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Wonder Woman: What makes her tick?

Wonder Woman by Brian Bolland

About a month ago, I quoted Tom Spurgeon and agreed with him that a major problem with getting a Wonder Woman TV series or movie off the ground is the tendency of writers to over-think the character. There was some good discussion in the comments that followed that post. Not all of it on-point, of course, but that’s the cool thing about conversations. It’s okay if they lead you away from where you started.

I’m thinking specifically of some comments around the middle of the thread where folks started to do the very thing that – on the surface – I said writers shouldn’t do: fuss with the character. That’s fine though, because a certain amount of fussing is necessary. Spurgeon even implied it in his original quote and some of the comments he made later. “Stop fussing” implies that some fussing is already being done and Spurgeon doesn’t appear to judge that. Taken literally, he’s just saying that there’s a time to put that away and just write some damn adventure stories. When he says in the comments, “embrace what you like and streamline past what you don’t,” he assumes that some thinking has been given to what you like and don’t about the character.

It’s the same point I made when I wrote, “While it’s important to know the character you’re telling a story about, the story itself doesn’t have to be an overt demonstration of how you’ve figured that out.” Figuring out the character and writing fun stories about her are two different things and should be kept separate, but they’re both important to do. Since that last post focused on the need for writing fun stories, this one’s about offering a suggestion on figuring Wonder Woman out. Particularly, how it’s not as hard as it’s made out to be.

Lynda Carter

For a lot of people my age, our introduction to Wonder Woman was through the Lynda Carter TV show. As Peter David pointed out in the comments to that other post, “If that show hit the airwaves for the first time today, exactly as it was, fans would be decrying it for extreme campiness.” That’s probably true, but it’s not the bad German accents or Steve Trevor’s incompetence that make people remember it so fondly. It was how honest Lynda Carter’s portrayal of Wonder Woman was. She completely sold the character as a real person and she was every bit as heroic and strong (not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally) as Superman or Batman any other superhero. And I think the memory of that completely strong, comfortable, confident woman is what audiences are looking for in not only a Wonder Woman TV show or movie, but the comics as well.

Wonder Woman should be the Sean Connery of her gender: men should want to be with her and women should want to be her. When Connery played Bond, he walked around every setting he found himself in as if he owned the place. Didn’t matter if it was his office, a hotel, or the villain’s headquarters, he was completely comfortable with himself. That’s how Wonder Woman should be.

Not aggressively so. Not strident. Connery never had to convince anyone through aggression that he was competent. You knew it by just looking at him. Wonder Woman should be the same way. That’s what sets her apart from all the other female superheroes with great hair, big boobs, and long, long legs. When she’s written and drawn (especially drawn!) correctly, she’s able to walk around in a frickin’ bathing suit and be completely at ease. She’s like the Sub-Mariner that way, only not so much a jerk about it. Sub-Mariner is another character who oozes confidence and so gets away with swim gear as a costume. It’s not the skimpiness of the outfit that’s attractive; it’s the way they carry themselves in it.

Wonder Woman #613

Caleb Mozzocco made a similar point recently on his blog while discussing all the fussing – by creators and fans – over Wonder Woman’s costume.

By making Wonder Woman wear pants, are they (and, by “they” I mean Jim Lee, DC Comics, David E. Kelley, Warner Brothers and/or whoever is advocating she cover up those bare legs) failing the enlightened view of the female body litmus test that Wonder Woman’s costume functions as? Are they seeing the wrong things when they see Wonder Woman’s flesh, thinking her a brazen, exhibitionist hussy and condemning her for it, or worrying that she will incite lust in others?

Almost 70 years after that story in All-Star Comics #8, are we still not at the point where we’re okay with an Amazon princess strutting around with bare legs, shoulders and arms?

It was actually that post that inspired this one. I’m not a purist who thinks that Wonder Woman’s costume should remain skimpy just because it’s always been that way. Hell, I think she should have lots of different costumes. Vary her look from issue to issue or story to story, only keeping a few, iconic elements. That would be cool. But covering her skin in the name of modesty isn’t the way to go. Wonder Woman’s above all that.

This is why I don’t care for George Perez’ run on the series. It gets praised a lot for its attention to Greek mythology and its strong characterization, but Perez’s Wonder Woman isn’t the strong, confident heroine that I want to read about. His Wonder Woman is a fish-out-of-water. She’s the new kid on the superhero block. She’s wide-eyed and innocent.

When Perez draws her flying she has an expression of joyous rapture. “Whee! I’m flying!”

