So last week we packed up the Squadron and went out to one of the many beautiful forested areas of Germany so we could destroy the meadow with our tents, our trucks, our vans and our competition. It was both stressful and relaxing, stressful for the long hours working and relaxing for being outdoors in Germany with no access to phones or internet. As lovely as it was, we still packed in record time once we got the endex and convoyed out of there before the Germans could see what we'd done to their lawn. (I'm kidding, they play war games on that lawn too. We saw some of their units training out there, trying to ignore us.) We spent a week and a weekend there.
Oh how I wish it had been this week instead.
When I returned, the first thing I saw was the unfortunate news that NBC had passed on the Wonder Woman pilot. I had been dreading that.
Not because I badly wanted to see a Wonder Woman TV show by David E. Kelley. I did want to see it, of course. He had some interesting ideas and really, in lieu of nothing I'd take it. I read the Byrne years, after all.
Not because I knew it's failure would be used as an excuse to kill any subsequent female-led projects. It will, but sexism is overwhelming and they'd find other excuses if this was successful.
Not because I'm worried that we'll never see another media adaptation of Wonder Woman. Oh, it's going to be a long long time but that wasn't my primary concern.
No, my primary concern was the immediate Internet reaction to a Wonder Woman failure. By that I mean the hundreds of posts by hundreds of idiots who have never read Wonder Woman, yet somehow know exactly what is wrong with her. Or the ones who have read and have concluded that there is something fundamentally weak about the character as opposed to a problem with the individual creators. The ones who claim that she only survived because she's a female hero, even though there were tons of female heroes from the 40s who did not survive. The ones who claim that Freudian bondage was the only reason for her popularity, which is akin to suggesting that little boys only ever watched He-man for the homoeroticism. The ones who blame the costume or the time period. The ones who say there's nothing compelling about Wonder Woman in the post-feminist world. The ones who think she's tied solely to the war. The ones who claim that she's a piece of cardboard, a physical presence, a pair of tits, an untouchable character with no personality and no humanity.
Basically, just a giant pile of bullshit. A lot of female heroes didn't survive the end of the Golden Age, but Wonder Woman made it despite the deck being stacked AGAINST her because she was female and singled out by Wertham. Her personality is actually more clearly defined in her Golden Age origin than Clark's is in his Golden Age origin. Everything you need to know about her personality is spelled out in the classic origin, if writers can't get those traits across they are poor writers. We are not in a post-feminist society. That costume is no less stupid than Superman's. Little girls are the audience that elevated Wonder Woman to iconic status, not 40 year old fanboys.
And stop letting Frederic Wertham set your talking points, for fuck's sake.
Seriously. Wonder Woman was one of a handful of characters published continuously from the Golden Age to the Bronze Age. She is the best known female superhero in our society. People still remember that cheesy 70s show. Women who have never read comics get tattoos of her logo as a symbol of strength. She sells underoos, t-shirts, purses, barbie dolls and cosmetics.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this character.
There is something inherently appealing about this character.
DC is doing something wrong when they hire writers to "fix" Wonder Woman. You can't approach her like she's a third-string failed character who needs to be revamped. That's a road to disaster. She's not a third-stringer that only you see the potential for. She's a top tier character that millions of women have adored.
I know, post-Crisis fans are screaming in horror when I say it but this is the one character who can actually benefit from some nostalgia. They need to go back to her origin, and to the incarnations where she was the most popular (the Golden Age, the TV show) and figure out just what was the appealing aspect back then. Don't raze the place and add new stuff. Find the positive from back then, and accentuate it. Take Wonder Woman back to her roots, and streamline the old story for modern sensibilities.
If you're really confused, get outside help. Get together some people and--without telling them this is Wonder Woman's story--tell them the Golden Age origin story. Tell them about the Amazons, the princess, the pilot, and the contest. Tell them about the daughter who defied her overprotective mother. Tell them about the princess who fights dragons. Tell them about the woman who personally struggles against the God of Violence. Tell them about the warrior who rescued the monster (and don't dance around it, Men are the monsters Amazons use to scare their daughters into eating their vegetables) and nursed him back to health. Tell them about the first woman to leave her hometown in 3000 years.
Then ask them what they think of that woman, what they like about the girl in the story. That's where you'll find your Wonder Woman.