Supergirl First

The case for why DC should tackle a Supergirl movie before a Wonder Woman movie.

I wrote a little bit a few weeks ago about the importance of getting the Wonder Woman storyline right when she is written in comics, books, television and movies. If I had a huge ego, I’d say the folks at DC Comics read what I wrote, (I’m sure they didn’t!) because Diane Nelson, new President of DC Comics just came out with a statement about writing Wonder Woman for the big screen in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter on DC Comics movie strategy over the next several years.

Nelson: We have to get her right, we have to. She is such an icon for both genders and all ages and for people who love the original TV show and people who read the comics now. I think one of the biggest challenges at the company is getting that right on any size screen. The reasons why are probably pretty subjective: She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium? What you do in TV has to be different than what you do in features. She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.

I agree there are some pretty high stakes in getting a Wonder Woman movie off the ground. Unfortunately due to the world we live in, a failed Wonder Woman movie would be seen as the inability to sell any female superhero. Batman can bomb and get more movies. Superman can choke and still get another reboot. But Wonder Woman wouldn’t get another shot if her movie failed, because no one would be willing to take a critical look at why the movie failed; they’d just chalk it up to “women’s stories don’t sell” even though that would almost certainly not be the problem.

I don’t think the story line of Wonder Woman is all that tricky, really. For one thing – start without an origin story. Just drop her into the action – In medias res, kicking butt and taking names. Then make small references to her origin story where it’s absolutely needed, and leave the rest up in the air. Let it be a mystery you fill in about movie 2 or 3. Wouldn’t that be a fresh take on a superhero movie? Start by showing, not telling, and from the point of view of the average person on the street, who wouldn’t know or care about what’s going on on Mount Olympus, but who does give a crap about what’s happening around them.

Stop talking about gods and goddesses (especially when they get them all wrong) and just have Wonder Woman work on some issue of global injustice, especially one that relates to women. Also drop the “female superheroes get female super villains” trope (which I REALLY need to devote a whole blog post to!) and have her fighting some patriarchal cultural problem with male bad guys. Because look at the reality of the world – 85% of the time, the bad guys are men.

Go back to “the Amazons are alive and they’re good guys” stories of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman era, but wait to reference why she left the island and all that until future movies. Then go back to the “clay baby” origin story, and the Perez origin story in particular. Compelling story lines could be made with those elements, without rubbing anyone – most especially me and other feminists – the wrong way. And really, for Batman and Superman, it’s important to tell their origin stories, because they’re pretty big babies, full of angst and woe. Wonder Woman is strong and confident and capable and doesn’t need an emotionally unstable childhood to explain her frame of reference.

Nothing is tricky about all that. What’s tricky is that there are a bunch of men involved in DC Comics who really don’t want any of those story lines to happen, because they’re pretty sexist and can’t manage to reconcile good storytelling, what the public wants to see in a superhero movie, and what they need to uphold for the integrity of Wonder Woman as a cultural icon. That’s not a problem with Wonder Woman; that’s a failure of imagination with DC Comics staff. If I were a betting sort of girl, I’d bet that the Joss Whedon story that got canned was something along the lines of what I outlined above. (I am a betting sort of girl, BTW.)

I kind of agree that I’d rather not see them bomb with Wonder Woman. So I’ve been writing in every comments section I can find about what I think they should do – start with another female character. Specifically; start with Supergirl.

Supergirl by Chillyplasma
Supergirl by Chillyplasma

There are some good reasons for doing it that way:

  1. Supergirl already had a fairly successful movie that people like many years ago.
  2. They just had a very successful Superman movie come out recently.
  3. Supergirl is pretty straightforward, if they use the very popular Candor/Identity origin story. The advantage of that would also be Angry Supergirl, and nothing is better than Angry Supergirl. If you’re writing Angry Supergirl, she can be “Ripley in Aliens” badass, and she could tackle a lot of cool global issues story lines.
  4. Casting would be easy, because they answer is a really obvious one: Dianna Agron. She looks the part, and she does Angry Face really well. She’s also a competent actress that could carry a movie if she’s given a consistent and well-written role, unlike anything she was handed on Glee.
  5. I love Supergirl almost as much as I love Batgirl, and slightly more than I love Wonder Woman. And everyone should make me happy at all times.
  6. A good Supergirl movie would set the stage for Wonder Woman nicely. You could do something interesting like just have Wonder Woman show up at the end of the movie to invite Kara Zor-El to hang out at Paradise Island for awhile, setting up the “in medias res” story for Wonder Woman that I outlined above.