Which I guess a lot of people liked, but seems really… I don’t know, girlish? I much prefer this image of her flying.

She’s still smiling and enjoying what’s going on, but she isn’t so “yipee!” about it. She’s more mature. Comfortable.

I even enjoy this downbeat depiction of her.

She’s being led away in handcuffs and she’s not happy about it, but she is calm and in control. There’s nothing happening to her that she isn’t letting happen and it gives you the feeling that indeed nothing could happen to her that she doesn’t let happen. That’s not true, of course. Stuff happens to Wonder Woman outside of her control all the time. It has to in order to keep things interesting. But she creates the illusion that she can handle anything. Just like Bond.

I’m not a woman and don’t claim to speak for women, but I know a lot of women and all of them who’ve been willing to talk to me about it tell me that self-image and confidence are huge issues for them. If Wonder Woman has a deeper meaning than just being a generic female superhero (and she should), it ought to be about inspiring women and young girls to have confidence in themselves. That’s an easy thing to grasp about the character that sets her apart from other superheroes and gives her a mission in this world. But because it’s so integrally connected to who she is as a character, it doesn’t require every story to be about feminine confidence. To Spurgeon’s original point, she can have an infinite variety of adventures with the invisible plane or golden lasso or kangaroos or whatever else you dig and as long as it doesn’t change who she is as a person, she’s still inspirational and on-message.

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Comments

46 Comments

Great article. Love the covers.

That Wonder Woman doesn’t yet have her own modern movie is a bit of a disgrace. I loved what Marvel did with She-Hulk, that was a very female friendly comic, positive and peppy, in the vein you might have been hoping for.

I think the other problem is casting. Who do you find to play an Amazonian goddess? I would have said Angelina Jolie until she stole another woman’s husband.

Other than that I was pretty underwhelmed by the canned TV show’s choice. The costume looked daft and awkward too.

I agree. It’s confidence that sets her apart from most other heroes. She’s usually not racked wth doubt or guilt or angst. I like her when she’s at ease with herself and confidant.

As someone who’s old enough to remember picking up Perez’s first issue, I think the best incarnation of Wonder Woman since then was Greg Rucka’s Themyscrian embassy years. An super-hero is only as good as his or her villains and supporting cast, and Rucka’s was the best Wonder Woman’s had in the past 25 years.

I think the problem with Diana at this point is not whether or not she has any place in the modern age, but whether or not she’s been redefined to death. In the years since the original Crisis she’s had, what, 6-7 MAJOR redirections with all-new supporting casts? It’s kind of ironic, because in her own way she’s lost her identity just as much as Donna Troy has. The Powers That Be–either at DC or WB–need to pick one characterization and stick with it for more than a couple years before we can seriously discuss how she’s being perceived by everyone else.

Simon DelMonte

June 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I remember liking what I read of the Perez era. It was intelligent, well written and fun. But for the life of me, I can’t recall if it was Wonder Woman that I liked. Also, I didn’t stick around that long. As usually happens with Diana, she never quite grabs my attention.

Which is why my admiration for the Rucka era on WW stands out, though after the fact. Rucka got Diana. No surprise given that his writes strong (but human) women on a regular basis and in many genres. He also had an idea of what to do to keep her busy..

This might be subtitled “What Does (Wonder) Woman Want?” Interestingly, I never see female readers asking this question, only male ones.

Well, I’m a woman, in my (cough cough) 50s, and I don’t claim to speak for all women, because (surprise surprise) we’re not all the same. We do not all think the same. We do not all feel the same way.

You made some excellent points. And I agree with most of them.

I started reading Wonder Woman in the ’60s. I am one of the people who actually enjoyed her powerless days with I Ching because it was very Diana Rigg/Avengers-ish. Around that time, I discovered Modesty Blaise, and I think that the powerless Diana was rather close in form to Modesty if not tone. I’m a big Supergirl fan and I adore Oracle and Black Canary, but I have to say my favorite female comics character is Modesty. And Modesty would strip at a moment’s notice if it would help her accomplish her goal, even to get some thug to gape at her while she’s kicking him in the nuts. Now that’s confidence! ;)

I agree about Lynda Carter. She was everything Diana and Wonder Woman should be on screen. I did not like what little I read of the Perez’ run on the title and I thought Rucka’s version was too talky/boring. Gail Simone was doing a good job, but not as good as she does with quirkier or darker characters (Secret Six, Birds of Prey). I don’t know why so many writers have trouble writing her. And I don’t know why every writer I can remember who had a regular run on WW felt the need to reinvent her. Even when writers do that with Batman or Superman, it usually hasn’t felt as jarring as with WW. I think that lack of consistency, of writing the essence of WW, has hurt her in that so many people feel the need to figure her out.

