Monday, August 26, 2013

The Wonder Woman movie I want (and will never get)

Recently, the ignominous fates of various attempts to put Wonder Woman on screen have been discussed, such as the failed Wonder Woman tv show pilot and the Joss Whedon movie that never got off the ground. Since many other comic book adaptations are moving forward, many of which feature far less recognisable characters, this is rather disappointing to us Wonder Woman fans:

However, I have to admit that I don't expect to ever be really happy with a Wonder Woman movie. Because it really is pretty complicated compared to, say, Batman and Superman. Batman is by virtue of not having powers and being raised there tied to Gotham City, and his target is the rampant criminality and the direct harm it causes to the people of Gotham. That's what the movies have shown, and it's very much congruent with what we know of his past. Superman stands for (unironically) Truth, Justice, and the American Way, and was raised with good ol' American values on a farm in Kansas (luckily not modern day Kansas). His ties to Metropolis, the US, and his wish to be both a normal person and a superhero are easily understood and can be shown quite straightforwardly.

Wonder Woman by K.Feigenbaum
Wonder Woman, however, is a warrior-philosopher from the hidden island Themyscira, who believes in truth, positive peace, and equality (among other things), while having no allegiance to any established country or creed in the "world of men". If you keep that origin (which I very much want them to do, if they ever create a movie), it's difficult to see how you're supposed to create the hooks to a specific location and specific people. I mean, why would someone who wants to bring peace to the world go to the US in the first place? And why would she approve of a world where the wealth of the world is concentrated in a just a few hands? Why would accept that trafficking victims are deported after being "rescued" or the structure of a society where trafficking is possible? Remember when Wonder Woman stopped The Flash from putting out a forest fire because forests need intermittent fires? How would she really react to the way the world's resources are being over-used?

This is not to say that she would necessarily have to have the same moral principles that I believe in, but rather that a character who has the power to take on entire countries, combined with strong beliefs and convictions, would be incredibly uncomfortable to all of us, and certainly to governments and  other superheroes who tacitly accept the status quo. It is also not to say that she'd have to go around righting wrongs left and right and create a utopia - after all, power alone can't create sustainable change, might does not make right, and the balance between negative peace (stability) and positive peace (justice) is not always a given. But I am saying that for a Wonder Woman who keeps the usual origin, if you ask the question "what would she do when she leaves Themyscira?" the answer wouldn't be easy, and I don't think it would be very comfortable. Nevertheless, it's the kind of movie I would like to see. And it's a movie that would never fit in with DC and WB's vision of a movie universe centered around the Justice League.

If we turn away from what I want for a moment, I do hope that whatever we do get won't follow the model of "Single Female Superhero" that the two latest TV series adaptations seemed to be, and that however Wonder Woman will be depicted, she will be a lot more alien in many ways in comparison to Superman and Batman.

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