Dianna Agron

Who knows, maybe the powers at DC Comics are reading my blog and some of these ideas will wind up on screen. Probably not. But I can dream.

Continue ReadingSupergirl First

Wonder Woman as a feminist icon, and DC Comics’ moral obligation to do better

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Or – How DC Comics is wasting the best character they own and acting like 5-year-old idiots making jokes about Superman and Wonder Woman boning while they fly.

First, let’s start off by putting Wonder Woman in the right context.

Wonder Woman is the most important character that DC Comics owns. She’s bigger than Superman. She’s bigger than Batman. She’s bigger than the DC universe, and bigger than comic books themselves. Wonder Woman is the fictional, graphic novel equivalent of Susan B. Anthony. Or Martin Luther King, Jr. She’s a beloved feminist icon, symbolic of women in a way that no male superhero could ever be for men. Wonder Woman is the only superhero character that could, if she were written well, change the course of human history.

Wonder Woman comics, written well, could affect the lives of women and little girls around the world. Wonder Woman’s stories could influence how people think about girls and education. About rape as a tool of war. About female genital mutilation. About honor killings. About sex trafficking and sexual slavery. About women and girls as leaders. About female scientists and athletes and artists and astronauts. Wonder Woman has the power to inform our way of thinking, to shine a spotlight on the bleakness that is the existence of 80% of the female population on the planet. This is a dangerous and often miserable world to live in for 51% of the human beings on this planet. Wonder Woman has the power to transform that.

Wonder Woman

The power of the written word to move nations, to topple dictatorships, to change lives, has been proven over and over in history, even up to and include the present day. Written well, Wonder Woman comics could put a thumbprint on human history, to the effect that 200 years from now, she would be a point of discussion in our history books – the one and only comic book character that could possibly achieve that. Superman could never fly off the page that way. Batman couldn’t climb up and out of comics and into history like that. We know about male power. We know about men’s ability to manipulate, control and dominate through force; Superman and Batman have nothing new to show us. Those things are already real in the world today.

We don’t know about what women can achieve, given open opportunities and the power to make our own destinies. We may have *some* idea of that here in the United States, and in Europe. But so many of the women in our world live without any hope of opportunity. Wonder Woman is the only comic book character that has the power to transcend the medium, any medium, and take up a place in our thoughts as a symbol of the possibilities of women.

So what is this nonsense about flying and boning?

Well, Wonder Woman is finally getting a second comic book. This happens with “big” characters – Superman has multiple comics, as does Batman. Flash has also had more than one comic book. Wonder Woman has long been considered one of the “Big Three” of DC Comics, so it’s fitting that she finally gets a second book.

Except that her “second book” is not really hers – she’s taking second billing with Superman. And it’s a romance book. And they’re a couple. And the writers of the book are on twitter, making jokes about how fun it will be to write about the two of them having sex while they fly around.

Yeah. Lots of important work to do, but lets write ridiculous stories about super-powered sex. Because of course. That’s the first thing I would do, if I knew how to fly. I would screw, up in the clouds.

Never mind rescuing women from rape in the Congo. Never mind building schools for girls in the middle east and Africa. Never mind preventing girls being sold into sexual slavery in Thailand. Or building an underground railroad for lesbian and gay people to get out of Uganda before they’re slaughtered wholesale. Or, for everyone’s sake, kicking Vladamir Putin in the nads.

No, lets screw in the air! Yay! What better things could superheroes possible do?

I’m completely mystified by what DC Comics thinks they are doing with this character. It’s like they don’t even understand what they own. They’re like five-year-olds playing with a mack truck. They have the ability to do so much good, and yet they’re completely oblivious to what they hold in their hands.

Continue ReadingWonder Woman as a feminist icon, and DC Comics’ moral obligation to do better

Wonder Woman and Superman? Why?

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Entertainment Weekly reveals that in an upcoming issue of the Justice League, Wonder Woman and Superman will start knocking boots.

Wonder Woman and Superman Hook Up

Yup. From the reaction I saw on Facebook and the comments at DC Women Kicking Ass, fans don’t seem to be into it, and it doesn’t break down across male/female gender lines the way discussions often do when it comes to the topic of female super heroes.