Mythology will always be a part of Diana’s life/WW’s origin, but why can’t she just have adventures like the other characters headlining books.

Not that it matters anymore in the comics. I’ll be dropping most of DC’s titles come Sept. But I still would love to see WW back on TV or on the big screen. She’s earned it. And she deserves it.

Elayne, why do you think that is?

Honestly, I’ve never understood the appeal of Lynda Carter or the Wonder Woman series. I like the Wonder Woman character on the page, but the series and the actor never captured my interest whatsoever.

Apollokid9000

June 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Of DC’s Big 3, Wonder Woman is currently the most interesting. Why it doesn’t seem like that’s the majorities’ viewpoint is due to the lack of confidence amongst the hire-ups who have to “protect” WW.
I would love to see a take on WW similar to Grant Morrison Batman run in that “everything counts”.
The original Martson stories, the I Ching years, the Lynda Carter show, the Perez run, etc.

Stop running away from the characters histories, especially if you’re only rushing to rewrite every few years.
Wonder Womans’ early stories had bondage in them. Deal with it.
Aquaman has the lame power to talk to sea life. Deal with it.
Comic characters have some interesting histories.
Some say complex. Others say complicated.
Embrace it, deal with it. Use the past as fuel for the next, interesting stories.

Alas, showing how interesting the character is is viewed as “too costly”.

Argh, again somebody brings up the stereotype of Aquaman just being the guy who talks to fish. Sheesh! If Super Friends had depicted him using his other powers, then we wouldn’t have that lame joke recurring. Please, I beg you, all of you, convince people that Aquaman isn’t boring!

“I’m not a woman and don’t claim to speak for women, but I know a lot of women and all of them who’ve been willing to talk to me about it tell me that self-image and confidence are huge issues for them. If Wonder Woman has a deeper meaning than just being a generic female superhero (and she should), it ought to be about inspiring women and young girls to have confidence in themselves.”

Don’t limit her influence. She should serve this same function men and boys as well.

Correction:

Don’t limit her influence. She should serve this same function FOR men and boys as well.

The problem with Wonder Woman is the disconnect between her personality and her costume. If she’s supposed to be a regal, charming, but tough “warrior princess,” she should be wearing the armored Greek hoplite outfit in combat and Pippa Middleton maid of honor-like outfits in formal social situations. The classic outfit simply doesn’t fit in any situation.

The classic outfit does however suggest someone trying to promote themselves. I could see a very upbeat, positive Wonder Woman, who’s heroic, but also out to market herself as a role model: superhero, business woman, philantropist. This alone would give her a very different outlook than Superman or Batman. She should never be cynical or grim (though she might be surrounded by those kind of people), but always genuine. While fully realizing the exhibitionist nature of the outfit, Wonder Woman would be wearing the outfit to get attention and to (somewhat innocently) look the part of a costumed superhero.

Son of Baldwin, AWESOME point.

I believe Wonder Woman to be a very inspirational character, and I’m a 33 year old guy. I had almost zero contact with all the versions of her from the comics. They would sell them out of continuity in my country. So my exposure to the character was through the reruns of the TV series with Lynda Carter, and the different seasons of the Superfriends. But it was Lynda’s portrayal of the character that felt honest and real to me.

And although it may sound extremely cheesy, I learned a lot from Wonder Woman. I learned about respect, hard work, intelligence, independence, loyalty, kindness, and all sorts of values that to me, truly define a person’s strength of character. I believe that the values a person may have, he or she, learns them from their parents, family, a mentor, in a word, a role model.

In my case, (not to sound dramatic or anything, that’s not the intention) my mother always had to work extra shifts to support me and my sister (irresponsible and absent father). So, I learned a lot about a person’s true worth through this character. Wonder Woman taught me how to honor and respect the Wonder Woman that I had in my home, and who was raising me and my sister.

I love Wonder Woman!!!

I completely agree with most of your points in this article. What amazes me even more as I watch the current Green Lantern train wreck die a quick death in the theaters (it’s not likely to even break even so don’t hold your breath for a sequel). I just can’t understand why DC did not lead with Wonder Women and follow up with Flash. Of all of the big DC characters she is the that has the most potential, one because she is a great character but because she also stands out from all the other characters that have been put on the big screen since the superhero movie run began. She would simply be the first strong, confident super-heroine on screen.

