Rowing down the Styx: The history of Wonder Woman (not being) featured in the media

In We are on Earth-3 by Santiago Andrea0 Comments

3rd isle

3. What wonder woman should be.

I realize, we might have a deeply misinterpreted, under developed character in the media alongside a deeply confused audience. The evidence is in the number of posts, articles, and websites claiming for a wonder woman movie, and the completely brash, negative, nitpicking and overall offensive reviews, columns and articles regarding any wonder woman media production weather it saw the day or light or not. At the top of my head you can read the scoop article on star riders by Sarah Dyer, which tho admittedly fascinated by the line was also downright pessimistic by saying

“I cannot see how this line or show, could possibly have done well, or actually have even been done well — the proposed mixture of Etheria-style action and adventure with modern-day teenage existence just does not seem workable. And a failure on this level could have really hurt the marketability of female action characters for quite some time, so I’m sorry to admit that I’m actually kind of glad that WW and her pals never made it to shelves. ”

The reviews of the 2011 wonder woman pilot were vicious, like on Gawker who started their review by saying:

“The few who had seen the failed pilot for NBC’s Wonder Woman — a proposed series about the DC Comics super heroine from Ally McBeal-creator David E. Kelley — said the network had laid a pterodactyl-sized egg. Campily, laughably terrible. Which didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.”

Or io9’s review by Charlie Jane Anders:

But the thing you don’t expect from this pilot is how tone-deaf it is about superheroes, and how smug and brutal Wonder Woman is. You get the impression, watching this thing, that nobody has ever really read a good superhero comic, or gotten the slightest idea why superheroes work.

There were of cause some favourable reviews, but even in these, they were mystified about something they found solid… even reaching for the inexpressible and uncomprehendable. like the one by iFanboy, which concludes:

Overall, it’s not a total surprise that NBC passed on the show. While the pilot is really solid and lots of fun, it wouldn’t blow anyone away and when you’re talking about a show that would be as expensive to produce as this one, the first time out of the gate it has to be spectacular. To steal a line from a friend who also saw the pilot “I’d still like to see more but it’s missing something. It sounds corny to say, but I think it needs a little magic, a little WONDER.”

A little WONDER? What the hell does that mean? I think they want something exceptional from t, but exceptional work, is hardly the result of luck or magic. You can get exceptional content out of Batman, because it’s a character that’s been worked over and over for the past years, there definitely is somewhere to draw “magic” from… but expecting “wonder” for character that’s been dead in that media, and in the hand of artist for over 30 years?

This trend of over-expectations goes as far as the articles that talk about the 90 series pilot. The Comic code would say

“ it just sounded awful! LeVine had been instrumental in making Lois & Clark a success, so she clearly had made some good choices with that character, but as far as Wonder Woman went it sounded as if she was deliberately moving away from the comics and the Lynda Carter show; the two elements behind Wondy’s continued popularity! BUT WHAT IF? If there had of been a TV series based on Wonder Woman during the 90s then… then… erm…aw hell, there shouldn’t have been one! And if there had have been, then Xena actress Lucy Lawless should have played Wonder Woman.End of discussion.”

the Todd Alcott script of the early 2000’s that was leaked to IGN, was reviewed it like this:

“I suppose if I was a die-hard Wonder Woman fan I might have been mortified by this “re-imagining.” Instead, I was just left with a greater ambivalence about the project. This story recycled already overdone genre elements that recalled far too many (better) comic book and adventure movies. ”

I can go on and on looking for reviews of wonder woman in the media and find the same thing  all over the internet regarding basically ANYTHING that has attempted feature Wonder Woman.  There really isn’t any positive feedback or hype that surrounds the character, nothing to motivate casual spectators, consumers, children, mothers, fathers, geeks, creatives or creative directors to move on and toy with this character.

Wired Magazine published an in-depth interview with writer J.J. Abrams some time ago about his life and career. In one part, Abrams talks about how the internet killed off any chance of his “Superman” script being made into a movie…

“In some cases, spoilers don’t just prevent the intended experience of something, they prevent the very existence of it. Case in point: I had spent close to two years working on a version of a Superman script for Warner Bros. Then an early draft was leaked, reviewed, and spectacularly decimated on a Web site that I still adore and read daily. It wasn’t just that the review was bad. Which it was. I mean, like, kraptastically bad. And probably deserved (I’m the idiot who made Lex Luthor a Kryptonian). What was so depressing wasn’t just that the thing being reviewed was an old version of a work in progress. What killed me was that the reviewer – and then readers of that reviewer – weren’t just judging my writing. They were judging the movie. A movie that was barely in preproduction and many drafts away from final. A film that ultimately never got made – in small part because that review, and subsequent posts, made studio decision makers nervous. The fact is, that Superman film might have been awful. Or it could have been something else. We’ll never know.”

You can read the complete article at Wired.com

Makes me wonder what exactly is the role of internet in the development of movies, such as Wonder Woman. It’s the misinterpretation of the character as a symbol that has set the expectations of everyone in the wrong direction. The reason why creative can’t deliver products that producers want to make.

Its clear to me that wonder woman was intended to be a feminist agent in the new medium of comics, but the context of both have changed, feminism has a new agenda and comics are not longer a new medium. Wonder woman could be a great character if they she were allowed to be what she was supposed to be, a new symbol, for new ideas, if she could evolve and subvert the established superhero model alongside any associated paradigms. If she was allowed to transgress conventions like she was designed to be.

By allowing her to be a 3rd generation feminist icon, there should be no worries if there is a female audience or not, or weather she portrays woman in good or bad light, she should be treated like any other male superhero and allowed to be explored… it really almost incomprehensible that they have decided in recent years to cancel shows like young justice, because more girls than boys where watching it, specially while simultaneously, my little pony was gaining more and more strength  popularity because more boys where watching it.

Wonder Woman was also meant to blend in with popular feelings to deliver that agenda and allowed her to survive, if the patriotic colors are or aren’t what is popular right now, let her ditch them or embrace them as it suits her. She was designed to accommodate to man’s world, both literally and figuratively. I would let her do it.

I see we find ourselves with a Wonder Woman that has been living some kind of a lie for the past 30 years; And producers, writers, industries or the public are not to be blamed. It’s the entire ecosystem that surrounds the character that is just not clear on what the character is. This confusion has her stuck in an out of context symbol, not being allowed to be explored and become part of the culture.

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When I read Cliff Chang’s and Azarello current run of the Wonder Woman book. Which makes some fundamental changes to the character origins, not to impress, or revamp, sell o make statement but to genuinely explore both literally and figuratively my proposed statement: Wonder woman should finally free from her public’s expectations both as a character in a story and as a fictional figure. In the rerun neither Diana nor Azarello are worried about what wonder woman might symbolise, she is not subject to what she is supposed to be or apologises what she has done. In it she also found out she has  been “lied” to about who she is, and it mirrors the reality of the reader who has been lied about what wonder woman supposedly represents.

I started writing this article a long, long time ago, it was proposed as my communication graduation thesis, then wanted to public it as a mini website, I followed the development process of the movie for year on a blog, and then evolved to a youtube script. and finally decided to publish it as it is, to make sense of the confusion that surrounds this character for which I personally cared for a long time, only to finally come to the realisation that it barely really exists now days. Will the character ever be as prominent as people, designed it, want it or expect it to be? That wont happen unless there is room for experimentation, diversity and more importantly not taking the character as seriously as it has.

 

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