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Doesn’t Gal Gadot look awesome in Wonder Woman? But writers can do bad things even with good characters.

By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

Wonder Woman, whose first live-action movie premieres June 2, is usually described as “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules and swifter than Mercury.” But that hasn’t protected her from some really dumb stories over her 76-year history. Here’s a Top 10 List of Silly Wonder Woman Bits:

10. HAPPY HOLLIDAYS

One of the early additions to the Wonder Woman mythos were her quasi-sidekicks, the girls of Beeta Lamda sorority at Holliday College. Led by the comically rotund Etta Candy – whose favorite exclamation was “Woo! Woo!” – the otherwise lithe and athletic Holliday Girls arose from research into sorority initiations by psychologist and WW co-creator William Moulton Marston. He had attended a “baby party” (where pledges were required to wear baby clothes and undergo “punishment”), and apparently it left a deep impression.

9. MS. PRINCE, WE’RE NEEDED

In 1968, writer Denny O’Neil decided Diana didn’t need all those pesky super-powers, and reduced her to a karate fighter a la Emma Peel of TV’s The Avengers, complete with white jumpsuits. Just to make sure she was put properly in her place, she was mentored by a male – an old Chinese gentleman with the unlikely name I-Ching. Because, man, it was the ‘60s. You dig?

8. GLASS CEILING

After she got her powers back, Diana re-joined the Justice League. But before she could, she had to perform 12 labors, Hercules fashion, to show she still had the right stuff.

Would the League do that to Superman? Batman? Of course not. Heck, they haven’t even done it to Green Arrow, who’s quit and re-joined approximately 43 zillion times. And he takes a bow and arrow to gunfights.

It was presented as her choice, but it was nonsense. Even in the Justice League, a woman has to be 12 times better than a guy to get the same job.

7. HIS GIRL FRIDAY

Before the Justice League, there was the legendary Justice Society of America, which united the greatest superheroes of two publishers in 1940. Naturally, it wasn’t long after Wonder Woman’s 1941 debut that Hawkman, chairman of the JSA (renamed “Justice Battalion” during the war) invited the Amazing Amazon to join their prestigious group … to take the minutes.

“Wonder Woman, the members of the Justice Battalion feel that even though you’re now an honorary member, we’d like you to act as our secretary,” announced the Winged Wonder in 1942.

“Why,” replied Diana, who could probably have twisted Hawkman into origami, “that’s quite an honor!”

 

6. WANT FRIES WITH THAT?

For a little while in the ‘90s, Diana worked in a fast-food joint called Taco Whiz.

I can’t even.

Copyright DC Entertainment Inc.

You’d think someone who was good friends with Bruce Wayne could make one phone call and never have to work again. Or at least she could get a job where “flying” and “super-strength” are requisites. (Art by Brian Bolland) 

5. FIT TO BE TIED

Marston brought a lot of positive qualities to his brainchild: a belief in the power of love, a faith in the equality (or superiority) of women, a desire to give girls a strong role model. He also had a keen interest in bondage, which made it into early Wonder Woman stories, too.

Now, getting captured and tied up is an occupational hazard in adventure stories, especially in the 1940s. But Wonder Woman Unbound author Tim Hanley did a comparative analysis of the first 10 issues of Batman, Captain Marvel Adventures and Wonder Woman – and found the number of times restraints were used in the Amazon’s stories to be, in comparison to the other two, “colossal.”

Hanley found that, on average, Batman and Captain Marvel Adventures depicted folks tied up 3 percent of the time – compared to 27 percent in Wonder Woman. And while the Amazing Amazon herself was only bound for 40 percent of the total – everyone was fair game in a Marston story – it was still women who were tied up a full 84 percent of the time.

I guess we should have gotten a hint from the fact that Wonder Woman’s chief weapon is a rope.

 

4. POLLY PARADOX

In 1986, a new origin established Diana as in her twenties, not in her five-hundred-and-twenties. So who was in all those Wonder Woman comics going back to 1941? To solve this dilemma, writer/artist John Byrne dressed Diana’s mother Hippolyta in the iconic costume and sent her back in time to fill in. The JSA called her “Polly.”

Which is weird, because Hippolyta has been alive since ancient Greece – she didn’t have to go back in time to be in World War II. She was already there.

You’d think people would notice a thing like that.

 

3. SHORT STORIES

In the early 1960s, DC began running stories of Wonder Woman when she was a baby. She was called “Wonder Tot,” and met genies, monsters and mer-people, as you do.

She also met herself as a teenager and an adult for a number of stories, initially as a result of Hippolyta splicing old family movies together. These were called “Impossible Tales,” likely because they were.

