Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Discuss: Wonder Woman


Doug:  The character comes up from time-to-time around here, most recently about 10 days ago in our discussion of the Comicon announcement of the Superman/Batman film.  Fire away on any and all aspects and iterations of this super-heroine - is she marketable in various formats, and just who would be that target audience?


37 comments:

Colin Jones said...

I've only bought about 3 DC comics in my life (in the '70s there was a Marvel UK but no DC UK so I never had any connection to DC ) but I watched the Wonder Woman TV show with Lynda Carter. It's quite difficult for women in leading roles in Hollywood and they'd probably be worried that a female super-hero wouldn't appeal to teenage boys.

Anonymous said...

"...a female super-hero wouldn't appeal to teenage boys."



William said...

I never read a lot of Wonder Woman comics, but I used to watch the show religiously when I was a kid. I had a HUGE crush on Lynda Carter when I was in sixth grade. I even had a tee-shirt with her (as Wonder Woman) on the front.

Matt Celis said...

All it takes is a good script and smart casting. So no David Kelleys, please. But Warner Bros. seems to think its characters aren't good enough unless they lay a "high concept" over them, so I'm certain they will make a train wreck when they get around to WW again.

As for the teenage boys, are you kidding me? Who do you think propels these Underworld, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil franchises?

J.A. Morris said...

The first thing that comes to mind is her appearances on the various Super Friends series in the 70s & 80s. I talked about voices I hear when I read comics the other day, Shannon Farnon will always be the voice of Wonder Woman to my ears.

For those interested in comic & pop culture history, the 1970s book (it contains some early Golden Age stories) is worth reading. Here's the cover:

http://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/1119263.jpg


I think the Linda Carter series holds up pretty well (I Netflixed it a few years ago), as long as you can get past the 70s cheese factor. I was too young to have a "crush" on Carter, but I don't think we'll have ever get a better live action Wonder Woman. I prefer the episodes that took place in the 70s over the ones where she fights nazis.

I enjoyed WW in the Justice League stories I read back in the late 70s/early 80s. But I've only read a handful of her solo tales. I've been meaning to pick up the reprint of the 80s Perez series, but haven't yet.

One more thing:that drawing you posted of her by Jose-Luis Garcia Lopez is great, it's a shame he didn't draw more comics in the Bronze Age.

J.A. Morris said...

Meant to add this, here's Shannon Farnon's official site, if you ever "wondered" (ha ha) what the voice of Wonder Woman looked like:
http://www.shannonfarnon.com/

Colin Jones said...

I know what you mean but you have to remember that there's never been a Wonder Woman movie - she's the only one of DC's " big three " who hasn't been a successful movie franchise. The only reason I can think of is that a female super-hero doesn't appeal to the important younger male demographic.

Anonymous said...

Seems only fitting that on a Bronze Age blog that the predominant themes are "teenage boys" and "Lynda Carter". Sorry Karen.

Tom

Matt Celis said...

I also enjoy the WW TV series, especially the present-day episodes that were more "serious" in tone. Frankly I would rather see Diana Prince on a regular series working for the IADC than a high-concept Xena-lite movie which seems to be what the modern comics readers want. To me, WW is the last character who would carry a sword and enjoy a fight. But I'm old and in the way, as Jerry Garcia might put it.

Humanbelly said...

I wonder if her basic back story simply isn't compelling or interesting enough to give the average movie-goer (or even longtime reader)a solid "hook" at the outset to sustain a personal connection with the character? I'm so unfamiliar with her. . . is she indeed an immortal goddess, sort of? Something like that? What's her "mission", as it were? Her guiding principle? Love her strength and strong sense of self. . . but what makes her vulnerable and sympathetic for us regular folks?

