion and does stuff you wish you did. Superman--what guy doesn't want to be like him or what guy/girl isn't attracted to him. The genius of Wonder Woman is that she appeals to both desires...and her story brings an immediate response from a person. You don't have to sit there and think of a complicated story. Plus, deep down, I think audiences are very attracted to superheros that have super strength/senses or super wealth...because they can do stuff we all fantasize about. I pretty much watch the Hulk for him to use his powers, or for Wonder Woman to do that spin and really knock some heads. Sometimes, the appeal is really as simple as that.

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  3. Pliny, thanks for sharing that. Sounds like some good stuff coming down the pike.

    I don't know, Paul. I think that's all good stuff for a comic book hero, but I'm not sure just being hot and having super powers is enough to carry a film.

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  4. I feel like that's more than enough.. Twilight pretty much broke box office records with the fantasy of two hot guys fight over a regular young girl.

    Wonder Woman is one of the most beloved characters in comic book history.... probably right there behind Superman and Batman. Her appeal to me is very simple... she's like the perfect woman...and has that wholesome likeable persona like Superman. Whoever lands that writing assignment is going to have to knock it out of the park. Giving the audience what they want yet not be too cheesy a la Catwoman, Batman 4.

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  6. I think you pretty much summed it up, Emily. There was no other female superhero that wasn't a sidekick. She was popular not just because of her sex appeal- I think and I'm one of those, Linda Carter added that to the character, she could basically do anything. And she was human- it was a fish out of water story.
    Good luck on getting the gig. But whoever gets it, it's going to be tough writing a script that isn't preachy or advancing a political agenda. And again, casting will be difficult because everyone will be comparing her to Linda Carter.

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  7. I think the biggest problem with making a Wonder Woman movie comes down to personality. Look at the super heroes who have been successful at the box office: Batman, Ironman, Spiderman. These characters all have very specific and known personalities. Look at the Superman movies. Christopher Reeve was perfect because he totally embodied the feeling of this all-powerful boy scout. Then look at Superman Returns and Man of Steel. Character-wise, they were both snoozefests. (Though I love Man of Steel because I never get tired of people punching each other through buildings).

    What is Wonder Woman's personality? I'll admit, I've never seen the Linda Carter series, but I've read countless Justice League comics and seen her in a bunch of diffrent animated shows. While I think she has an interesting backstory and motivation, I've never latched on to her as a character. I think that, more than her being the only major female superhero, is what's keeping her from staring in her own movie.

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  8. Sup, I was talking to you on Twitter about this.

    And totally agreed this movie needs to get made. She's just as big as any super hero is. Part of DC's holy trinity and she has added chick appeal over the others. It could be massive.
    But that does add to the pressure of getting it right. Which is good.

    You were talking about why Batman and Superman still work and why the movies are so popular... well for WW i think you have to be willing to revise her.

    Batman and Superman have gone through some major revisions. I know wonder woman has too but the base of her story hasn't changed as much. She's been frozen in time cause noone wants to risk the /fangirl ire if they change her.

    Hence no movies. Cause like you said she's a bit out-dated at times.

    But there's so much potential there. She's a classic fish out of water tale. She can be totally unaware of sexism... "I cant because I'm a woman?... lol, what?"

    But yeah i think you gotta be willing to say /shrug if it works it works if it don't it don't, re: all the comic cannon.

    disclaimer: I'm not writing a WW script just done a vague outline. /shrug

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  9. These are great comments, guys. Can't really argue with anything anyone has said.

    Duggy, I can tell just by reading your post that you have a rad voice. I bet your scripts are fun.

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  10. Aww shucks, thanks Emily, and of course you too! Your blogs awesome, ergo so are your scripts.

    Let me know if ya ever want some notes or something, I could do with the practice so it's all good.

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  11. Good post Emily. The WW movie needs to be made. And I'd also like to add in another post you've written about before which I think goes with this WW post. The notion females in general wouldn't make good action heroes; which is down right silly in thinking or as I'd say if conversing with one of my friends, "you can blow that shit out your ass."

    A good character is a good character, I don't care if she's a man or woman.

    I love the movie, The Fifth Element, because of what Milla Jovovich brought to it. Her action scenes were better than what Bruce was doing, which was just shooting people.

    But anyway, back on track. WW needs to be made, for everyone, to help break down silly stigmas and to give the people what they want.

    And I wouldn't be mad if they let Kathryn Bigelow direct WW, her style could make for an interesting take on WW.

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  12. Oooh, okay, so Wonder Woman is not a Superman but she's a Thor(Or Thor's a Wonder Woman). That makes so much sense to me now and it perfectly explains why I kept having trouble figuring her out. I kept trying to put her in the boy scout hero role but she's a super powered entity from a foreign land, here to show us what is wrong with what we find acceptable. Thanks!

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  13. Not Wonder Woman, but Batwoman:

    http://jezebel.com/batwoman-cant-marry-says-dc-pub-because-heroes-cant-1272436331

    An indictment of DC Comics' juvenile attitude towards sexuality and possibly female issues in general.

    The prevailing mindset over at DC seems to be that two women in marriage is icky, but two over-sexualized women kissing is awesome because... actually, that is awesome, but it misses the point.

    I'm not saying that a Wonder Woman movie should be sapphically oriented, but this interference by DC brass doesn't bode well for those of us seeking an interesting and original take.

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  14. I don't know much about WW other than a vague memory of Linda Carter from a moment in my childhood and a really cool WW hand mirror that I bought when I was about 20. My two-bobs worth (I'm Australian) is that there is alot of potential to craft the character any way you want (picking up on Duggys pout about modernising the other superheroes) and that's a huge plus. The re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes, for example, works really well. You could do that with WW, make her sassy, or wise, or resigned, melancholy, middle-aged even, maybe.

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