 

2. BIRDS AND BEES (AND FISH)

Also in the early ‘60s, DC began running stories of Wonder Woman as a teenager. These “Wonder Girl” stories featured the Amazing Adolescent dating the sort of boys who were available around Paradise Island, which didn’t allow (human) males. Specifically, that would be Ronno the Mer-Boy and Wingo the Bird-Boy.

Ronno was from a race of people who were fish from the waist down. Wingo was from a race of people who were birds from the waist down.

Do I need to explain what’s wrong with this picture?

Copyright DC Entertainment Inc.

One odd choice in 1960s Wonder Woman comics was to have teenage Diana date outside her species. (Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito) 

 

1. WHO’S THE BABY DADDY?

Long-running comics characters often have details of their history changed or updated. But even by that standard, Wonder Woman’s past is amazingly fluid.

Some things remain somewhat standard. Diana’s powers always come from the Greco-Roman gods, either as gifts or genetics. Her mission remains constant: to bring peace to “man’s world.” She’s always the daughter of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.

But her daddy? Well, usually she doesn’t have one – in most origins, she’s a clay statue brought to life by the gods.

In 1959, though, writer Robert Kanigher (briefly) gave her a real father, later revealed as some dude named Theno, who was lost at sea. In fact, in that story, all the Amazons had husbands, but “all the men … wiped out … in the wars,” moaned Hippolyta. “Woe is us …” one Amazon replied, rather un-Amazonly. “We are … alone … now – !”

Alone – and talking like William Shatner. Oh, the humanity!

In 2011, another story established Diana as the daughter of Zeus – which made her related to a lot of the folks she’d been fighting for 60 years! It was writer Brian Azzarello’s intent to make the gods supporting characters, referring to the Olympians as “the original crime family.”

Currently Wonder Woman’s origin is being re-written once again. I’m giving “clay statue” 2-to-1 odds.

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What I find interesting is that, even in those days before most creative teams operated on a "12 issues and we're out" basis, I can't think of any other long-running series where the writer has an unbroken run lasting at least 20 years--editors, sure--I thought they'd have to pry Superman from Mort Weisinger's cold dead hands, but the various individual issues of Superman, Action, Jimmy Olsen, et al all featured an assortment of writers, as did the Batman titles of the same vintage.  Even the characters with a single title (making them more directly comparable to WW), like Flash & Green Lantern, would have the occasional John Broome story pop up in the middle of a Gardner Fox run, or vice-versa.  Wonder Woman was all-Kanigher all the time from the late 40s until the late 60s, and between the terms of the Marston contract and the need to keep the character non-offensive. WW must have been the toughest super-hero feature to write at the time.  For that matter, considering that Kanigher had previously created the original Thorn, Star Sapphire, and Harlequin, it's really a shame that he never either revived one of them as a WW foe, or created some cool new villainesses for her--it's hard to even think of any memorable villain stories from his run on the title--Angle Man seemed to have been his major rogue, and after that there's Mouse Man, who appeared what? twice?  Other than that, it's aliens, monsters, robots, nondescript gangsters, and the odd giant clam or roc.

ClarkKent_DC said:

I don't think the answer to why Bob Kanigher was on the Wonder Woman book longer than other writers to that point is any more complicated than he was hired to do a job, so he did the job. He was one of the old-school comics creators who had that mindset. Liking the character wasn't a prevailing consideration.

That said, his introductory issue -- the one that put an end to the "Diana Rigg Wonder Woman" era -- took a gratuitously nasty swipe at previous editor Dorothy Woolfolk, by featuring a sniper shoot to death "Dottie Cottonman, Woman's Magazine, editor."

(For more about Dorothy Woolfolk, here's a piece from The Atlantic"Lois Lane's Feminist Revolution")

It was suggested in Men of Tomorrow that the Wonder Woman feature was actually aimed at adults and not children and that is what Marston always intended.

Mr. Silver Age said:

 It was a very imaginative feature. 

That's one way of putting it. I'm surprised those stories got into print. Apparently no parent ever bothered to look at what was going on in WW.

-- MSA

it's hard to even think of any memorable villain stories from his run on the title

Egg Fu and his descendant Egg Fu the Fifth are outraged by your characterization, and I'm sure Egg Fu's twin Dr. Yes, who took on the Metal Men, will join in! It's hard for me to say they weren't memorable because (shudder) I remember them. Completely.

The most terrifying part of their villainy was that we were always afraid that Egg Fu the Second Through Fourth could show up at any time! And still might!

