Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | Tainted love

In happier times

Serialized storytelling provides superhero-comics publishers a pretty handy buffer. Anything can be judged unfairly, perhaps even after the whole story has been collected. Don’t like a preview image? Wait until the issue itself comes out. Don’t like how the story is going? Wait for it to end, so you can evaluate it in a more proper context. Don’t like how the story ended? Hey, at least you got the thrill of following it issue by issue.

There will always be a certain distance between fans and professionals, simply because the pros know where the stories are going and the fans can only make educated guesses. The previous paragraph’s view of it may be cynical, but I don’t think it’s too far off. Beyond nostalgic, blue-sky wishes for publishers to stop aiming low, and for fans to stop assuming the worst, I don’t have any easy solutions. Sometimes I just wish these sorts of observations weren’t necessary.

Having said all that, I’m not going to call the latest Superman/Wonder Woman pairing (in this week’s Justice League #12, as you might have heard) The Dumbest Thing DC’s Ever Done. I’m not sure it’s even in the Top 20. Heck, I’m not sure it’s the dumbest thing DC’s done in the past 12 months.

What I will say is that it misses the point.

In fact, it misses a number of points:

1. Superman isn’t about “having it all.”

The thing about Superman is that ultimately, his powers don’t matter; he’d act the same without them. In fact, in a very real sense, “Superman” is just the most visible expression of Clark’s desire to do good. Now, this is not to be confused with the different approaches to Clark’s public persona. In the Silver Age, “Clark” became an elaborate fiction, designed expressly to dispel any notion that a certain well-known journalist could also be an omnipotent superhero. Since the 1986 revamp, though, Clark’s Kryptonian origins were downplayed, such that he thought of himself (understandably) as a human being, and aspired to be the best example thereof. We might argue about which version of Clark was the more humble, and therefore the less likely to elevate himself to messianic status, but such an event would be equally improbable in either case.

The point is that Clark/Superman is humble, and he doesn’t consider himself entitled to any more than anyone else. However, apparently such a perspective is difficult for fans (and perhaps some professionals) to understand. Instead, they may find Superman boring for not being sufficiently self-indulgent, and therefore not allowing them to live vicariously through him. Accordingly, to the extent that anyone believes Superman must be with Wonder Woman because no other woman is good enough, he misreads fundamentally the bulk of the character’s portrayals.  (To be sure, this is not how JL #12 plays out, but the preliminary publicity has not exactly repudiated it.)

Almost all of Superman’s most significant relationships are with non-powered humans (pretty much necessarily, but still). Ma and Pa Kent first helped him connect to humanity. Chris Sims can probably tell you more, but I think Superman sees a lot of his own youth in Jimmy Olsen. Perry White personifies everything Clark wants to be in a journalist, which for Superman is as much a calling as it is an easy way to be close to the action. Batman and Superman are kindred spirits, despite their different approaches, and Batman has also trained non-super body and mind to the upper limits of their potential. Conversely, Lex Luthor represents the dark side of human potential: great power and ambition used only selfishly. Finally, Lois Lane embodies all of the others’ positive qualities — a great journalist who never rests on her laurels and never stops working for the greater good. In the 25 years since the 1986 revamp, she had become Superman’s strongest link to his humanity, perhaps even more so than the Kents.

This is not to say that Superman has no significant relationships with super-powered people. However, those relationships tend to show how sometimes, he just needs to be among others who can do what he can. His time with the Legion of Super-Heroes, and his first encounters with the New Gods, are examples of this. So too are his relationships with other Kryptonians, although those carry the weight of their shared loss. Until her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman and Supergirl were especially close, since (notwithstanding unusual communities like the Bottle City of Kandor or the Phantom Zone) they had only each other to carry on Krypton’s legacy. Nevertheless, to one extent or another, Superman has always been more concerned with his Earthly life — and Lois has always been a big part of that.

2. Wonder Woman is on a mission.

For me, the biggest difference between Superman and Wonder Woman is that while Superman shares some traits with Biblical figures, he’s not really out to bring Kryptonian values to an unenlightened world. However, Wonder Woman’s main gig is just that. Whether you call it Paradise Island or Themyscira, or Man’s World or Patriarch’s World, Princess Diana was sent to show the latter what it could learn from the former. Superman’s ethics come from Middle America, but Wonder Woman’s come from Someplace Else — and that gives her an edge that he should never have.  (“There’s the door, spaceman.”)

Make no mistake, that edge has defined Diana since her debut. The Amazons got in trouble in the first place because Hippolyta trusted Hercules a little too much, so Wonder Woman was given the power to avoid getting fooled again.

Thus, it’s a little dissonant to realize that Diana first got the bug to leave home because of a man — Steve Trevor — crash-landing on her doorstep. Steve’s inelegant arrival also brought with it news of the wider global conflict we call World War II, which convinced the Amazons that maybe they should get involved in beating back the Axis (and the forces of the war-gods who were allied with them). Still, for decades Steve was Diana’s Lois, facilitating romance and rescue in equal parts. As with Superman, a 1986 revamp changed things; but where Lois eventually married Clark, Steve got pushed to the background, eventually settling down with Etta Candy (who had long since grown past her own Jimmy Olsen-ish role).

Even Steve’s place in the origin story was downplayed. As told by George Pérez and Greg Potter in Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #1, a dire warning from Olympus about Ares mucking in human affairs prompted the Amazons’ choose-a-champion tournament. Steve’s appearance in Issue 2 confirmed that Ares was on the move, and Diana’s mission was about to start. (For its part, Justice League #12 reveals that Diana helped Steve “escape” from the Amazons, something about which I presume we’ll learn more in Wonder Woman #0.)

As a result, for most of the past 25 years, Diana’s romantic side hasn’t really been explored. Instead, the texts have doubled down on her duties as a diplomat and ambassador. In fact, writer/artist Phil Jimenez created the short-lived (literally) Trevor Barnes, a United Nations functionary, to be Diana’s boyfriend. Most recently, before the New 52 relaunch, Diana got pretty serious with super-spy Tom “Nemesis” Tresser. Another intriguing sort-of pairing involved Aquaman, because they both balanced superheroics with royal responsibilities. Unfortunately, Flashpoint twisted this notion into one of the darker cornerstones of its nightmarish backstory.

Indeed, Flashpoint still offers an unwelcome cautionary tale about the wrong way to write Wonder Woman. In a world where whatever could go wrong probably has, Wonder Woman and her sister Amazons declared war on humanity, believing their queen to have been assassinated by Aquaman’s Atlantean forces. Regardless of the cause, however, this allowed the Flashpoint writers and artists to have Wonder Woman cut loose, ostensibly to show how cool, hardcore, and/or scary she could be. Whether intentional or not, though, this reinforced the notions that a) Wonder Woman needs to be ultra-violent in order to be cool, and b) nothing’s scarier than an angry woman.

Now that Amazon history has been revised to make them more warlike (and apparently more bloodthirsty) in general, it’s not too much of a stretch to suppose that Superman needs to watch out, or else risk setting off the nigh-omnipotent Amazon Princess. This is a real concern, because the attention-getting thrill of breaking such a narrative taboo is nothing compared to the fannish pleasure of restarting a cherished relationship. DC may say it’s not happening anytime soon, but before you know it, Superman and Lois Lane will be back together — and that means Superman and Wonder Woman have to exile themselves to the Friend Zone. However, if Geoff Johns and company use a bad breakup to justify internecine conflict in the upcoming “Trinity War” — that is, if part of “TW” hinges on Wonder Woman being scorned — I don’t see how the New-52 setup recovers.

3. Wonder Woman is not a sidekick.

Because Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s New-52 Wonder Woman has been so iconoclastic, or at least so removed from the rest of the superhero line, this particular coupling feels especially stunt-y by comparison. Even as Geoff Johns and company have reintroduced Steve and Etta (and will soon bring back the Cheetah) in the pages of Justice League, its version of Wonder Woman has been fairly generic, existing mostly to provide the required beatdowns. Before Issue 12, Johns had described Diana’s relationship with Steve in a few oblique, expository sentences here and there. The current issue goes a little further, giving them a couple of pages (or so) worth of interaction. It’s enough to set up a we-can’t-be-together plot point, which in turn facilitates a Significant Moment between Wonder Woman and Supes. I’m not sure it works even in the shorthand-characterization of Justice League, and I really can’t connect it with Azzarello and Chiang’s more fully formed character. Wonder Woman’s brief appearance in Batwoman #12 feels more authentic.

Again, I expect Wonder Woman #0 to shed more light, but it makes me wonder how much coordinating Johns did with Azzarello. Before this all came down, Azzarello told CBR:

Let’s just say that I have fielded calls about her being in some other books right now, but I think her just being in Wonder Woman and Justice League is enough right now. It’s so important to establish her and build her as a strong character. Once that’s all done, then she can go guest star in somebody else’s book. But let us finish what we’re building right now, first.

Oddly enough, there is a lot more freedom with Wonder Woman than there would be with Superman or Batman. There is a lot more freedom. I am allowed to say, “No, let’s keep her out of other books right now.” You can’t say that with Superman and Batman. Superman was in the first issue of Swamp Thing, for Christ sakes. Why was that? To get people to buy Swamp Thing. [Laughs] With Wonder Woman, we’re allowed to be a little insular. It’s not going to last. We can already feel the pressure.