Putting pants on WW is cheap and puritanical solution to trying to re-invent a character that didn’t need it. Personally I have always preferred the versions of her custom that incorporated more Greek warrior elements such Alex Ross’s version in Kingdom Come.

I am not sure who they should cast but I know Zoe Bell should do the stunts. She is simply the best stunt woman in Hollywood. If you haven’t seen Death Proof you have not only missed the best car chase sequences in the history of cinema but one of the most incredible pieces of stunt work I have seen in a long time.

Excellent article. I agree with most points of the author and commenters. I’ve pretty much given up hope that we’ll ever see a worthy Wonder Woman movie or TV show. And with all the crap they’re doing to her in the comics I think that’s a dead end as well.

I’ve always loved Wonder Woman. And I’m sad that her future seems so bleak.

Christopher DC

June 23, 2011 at 9:07 am

Interesting article, very interesting! I agree with a lot of it, though I’m sorry you didn’t think much of the George Perez run; that was my first real exposure to Wonder Woman outside the 1970s TV series, and I thought he did a fantastic job giving the character her own identity and sense of purpose. The dewey-eyed “fish out of water” elemetns you decry in your article were very appropriate for Wonder Woman back then, for that’s exactly what she was: an idealistic Amazon who was born and raised in a society completely different from our own, and who had to adapt to the cynical trappings of “Man’s World” while not losing sight of her core values.

I think this latest debacle severely cripples the chance of Wonder Woman coming back as a new TV series anytime soon–all the nay-sayers out there will use its failure as proof that the character is hopelessly outdated–but if someone ever does try again, the only real chance they’ll have to succeed is to go back to her roots and tell her story as close as possible to the way William Marston originally wrote it, just as Stanley Ralph Ross did with the pilot for the Lynda Carter series. “The New, Original Wonder Woman” stuck very close to the 1941 origin story, and I’m sure that a talented writer who was sufficiently motivated enough could find a way to update it to modern times.

As for changing the costume to something more contemporary and “non-sexist,” we just saw an example of what happened when someone tried that. It could be argued the David Kelley project was doomed on that fateful March day when NBC released the infamous photo of Adrianne Palicki in the new costume, pants and all; fan reaction was so negative the producers had to switch back to the classic uniform during shooting of the pilot, and even then it was too little too late. Like it or not, that costume is part and parcel of Wonder Woman and it can’t be lightly tampered with. Modified a bit, yes; dispensed with entirely, no.

I’ll go on hoping that somehow, someway, I’ll get to see a new live-action Wonder Woman project before I die of old age! I’ve loved the Amazon Princess and everything she stands for ever since I was a kid; Lynda Carter brought her to life with style, and George Perez gave her a rich background and mythology that fed the imagination. I like to think there’s someone out there in Hollywood who has the willpower and verve to give Wonder Woman another shot at the big time–let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later!

I love Wpnder Woman…theres simply no more to be said.

I have my thoughts on it, but it’s more than I can print in this comments box, so here they are:
http://wp.me/pHXJc-3q

I totally agree. The problem I see with Hollywood is that they spend so much time trying to analyze and take apart the character to make it where “everyone can relate to her” that they fail to comprehend the fact the Diana is not supposed to be someone who wants to “be like us”. She’s supposed to be the kind of character who WE want to be like.

She doesn’t suffer from body issues and she doesn’t spend all her time sitting on the couch eating ice cream while crying about some boy. She’s a woman who is in control of her her life, her body and her situation. She walks into a room, and everyone knows to respect her, despite her revealing costume, because she gives off sincere confidence and trust. That’s the kid of person boys and girls should want to be like. Someone they can always be proud of being.

She’s a warrior, an ambassador and the spirit of truth. She takes pride in everything she does, whether it’s save the world, or working in a Taco Joint. She’s a hero and someone who we should look up to.