-- MSA

Dave Elyea said:

What I find interesting is that, even in those days before most creative teams operated on a "12 issues and we're out" basis, I can't think of any other long-running series where the writer has an unbroken run lasting at least 20 years--editors, sure--I thought they'd have to pry Superman from Mort Weisinger's cold dead hands, but the various individual issues of Superman, Action, Jimmy Olsen, et al all featured an assortment of writers....

Mort gave all of his writers the plot and they knew they would have to redo all of their work if they didn't turn in a story according to his requirements.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mort_Weisinger

Editing was pretty heavy-handed back then as opposed to later years when the job of the editor was marginalized and writers thought they could be their own editors, with mixed results.

Saw the movie Sunday night, and just loved it.

Gadot is a bona fide star, and the camera loved her. My wife called her "luminous," and even though she's ridiculously attractive, what made her Wonder Woman was her acting, both emotional and physical. She more than held her own with Chris Pine, who usually stars in his movies. In fact, they played off each other well, not just as Nick and Nora types, but also when their philosophies clashed and genuine anger or disappointment showed through.

Pacing was good -- I never felt things went by too quickly, nor did I ever check my watch. And the fight scenes -- especially with the Amazons -- were fantastic. I got goose bumps, especially with that awesome score's percussion bum-bum-bumming away and its exotic woodwinds. (I think.).

The expanded supporting cast worked, especially as they were all sort-of marginalized characters in 1918 as women were. I loved the use of the George Perez armor for Ares, and loved who he turned out to be (although I had guessed). Nice use of Dr. Poison, and the actress really brought home not only her creepiness, but her neediness. Robin Wright was astonishingly good -- she said more with her face than most actors do with their lines.

And let's get to the writing: They got WW right. She was often wise, but also naive. She was ignorant of many things, but a very quick study. She was unashamedly sincere -- almost otherworldly at times. A lot of this took Gadot to realize the tone and weight of the material and sell it, but it would have been a harder sell if the material wasn't there.

But again, Gadot was tremendous. I forgot she was attractive, and found myself just admiring her. OK, I never forgot she was attractive. But she never let me forget she was a warrior, either. She sold her character with posture and physicality as much as her dialogue reading and emotional responses.

The third-act CGI-extravaganza that Hollywood seems to think we need was present, but not as disagreeable or impenetrable as, say, the fight with Doomsday in BvS. (Or the destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel. You know, Superman's emotions -- and reactions -- to killing Zod would have been an awesome ending, if it meant Superman vowing never to kill again. That would cement the film in the Superman pantheon. Instead we got computer-generated buildings blowing up .... again.)

I think the plot stuck the landing, too, with how WW's world is left at the end. No spoilers -- for God's sake, go see it! -- but this is one helluva foundation for the character's future growth. I can't wait for more.

I guess this is the thread for comments about Wonder Woman the movie. I saw it Sunday night. Some thoughts ...

  • I can sum up my feelings in two words: AWE SOME!
  • Patty Jenkins can direct all the DC movies as far as I'm concerned. She gets it.
  • Gal Godot is a worthy successor to Lynda Carter -- because she's her own version of Wonder Woman. 
  • It's always a thrill when you see a movie bring to life an image, a moment, a scene from the four-color page. I felt that thrill when I saw George Perez's Themyscyra before my eyes. 
  • Okay, so we're going with the "made from clay and brought to life with the blessings of the gods" origin. Good!
  • Has there been an explanation of why the Man's World setting was changed from World War II to the Great War? (Back then, nobody knew there was going to be a sequel 20 years later, more's the pity.) It worked and worked well, so it doesn't bother me, but I was wondering.
  • The day before I saw the movie, I saw a rerun of Chris Pine's appearance guest hosting Saturday Night Live. He did an opening bit on the four Chrises -- Evans (Captain America), Hemsworth (Thor), Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and himself (Wonder Woman) and how they're not all alike, really, honestly, truly, even though we're all blond, thirtysomething, blue-eyed and musclely, we're not all the same!
  • Ever wondered what happens in a battle when one side has bows and arrows and swords and knives, and the other side has guns? It ain't pretty. Still, a lifetime of training made the Amazons the superior fighting force ... but even they had to face that such advantage is negated by these strange new weapons of war.
  • I liked that director Jenkins knew what to include and what to leave out -- like that whole business about a contest to decide who will return Steve Trevor to Man's World, and Hippolyta forbidding Diana to enter the contest, so she participates in disguise and wins. Better to skip all that nonsense.
  • So, Diana does understand about the birds and the bees ... and says men are necessary for procreation, but not pleasure? Ouch. (But, good on director Jenkins for getting that question out of the way, too.)
  • I like Diana's innocence. No, not innocence -- naiveté. She earnestly believes killing Ares will end the Great War and almost had me believing it, too.
  • Nice touch that we see that people under the influence of the Lasso of Truth don't make their confessions willingly.
  • Etta Candy's a Brit? Oh, why not ...!
  • That whole business of Diana's first exposure to London was masterful. Here's where the change to a World War I setting really made sense, with Etta Candy helping her shop for those cumbersome fashions! 
  • But Steve Trevor gets a bright idea to aid her disguise: He gives Diana eyeglasses! (Hey! I'll have you know that eyeglasses make for an excellent disguise! Even for a dog!)
  • The glasses are broken already? Aw, man ...!