By now I’d say the pressure has gotten pretty great. Ironically, the freedom Azzarello mentions — which neither Superman nor Batman can enjoy — may well come from the longstanding ambivalence about how to handle Wonder Woman. (Yet another take, this time from Grant Morrison, is apparently on the way.)  While I’ve not been entirely happy with the New-52 Wonder Woman, by and large I think it’s a well-crafted book, and its approach deserves some deference.

It should therefore go without saying that the new romance must not risk subordinating Wonder Woman to Superman — but if either party to this relationship is going to be subordinated, or (as described above) is going to end up looking bad, I’m not betting on the Man of Steel. After all, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

4. The Justice League is a team of equals.

For longer than I care to remember, I have argued that the Justice League isn’t just a group of A-list all-stars, it’s an opportunity to blend disparate storytelling styles. In the context of a League adventure, space opera and classical mythology can coexist alongside science-based heroes, pulp-derived urban avengers and magic-users. Those characters normally play by their own rules, but in the Justice League those rules can change, blend, or be thrown out altogether. Above all, though, the characters who make up the League must stay true to themselves — i.e., as they appear in their own books — because to do otherwise (yes) misses the point of the book.

Needless to say, this is a big part of my frustration with the New-52 Justice League. As much as I think this romance is a bad idea, if it had arisen in the context of the Wonder Woman book it’d be somewhat easier to take. That it comes out of Justice League, which so far has had the superficial quality of action-figure play, makes it feel grafted onto the characters. It’s not just that nothing in their respective histories argues for the relationship — nothing in the New-52 especially argues for it either.

And with that we come full circle, because the inevitable response will be “but this is all-new, full of wide-open possibilities we are just beginning to explore,” etc. That’s fine for what it’s worth, I suppose. Remember, if you don’t like This, wait ‘til you see That — and The Other will blow you away!

Regardless, having read Justice League #12, I can say that it doesn’t make the case for a Superman/Wonder Woman romance. The burden of proof might be high, but that’s because the risks are so great. Without sounding too much like an inadvertent advertisement, the very fabric of the New-52 may rest on an amicable separation. Here’s hoping all involved know what they’re getting into.

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52 Comments

I must be the only old school fan who liked the kiss. It made total sense to me given the characters as they are being presented now. And I can live with those characters.

SUPERMAN AND WONDER WOMAN A RELATIONSHIP THAT FINALLY MAKES SENSE

With the recent announcement that Superman and Wonder Woman would be a couple, many comic book enthusiasts have either applauded the move or denounced it. You can count me in with the ones who applaud the move for the very simple reason that superhero and non-superhero pairings tax my suspension of disbelief. The reason that DC prints comic books is to make money. So it therefore does not bother me that they think this will stimulate interest. There have been pairings of heroes that have NOT resulted in one hero overshadowing another. It can be done! For example Susan Richards of the Fantastic Four actually emerged as a solid member and some may say heart of the team in her own right and she was initially overshadowed by three male superheroes in her life including her husband. Storm of X-Men fame, married Black Panther and represents another strong character that has garnered bigger name recognition that T’Challa.

Furthermore, which character is MORE likely to be seen by the comic reading public as Superman’s equal – Lois Lane or Wonder Woman. I could make the argument that Lois Lane represents a weak expression of women BECAUSE she must always be saved and is clearly NOT the equal of Superman. (Not even morally – as he seems to always be the more moral character of the pairing). If Wonder Woman can have a relationship with Superman and not be overshadowed by him that would validate her place as a feminist icon. Many seem to be already resigned to the idea that it cannot happen and I am unsure why. Sure it is the responsibility of the writers, but I think they deserve a chance to represent the two as equals…a notion I don’t think could or has ever happened with Lois Lane which is ultimately what feminism is about and partly what Wonder Woman should be about. I think that comic book based movies have been ahead of the curve in that respect perhaps because there is a sense that if the world of comics could be brought into the real world those situations would just not be plausible. For example…it did not work in the Superman movie series between Superman and Lois for exactly the reasons it would not work in life. The very same issues plagued Spiderman in the first three Sam Raimi movies as well as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s universe in which Bruce Wayne’s love interest demanded that he leave Batman behind before they could be together. For this and many other reasons the only justification to have a hero and non-hero relationship in comic or movies should be to demonstrate why they would never work out. To facilitate this, here are my TEN reasons why the most “realistic” pairings in comics should be between Superheroes and NOT with non-superheroes (mortals).

1) The mortal of any superhero/mortal pairing becomes an instant target for the hero’s enemies creating another weakness. Even when using a secret identity they cannot hide it forever or at least run a great risk in attempting to do so. Therefore having a relationship with a mortal knowing this is irresponsible.
2) A crisis may occur at any moment and on any scale and a mortal would have to deal with continuous disruptions of their lives as heroes respond to these crises.
3) Who knows if or what kind of children would result. Even assuming they are also human such as in the case of someone like Batman, his children would almost certainly have to deal with an absentee parent.
4) It would cloud the hero’s priorities, morals and/or obligations (see Superman going back in time and violating a rule from his father to save one person in Superman the Motion Picture).
5) There is a built in imbalance in responsibilities in that mortals (most of the time) need to be saved and rarely are they the ones who are saving. Superheroes can usually help each other.
6) Mortals ground heroes to humanity whereas with the awesome responsibility given their powers, a hero needs to be BETTER than mortals. (For example if a mortal has a bad day and takes it out on someone, that is confrontational but usually not much more than that. If a hero has a bad day and takes it out on someone it can be deadly)
7) Since being a hero and the awesome responsibilities of that role defines a large portion of who the hero is, a mortal will never be able to adequately relate to what a hero must endure.
8) Superheroes must always practice restraint or they could unintentionally harm their mortal partner (See Wolverine accidently stabbing Rogue after having a bad dream in the X-Men movie. In fact it was only because she had superpowers herself that Rogue was able to save herself). That risk alone makes accepting a mortal as a companion imprudent.
9) Depending on the hero and their powers, in some cases, intimacy would be compromised or unusual.
10) There would always be a specter of developing an inferiority complex on the part of mortals or a superiority complex on the part of heroes…and it would be more or less accurate.

Nice article Tom… valid points.

“Kiss or no-kiss”, I don’t care… that’s beside the point.

What really bugs me in Justice League is the poor writing and bad character development.

I see it this way:

If Superman exists in a vacuum (that is, Superman qua Superman, not Superman as part of the DCU), then Lois Lane is his logical pair. She’s been built up as his romantic interest for decades, she’s married him on Earth-2 and eventually the post-Crisis DCU, she’s been his love on the cartoons and in the movies, etc. She’s part of the God-and-man united archetype, and as a storytelling character, has no purpose outside of being Superman’s love interest. (This comment may get me in trouble with some feminist readers, so let me clarify that this is not a statement about women in general. I’m speaking strictly in storytelling terms: Superman and Lois Lane make no sense without each other. Lois, in particular, makes no sense without Superman.) Grant Morrison really hammered this home in All-Star Superman and, to a lesser extent, in DC One Million.

However, IF Superman exists as part of a world-building scheme (which the Marvel cinematic universe has been so good at doing), then we may be stuck with Wonder Woman as Superman’s logical pairing. They’re 2/3s of a multimedia trinity, they’re superhuman equivalents, they’re probably both immortal. Lois will eventually die; Superman will likely be around for a long, long time. (Hence, there was a weird logic to Superman and Wonder Woman hooking up in Kingdom Come, especially since Lois was dead.) In a big, broad DCU, Lois is just a well-known woman on the street compared to the superhuman pantheon which dominates the scene. You’d want Superman and WW to get together the same way people wanted Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney or Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart to get together–it’s pure celebrity pairing, but it’s what people want.

I think this is ultimately a bad thing–it adds an unfortunate element to Superman’s mythos that people will remember for decades (“Hey, remember when Superman and Wonder Woman hooked up?”). This will hurt in the long run. However, comics always gravitate back to their iconic status–so it’s awful, but it won’t last either.

Mike McNulty, aka "Stillanerd"

August 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm

@Patrick–I think it’s only fair to respond to your eloquent, carefully constructed points with some meager responses of my own:

In your argument to show that superheroes should marry and be in relationships with other superheroes, you name two examples: Reed Richards and Susan Storm of the Fantastic Four, and the marriage between Black Panther and Storm. First of all, the reason why Reed and Susan’s marriage works is NOT because they are superheroes; it’s because they were specifically created to be members of the Fantastic Four comic which is all about showing a team of superheroes as being a literal family (hence why it is one of the few comics that actually allows a comic book couple to have children because it doesn’t ruin the basic premise of the book). And as for Black Panther and Storm? That was considered overwhelmingly unpopular even by the folks at Marvel in part because it did precisely what some are fearing a relationship with Superman will do to Wonder Woman–it relegated one of Marvel’s most iconic female characters into becoming a sidekick for a character who, let’s be honest, could barely maintain an ongoing series multiple times. Fans (and apparently the writers) would have much rather have read about Storm, member of the X-Men, than Storm, Mrs. Black Panther.