As a woman, I loved Perez version more than any other. Made sense to me since chasing after Steve as a reason to become a hero is utter rubbish. And yes Perez’s version is wide eyed and innocent cause she was young. Made sense to me. Much more sense than a 2000 year old lounging around waiting for a man to fall on her island. Her freshness and optimism made her a perfect to be the Champion and there was a lot of learning to do as there should be. It’s DC’s fault if so many years later they are not sure whether she is a warrior of peace (which one can be as proven by many enlightened warrior societies) or is she some overly aggressive haughty ice queen whose head is up her own butt like in her animation incarnation. By now sure she should be at ease with herself but DC seems to have lost focus on progression and character development many a time. Stop falling into cliches, DC. Diana is a classy hard working lady who loves life. She embodies the best we have in women. Always have been. She can kick butt with the best of them. I am not one fixated on costumes etc but I do wish DC need to remember WW was always a lovable character. And calling her not human enough and all that crap…coming from DC writers themselves…what a lot of ‘s rubbish and very xenophobic. She is human as anyone on Planet Earth. She is just from a different culture and as a non-American and non white woman, I also relate to that.

What I liked so well about Rucka’s run was how he used the conflicting aspects of her history and background as strengths. Her challenges (such as Veronica Cale) often arose from being misperceived. When she sacrificed her eyesight to stop Medusa, I developed a new admiration for the character that lingers to this day.

I think the spiritual successor to the original Wonder Woman show was Xena: though the character had a strong redemption angle, you had a confident, battle-tested woman whose sword skills didn’t come at the cost of her beauty or sexuality. Any attempt to put Wonder Woman onto film should include some analysis of what made Xena last six seasons.

I think Wonder Woman suffers from being a creation of her times: Marston concocted her with very specific ideas in mind, making her less archetypal or everyman, and it’s why I don’t protest a costume change. I like seeing the stars and stripes downplayed. It’s not WWII and she doesn’t have to fight nazis anymore.

I’m hoping the DC relaunch will underburden her and let her bloom without being another directionless reboot of such a highly misunderstood character. Spurgeon has a point: let her do her thing. Tell those adventure stories that will make us care about her.

I feel as though Gail Simone is the only Wonder Woman writer who ever TRULY understood the character.

YEAH I SAID IT.

I agree with Apollokid9000, the right writer can incorporate all the history into the character.

Not really a Wonder Woman fan myself: however my now 10 year old daughter loves the animated WW movie. She loves WW kicking butt and chopping off heads and the amazon aspects. More of that would seem to be the answer. Don’t mess with a costume thats been arround this long.

The problem is “she is a woman and she is completely confident” isn’t enough to carry a story. A superhero character needs an interesting world, interesting villains, interesting supporting characters. My problem with pre-1980s Wonder Woman is that she usually failed in all of that. To me, she was little more than a fetish character.

George Perez, that may not have striken your fancy as her writer, was the first guy that made her world interesting (largely by appropriating Greek myth and juxtaposing it with the modern day), made her villains interesting, and made her supporting characters interesting. I agree with you that he may have made Diana less inspirational. She was the otherwordly, virginal ingenue (WITH superstrength and warrior skills, still…)

But, if one is looking less for inspiration and more for interesting, gripping reading, George Perez was the first person that got me seriously into Wonder Woman.

Eric Qel-Droma

June 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

1: Darwyn Cooke did just enough to the costume to make it the costume of a woman not ashamed of her body in the least, but still a reasonable costume to wear. Compare that to, say, Deodato’s wonder-thong. It doesn’t take much, but it needs something.

2: The fish-out-of-water stuff from Perez’s run was only ever skin-deep. That Diana was also waking up to the realities of her own culture (see WW10 when she refuses to give her body to Zeus), and she refused to be a man’s plaything–ANYONE’s plaything. Just because she was young and naive didn’t mean she was stupid or weak.

3: I really feel that Rucka’s take on it is the only one in recent memory that could really make any sense AND hold up as a show. And I still like Perez’s (and Jimenez’s) takes on the character better.

Finally, and I don’t know if this will make any sense to anyone but me, I’ve been thinking lately that “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” aren’t just for Superman, but for the “Trinity” as well, with each embodying one of those aspects. Batman is justice: uncompromising, merciless, but fair. Superman is what I’d call “Nobility of Spirit” instead of the rather jingoistic “American Way”: always striving, always rising above, always seeking the best of any situation. Wonder Woman, however, is truth: also uncompromising, but never accusatory in nature.

Diana should be aware of people ogling her, but she should see it for the immaturity that it is and look past it to the truth of the individual. She should be both demanding (in a way Superman cannot be) and inspiring (in a way Batman cannot be). I’ve always seen her as more amused by society’s foibles than annoyed by them, but I also see her as absolutely unforgiving of society’s sins. Check out her rear, and she can’t be bothered to notice you. Grab her rear, and say good-bye to using that hand for six weeks.

