© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC

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.

Reach Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), the Internet (captaincomics.ning.com), Facebook (Captain Comics Round Table) or Twitter (@CaptainComics).

Views: 1043

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Here's an interesting piece: "The DCEU Has a Problem — Everybody Likes 'Wonder Woman'"

The gist: Wonder Woman is the first DE Extended Universe movie that is an unequivocal hit, critically, commercially and popularly. The others may have made boatloads of money, but nobody liked them. 

A big reason Wonder Woman was a hit was that it was actually about a hero, who wants to be a hero and who wants to help others:

Prior to Wonder Woman, DC’s output included two grim deconstructions of Superman and a third film about supervillains. All three have been skeptical of altruism as a concept, as if the most implausible thing about superhero movies is the hero’s willingness to help other people.

So, what next? Will future DC movies continue their course or adopt Wonder Woman's optimism?

The heroes have to bring hope. They can't keep fighting among themselves. They can't be at odds with the government or the law. And they can't keep portraying "normal" people as cannon fodder!

So, what next? Will future DC movies continue their course or adopt Wonder Woman's optimism?

I have talked about this at extreme length with some friends. Some of our hopes are wishful thinking, but the key points I think are:

1. They're doing reshoots, including adding Mom and Auntie Amazon to the JLA cast (which will be flashbacks, right? Neither was immortal and Auntie was most sincerely dead.)

2. The reshoots are being done by Joss Whedon even though he says he's adhering to Snyder's tone and vision. (Then he's going to go do Batgirl, which boggles my mind in the DCEU movieverse). That HAS to be a good thing, doesn't it?

3. Snyder cast Gadot and set the WWI period despite Jenkins' reservations about both. He also has a writing credit, so maybe he learned something.

4. That Superman is dead gives them the chance to remake him without it being a gigantic leap, especially in reshoots that this late HAVE to be devoted more to dialogue and interaction than CGI, right?

5. Regardless of how JLA goes, that they now have a model for a good movie, one with a heroic woman, bodes well for the Aquaman movie, where Mera gets top billing. And she looks amazing, I might add. I think Nick Cardy would be pleased

They can't be at odds with the government or the law. And they can't keep portraying "normal" people as cannon fodder!.

WW certainly embodies that more than anybody else we've seen, and with luck Superman will see that when he returns. With a little more luck, Flash will come under her sway rather than Batman's. God knows, that's the way I'd go!

-- MSA

These excerpts struck me:

Wonder Woman is optimistic. Gal Godot’s Diana wants to be a hero. She leaves Themyscira to be a hero, and while her faith is tested, her resolve ultimately holds. She climbs out of the trenches in WWI because there are human lives at stake and she’s going to protect them. Hers is a movie about a superhero making the choice to be a superhero, without any expectation of praise or reward.

Wonder Woman seems more like a Marvel Studios movie. Steve Rogers put his life on the line by volunteering for the Super Soldier experiment, and many times after that.

Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent spent most of his screen time in Man of Steel trying to convince Clark not to be Superman, to the point that he was willing to die so his son wouldn’t have to be a hero.

His telling Clark that he should have left all the students on the submerged bus to die just to protect his secret might have, in an earlier time, caused people to walk out of the theater and would have tanked the film.

The problem is that Snyder’s DCEU is fueled entirely by ego. His superheroes are Nietzsche’s ubermensch, figures that are so powerful that their motives are somehow beyond the comprehension of the peons who can only get close to Superman when they buy a ticket. It’s as if he expects us to worship his Superman because we’re supposed to show deference to a superior being, a request that’s off-putting because it’s so condescending.

The finest thing about Superman is that he embodies the high values of his parents and that his courage and self-sacrifice don’t depend on just his powers. They knew what they were getting when they hired Snyder. All of his movies are dark.

Amanda Waller runs the show as a government operative (and ostensible good guy) who argues that coercion is more reliable than doomed altruism before murdering her fellow agents to cover her own tracks.

We can’t blame Amanda Waller on Snyder, since this is how she is always portrayed. She is just an extreme version of the way government office-holders, agents and military personnel have been portrayed in fiction ever since Watergate. In comics I think this was partially a reaction to the Comics Code requirement to not portray police and government in a negative light.

Richard Willis said:

Amanda Waller runs the show as a government operative (and ostensible good guy) who argues that coercion is more reliable than doomed altruism before murdering her fellow agents to cover her own tracks.

We can’t blame Amanda Waller on Snyder, since this is how she is always portrayed. She is just an extreme version of the way government office-holders, agents and military personnel have been portrayed in fiction ever since Watergate. In comics I think this was partially a reaction to the Comics Code requirement to not portray police and government in a negative light.

Which is where Marvel went against the grain by giving us Agent Coulson in the Iron Man and Avengers movies. The comics gave us Henry Peter Gyrich, an unrelentingly arrogant bastard, but Coulson is a good civil servant and still just as much a tough guy as one would want in that position. And the movies killed off Gyrich.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2017   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service