You also mention how Lois and Clark’s romance is one of inequality compared to one between Superman and Wonder Woman. While you have a point about Lois always being cast as the victim, there’s one crucial thing to remember: Lois is a supporting character in the Superman comic books, meaning she–just like Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Lex Luthor, etc.–is in service to person whose name appears on the title. Wonder Woman was not. She was created to be a superhero in her own right, one who could stand side-by-side alongside all the other comic books that stared male superheroes. Her being romantically involved with any other superhero who has their own comic book series automatically undermines this very idea. And if you don’t think she’s going to be, here’s a simple question: which comic book character, Superman and Wonder Woman, is the bigger cultural icon? It’s Superman by several country miles. Notice how in most of the coverage for this it’s SUPERMAN who is usually getting the top billing while Wonder Woman is described as “Superman’s new leading lady” or “Superman’s Sexy New Sidekick?” It’s a safe bet to suggest that Wonder Woman is already being overshadowed.

Finally, with regards to your 10 points:

1. Like it or not, it’s the love interest being in danger that creates drama and suspense in the story. Especially in Superman’s case because we know he can’t be easily hurt, but Lois and the people he cares about might. Also, with regards to a superhero being in a relationship with a mortal being “irresponsible,” that’s also for their love interest to decide, not a choice exclusively reversed for the superhero to make. (In fact, this is what often gets them in hot water with their love interests in the first place).
2. And what’s wrong with that? Again, it creates drama in the story because it forces the hero to struggle between two different responsibilities–something which has been a very successful model in virtually every Spider-Man story and applied to other superheroes, including Superman. And after all, in real life this happens all the time, as any cop, firefighter, soldier, doctor, etc. can testify to. Superheroes aren’t any different in that respect.
3. Again, sounds like a good recipe to create drama in the story if you ask me.
4. Same as 3.
5. Yes, but there also quite a few stories in which the reverse can take place. After all, how many times has Lois had to save Superman whenever he got exposed to Kryptonite?
6. If you follow this to it’s logical conclusion, though, it suggests the rather unfortunate implication that only the “strong” and “beautiful” should be with the “strong” and “beautiful” and not “lower their standards” by being with someone “weaker” or “less attractive” than they are. After all, it’s the human supporting cast members who remind the superhero that just because he or she may be stronger, faster, or more powerful than the average person, it doesn’t necessarily make them “better” by default.
7. And in story, that again can be a source of great drama. Not to mention we, as readers, don’t know what it’s like to have the incredible powers of a superhero and yet we seem to have no trouble identifying with them as characters. ;-)
8. And again, that could be a source of drama in the relationship, or especially how they actually fight their villains. Superman, since he cares about humanity, has to purposefully hold back out of fear than someone will get killed in the crossfire–so how does he stop someone like Bizarro or General Zod who has no such reservations?
9. Which again, can be a source for potentially great drama because it tests both the hero and the love interest just how committed they are to the relationship. After all, there’s far more to love than just being able to have sex.
10. And there’s that word again: drama! It creates a challenge for the superhero to try and prove to their love interest they are truly someone special in spite of the fact they’re mortals, and provides challenging ways for the love interest to provide emotional support for the superhero whenever he feels like he failed.

Wonder Woman and Superman as the… “Oh heavens – People just don’t understand us” couple….. AARRGGH!!!! ;(

If it were the real Superman and the real Wonder Woman, their romance might be significant.

But these nuDC Bizarro versions of Superman and Wonder Woman have so little substance that whatever they do is meaningless.

You are living up to “Grumpy Old Fan”

I found the kiss organic to the situation, and very real. We can argue an ongoing relationship but until that it is written I’ll wait.

From a marketing standpoint, goddammit I sold out of Justice League in a day, even over ordering for this issue. So congrats to DC for getting people to buy and hopefully READ a comic book.

But these are the Nu52 versions. Forget about those other examples, as these are different versions of those older characters.

Sometimes NU Superman seems like he’s the most alien-like version of the character yet, even abandoning his Clark Kent identity for a few issues before it was reinstated through Batman. That’s a far cry from his post-crisis incarnation where Superman WAS Clark Kent.

Wonder Woman appears just as alien. She has only been seen interacting with Steve and Zola; everyone else we’ve seen is not normal. Steve is a bad-ass normal, but WW isn’t impressed and thinks he’s a potential victim. Zola was already a target because of her baby. If she might think this way toward normal humans, it’s a wonder why she goes along with Batman leading or being apart of the JL. (Maybe Bruce has proved that he could hang despite her misgivings?)

What’s their Bradgelina name going to, that’s what the papparazzi wants to know!

Goodness, no matter how this is written, it seems like so much fan fiction, and not part of the characters own stories. Why is there no mention of this in the Wonder Woman I am currently enjoying? I imagine there’s a similar lack of this plot in the Superman books as well.

@ Mike McNulty, aka “Stillanerd”

While I don’t think that the arguments you offer completely discredit the notion that superhero pairings could in fact deliver equally compelling stories as those with superhero/human partners … let me consider that perhaps my examples were limited in scope…so to FURTHER prove my point

Vision and the Scarlet Witch
Cyclops and Jean Grey
Batman and Catwoman
Green Lantern and Star Sapphire

I would argue that the Storm/Black Panther pairing did not diminish Storm which is different from saying that the stories were not well written following her union with Black Panther. Poor character arcs happen to characters irrespective of who their love interests are. That situation sporadically devolved into a sidekick-like relationship as both contributed to titles or acted in the Avengers often independent of each other. The real reason it was not a good pairing was that it was based around the fact that both were from African. Beyond that, there was very little by way of intangible and/or organic reasons to pair the two. Superman and Wonder Woman have at least a shared and unique leadership and sense of responsibility to the world and Justice League; a level of alienation that is far more unique to them (and probably Martian Manhunter) than say Green Lantern or Batman who are completely acclimated to their native human existence; and as

Yes! Superman is the bigger cultural icon. But that is a result of (in my opinion) the sexist portrayal of Wonder Woman early in her comic history and the paltry villains that is in her rogue gallery as well as her being ignored in the mass media as evidenced by her lack of live action forums when compared to Batman or Superman. But if you consider that Wonder Woman is a feminist icon and subsequent stories could revolve around her SAVING SUPERMAN from imminent harm (even in situations that do not involve kryptonite) – ie coming to the rescue of a love interest despite his being the Alpha male of DC. It offers women and men a new take on a superhero’s partners and thus metaphorically how one’s partner perhaps should be in a real world situation. Whether or not Lois is a character in the service of Superman the message is misogynistic, that men are superior, must “save women” and are …as you put it in the service of the alpha male. The pairing of Wonder Woman offers an opportunity to shatter that image. That Wonder Woman is described as “Superman’s new leading lady” or “Superman’s Sexy New Sidekick?” is a reflection of a sexist media. But here is a question for you…is Lois Lane EVER described any better? Is there going to ever be an opportunity for her to be seen that way? The sad reality is no, because equality among superheroes is measured by their ability to overcome crisis which puts a character like Lois at a huge disadvantage. If written well (and I agree that is a big if) then Wonder Woman could rise above that just as the aforementioned Sue Storm has done.

Finally just to respond to key points arguing against my previous list I will point out that:

There is no reason why Wonder Woman can never be in danger and because she is Wonder Woman the role can now be reversed putting Superman in danger however rare that is.. I would actually argue that drama regarding the danger of a human partner is a bit of an illusion. Consider this…let’s take the Dark Knight film in which Rachael Dawse is about to be blown up and Batman is racing to save her. A VERY dramatic moment! But also somewhat inconsequential since whether or not Batman arrives in time or not…you know he will continue being Batman, the same way Spiderman continues being Spiderman when Gwen Stacey is killed. Sure it may have a long term effect on the heroes psyche but they just move on JUST LIKE EVERYONE who will lose a loved one. While sure it is dramatic that type of loss is inevitable in one way or another, although maybe not in a fictitious comic book world.” And since superheroes can also lose their life, having it be a mortal does not make it any more dramatic than a superhero in mortal danger.

In one sense I agree with you that relationships should not be based on the beautiful and strong picking the beautiful and strong. The one area that I concede that human and superhero relationships do send a very strong message is that at our core we are all alike regardless of our abilities or talent. BUT that stated – in the real world – and part of my reasoning is that comics should reflect the parameters established in that world – evolution is based on that formula. Here is a quirky question that addresses that point. Let’s say you live in a world threatened by alien races and unspeakable evil yet powerful beings. Would you rather Superman have children who are half human who may end up being weaker than Superman who will take up his role as defender of the world or half Amazon and Kryptonian who could have more abilities than Superman protecting the world? I am actually not disagreeing with you here but rather pointing out that beautiful and strong picking the beautiful and strong is not necessarily the worse circumstance whether you or I believe it or not.

The instances in which Lois is saving Superman from kryptonite is something EVERY PERSON could do there is nothing special about it unless Lois losses her life in the process. Jimmy Olsen might have saved Superman from Kryptonite at times. It is nothing extraordinary. My point is that if Superman dies, could Lois bend time and space to revive him. It is going beyond the threshold of what your abilities are that offers the real drama of life and death to me that makes the most gripping stories and since Lois has none that creates very one-sided and eventually overdone stories. As far as drama, using your advocacy as a chance for creating drama I could substitute Jimmy Olsen and create pretty much the same drama. It does not necessitate that the relationship be with a superhero and human be present (excluding instances involving intimacy and children).