I think the real problem with DC’s lack of direction for her is that they’ve made Superman and Batman so infallible that they’ve created a two-pole system (no pun intended) that leaves no unique role for a third but equal force. The three of them need to compliment but not duplicate each other.

Anyway, I don’t know if that makes sense or not…

“The problem with Wonder Woman is the disconnect between her personality and her costume. If she’s supposed to be a regal, charming, but tough “warrior princess,” she should be wearing the armored Greek hoplite outfit in combat and Pippa Middleton maid of honor-like outfits in formal social situations. The classic outfit simply doesn’t fit in any situation.”

of course, that assumes an immortal society of women formed thousands of years ago in central asia has the same perception of what clothes denote “regal” or “tough” or “charming” that modern westerners do. that’s a pretty big assumption.

also, since the ancient greeks were the amazons’ tormentors, i’m not sure why WW would want to ape their appearance. also, the amazons never met hoplites. aaaaand after 3,500 years, if they wanted to develop body armor that was more “fitting” for combat situations, it would probably be more advanced than something city-states came up with in the bronze age.

if you want to be realistic about WW (in a medium and genre where, of course, everything and everyone else is completely realistic), then be realistic. but putting her in greek battle gear is just a different form of disconnect.

When the first spiderman movie came out I looked at my sons and said we are in for alot more hero movies. It was an excellent movie, interesting even to those who are not hero geeks.
Wonder Woman is a name that people know. My mom knows who Wonder woman is. If you make a movie, that is interesting, has some heart and adventure to it you will get viewers.
With the possibility of this becoming a “girl power” movie I believe you might even get a big big movie.
Now step up and have the balls to make it.

A few points:

1) About the costume. Quoting Mozzocco, ” Almost 70 years after that story in All-Star Comics #8, are we still not at the point where we’re okay with an Amazon princess strutting around with bare legs, shoulders and arms?” Well, when you consider that the Amazon princess’s original outfit featured a pair of knee-length culottes (with enough material that it could be mistaken for a skirt) and the top of her boots approached the hem of the culottes, you really didn’t see much in the way of “bare legs.” As for her top and her bare shoulders and arms, go back and look at women’s formal wear of the 1940s–the most glamorous women wore gowns that were completely strapless or had thin straps that still had bare arms (of course, many of those women generally wore stoles or boas or even a small jacket–not too unlike the current costume’s–and elbow-length, or longer, gloves). Even when WW abandoned the skirt-like culottes, her shorts were still nearly knee-length while the top of her boots were nearly to her knees. In the early 1950s, the outfit could rightly be described as a fashionable one-piece bathing suit (take a look at the image at http://www.ehow.com/info_8260565_womens-swimwear-1940s-1950s.html and look at the lower ends of WW’s early 1950s design).

2) Regarding the cover images of her flying. Really? You complained that #22 made her look too “girlish” and then had the audacity to show what you consider to be a “better” look from issue #177, saying she looks more “mature.” Do you still have the same reaction to driving a car that you had when you first started driving? Somehow, I really doubt it. Why? Because you’ve matured. You don’t see the car as a new adventure, a new experience to be savored and treasured (maybe if you “upgrade” from a station wagon to an Aston Martin, you’d regain that sense of wonder–pardon the pun). Or, if you have a job that requires you to travel all the time, you’d probably have a far different sense of it than you did when you first got that job; then, the travel experience was something new, even exciting but after a decade, you see it as a necessary evil (that only becomes exciting again if you have to travel someplace new). The point is that after about a dozen years of real time (and at least a couple of years in DCU time), WW should have felt somewhat less impressed about flying. Even taking into account the fact that Diana had learned how to “fly” (IMS, the Perez-era origin phrased it as riding the winds) on Themascira, part of her sense of awe when flying in “Patriarch’s World” would’ve been from being in, what would be to Diana (and pulling from “Aladdin”), a “whole new world.”

Steven-Anthony

June 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I’ve never read any of Wonder Woman’s solo books, but I’ve read many apearences over the years and I can offer up what I like and I don’t like. First off, I do not like Geoff Johns’ “warrior first” type takes on the character. Throughout the years, Johns has depicted Wonder Woman as a woman on a mission to just kick ass for no reason. This doesn’t really jive with any of the strong women I’ve known throughout my life, and I think is counterintuitive to a woman’s natural genetic make up. That said, I loved Grant Morrison’s take on the character during his various JLA stories and runs. He showed Diana as a confident woman, but also with a motherly affection and tone. This might be over-stepping, but I have personally never known a strong woman who didn’t have maternal aspects to her personality. I’d like to see that return to the character. Side note: I don’t give a damn if they never make a “comic book movie” or tv show ever again. I love the stories in their original medium, what’s the point in adapting them? A strict adaptation just says the original medium wasn’t good enough and a loose adaptation just uses the character’s name as a beacon to tell a new story.