Thems for starters. I have more thoughts, which I'll share when I have more time. But, in short -- two thumbs up!  photo thumbup.gif

I just saw Wonder Woman today and really enjoyed it.

I guess I have to give my points:

  • Part of me still doesn't see Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman though I totally get her as Diana if that makes any sense.
  • Chris Pine is the most effective version of Steve Trevor that I have ever seen. Period. You can believe that Diana would fall for him. If you took out Diana and Ares, you still have a great adventure film!
  • The move to WWI didn't bother me as much as I thought. We see the industrialization of war and the destruction of nature. It was very Tolkienian.
  • I did think that the Amazons were going to play a bigger part due to the trailers.
  • Doctor Poison was a 100% Golden Age Wonder Woman villain except she was Japanese and disguised herself as a man.
  • The ceramic mask pieces that covered her scars were actually used to hide returning soldiers' disfigurements.
  • Queen Hippolyta seems to have gone to same mentoring school as Professors Xavier and Dumbledore when it comes to NOT telling their charges everything they NEED to know!
  • Diana possesses several traits that the other Amazons lack: a sense of adventure, the ability to look outward and a healthy dose of curiosity!
  • There are still questions at the end.
  • I would rank this as the second best DC movie beneath The Dark Knight.

I would give the film a solid B+, want to see a sequel and have high hopes for the character in Justice League.

I could never forget Egg Fu, I just tend to think of him as more of the "monster or robot" type than a super-villain.  I'm actually surprised that no one has ever revealed that Dr. Yes was one of the otherwise unaccounted for Egg Fus that predated the Fifth.  You'd think Roy Thomas would have been all over that during his run.

Mr. Silver Age said:

it's hard to even think of any memorable villain stories from his run on the title

Egg Fu and his descendant Egg Fu the Fifth are outraged by your characterization, and I'm sure Egg Fu's twin Dr. Yes, who took on the Metal Men, will join in! It's hard for me to say they weren't memorable because (shudder) I remember them. Completely.

The most terrifying part of their villainy was that we were always afraid that Egg Fu the Second Through Fourth could show up at any time! And still might!

-- MSA

Every time I see an advertisement for the new Wonder Woman movie, I can’t help but to picture Gal Godot cast as Elektra.

Some more observations:

  • They got rid of the "No Man on Paradise Island" stipulation which is a good thing as it would have convoluted the story more.
  • I miss the Invisible Plane. I know why they couldn't include it but maybe in another movie...
  • In the comics, they have Wonder Woman flying but not in the movies. Is it to give some limitations or to separate her from Superman?
  • They portray the end of WWI as a good thing for everyone but it wasn't for the Germans. They were crippled by the Treaty of Versailles which would lead to the rise of National Socialism and Adolph Hitler.
  • Two words never spoken in Wonder Woman: "Wonder Woman"!

Philip Portelli said:

Some more observations:

  • They got rid of the "No Man on Paradise Island" stipulation which is a good thing as it would have convoluted the story more.
  • I miss the Invisible Plane. I know why they couldn't include it but maybe in another movie...
  • In the comics, they have Wonder Woman flying but not in the movies. Is it to give some limitations or to separate her from Superman?
  • They portray the end of WWI as a good thing for everyone but it wasn't for the Germans. They were crippled by the Treaty of Versailles which would lead to the rise of National Socialism and Adolph Hitler.
  • Two words never spoken in Wonder Woman: "Wonder Woman"!

I miss the Invisible Plane, too.

It seems to me that if you have heroes who can't fly under their own power, they need transportation -- and a way to carry passengers. Even the Batmobile gained a back seat on SuperFriends so Batman could bring Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog along.

That also brings up another major difference between the comic book and movie Amazons. The comic book Amazons while appearing like they haven't changed since Greco-Roman times were actually a super-scientific society who were aware of the outside world and its advances. The movie versions had no clue!

Also they spoke English. How? They were on that island millennia before English was developed, let only modern English!

And they were training the entire time to combat Ares if or when he returned and when the possibility is brought before them, they're like "Yeah right!" and ignore it.

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