This is a great discussion and I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post, you certainly made me think about it in depth.

Wow Patrick, Bravo!

I think the idea that a strong woman cannot be placed along with a strong man ie like these two icons who are actually friends/allies/romantic tension because it undermines her and you must leave her on her own is bizarre.

If she is as strong as they say she is, nothing and I mean nothing will undermine her, except bad writing. The true test would be to see Diana stand in an equal relationship to Superman not be shuttered with a lesser character so she can save him and be the dominate one. That is not equality. That is logistics to try to keep stories simple and streamlined so as not to threaten the Superman or Wonder Woman from their power over Lois and Steve. No matter what people say Lois and Steve’s role is to be saved. The core of the narrative is to hurt the hero by trying to hurt someone they care for who can’t actually with a Parasite or Cheetah. How is that remotely interesting in this day and age?

Its backward thinking. It’s trying to keep story telling formulaic. It is not taking into consideration you might have young women reading the books today who enjoy seeing their women in relationships where they can fight the same villains and maybe once in a while save their men too.

Comics have not ever written a relationship of equals well (in thetruest sense) and if DC can do this, they can break some ground. The only real thing there is …good writing and bad writing.

Lois/Clark and Steve/Diana has had both and I think there is Superman has learned all he needed to learn from Lois in terms of writing and that journey. He has not begun to be able to deal with things someone like Diana can teach him (and vice-versa) as a hero. In fact he was way too comfortable, sitting on that mary sue throne. Ditto Steve for Diana. The first man she meets is her soulmate? Seriously? Comic fans are more sophisticated that this.

I don’t have a problem with the pairing as a storyline.
The post-CRISIS/post-LEGENDS Byrne reboot toyed with the same thing.

My problems with the New 52 are way past a SuperWonder hookup.

No one can truly claim that Justice League, Teen Titans or Green Arrow have been improved by the reboot.

The League is back to being the flagship book. The main heroes are back in the League instead of a bunch of the Teen Titans, Supergirl and Congorilla.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it’s what I’ve always wanted and on the other hand it feels like a gimmick. Oh well.

Mike McNulty, aka "Stillanerd"

August 31, 2012 at 11:42 pm

@Patrick–Thanks for responding and I, too, find this to be a great and thought-provoking discussion as well. You also make some interesting and intelligent counter-arguments, as well. Couple of things I would point out, though:

Many of those couples you cited have indeed made for some very interesting stories. However, notice what all of those couples have in common–they’re all characters either exclusively created for one another or for the particular franchise in which they both belonged to (Scarlet Witch is a unique case in that she was brought into the Avengers from X-Men, but Vision was created exclusively to be part of the Avengers). Superman and Wonder Woman, just like Black Panther and Storm, have their own comic books with their own cast of supporting characters and settings, and what usually tends to happen in such pairings is that one of those characters winds up overshadowing the other. Such was the case with Storm and Black Panther’s marriage. While you are correct about the reasons you cite for why their’s was a poor relationship, the fact that Storm was a popular character who had to play a subservient role to a less popular character played a large part in it, particularly with X-Men fans. Also, while Superman and Wonder Woman certainly have a more extensive history together, couldn’t one say that DC pairing Superman and Wonder Woman together was done on the basis that they are the companies’ first superhero and super heroine respectively, just as Marvel paired Storm and Black Panther together on the basis that they were the company’s most prominent black superheroes?

And I would respectively disagree that Superman, while not a native of Earth like Batman or Green Lantern, has acclimated to the human experience for the simple reason that, despite being from another planer, he was raised as one of us. Clark never grew up on Krypton–he grew up here. Earth is all he really knows. His feelings of loneliness come from the fact that his powers make him different when he just wants to be treated like everyone else. He’s someone with the powers of god who does not see himself as one, nor wishes to be regarded as one. By contrast, Diana was born and raised in an all female, warrior-based society that worshiped and regularly interacted with the gods and creatures of Greek Mythology, a person who knows exactly who she is, what she believes in, and doesn’t apologize for either. She came to “man’s world” primarily to educate us and reform our backward notions about the sexes. He feelings of loneliness come from the fact that she’s literally a foreigner stranded in a foreign country who isn’t quite familiar with all the customs and mores of that country, a “stranger in a strange land.” And as Action Comics #600 showed, neither Clark or Diana would feel particularly comfortable in one another’s world and have radically different ideologies that, while finding one another attractive, wouldn’t be the least bit combatable. (Not that such a relationship would make for an interest story, mind you).

Also, while you do make a strong case about the inherit misogynistic overtones in having a helpless woman be rescued by a male superhero–that’s why Wonder Woman was created. She a response to the idea that superheroes could only be men. In her comic, it’s the woman who is the star of the show, the one always saving the man, playing the exact same role as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and others do in their comics. Wonder Woman doesn’t have to save Superman to prove she is his equal–she already is his equal. Even if you wanted to show her being the equal of a male superhero via having her save him, this can be accomplished just as well without her having to be that hero’s love interest. After all, as you point out in response to my example about Lois saving Superman from Kryptonite, drama does not necessitate that the relationship be with a superhero and human be present, and neither does drama necessitate that the relationship be with a superhero and a superhero be present.

However, if she is in a romantic relationship with any superhero, like it or not, her character now becomes DEFINED BY THAT RELATIONSHIP, regardless of how much more powerful she is, or how many times she saves her superhero lover. Such was the case when Storm married Black Panther, or when Black Canary married Green Arrow. And this is why writers like Gail Simone and Greg Rucka deliberately chose NOT to allow her to have a clear cut romance with any of her male counterparts, not even when it came to her flirtation with Batman. The fact that the media have been calling her “Superman’s new girlfriend” instead of saying Superman is “Wonder Woman’s new boyfriend” only serves to prove their and Grumpy Old Fan’s point. And again, the reason why Lois Lane gets labeled as being “Superman’s girlfriend” is because she’s a supporting character for his series. Just like how Jimmy Olsen is called “Superman’s pal” because he’s a supporting character for his series. Or Lex Luthor being called “Superman’s nemesis.” Again, Wonder Woman is supposed to be the star of her own show, just as much of a headliners as Superman, Batman, and the rest, not someone who plays the same role as a member of a supporting cast for Superman, Batman, and the other heroes.

As for your saying that the drama over whether or not the hero can save a mortal love interest is actually inconsequential because the hero will still go on to live another day–it actually does in this sense. If the hero fails to save someone close to him who is also a mortal, it also means a defeat for the hero. Even if the hero ultimately defeats the villain, the villain can still claim victory for having killed the person that hero loved. Now you can say the same thing could easily happen if the love interest is another hero, but it’s far less likely. Especially if it’s the case of Superman and Wonder Woman. A mortal love interest has a far greater chance of dying which means the villain has a much greater chance of winning. That’s why I would say it’s more suspenseful in that instance.

Again, thanks for the eloquent reply.

“Almost all of Superman’s most significant relationships are with non-powered humans”

Just seems an odd statement in the context of Superman’s historic past relationships.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9nivo3ZFM1qzf0o8o1_500.jpg

Lori, Lyra, Luma, and to add the first incarnation of Supergirl as wished into existence by Jimmy, are all “Super” and not human.

In fact in the period before Canon Lois and Clark the message from the comics was always that Superman couldn’t be with Lois/Lana because they were human, and he was Super human, with multiple imaginary ‘future’ stories hinging on Superman giving them powers!

What characterised Lois/Lana’s story is that Superman didn’t propose to them for decades, but did fall head over heels with these others. – The only exception being Sally Selwyn, who Clark proposed to when he had no memory of being Superman.

Not only was the Lois Clark Engagement abrupt with no foreshadowing ( less than Superman Wonder Woman in the New 52 ) but it was also a volte face on most of the 50 years previous canon stories!

Even in the Imaginary story Alan Moore’s goodbye to Pre COIE Superman ended with a POWERLESS Superman married to Lois – again reinforcing the previous 50 years status quo.

That said all these stories existed within the culture of the time.
And times change.
Also the readership has changed – Comics and Comic book movies aren’t aimed at a young children any more.

I remember the 90’s and Lois and Clark TV series, and I thought at the time it was a good idea – it was of it’s time, and worked then.

Today it’s another century, and Superman and Wonder Woman feels right, of this time, as it offers stories which portray the romantic protagonists as genuine equals, with complimentary strengths and weaknesses.

@MegaGearMax
Despite my dislike of modern comics, I actually thought that lineup of the JLA had great potential–it was the circumstances under which they were formed I had issue with. I really loved it when they fought the Crime Syndicate–on comicbookmove.com, I actually came up with an idea for an animated series based on that roster, entitled “Justice League: Legacy”.