Two things about Wonder Woman, unlike Superman and Batman she doesn’t have a tragedy motivating her. The reason she’s in our world and left paradise is because she wanted to. She wants to help people, she wants to explore and do her part to make things better. Writers make the mistake of trying to kill her Mom and give her a big bucket of sad but that’s not her. Her lasso lets her know the truth but she’s not judgemental. She loves humanity. She’s not the last of her planet. Her parents weren’t murdered in front of her. She wasn’t chosen by a magic ring or superpowered by accident. She’s here and does what she does because she wants to. She’s a hero by choice.

While I love Adam Hughes art – that Wonder Woman of his looks like a pro wrestler. The JG Jones cover looks great.

I wish DC would trade Jimenez’s run – I’ve tried buying the single issues, but they are pretty expensive – and hard to find too.

@Luthorcrow – of coarse GL will break even. It has to make 300 mill. Its made 50 mill in it first weekend. Add in the international market (from August – and by the way – what the hell is up with waiting so long? that never normally happens!?!) – and DVD sales when that hits. Earning back 300 will be easy. Its only the fact it will take so long, that may stop a sequel happening.

Great article that hits all the beats that I think really are the ones that need addressing; or not addressing as the case seems to be in terms of over complicating WW. I whole heartedly agree with the view of her costume no longer being indicative of sexualised fantasy, but one that displays her physical, warrior prowess and the degree of self confidence Diana portrays through mere presence; regardless of whether you can see a hint of cleavage or buttock. Not to get all gender theory, but if we’re living in a post-feminist popular culture, then Wonder Woman’s outfit should be extraneous to her message, her purpose, her power and her influence.
Son of Baldwin makes the perfect point: she is a hero for EVERYONE. In a non-gender bending sense of the word, men and boys should not just want to be WITH her but also BE her in terms of her outlook and message. Violence isn’t an end in itself; WW’s philanthropic, all-encompassing and most crucially, compassionate life view should be more relevant than ever in today’s social climate. Yet metaphorically, she shows us that standing for enlightened ideals is not a futile gesture. Of course, seventy years of mythology should not be neglected, but her messages are the constant element that should be exercised in a movie, tv series or her own book. In this sense, they ARE streamlined and simple. Sticking to that can only be a good thing. Contention over whether she communicates her manifesto wearing a bodice and star-spangled hotpants is utterly superfluous.

Great discussion guys. :)

I have a few issues with the article. Firstly men want to get with her and women want to be her seems to be the excuse for every hero male or female (with genders reversed sometimes). That isn’t a Wonder Woman exclusive.

Secondly, you say that we are uncomfortable with her being lusted after. Yes, we are because she is not that character. She isn’t about sexual liberation. There are double standards at work here, she wears next to nothing to be an object of the male gaze but her sexual life is never talked of. Most say Wonder Woman is still a virgin. So what is she? Sexually liberated or sexually inhibited. She was made for men to look at but she remains untouched, she stays as ‘perfection’.

The pants are not a big deal. Women wear pants why shouldn’t Wonder Woman? Why should she run around in her underwear it says nothing about her womanhood.

I’m just going to pick up on the costume.

The problem with the differentiation between a “brazen exhibitionist hussy” vs “a strong confidant woman” is it depends very much on the artist. You can give the exact same costume to two different artists and they’ll produce an image which varies. I think a lot of it has to do with the bodyshape and face as much as the costume. I strongly dislike the work “waif” artists for example, by which I mean artists who make every single female character they draw have the exact same physique – that of some dainty looking anorexic teenager. In my mind, WW should really have the lean and toned physique of a professional athlete. There are characters who are waifs, but not every female character is one, just as much as not every character should have gigantic breasts and pornstar expressions (a certain Mr Land comes to mind).

WW is a character who, in my mind, would be less mindful of what she was wearing than most characters, but not be dressing provocatively just to be provocative. Provocative incidental as she is dressing for another reason perhaps, but not to the point of wearing thongs or bizzarelyhigh rise thigh lines which don’t really offer any realistic reason for their existence. I personally favour designs which do look like they are inspired by elements of Greek armour without being a carbon copy of them.