I do think a solo film is a worthwhile risk, 'cause it could be a huge landmark for the genre. But it seems SO unlikely that risk-averse Hollywood (especially in the DC studios) is likely to approach the project with a clear head and open mind. Remember that they REALLY wanted Meagan Fox for it at some point?? OMG-- too young, too tiny, too shallow, too "hot", as it were. Who the heck do you cast? I'd like to see someone of Linda Carter's physical stature, but with CONSIDERABLY more gravitas. Honestly, I never, ever bought her WW as being a woman that was reflexively confident in her physical superiority. . . I mean, she still tended to wince at her bracelet-deflection effect. . . and, how do I say this-- she tended to move like a "girl" as opposed to moving like a female athlete (I use that phrase in its common descriptive context, not as a sexist backhand-- Sarah Michelle Gellar had the the same problem in the first season of Buffy, and then REALLY overcame it in the following years-!).

Jennifer Lawrence, maybe?

HB

Matt Celis said...

They haven't tried a lot of characters and they failed with Superman in '06. I think we need a quality film before we can gauge whether it's a gender bias. Most teenage boys, I think, would rather enjoy a sexy heroine kicking rump and taking names, especially in the classic WW costume. But with a lousy script and bad casting, even teenage boys won't shell out to see hot girls.

themiddlespaces said...

Wonder Woman could be would be my favorite superhero - at least theoretically - but I have never found a version of her series that worked for me.

Lynda Carter was my experience of lust.

themiddlespaces said...

. . . that should read "first" experience of lust - I must have been distracted by the memory of her slow-motion running. ;)

david_b said...

Agreed with a lot mentioned here. WW never really registered with me. Personally, post-Silver Age (and pre-Lynda..), I'm amazed DC kept her title when they let GL, Hawkman and Aquaman go due to the Dozer Batman TV series fallout of '69-'70. I'm assuming this was to both cap on her place as one of DC's stalworth characters, and secure female readers, hence the swap to plainclothes, like they tried with the Titans.

Bluntly, I'm more of a Batgirl fan anyways; I personally never found WW sexy or interesting..

I'd say unequivocally the WW series was the best shot in the arm for her continued popularity, along with the Perez re-imaging of the '80s, that WW could have ever hoped for. As for HB's mention of Lynda wincing with shot at on TV, it's all for dramatic effect; viewers have to have a potentially vulnerable hero or they lose interest, like perhaps most fans did of her comics over the years, due to both that and as HB mentioned, a lack of a personable or gripping backstory.

From what I've seen, except for Perez's work, Amazon Island's never really been used well as an effective draw for readers, kind of a bland mystique at best.

I've read a few commentaries on her character portrayal and sexuality throughout the decades, nothing I can hunt down and link to today unfortunately. I've watched the earlier WW pilots ('60s and '70s ones). Unfortunately until the ABC (then CBS) series was conceived, producers didn't really know what to do with this character to make her relevant to a movie-going or television audience, despite the twenty-thirtysome yrs of stories up to that point.

Before the '70s series, the timing also just wasn't right; viewers weren't ready to see superheroes on the screen again. Frankly, a LOT of kudos goes to the small-screen charm of both Carter and Waggoner; they made a very effective pair. It certainly faired far better than the Spiderman series at that time.

Edo Bosnar said...

Since we already had a discussion of the Wonder Woman TV show a while back, I'll just restrict my comments to the comics version.
Like Osvaldo, I guess you can say I like the idea of Wonder Woman more than I've actually enjoyed reading any of her comics; I bought the occasional issue of WW back in the day, and read those WW features in Adventure when it was a dollar comic, but that's about it.
I've heard good things about the Perez run, but that started at a time when I had really cut down on my comics reading, so I never got into it. I've also heard the original stories by Moulton Marston are quite interesting, but cost and time will probably keep me from ever getting around to reading either of those runs.
I did like her in JLA, though, and she worked well in the cartoons, too (J.A., thanks for the link to Farnon's site - she could have played a live action WW when she was younger!).
I still think she's an integral character for DC, and also a really iconic super-hero as well. So I definitely think it would be worthwhile to do a movie (in fact, it's a wasted opportunity if one isn't made), but with the caveats noted by others here: casting will be crucial, and a good script as well. The thing is, it shouldn't dwell too much on her origins (which is the big problem with so many super-hero movies). That should be taken care of in the first 10 or so minutes of the movie: use voiceover and montage scenes to explain who she is and why she's come to our world, and then start telling the story. More detailed aspects of her background and motivation can be told as the story proceeds - it's not rocket science. I know pretty much every young comics reader did not need this kind of background to pick up a random issue of some super-hero comic that already had 100, 200, 300 or more issues under its belt and still enjoy it.