@Mike McNulty, aka “Stillanerd”
@fm – (thanks for the flatter…hope you don’t mind my quoting you)

OK I will concede the point that many and maybe even most or all of the superhero couples were in fact made intentionally for each other or within the framework of some broader group dynamic BUT…if a character like Sue Storm who was intentionally written to be a “sidekick” develops into her own independent distinctive character, why couldn’t Wonder Woman an icon in her own right, be written in a way that solidifies her independence in the context of a relationship. I could just see it now …”Wonder Woman telling Superman she has to investigate a disturbance in Gateway City and he should not wait up for her”…whereas people who are skeptical of the pairing would think it would be more like…”Wonder Woman telling Superman WE have to investigate a disturbance in Gateway City.” I think the beauty of this relationship is that both can happen and depending on the situation can create its own drama. It’s true, there are some parallels to Storm and Black Panther, but it is not exactly the same and it revolves around a point you made regarding popularity and also the perception of their status in the hierarchy of superhero’s. If DC proposed a relationship between Wonder Woman and Green Arrow, that to me would be closer to the Storm/Black Panther pairing, which would make me skeptical. I suppose something like that could work, but I personally think I would gravitate to the opposite point of view in that case precisely because the two don’t share a lot in common in terms of their role in the Justice League; status among comic book readers; or any other natural point of context. Again, if I can echo a previous comment from contributor fm “The only real thing there is …good writing and bad writing.” That is what it boils down to and not so much the pairings themselves.

As far as Superman being acclimated to earth, you could look at it two ways EITHER he is so acclimated to earth, he desperately wants to be more human (he chooses being human over everything else) …OR …he is not acclimated to earth (thus feeling alienated). As you might imagine I have always looked at it as the latter. I again harken to the cinematic interpretation of his psyche when it comes to that. In the following clip from Superman Returns, I think the filmmaker is trying to convey that he really is not like us and therefore can never be truly part of the world and perhaps he has just not embraced that yet as he recalls Jor-El’s words to him in which he says “Even though you’ve’ been raised as a human being you are not one of them.” That may or may not be correct but it lends itself to believing that maybe one could view his relationship with Lois as helping him actually deny who he truly is…a God among men. Also in the clip, it is interesting that treads upon our previous discussion about Superhero’s choosing the strong and beautiful and turns that around looking from Lois Lanes perspective …is SHE choosing the strong and beautiful over the normal guy (played by James Marsden): Take a look…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpYjVMu39lg
(If the link does not work cut and copy in the browser)

I must agree with your statement “Even if you wanted to show her being the equal of a male superhero via having her save him, this can be accomplished just as well without her having to be that hero’s love interest.” However it could be a lost opportunity by not giving Wonder Woman a clear cut romance which I think denies her an opportunity at one of the most important aspects of humanity. I don’t think a lot of people bought into the Steve Trevor romance as expertly written in the article “Wonder Woman’s Vanishing Boyfriend” from the 2011 October issue of The Escapist magazine.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/features/9148-Wonder-Womans-Vanishing-Boyfriend.
(If the link does not work cut and copy in the browser)

..and therefore who else is there? I could buy into a Batman/Wonder Woman relationship but it is already established that Batman’s love interests are Catwoman and Talia Al Ghul. Adding Wonder Woman to the mix would be confusing at best and raise the dander (pun intended) of Catwoman fans. Sure articles have started out on the wrong foot with the way the coupling is portrayed but that does not mean it will be reflected in the writing. Given the criticism of people against this pairing, I would venture to guess that the writers will consciously avoid allowing Wonder Woman’s image to be drowned out by Superman…I hope!

As far as the drama involving the loss of a loved one. I watched the scene in Superman Returns in which he saves an airplane from falling and crashing. Of course Lois is in the plane, but I tried to imagine that she was not. Did having her in the airplane heighten the sense of doom knowing that if it crashed there would have been a sense of greater failure for our hero? Yes! But I think it is still harrowing all the same if she were not there. I get the villain chalking up a victory analogy but at what price? Is Lois Lane simply a prop in disguise who’s only (or one of several) roles is to heighten the sense of drama by getting in trouble. We have seen that played out for years. I am happy that a person like Lois Lane was in the life of Superman but only as an evolutionary tool to get him to a point where he finally embraces the person he needs to be and realizes that the responsible thing to do is to allow Lois to live a normal life with James Marsden (just kidding..sort of). I will conclude my thoughts looking at the trailer for the new upcoming Superman Movie which to me goes back to that reoccurring theme that alludes of embracing his non humanity (thus making Lois a “bad” influence which does not mean bad person. It is suggested in both versions of the trailer in which Jonathan Kent, Clark’s adopted father on Earth says:

“You’re not just anyone, one day, you’re going to have to make a choice; you have to decide what kind of man you wanna grow up to be. Whoever that man is, good character or bad, he’s going to change the world.”

And Jor-El echoes that call to destiny…to be great… saying:

“You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/man-of-steel/trailers/man-of-steel-teaser-trailer-30051313.html
(If the link does not work cut and copy in the browser)

At the end of the day and this response, I have realized that I have spent more time writing about Superman and his state of mind and not as much about Wonder Woman which thus unwittingly proves your point BUT it is something I have recognized (perhaps a habitual tick) but something to work on. If the Wonder Woman/Superman pairing (notice how I put her first) is going to work, I think that the writers will need to be equally conscious of their predispositions and hopefully writers like “Grumpy Old Fan” will be there to call them on it when they are not …and I will try to do so too.

Unless you need me to clarify a point, feel free to have the last word! Very much appreciate the debate and I hope we can do so again!

Who really cares? It’s just a story the writers wanna play with, it ain’t the end of the world and if you look at the older stories you’d see Superman and Wonder Woman making out before and having a relationship before he chose Lois Lane. Go look up Allstar Batman and Robin for that and then there’s Kingdom Come. Seriously if you think this is a big deal then you’ve invested too much in a story and that will lead you to disappointments, I like Justice League because it’s a fun read but overall I am not beholden to the story the writers wants to play with, I just enoy what they want to tell me.

Really kids, if you have a problem over a story that can be retconned (look at Marvel for that, they retcon so many times nothing really sticks around) then you do have issues over some story. If you put too much into it then that’s why radcal fanboys exists and stupid arguments/wars ensues which honestly leads to nowhere and is a waste of breath to even bother. Let DC tell the story and get over it.

*sighs* Welcome to 2012 where everyone demands some cheese with their whines.

Look, the problem isn’t Superman and Wonder Woman getting together (although personally I think it’s a mistake). The problem is, like most things coming from DC and Marvel, it’s a stunt. It’s not about telling good stories, or exploring story potential, or adding new dimensions to old characters. It’s about boosting sales for an issue or two and then abandoning said storyline to move on to the next gimmick. We’ve seen it time and time again.

If I honestly thought there was some actual mileage out of the Supes/Wondy pairing, I’d say go for it – let’s see what you can do. But that’s not what modern DC and Marvel are about. There’s no true growth or development or permanent changes. Guaranteed, by the time Man of Steel comes out next summer Superman and Lois Lane will be back together because that will undoubtedly be a huge part of the movie and the comics will HAVE to follow suit. So for those of you who like this pairing, enjoy it while you can. For the rest, for the love of god, if this bothers you that much, stop buying DC comics, you’re just encouraging them to do more dumb stunts.

@Rahnihl

I think the debate is good – the fans have the right to criticize (or not).

@ Rahnihl

I don’t think that anyone is going to lose sleep over it. I think these debates are an exercise in story telling..ie how could it be even better than it is. Most of us are never going to be able to write comics and influence the stories we care about so I think this forum provides a release. I doubt anyone…especially me takes it so seriously that if affects your life…at least I hope not.

@ Pedro Cabezuelo

I don’t think it is a stunt. In fact I am half expecting the Wonder Woman/Superman story line to be present in the movie. There were a couple of things that make me feel this way. One DC announcing that this would be the “status quo” and two the choice of casting of Amy Adams for Lois Lane. She is 38 years old Cavill is 29. I think that like Gellynhaal/Holmes character in the Batman trilogy which spanned seven years, they are not intending for Lois to be there for the long haul. Assuming there are three Superman movies and it were to go the length of time as the Dark Knight movies, Amy Adams would be 45 when the film wrapped up. I would have to think that the studio thought about it. It may not mean Wonder Woman makes an appearance, but I am not expecting Adams character to be in all of the movies.

Oy grumpy old fans.

Can’t CBR have the pov of an ethused YOUNG Fan for a darn change? Sheesh.

First, can everyone just stop acting like Wonder Woman is in any less danger than Lois Lane? Maybe this concern for Lois, and even Steve Trevor, would have made sense before the surge in supervillains in comics. However, with so many super powered villains capable of wounding and killing superheroes (just look at the carnage in Robinson’s “Earth-2”), and the fact that they make themselves targets by being public heroes and having nemeses from their own extraordinary universes (e.g. Greek pantheon for Diana, Brainiac and Doomsday for Superman) as well as beyond their universes (e.g. Darkseid), it’s just plain stupid for DC, its characters, and its readers to delude themselves with the silly notion that Superman being with Wonder Woman, and vice versa, will lead to any less anxiety or grief. Lois and Steve are often in danger because of the lives they’ve chosen to lead and have done their share in saving superheroes. Lois has already saved Superman’s life, and the lives of the people he was protecting at the time, TWICE in the DCnU (i.e. she got cameras to capture a monster so Superman could defeat him, she called out to Clark to jolt him out of an imposter’s attempt to steal his life and ruin his reputation). There are no guarantees when it comes to life and death, but there is one thing that is a guarantee: any love based on fear is corrupt. It may seem strange, but “Smallville” had a Clark Kent who seems stronger and braver than the current crop of DC heroes, because he understood that “fear should never decide love” and that it’s “better to risk everything than to hold onto nothing.”