DC Women has some great points in their article; they’ve basically devalued Lois Lane, who used to be a prominent female character at DC. They’ve made Wonder Woman subordinate in ways that are out of character, and it’s especially a problem for Wonder Woman given that they’ve already trashed her origin story.

I’m not really a fan of it. I don’t think he’s good enough for her, and think she belongs with Steve Trevor. It really depends on how serious this whole thing is – are they just macking on each other for one issue as a stunt, or are they really going to be together? But at the same time, I ignore the Justice League anyway, because I really don’t care that much about hanging out with the boys. I only care about her main title, such as it is. I added it to my pull list in the beginning because – it’s Wonder Woman. She’s the original, the coolest, the girl I fell in love with on the television. I’ve pretty much disliked the entire 52 reboot of Wonder Woman, though; it’s crappy Greek mythology, crappy feminism and where the hell are the bad guys? Could we fight some crime, please?

But I’ve had serious second thoughts about dropping Diana from my pull list. It almost feels sacrilegious to say so, but I’m thinking the guys in charge at DC really don’t get it, and may never get it.

UPDATE: NPR has a hilarious take on how Wonder Woman and Superman would get along as a couple, presented in text message format. Sounds a bit like they don’t agree with the pairing either.
Continue ReadingWonder Woman and Superman? Why?

Thoughts on Azzarello’s Wonder Woman

From Vanessa Gabriel: Thoughts on Azzarello’s Wonder Woman |.

In the last three issues of Azzarello’s Wonder Woman, I find myself less than inspired. What started off strong is now bringing diminished returns in the form of Diana’s intellect, or lack thereof. Diana is repeatedly being tricked or lied to in some monumental way, and she’s falling for it.

I know there are various methods in fiction writing that make the protagonist interesting. One of them is creating conflict and struggle in order to build the character back up, and to give the audience something to root for. But Azzarello’s “deconstruction” of Diana’s personality is irritating the living shit out of me. Diana of Themyscira as a dumbass has got my goat far worse than the vilification of the Amazons. Apparently being one of Zeus’ bastards throws Athena’s wisdom out the door. Perhaps it’s a punishment from Hera.

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On Wonder Woman #8, Fanboy Flakkers & The Sanctity Of Myth

On Wonder Woman #8, Fanboy Flakkers & The Sanctity Of Myth (Part 1 of 2) by “Too Busy Thinking About My Comics”.

It seems that Azzarello has been granted free reign by the flakkers to reinterpret anything at all except for those aspects which serve to perpetuate misogyny. The supposed vileness of Queen Hippolyta and her brutally emasculating sex-killers ought to be forever respected, it seems, but everything else is apparently up for grabs. And so, there’s been not a murmur of discontent – let alone any spittle-flecked raging – about the innovative if hyper-real rendition of the Greek underworld and its ruler in this month’s Chasing Shadows. It’s something which really does leave the suspicion that all that rage and indignation about the sanctity of those old myths, about the necessary rightness of portraying the Amazons as despicable man-murderers, was nothing more than a desperate attempt to shout down anyone who might have pointed out how unpleasantly sexist, and indeed profoundly stupid, Wonder Woman #7 was.

Or: it was never about the sexist myths of times gone by and everything about the sexist myths of 2012.

A very interesting read. Part 2 of this analysis is here.

Continue ReadingOn Wonder Woman #8, Fanboy Flakkers & The Sanctity Of Myth

She Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?

Kelly Thompson on Wonder Woman issue 7: She Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics? | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources.

I drafted Wonder Woman #7 for my CBR reviews last week not knowing what the issue was about, and it resulted in the toughest review I’ve had to write for CBR yet. To CBR’s credit, though the review skewed a bit editorial, they ran it. However, we have strict word counts over there and I have many thoughts and feelings…so here we are on She Has No Head! five days later.

I have loved and supported the new Wonder Woman under Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. I supported this book vehemently even when I did not agree with all the choices they made — like Wonder Woman being Zeus’ daughter and thus a demi-god — because I understand that writers have to do things that are unpopular sometimes in order to tell the best story. And in fact, doing something unpopular can often be the right thing to do. In addition to that, I also understand that stories are not tailor made FOR ME, and I don’t expect them to be. So I accepted the changes as many fans did and continued to read, and frankly to love, so much of what Azzarello and Chiang were doing.