Humanbelly said...

Does she have a defining personality trait, though? Is there some aspect about her nature that makes her quintessentially "Wonder Woman"? Batman, Superman, Spidey, Iron Man, Cap, Hulk-- these guys all have very, very distinctive personalities. Does Diana? I mean, the best I've ever liked her was in KINGDOM COME. . . driven, somewhat judgmental, and somewhat impatient. . . and darned ready to take charge. But is that how she's traditionally been portrayed?

HB

Colin Jones said...

I still think Hollywood executives are terrified of a movie with a woman in the leading role - a few years ago there was a Red Sonja movie planned and then it sank without trace before it was even made.

Rip Jagger said...

I plugged into the comics world at the same time that Wonder Woman dropped out of the superhero gig and donned her famous white pantsuit, eschewing her powers for some awesome martial arts courtesy of her mentor I Ching. So oddly that's the Wonder Woman I first think of.

A few years back I found those particular adventures for cheap in glorious color. It's a great era, featuring some above average artwork from Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

WW is a character who always seems to be in search of the next thing, the way she'll achieve true success. She always seems to lag behind the powerhouses Superman and Batman with which she is mostly associated. It helps to keep her in her own title, but perhaps limits what can be done with her for good.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

I recall reading that the reason a Wonder Woman comic book survived along with the Superman and Batman titles during the lean times had something to do with ownership/copyright. Supposedly if DC stopped publishing an on going WW title they would lose all rights to the character. Can anyone else familiar with this story?

Matt Celis said...

Which Batman personality? There have been so many. WW from Kingdom Come is exactly what I don't want and find antithetical to the character.

Matt Celis said...

My understanding is WW kept her own title because it sold well. She is one of only 3 characters who made it thru from the '40s into the '80s without being canceled.

themiddlespaces said...

The renowned sci-fi author Samuel Delaney penned exactly TWO of those Wonder Woman in a pants-suit issues before he got canned. Amazing to think of a gay African American writer writing Wonder Woman in that era.

I talk of it briefly here: http://themiddlespaces.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/its-a-wonder-wonder-woman/

Karen said...

I feel like I should have more to say about Wonder Woman than I do, being the near-lone female representative around here. But I was never a big fan of hers, or any female character, to be honest. Coming into my comic reading years on the tail end of the Silver Age, I mostly saw female super-heroes as secondary characters, often girlfriends or wives, and usually in need of protection or being rescued. Even then, it was obvious they were considered not as good as the men. Of course, all the media of those days projected this image. It was many years before ‘girl power’ became the norm.

I did read George Perez’ Wonder Woman and I liked his emphasis on her mythological origins, but I don’t know enough about her past iterations to know if this was an original take or not. I think the character is iconic, but almost has more value as a symbol than as a specific, defined character. DC clearly doesn’t know what to do with her, as they change her all the time –then again, they tend to do this with almost every character they have except Batman, who they have determined is a brooding, obsessive nut.

I like the fact that she’s one of DC’s Big Three –Marvel really does not have a female character of her stature, even after 50 years, which I think is interesting.

Matt Celis said...

Very true...although they do seem to be trying to push Ms./Capt. Marvel pretty hard. I have a soft spot for (the original version of) Disco Dazzler...always felt she should have been involved in some Charlie's Angels-type action.

Always felt Valkyrie had more potential back in her Defenders days.

Other than those two and the Wasp in the Stern era, can't think of any Marvel heroines who interest me.

Matt Celis said...

Those Sekowsky/Giordano issues are terrific. It's too bad all that effort didn't go into a new heroine where it might have paid off. Or even to make Black Canary interesting. To me it's not WW without the "satin tights," as the song goes, and Amazon accoutrements.

Daniel Graves said...

