Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So we're back to frisson of woo.

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.


  1. Yup. Seriously, how hard can it BE to write Wonder Woman? Gail Simone did a fine job of it, so did Rucka. You know who else did a pretty darned good Wonder Woman? Beau Smith, that's who.

  2. I like Wonder Woman, dammit, and I am also sick of all that crap. I'm mostly familiar with the post-Crisis version, true, but I'd accept anything that wasn't JMS or Byrne style, honestly.

  3. Great post -- especially the thought experiment at the end.

  4. “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.”

    Hollywood can only go by what comic creators have created. But when various demographics like different interpretations…heh, hell, lets not sugar coat it, when MEN and WOMEN like different interpretations of the character then someone (usually your ilk) is going to be disappointed. Perez’s run was one of the most popular, but then I hear endless bitching by the women folk about that. The animated movie had just as many fan girls hating is as did like it. So again, can't win there. Maybe Hollywood should just ask you how to do it, right?

    Are you seriously this dense? These screenplays are almost always amalgams of what has come before. Either that or it’s a brand name that they do something singularly “Hollywood” with. You know, like Catwoman or Josie and the Pussycats. No one, and I mean no one is going to say “hey, what do the loudmouth, always whining and complaining blog girls want to see? Rucka? Sure thing! Lets crank out that script right now! Simone? You got it girlfriend! We’ll get right on that! No, Hollywood doesn’t work that way and never will work that way. This is a business run by committee, not by one of your all timey favorite WW writers.

    “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”

    But that’s the problem. That’s become all that the character is good for. She’s just a shill now. Selling tshirts, underoos and cosmetics. Yeah, it’s a real cute logo and all, but logo on lipstick does not a successful, big budget Hollywood movie/TV show make. And the buyers who think that logo is cool looking on the crotch of their thong isn’t necessarily the same audience that would even go see the movie. So there’s that.

    “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”

    Simple, Carters bouncing tits and ass. Oh and Debra Wingers as well.

    “There is nothing inherently wrong with this character”

    Um, yeah there is. You even pointed it out above. A terrible and historic inconsistency in writing and the astonishing inability of women to get on the same page with stories about the character that they like. Some women hate Amazons Attack, but some women love it. Of course to you those women are traitors to their gender and to all that is holy about Wonder Woman, but they are out there and their opinion counts in spite of what you think of them. This is what I’m talking about. It’s not just YOUR opinion that the movie studios have to take into account. It’s not even your loud but tiny femfan group that they need to take into account when crafting a big budget Hollywood movie or high profile tv show. Why, I'll even bet there are FEMALE stockholders that thought canceling the WW tv show was a good idea and (gasp) don't give a shit at all about Wonder Woman. How ironic is that?

    The sooner you’re able to realize that this is high stakes business and not a plot against feminists and that the world doesn't revolve around the pink sandbox that you play in, the sooner you’ll be a much less bitter and angry little girl. Mean time, I’m loving that Thor movie! And pretty soon Cap and GL and Avengers, Xmen, a rebooted Spider-Man and Superman franchise and more Iron Man movies! Gosh, it’s so much fun being a white male comic reader in todays world. I get giddy just thinking about it. But hey, look on the bright side. You chicks still have Catwoman and Electra and a 40 year old tv show and all of those Angelina Jolie and Twilight movies! Turn that frown upside down!

    I now return you to the misandry show, already in progress.


  5. I can't tell if 'JohnV' is a parody of a defensive, pathetic loser or just the genuine article. He raises no substantial points, his entire rambling mess of words sums up to a 'nuh uh' and platitudes and woman-hating objectifying comments (just one being the comment about how women are only valuable as tits and ass). Wonder Woman was hardly even in Amazons Attack, so that was a complete non sequitur. Then there's all the strawman army he sets up to knock down.

    Then there's the obligatory pearl-clutching in which he throws out the stale, baseless accusation of man-hating (sounds like he's the one who thinks there's a 'plot'). And that last paragraph of his, how does he not clearly see his own bitterness? I hope this JohnV person isn't serious, because otherwise I can't help but pity them.

  6. LilithXIV -- (Shhh. He has some sort of deep self-esteem problem he's trying to cover with his bluster. He perceives his genitalia as too small or some such thing, I'm sure it's imaginary. We try not to mention it.)

  7. Well! That certainly put us in our place!

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  9. Let me try that again.

    JohnV, what you have just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this blog is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  10. Wow, Ragnell, it looks like you've got your own arch-nemesis! Moving up in the world!

  11. You know what would be cool, Ragnell? A list of your favourite Wonder Woman comics. Batman and Superman lists are in abundance, but when I googled "best Wonder Woman comics" I got nothing. Well, nothing except for some idiotic "top 10 reasons nobody cares about Wonder Woman" list.