What Superman and Wonder Woman are doing right now is escaping into the arrogant and fear-based mindset that they can control variables in life that they really have no control over. They’re also solidifying their estrangement from humanity by bonding over it. Noted, scholar of religion and myth, Joseph Campbell, would probably say Diana and Superman are currently in the stage of their heroic journey where they’re falling prey to “The Temptress” with the main goal is for them to escape the division in their lives between one world and the other, and to find integration. To become master of the two worlds in myth, which in the DC universe is the extraordinary world (e.g. superheroes, alien, Greek deities and the ordinary human world), often is symbolically represented with the union formed in marriage. From that perspective, Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship is a step on their journey—a learning experience—that will show them and readers that what they really need and want isn’t each other if they are to become fully actualized. To mark their growth as individuals and as heroes, they’d have to face their fears instead of running away from them.

@Patrick: I really wouldn’t make “Superman Returns” the crux of any argument. It was a poor, outdated/nostalgic film that mistakenly presented Superman as a godlike figure. However, if we were work with that conception of his character then it stands to reason he should be with no woman. For Superman in the Donner films (of which “Superman Returns” counts as one) did not equate Superman with just any deity, but with Christ himself who, I’m sure you know, had no girlfriend or wife. Thus, a relationship with Diana would be equally ill-suited to the interpretation of Superman as Messianic hero you say you prefer.

@CBL: Read again, the person said “significant love interests” (key word: significant). Lori, Lyra, and Luma weren’t significant. Lana and Lois have been the love interests most reliably featured in pivotal roles in comics and media for extended periods of time. Proposing to someone versus falling head over heals for someone represent two different emotions of varying depth: true love versus infatuation (there’s loads of essays on the difference online, so educate yourself if you need to). Basically, using examples of Superman’s ephemeral infatuations does not help your case.

You cannot be serious comparing the build up to Lois and Clark’s engagement to the Superman and Wonder Woman hook up in JL12. Read up on the Lois and Clark’s relationship history here: redboots.net/comics/lois_relationship.htm and this analysis of the relationship as it pertains to Clark’s dual identity and its impact on his relationships with Lana and Lois (http://bit.ly/Ra5HTJ). I think you’ll find that you’re employing hyperbolic generalizations that inaccurately represent the evolution of the Lois and Clark romance through the ages. For example, Lois and Clark got engaged in the Post-Crisis era after a period of dating and worked through issues related to his superhero status. It may not have been perfectly done, but unlike the recent Superman and Wonder Woman hook up it, at least, wasn’t done so sparsely and subtextually as to be practically non-existent to debatable as to whether anything actually happened at all in terms of build up.

Also, I agree times do change, but I caution you not to define the “culture of the time” as a culture that tries to please children. Primarily what influenced the Superman and Lois relationship conflict and the rationales behind it was the culture of SEXISM at the time. A culture which believed that Superman couldn’t be in a committed relationship without Lois having to give up her career and him having to play the role of the paternalistic protector by not telling Lois his secret out of the utterly moronic belief that she’d be in more danger if she knew and because he didn’t consider that Lois could marry Clark instead of Superman. Remember everyone already assumed Lois and Superman were close anyway and Lois often was in danger because of her own journalistic crusades which she’d do whether with Superman/Clark or not. Being with Clark or married to Clark, who still was Superman, wouldn’t inherently put her in more danger than Diana who has her own set of risks to contend with (e.g. supervillains). You’d think times changing would mean not relying on outdated and dimwitted reasons for Superman keeping the woman he really loves at arm’s length. If that’s the basis of the current Superman and Wonder Woman hook up, which it seems to be, then it’s not demonstrating DC’s progressive new stance on equality at all.

Furthermore, Lois and Clark were equals. One doesn’t need to have superpowers to be equal to a superhero. Those who advocate for the Superman and Wonder Woman relationship have this unfortunate tendency to come off superficial and shallow. Your assessment of Lois as unequal to Superman, and unable to be written as an equal simply because she lacks powers, as well as your generalizations about past continuity, do nothing but reaffirm this impression.

@john

I’m 18 years old and totally agree with the “grumpy old fans”.

@Patrick: Amy Adams is a 3-time Academy Award nominee. That’s why she was hired. She’s a damn good actress who, apparently, had great chemistry with Henry per the director and actors. She also continues to look beautiful and sexy. Moreover, Zack Snyder (Director) has said they originally looked at younger actresses, so it was never a necessity that there be some sort of strange expiration date on the character based on the actor’s real life age. Adams was selected based on talent alone, and on the commendable belief of Synder’s that “Amy is super strong, for one. I find her able to do both…to be hard and she can be tough. But she has that… Like, you know why he would like her. You know why he would fall in love with her. It has nothing to do with…I mean, she’s beautiful, but she’s also got charisma and personality to go along with it. Cause that’s what you need. You’ve got to be careful with her. But she’s great.”

This has also been said about Amy’s casing: “Second only to Superman himself, the question of who [would] play Lois Lane [was] arguably what fans [were] most curious about. So we [were] excited to announce the casting of Amy Adams, one of the most versatile and respected actresses in films today. Amy has the talent to capture all of the qualities we love about Lois: smart, tough, funny, warm, ambitious, and, of course, beautiful. […] There was a big, giant search for Lois. For us it was a big thing and obviously a really important role. We did a lot of auditioning but we had this meeting with Amy Adams and after that I just felt she was perfect for it. [Lois] is a linchpin and [going] back to what I’ve said about Superman and making him really understandable for today, what’s important to us is making him relevant and real and making him empathetic to today’s audience so that we understand the decisions he makes. That applies to Lois as well. She has to be in the same universe as him [in tone and substance].” (Zack Snyder)

Also, for fun, Amy Adams said this about Lois: ““I think the role of women in society constantly changes, and what I love about Lois Lane is that she’s been very consistently strong, successful, independent. I’m very attracted to that. It was a time when women were really — I don’t want to make some grand statement because I know it will come across as a grand statement — but [women were often limited by society then and] what I loved about her was that she was able to be smart and be feminine and I think that that’s something I know I’m going to teach my daughter, that you don’t have to be a man to be powerful. You can be a powerful woman” (LA Times). I think it’s great that she understands that a woman, or indeed any person, doesn’t have to be a man or, for the sake of argument, a superhero, to be powerful thus equal.

In short, I think you are seriously misguided.

I don’t like “emo” Superman, and while hooking up with WW makes sense for this version of Superman, it’s not a direction I’m interested in seeing.

Even Dan Jurgens couldn’t make the new 52 Superman enjoyable. Hopefully the movie will bring some new life to this backwater (!) of the DC Universe.

Superman/Lois Lane has always been male chauvinism .. Lois gets in trouble and her big strong boyfriend saves her ..

Superman/Wonder Woman does not allow for male chauvinism .. and therein lies the problem a lot of male comic fans have with the SuperWonder hookup ..

best move that DC has made with the new 52 .. just guessing, but I think it’s here to stay ..

@Ken

It’s the exact opposite. If you believe a woman must be as strong and as powerful as a man in order to be considered progressive, then that is male chauvinism at its finest. A woman should not have be equal to a man in power, strength, and the ability to protect herself to be a man’s equal. Equality has nothing to do with raw power. Lois is frequently in harm’s way because she’s trying to save the world as only a human can. Naturally, taking on dangerous and evil individuals and groups is risky, but Lois cannot ignore injustice or shrink away from an opportunity to expose significant truths.

If Lois is imperiled because she’s not a one person army, then it does not follow that her strength, integrity, and independence should be in question. I find it poor logic to say that needing help in extraordinary circumstances is demeaning for a woman. Would you, for example, argue that Diana rescuing Steve Trevor adds an unwelcome touch of misandry to Wonder Woman’s mythology?

Lois Lane has always been a feminist icon. She was a career woman in a male dominated field before feminism made any significant dents in weakening male privilege in society. She was smart, successful, brave, and kicked butt. Over the past seven decades, Lois has evolved along with the times. During the Post-Crisis era, for instance, Lois could go years at a time without Superman rescuing her. So far in the New 52, Lois has only been rescued three times. Lois has also rescued Superman once or twice. Lois’ new job as executive producer was even textually acknowledged by Clark as a move that would keep her out of the line of fire.

Ultimately, feminism is about choice and respect. Reducing a woman’s worth in a narrative by focusing almost exclusively on her physical weaknesses is missing the point entirely.

I was unhappy with the reboot DC did in ’85. I don’t think I ever got back into the DCU. But it held up. For those of you who are unhappy with this reboot maybe the one they do in 25 years will be better.

I totally agree with the “grumpy old fan”. Thank you very much Patrick.

This pairing is decadent and stupid. These characters have never been more 2 dimensional.

Good points in the article. I am actually a supporter of the idea of WW and Supes being together,but you nail a number of the dangers of this pairing, not the least being the risk that WW will be seen as a sidekick.