And more:

I spent the weekend trying to decide whether this story would have hit as painfully if not for the current state of women in the real world. In the U.S. alone we are in a fever of women’s reproductive rights being stripped away, women being denied a seat at the table for discussion of these rights, women who use birth control publicly being called ‘sluts’, and women being physically violated by things like transvaginal probes. Not to mention everything from continued victim blaming for rape, sexual harassment in the workplace, and women still (in 2012!) making approximately 80 cents on the dollar. And those things still ignore the far larger and more obviously dangerous problems that women must face in so many other countries – being forced to marry your rapist, being stoned to death for daring to be raped, to even archaic rules like women not being allowed to drive cars.

It’s hard to ignore that this is a society that increasingly hates and distrusts women, especially as they gain any ground or power for themselves. And so it’s doubly hard to see that reflected back in our fiction right now. To see powerful women – which The Amazons have unequivocally been – as THE example of a society of powerful women in DC Comics – stripped of everything that might be good and honorable so that we may see the broadest most hateful stereotypes of them presented. The erroneous and damaging stereotype reinforced yet again that women with power will become absolute monsters. I would never make an argument that a matriarchal society would be a utopia. I would argue that any society that has inequality can by its very nature NOT be a utopia. But I see the Amazons, time and time again turned (primarily by men I’m sorry to say) into horror stories. Wildly exaggerated speculation of man-hating, man-killing, war-like unreasonable monsters. The question in fiction seems to lately be – how could powerful women be anything but monsters? For me, it’s a bridge too far.

Continue ReadingShe Has No Head! – Is the Destruction of The Amazons The Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?

Recently Read for October 11, 2001

Happy National Coming Out Day! I’ve been out 24 years, as of this date. I’ve been a very lucky woman – able to be open about my romantic life with everyone, happily married to a really wonderful woman. I’ve faced approximately my fair share of homophobia, but not for many many years. For those still coming to terms with their sexual orientation, GLSEN has a wonderful guide on how to prepare and plan for your own coming out.

A couple of things I’ve seen around the interwebs the last few days:

A parody site of the Anthropologie clothing store. You will laugh your ass off; I guarantee. And I especially like that I get an Anthropologie ad on my site from this link.

Husbands: The Series
A very cute online series about two gay men who get drunk in Vegas and get married, and then decided they need to make their marriage work — written and produced by Jane Espenson.

File under: “Companies I’m no longer buying from” is this little gem:
Dr Pepper Ten: ‘No women allowed’

“To appeal to men, Dr Pepper made its Ten drink 180 degrees different than Diet Dr Pepper. It has calories and sugar unlike its diet counterpart. Instead of the dainty tan bubbles on the diet can, Ten will be wrapped in gunmetal grey packaging with silver bullets. And while Diet Dr Pepper’s marketing is women-friendly, the ad campaign for Ten goes out of its way to eschew women.”

Lovely. I hope you get at least one new client from this ad campaign to make up for losing me as a regular Diet Dr. Pepper drinker.

Speaking of Stupid Male Tricks, here’s another:

Wonder Woman’s Origin Story Re-written

In DC COMICS-THE NEW 52, Wonder Woman will have a new origin, in which she is the daughter of Hippolyta … and Zeus! In recent interviews, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang have teased that readers should expect the unexpected in this edgier, horror take on the superhero genre ­and the king of the gods will ensure that nothing goes as planned for his defiant daughter.

Why is this a big deal? Imagine if Superman were not raised by the Kents, or if Batman hadn’t seen his parents killed as a young boy. What if the iconic defining characteristic of your favorite superhero were re-written completely? Wonder Woman is one of the Big Three in DC – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. Nobody is messing with the origin of the other two. And on top of that – Wonder Woman is a feminist icon: a child shaped of clay (lots of early Greek mythology precedent for that, as well as Hindu mythology) and infused with a soul by the female Greek goddesses, she was born of parthenogenesis and raised in an idyllic society of women – all specifically with the goal that she have the characteristics to stop violence directed at women and children as well as to bring humankind peace and justice. Now all of the sudden, she has a sperm donor? What happened to the “tool born of women to save women?” This sucks, DC Comics. I’m still going to read the book, but there better be some really compelling reason for doing this.

Some Personal Highlights From Geek Girl Con
A summary of a cool convention I didn’t previously know existed from Gail Simone, the current author of Batgirl, and former writer of Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman and a whole bunch of other DC comic books. Girl Geek Con isn’t specifically a comic book convention – it’s for girl nerds of all types and sounds like a blast, from every account I’ve read online. I seriously need to go next year.

Continue ReadingRecently Read for October 11, 2001