Nice article. Since the 1980′s, there’s been even more of a tendency to overthink WW than any other hero(ine) I can think of. The origin story in the Perez et al. run occupies what, the first 12 issues? A lot of problems could be solved with the Big Two’s superheroes by making the writers go back to an origin that can be told in eight pages.

Or two.

Or one.

Wonder Woman came from the secret home of the Amazons to fight evil. How much more complex do we need it to be?

And she should definitely have a host of costumes, though apparently only Batman is allowed to have wildly varying costumes linked only by the cowl design and the symbol of the bat. ( I guess ditto Iron Man when it comes to endlessly sanctioned alternate armor designs) See, we need Grant Morrison to pen the Silver-Age Batman homage “The 1000 Costumes of Wonder Woman” and “The 1000 Costumes of Superman.”

Deep-sea Wonder Woman!

Fluorescent Superman!

Awesomeness!

Also, didn’t Morrison write the nice little character bit in which Wally West, upon first meeting WW, ogles her while in super-speed mode — and then is mortally embarrassed to realize that she’s fast enough to notice this?

An interesting point of view, though limited. I’m another 50-ish female who adored the Mod Era (and not just because it was Emma Peel/Modesty Blaise-y). I, too, feel that Wondie should be inspirational to both genders. I’m afraid that though I liked Lynda C. in the role, I thought she smiled far too much, mimicking women who HAVE to smile a lot in order to appear unchallenging to men. (This does NOT mean never to use the smile! Just don’t over-use it.)

WW’s confidence is merely a side-effect of her basic theme: that of empowerment. She has learned to empower herself (though she’s still working on it; she isn’t perfect), and she teaches/shows others how they can empower themselves to make their lives and their world better.

Who doesn’t want to be empowered?

Hefting a bloody axe and snarling; facing foes who only appear in single-gender groups and thus reinforce gender bigotry; constantly mired in mythology—these situations don’t do Wonder Woman justice at all. How I wish writers/editors/PTB would move away from these and get back to the basics:

Wonder Woman helps people empower themselves. She’s interested in the disenfranchised. She’s a woman steeped in magic and ancient mysteries, a child of a race who firmly believe in love being greater than hate, and she’s living and exploring a modern world full of all the oddball angles that make up the DCU.

Seems simple enough to me. Layered but focused.

As someone who’s been reading Wonder Woman stories since the ’60s, and has since read thru the Golden Age tales as well, I’ve found a wild variety of interpretations.
Which one is the “true” Wonder Woman?
IMHO, the animated Justice League’s version combines the best elements of the comics incarnations into a well-rounded character.
Considering how well they handled DC’s icons, why aren’t Timm and Dini running DC Comics? (along with McDuffie, if he hadn’t passed away)
Now THAT would’ve been an editorial “dream team”!

Supergirl's Pal

June 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

“And I think the memory of that completely strong, comfortable, confident woman is what audiences are looking for in not only a Wonder Woman TV show or movie, but the comics as well.”

THIS
While the plots of the TV episodes were silly, Lynda Carter’s performance more than made up the difference. Another example is the Supergirl movie, the story was not the greatest, but people love and remember how Helen Slater portrayed Supergirl.

Although it did not mention it specifically, this article helps explain why the video clip of Wonder Woman appearing on Batman: The Brave and the Bold was so awesome. To me, Steve Trevor in that clip represents the Wonder Woman fan base who yells WOO-HOO when Wonder Woman comes in to save the day.

I think one of the problems i have with her is that i dont care about either her supporting cast or her enemies and they reflect poorly on her.

I don’t think the pilot over-thought her. She only wears the pants for the first 150 seconds. In the big final action scene she wears the 1970′s/comics bikini briefs costume. And a big scene in the middle has her in the “feminist” all-white ensemble. The costuming (plus her jet) were pretty well realized. The show had other problems.

Neil Mukherjee

June 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Wonder-Woman WW is one of my most favourite DC Super-Heroes cos her feminine super-strength makes her the most powerful woman in DC Universe, she is a role model for both women and men and She has shown that with great power comes great responsibility. She has always stood for justice as opposed to revenge and that makes her, like Superman, stand above all the other earthly heroes of our time.

WW also has a cooling instinct which makes her both cool and calm under pressue, she is the ideal Amazonian Princess, a Goddess to ordinary humans away from Paradise Island and a True Amazon and American role model as well as a role model fot the whole world.

I urge all WW and Justice League writers to keep WW’s character intact and make her shine above all the others for her goodness and her true feminine qualities.

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