One other element of JL #12 that I really disliked was Johns’ portrayal of Superman’s relationship to Clark Kent. Supes spoke of Kent as though he really was an identity that he put on like a mask. But, in fact, CK is much more “Superman” than the guy in the cape. Superman’s morality, his values, his connections to humans all come from his parents. He would not be Superman if not for CK. Missing this essential part of the character’s makeup makes me uncomfortable with what Johns’ will do in the future.

I think that this pairing makes a great deal of sense and can work really well. But it would have worked better with the older versions of the characters, the ones who existed before “the new 52″. As it is, right now, WW and SM barely seem to know each other and many aspects of their “Nu52″ characterizations seem at odds with what has been established before.

I suspect, for example, that the reason the modern WW is not on a “mission” is because her people are hateful, vicious murderers. We have Azzarello to thank for that, but it is an example of the way in which the Nu52 has undermined long-established characters.

I’d really like to see how this story actually develops before passing any judgment on it.

All I know is that Kevin Smith must be laughing his arse off! Snoogins

I’m an old Marvel fan. That company has strayed so far from stories and character development. So far from stuff that actually grabbed the fans attention. If they had done Civil War in the 90s, it would of been more clearly written with a plot. A destination. It would of been followed up on and explained. It would of be risky as it was later, but they would of explained stuff in it and it would of payed off.

You look at this and it’s like that old stuff because it has you characters as themselves without altering their personalities drastically. So, it has an impact. It has a plot and a point. I don’t see the problem.

@loveandcapes

Thank you for your response to my previous entry. The point of my using Superman Returns was to point out that the mental state of Superman/Clark Kent, the way it was portrayed, was consistent with what I thought of it. Whether or not you think it was mistaken, I contend it probably had the input of people who intimately know the story arc of Superman. I disagree about the Donner films presenting Superman as a Christ figure. HE DID have a girlfriend named Lois Lane and denounced his powers in the Superman II movie, thus it portrayed him as torn between two worlds. I don’t think of Superman as a messianic figure but one that hesitates to embrace his true self which the story of Christ does not present. A more accurate analogy would be Moses who must be convinced that he is chosen to lead Israel to freedom, although that is not a perfect example. But having a relationship with Diana can be a type of significant turning point in Superman’s evolution where he embraces his unique situation instead of trying to fit a square peg (the human world symbolized by Lois Lane) into a round hole (his alien characteristics and responsibilities to the world as a result of his abilities).

Regarding Amy Adams…you don’t have to convince me about her. I was just pointing out something unusual by Hollywood standards. In fact the very point you made that Snyder “said they originally looked at younger actresses” shows that it WAS a consideration enven if not acted upon. The fact that she has been nominated for three Oscars does not mean they could not have gone with someone younger. Michelle Williams was also nominated for as many Oscars and is FAR closer to Cavill’s age at 31 (Cavill is 29). Even Kate Winslet who has six nominations and has won an Oscar is two years younger (36). I was thinking out loud as it might point to a sign that Lois Lane would not be featured in all future films assuming there will be more films. I could certainly be way off base. I have no personal problem with her age or acting ability and obviously neither does Snyder.

@loveandcapes & @Ken

Finally I just wanted to add this in support of what “Ken” wrote… I have to partially disagree regarding what was stated about women not needing to be as powerful as men. That is not completely true in part because you are applying a narrow definition of power – physical power. While it’s true women do not need to be physically as strong, when you broaden the definition of power to include economic and political power (and some would also add education) then women DO need to be on an equal footing as men otherwise it lends itself to the propagation of sexism precisely because this is the type of power that most determines the kind of life a person will lead. The lack of it leads to dependence. In Superman’s case I have always looked at super powers as a metaphor for the real type of power we as humans can wield…wealth, influence, positions in our workplace…and the story of the superhero or villain is how they use it responsibly or not. In the case of Lois, while she is gutsy and gets into trouble because she is trying to do the right thing, there is a sense that she DEPENDS on Superman to get her out of these situations. What I think Ken is saying is that the pairing of Wonder Woman and Superman eliminates that sense of dependency, thus in a metaphorical sense Wonder Woman is the better example of female equality regardless of if she is “as strong as” Superman because she is not dependent on him in any obvious way.

Thanks for the discussion!

Thanks for publishing the JLA #143 cover. It was my very first comic and that image blew away my Super Friends-besotted mind. Good times. (Pouring one out for Dick Dillin.)

It is a reboot. Different versions of the characters. Much of these complaints are null/void. Superman is not the boyscout anymore. Grant Morrison ha smade that clear.

Also people are bored of Lois or simply don’t care for the Lois/Clark dynamic or never really cared for it. They want something different. Maybe Diana and Clark can offer that difference.

And Steve Trevor. They trying to make him “cool” but still don’t see what he really has to offer someone like new 52 Diana. She is way too much of a handful for him and reading the Justice League books, their relationship was doomed to failure. The new take seems pretty good to me and more realistic approach that modern audiences want. Comics are serious buisness now.

I feel like I could go on and on and on about this decision, but I’m basically going to put it like this, and I’m sorry if anyone gives me the “this is a time for change” argument, but this what I believe: Pairing Superman up with anyone other than Lois Lane is a stupid and worthless idea. As much as I hated when Marvel broke up Spider-Man and Mary Jane, I could kind of understand the logic behind it: Spider-Man has many women in his life, and he’s so multi-faceted that one could make the argument that Mary Jane isn’t right for him (Mind you I disagree with that sentiment, but it is a legit one). Superman on the other hand. Lois Lane is by all end all. Think of Superman’s depiction in media from the movies to cartoons to even freaking Smallville. Fans of Smallville adored the Clark/Lana relationship, but the creators dissolved it because they knew he had to end up with Lois. Basically, the reason why this doesn’t work is because there’s just one person for Superman, and no one will ever accept a substitute, even if it’s Wonder Woman.

@Patrick

You’re welcome for the response. You’re one of the more thoughtful and polite commenters I’ve come across, and I appreciate your perspective even though we have some disagreements. For example, whether the Donner films had their Messianic Superman tempted with a lust for the flesh only to be punished and have his, basically, heavenly father Jor-El tell him he mustn’t put one human above the rest and to later, in SUPERMAN RETURNS, have him give his life with arms outstretched in a crucifix position after an earlier beating from Lex Luthor resembling the Passion of the Christ all suggest a very strong Christ-figure analogy being made in those films. Frankly, if the overall message of this “love story” is to let fear decide love in stark contrast to Jonathan and Martha Kent’s own acceptance of an alien child into their human hearts and then nurturing that alien with their human values, I think it’s a terrible, demoralizing story.

My point about the director of MAN OF STEEL looking for younger actresses at first was to illustrate that the part was not conceived on the basis of an expiration that must be made possible via the casting of an actress who people could accept as naturally aging out of the franchise. I mentioned the Oscars nominations to illustrate that, clearly, what the director wanted above all else was a good actress for the role. I understand speculating about Adams being cast as Lois. She did surprise some people. However, I’m not convinced it is indicative of anything related to DC’s long term plans for Superman’s love life other than they still seem willing to present Lois as a love interest to the public in ways that will only perpetuate her pop culture status as his iconic love.

That’s an interesting way of looking at Superman’s power, Patrick. I’m not sure I see his powers as metaphors for wealth, etc. My problem with any outlook that focuses on a character’s fragility, or injury potential, is that it’s still a physical thing. Superman would have to, and has, had to rescue human men like Jimmy and Diana rescues Steve because they have a genetic advantage. That’s it. Lois helps Superman and Steve helps the Justice League in ways that transcend powers. They make sure they’re treated with fairness by the public and government institutions. They are literally vital links between the two words of the extraordinary and ordinary. Furthermore, Lois hasn’t been in need of lots of rescuing—her new desk job was even stated as a way to prevent that as much—and it’s simply not true that Diana and Superman aren’t vulnerable. Heck, the Justice League itself is a team that relies on one another in some form. They watch each other’s backs, but are they dependent in a way that diminishes them? No, I don’t think so. If Superman has to save Lois or Diana saves Steve because they risk their lives in the service of a greater good, then no one is diminished. Everyone is strong, independent, and heroic because everyone is making a contribution by doing the best with what they were given.

Grumpy Old Fan,

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Greetings
Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, they are pairing Superman with Wonder Woman so they can discover that they are not right for one another. This story has not been told before in the DCNu, and many new readers might be wondering why Superman and Wonder Woman don’t hook up.
Let them explore this paradigm, and show us why a more human Lois matters to the man of steel. Wonder Woman has no current secret Identity so cannot fill that need for humanity in Clark’s life.
Let’s wait and see.

