Wonder Woman. Everyone knows her name, but ask Joe Q. Public to list what they know about her and things usually go off the rails pretty quick. Unlike her counterparts Superman and Batman, the Princess of the Amazons hasn”t had as much luck* getting a toe hold in public consciousness. Outside of Lynda Carter”s run as the character in the 1970s, Wonder Woman hasn”t had much of a screen presence. That all changes in 2017 as Gal Gadot steps up to play Diana Prince.
*Not luck so much as executives shying away from Wonder Woman for a variety of reasons. Girls are scary, yo!
Bursting onto the comic book scene in 1941, Wonder Woman was the first female superhero with her own comic and only the second woman PERIOD to get her own title. The first went to Sheena, Queen of the Jungle back in 1937-38. Created by William Moulton Marston as a response to the “punch first, ask questions never” style of male superheroes, Wonder Woman balanced a brassy attitude with an actual capacity for love and other human emotions. The idea was to promote the concept that emotions aren't weakness. Wonder Woman – like Superman – began life as an ASPIRATIONAL character, not an INSPIRATIONAL one. Marston even wrote of his creation:
“Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”
Of course, you don”t survive for 75 years as a stagnant character. Over the decades, Wonder Woman has worn many hats (and origins). Some might say TOO many. After all, tiny details from the origins of Superman and Batman may have changed over the years, but the major beats have remained the same. Not so much for Wonder Woman. She”s been an Amazon warrior, a demigod, a child blessed by the gods, an orphan with amnesia, and a literal goddess. She”s been made of clay and the product of Zeus. She”s been taught martial arts by a human mentor and been trained from birth in the art of war. She”s been a secretary, a shopkeep, and a CEO. Throughout all her changes though, some things remained steadfast: her love of Steve Trevor and her commitment to feminism.
This convoluted – and frankly bizarre – origin story musical chairs have been cause for concern by myself and others about a “Wonder Woman” movie. Even some of her comic book writers couldn”t nail the right tone for Diana Prince, so what chance did a movie studio have? Especially since the DC Cinematic Universe thus far has looked like it was dipped in sepia paint and then rolled around in grit. But once the first footage from the film was released, suddenly I for one am feeling a lot more confident.
First of all, pushing the story back to World War I serves several purposes. Captain America already has the lock on World War II superhero origins, so it differentiates Wonder Woman from Marvel right off the bat. Plus it gives Diana Prince ample time to go from wide-eyed Amazon discovering the world of Man to the savvy and elegant businesswoman we saw in the “Batman v Superman” trailers. More importantly? It means this is our first superhero costume drama! Not only is Wonder Woman saving us from a superhero movie slate dominated by men, she”s filling the the “Downton Abbey” void left in our hearts.
That”s not to say it”s all fancy hats and smartly cut coats. It looks like “Wonder Woman” is pulling from an assortment of the source material. We”ve got a Diana who is the “best fighter in the DC universe” taking on soldiers armed with guns like it”s no big deal. But we”ve also got the Diana who tentatively tries on glasses and looks at her strange new reflection – dressed in the clothes of Man”s World – in the mirror. A Wonder Woman who is young and fiery and idealistic and ready to change the world.
If Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins can nail that unique combination of empathy and ruthlessness that is Diana Prince, that”s half the battle. So far, so good.
Now if only Warner Bros. would get with the program and release the official version of this footage instead of leaving it up to fans to record it. It's been two days and – as of this writing – neither The CW or Warner Bros. YouTube accounts have published a high quality version of the “Wonder Woman” footage yet. Let's goooooooooo!
Can”t wait to see Wonder Woman on the big screen but not sure where to start on her comics? If you can wait until April, Grant Morrison is releasing WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy and it is superb. While technically an alternate universe imagining of the Princess of the Amazons, it really captures the essence of Wonder Woman”s personality, relationships, and motivations.
“Wonder Woman” makes her big screen debut June 23, 2017.