It's funny, I never considered myself a Wonder Woman fan, but when I look back, I think I had a fair bit of exposure to Wonder Woman during the Bronze Age. Of course there was the TV series, which we all loved in my house. Heck, even my younger brother had the 12 inch Lynda Carter/Wonder Woman/Diana Prince action figure, which was really cool, because we were just young enough to have missed the megos that had secret identities (they were but urban legends to us... there was always some kid's older brother who had a Batman with removable cowl, but we never saw one, but I digress...). Wonder Woman was a staple in the 1970s JLA, so I read about her there. When I was about 10 or 12, my scoutmaster gave me his sister's old Wonder Woman comics from the early 1960's, so I read quite a few of those. I even tried out the WW "new look" even though I hated Gene Colan (is that a heresy around here?), but loved Roy Thomas. I stuck with it for quite a few issues, but maybe because it had the Huntress back-up feature. I followed George Perez's reboot for at least the first year or two, and enjoyed it a lot. I just reviewed FFE of Sensation 1 for my own blog and chuckled all the way through it - it was really quite fun to read. So I guess, I suppose I really am a Wonder Woman fan after all, and didn't even know it! My buddy Darryl and I were discussing what DC answer to the Avengers should be just before the Batman/Superman announcement we both concurred that a Trinity film would certainly be better than a JLA film. It look like we will get 2/3 with WW getting looked over again. Her day will come...

Anonymous said...

OK like Matt Celis I believe with the right script, director and star a WW movie can succeed. Of course getting all these factors right is easier said than done. The bigwigs at DC and the studio arm will really have to start with reverence to the source material and try to get the best talent on board. Even with all that there's still no guarantee it will be a success.

As for the announced Superman & Batman movie, I think the studio bosses are trying to jumpstart the Superman franchise again by linking him to the more successful Batman movie franchise.


- Mike 'Lynda Carter forever' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Doug said...

Let me say "thank you" to all of our readers and commenters for being such good sports today. Karen and I often joke that we're losing our minds, er memories, after writing this blog for over four years. If you look below today's post at the "You Might Also Like" feature, you'll see two other "Discuss: Wonder Woman" posts. One was authored by Karen and zeroed in on the television program starring BAB darling Lynda Carter. However, today's host (me) set up the other Discuss post -- AND USED THE VERY SAME ARTWORK by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

Sheesh...

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Don't feel bad, Doug. Although I recalled the post about the TV show, I forgot about your first post as well initially. As for the reused artwork, who cares? You can never have enough Garcia Lopez.

Karen, given your comments, I recalled a question I wanted to ask in the WW TV show thread, but forgot: did you watch the show, and what did you think of it? I'm curious because, as I noted in those previous comments, I remember the show was quite popular with the decidedly non-comic reading girls in and around my age group in my elementary school.

Daniel, I just read your post on that Sensation Comics reprint. Great stuff. One thing I can't believe: not one of those DC digests (and well over 100 were printed if you count not only the Blue Ribbon Digests, but also the last issues of DC Special Series and Adventure Comics) was dedicated to Wonder Woman. There was even one dedicated to Supergirl. But no WW - too bad, I would have loved a digest that collected some of her best Golden Age stories.

Karen said...

Edo, I did watch Wonder Woman but not regularly. I think I was still leery of it, expecting the worst. One show I did completely stop watching was the Bionic Woman -I don't recall the details but there was an episode where she had she had to be rescued -the star of the show! -and that was it for me!

Teresa said...

The best WW portrayal for me is in the animated Brave and the Bold series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyKXBxK82LE

Makes me smile every time. (-:

Garett said...

Fun clip, Teresa! WW has energy and personality here...they all do!

Edo Bosnar said...

Teresa, that's the stuff. Thanks for the link.

Teresa said...

The B&B animates series was awesome.

B&B was so well crafted, it made B'wana Beast a cool character.

That sentence...That just doesn't sound right....

Matt Celis said...

B'wana has ALWAYS been cool!

Anonymous said...
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Edo Bosnar said...

Had to revisit this thread because I just got through watching the B&B episode with B'wana Beast. Teresa's right: he is cool.
And that whole episode is a hoot. Best parts: Grodd leading GASP (Gorillas & Apes Seizing Power) and Detective Chimp saying "Get your paws off me, you dirty ape!"

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