The implication that Superman needs Lois to care for humanity is a fallacy that needs to be stamped out pronto. Superman is a man of the people and a guy who stands up for the liitle man. Superman, if he got with Lois, will lose her eventually because he is an alien and she is human. And if she is not around the implication from some fans that he can’t go on or appreciate life and care for humanity with out her…then give up that cape sir. You are not worthy of wearing it. Love interests are there to show vulnerability. Not define a man and his principles which he got long before Lois. I am glad DC rebooteded. I think we will in see in the upcoming Man of Steel movie as well Clark is a hero because he cares to learn about humanity and work among us. Zack Snyder said Superman was always up on that throne…ie mary sue…his relationship with Lois was mary sue too. I think DC finally got that Superman was outdated. In the modern world, he is not very dynamic or very layered not seems very real. Superman is myth, sci-fi and about social change. It is not a mills an boon romance folks. Unfortunately that is what Lois and Clark made it and it has not helped the character at all in terms of making him resonant with the new generation.

lois cant have his children. physically. –the point of the last son and daughter of krypton, or any dying world, is to procreate. to re-establish their race. wonder-woman is on a list of characters that makes viable sense, if we want “new” characters with superpowers at DC. as a fan from the late seventies, I hate that realism is seldom brought in, when superhero dating is concerned. –unless you are rich like batman, or iron-man, you WILL NOT keep a secret identity. especially with the overwhelming surveillance tech available now. ..then your significant other is dead, when that info is hacked. let alone the fact that the governments will question said significant other.

wonder-woman = magic. which can harm superman and put him in his proper place. or it can be used to help heal him, the next time goes up against darkside, or any number of other dcu villains..take him to the amazons, and heal him, and possibly add to that armor of his he wears now, to ward off such attacks.

wonder-woman = having a child that is = to the power of his or her parents. if they have twins, one can be good,..one can be evil. this means NEW characters. which is what we as fans really want. there’s only so many times superman can save Lois, and it be of the slightest interest to me as a fan thats seen this dozens of times. –i don’t want to see a thousand versions of a re-booted universe, every 27 years.

–create new heroes and villains through the old ones, that can carry on the legacies. tell new stories with them. i could care less about Robin number 347.– ( & i actually love the sidekicks more!) –have him get old and create a new legacy through his children having new names and powers, or gimmicks…not the same old same old. –characters like mia, Lian, sin, steph, jade, vixen, obsidian, and huntress, gave me hope that the universe would continue,…not loop slightly differently every two decades. we want new characters with new powers. its time to move forward, not re-tell the tale of a doomed planets last survivor for the billionth time. it becomes boring. & that = drops in sales.

F.Y.I Wonder Woman is in the latest Batwoman issues. I wonder if Azz signed off on that, or if the editors made the decision.

@Defiance

Aren’t you really assuming a lot of facts based off the continuity of elseworld titles? First off the Kryptonian race is dead. Superman and Supergirl can’t really change that. Even if they participated in incest and didn’t suffer genetic issues, two folks are not going to rebuild a species. At most they can create some folks who have some kryptonian dna but it would be seriously diluted. Or Superman would have to really get around the universe and make half breeds who generations later mate and get closer to Kryptonian. But honestly the race is dead. Unless Kandor can be revived.,,,,,,,,again.

But your legacy ideas? Yeah you just make it in continuity that Lois in this new universe or just humans in general can get pregnant/impregnate humans/kryptonians. They can already force human and kryptonian dna to coexist in Superboy. DC doesn’t need Superman and Wonder woman to create children for Superman and have those storylines.

I think what we are overall missing is that many people enter relationships and break up. Superman and Wonder woman are getting together out of fear of being alone. If the writers are good. They will point out whether these two characters personalities and interests actually work together. It’s important that Clark Kent works with Wonder Woman as much as Superman for a lasting relationship. Any couple from different parts of the world is going to have issues combining that together. Clark may enjoy Sunday night football. How would Wonder Woman react to that? How will Clark react to her hobbies and what not?

Honestly I see this relationship built on lust and loneliness. It’s not going to work simply because the pair are indestructible physically.

As an old school fan, nothing says “new playing field, new rules” more to me than Superman & Wonder Woman’s relationship.

For all the reasons that it would have missed the point of both characters pre-Flashpoint, this is right for them now… because they are being significantly reinvented.

Clark is still part of Superman, yes, but Superman is now the guiding persona with Clark more of a fiction. Instead of the “adoring foster child” template used since 1986, Morrison’s/Johns’ Superman is following more the mold of an adopted child discovering and claiming the heritage of his birth parents.

Wonder Woman may still be on a mission too, but Azzarello’s reinvention has her cut adrift from her heritage, her sisters and mother gone, the basis of her mission in question, and her capabilities a source of concern for her now that she knows Zeus is her father. Wonder Woman is now both a demigod, and a woman without a country.

In that light, it is only natural they would seek each other out. Not because “no one else is good enough,” but rather because “no one else could understand.” Neither is the other’s sidekick. They are complementary male/female icons of the heroic ideal. And with the public celebrity of the Justice League in the New 52 DCU, they would certainly be the Brad and Angelina of that world.

So in this new reinvention of the whole DCU, I am excited by this sharp cut from all past motivations because if DC truly commits, it is a powerful way to open up new storytelling avenues that have been ignore. What if , 20 years from now, one of the earmarks of DC Comics is “you know, the comic books with Superman and Wonder Woman, the Dynamic Duo.”

This is the esablishment of a new elite using old fashioned breeding attitudes that hinder on evil eugenics.

@ Story:
Superman and super-girl, “logically” would have tried to have children the min. they first made eye contact. thats what species do, when they are wiped out. -instinctively, as well as emotionally. –also, since its never actually happened before, no writer has established, and certainly not in “this” continuity, how long it takes for krptonians to have children. -a union between them would be pure. if they use a scientific process known only to their race, and coded into their dna, the process of having full term babies, might happen a lot faster than a human process. –this could certainly hold true for someone as powerful as wonder-woman, since she could withstand the process.
the birth defect u mention, does not scientifically exist. -it was invented by religious nut cases, who also admitted that if adam and eve existed, & were the first, their children HAD to have sex with each other, in order to reproduce, & populate the earth. –there’s also cloning with the dna from power-girl, and the dna from super-girl, combined with superman’s. which would make a much more interesting topic.

Connor is half super. the only thing as admitted by countless writers, that makes him formidable at all is his telekinesis.–we don’t want half-superman, and have shown this by dropping the super-boy line repetitively.
we as fans want a continuation, every bit on par with superman. or even more powerful. as wonder-woman has the strength of a God, and is more powerful than superman, and always has been.

as for hobbies, LOL!! neither have time, nor do they make time for them. —they are usually saving mankind, or “what they are supposed to be doing”.

besides wonder-woman has access to magic. –this is something superman “needs” to study closely, so that he can learn to program his armor he now wears, to ward off magic. as the J.L.A. has several magic based villains. it makes for “plausible” storytelling. –what can lois offer him but consistent head-aches?? —how long before he has to leave during a pivotal J.L.A. mission, one that threatens the entire world, to go save lois, as hes the only one who can hear shes in danger again…?? yes lets say forget the entire world, lois is the only one who matters….pathetic.

I would rather see if kryptonians have a faster gestation period, and if wonder-womans God dna, makes the babies more powerful than their parents. I would rather see the kids get into trouble…to breathe “new” life into this medium, with “new” characters, instead of re-hashing lois is in danger again countless times.

I would rather see them make women equal, by having Kal-EL with someone who does not need saving.–and with someone who can factually save him from magic attacks, kryptonite attacks, red solar radiation attacks, and speed blitz attacks, as she is ten times faster than he is with the speed of a God. –all reverse-flash has to do, is take all oxygen out of a battle, before superman has time to inhale and hold his breath, to factually kill him. –wonder-woman could do the same, or she could prevent that from happening, thus saving him. –hes a wuss compared to dark-side, a God. –wonder-woman is now the daughter of Zeus in the new 52…this makes her as formidable as dark-side. –Aquaman has access to magic weapons. what would happen if he were to attack the surface for their pollution of the planet?? superman cant lift a finger against magic based weaponry. especially an armada equipped with it –but wonder-woman can.

a green lantern ring can produce a synthetic version of kryptonite. –superman goes down. wonder-woman saves him again…..or their children, who have no weaknesses save the day, if a green lantern goes rogue.

a union between the two would be perfect, as then, the perfect children could be raised to actually protect the planet, from threats their father could not, without the aid of wonder-woman. also new villains could also be created. what if one of their children went rogue??

this creates a new DC universe, with new threats, and new heroes. the old ones are becoming boring. which is why the comic book industry is dying.

This has been one of the most thought-provoking “Comments” section that I’ve read on a comics site since the internet began. Both sides have made excellent points for their positions. Furthermore, this discussion has been exceedingly civil. That is an increasing rarity these days.

As a buyer of comics for 40 years now, I am looking forward to this just to this relationship to see if they explore the interesting issues that come up from this combination. I’d like to see arguments about how to fight villains and how it continnues privately. The eventual break-up would lead to even more interesting stories. This should be a long-term storyline (several years) but not permanent. Then it eventually becomes as stagnant as Peter/MJ, Lois/Clark and Reed/Sue (if the FF wasn’t about a family, I really don’t think Reed and Sue would still be together). My concern is that DC Editorial is now under the auspices of DC Entertainment, a company created by TW to maximize the profitability of DC especially in regards to it’s licensing aspects. I fully understand why they are doing that and don’t hold it against them. BUT, as someone else suggested, I see the real possibility of cutting this storyline very short, around the time of the next Superman movie. That would waste so much potential.

I agree that they do not belong together and that their relationship will devalue them both. See here:

http://www.comicbookbin.com/Superman_and_Wonder_Woman_as_Lovers_Devalues_Both001.html

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