The Narrators might be planning to do a review of Wonder Woman, so I’m not going to do that. This post, instead, is about seeing one of my favorite fictional characters realized on the big screen. I’m going to have to tell you, then, about my 44-year relationship with Diana, princess of the Amazons.
My first Wonder Woman comic was a gift from my parents. It was a giant-sized treasury edition of the early World War 2 comics. I look at those comics with adult eyes, and I cringe at the portrayal of Germans and Japanese. My child eyes focused instead on a woman hero. I had been watching a steady diet of Yvonne Craig being Batgirl on the 1960s Batman, as well as watching Emma Peel in syndication on the British Avengers television show, so I was primed to think of myself as a woman of action in my pretend time. But Princess Diana of the Amazons? Well, she was different. And it wasn’t just that Diana was more brightly colored. Honestly, it was because I had finished reading the Children’s Encyclopedia of Folklore and Mythology and I was hooked on the Greek Gods.
Suddenly in my hands were two of my favorite things: Greek mythology and an action heroine paired together. After that first giant comic, Wonder Woman returned to a monthly comic. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had just shed Emma Peel like martial arts action running a groovy clothing boutique and returned to her comic book persona, rejoining the Justice League through a series of self-imposed labors, like Hercules, while her male colleagues judged the success of her completion of them. Um…missed the problems with that as a kid too. Instead, I loved the way she lassoed her costume on and off, and thought that it would be cool to be both a super hero and an employee at the United Nations…at the same time!
All things Wonder Woman were to come into my hands. Reprints of old stories, the new comics, whatever I could find. Happiness and ecstatic glee were mine when I found out that there would be a pilot for a Wonder Woman series. Unhappiness and frustration replaced my feelings when Wonder Woman was blond and the story wasn’t anything like the comic books. But in a few more years, well, cue Linda Carter.
Honestly, in spite of it the Wonder Woman television show being a creature of its time, that first season holds up remarkably well. Yes, it is campy and cliched, but for me, it was a dream come true. I still own the World War Two-centric Season One. As a kid, I watched it all, and was happy it existed. Between Superfriends and the television show, I had a few good years of Wonder Woman realization.
It couldn’t last. Wonder Woman lost her own book, and I grew older. What satisfied me as a child became problematic for me as a young woman, and I kept looking at new incarnations of Wonder Woman and wondering why no one could really get her right. My last earnest attempt at a Wonder Woman comic was during the George Perez period. I truly appreciated the mythological leanings of that incarnation, but so much more of it seemed oddly tone deaf. I wondered why a woman wasn’t writing Wonder Woman. Could that be the problem?
Up until the movie, the best portrayal of Wonder Woman for me was from the animated series Justice League Unlimited and from Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier. Because Wonder Woman was an Amazon, and both endeavors seemed to understand she should operate from a place of power as well as a place of justice.
When Warner Brothers announced they would make the movie, I was not very hopeful. The precedent films were grim. There were some serious missteps and I thought we’d get a really dark and gritty Wonder Woman, like a flashback to the really bad 90s, when Diana had to give up being Wonder Woman for a tougher, badder Artemis. After all, Warner Brothers kept dipping into a well of grit and pulling up mud. And then I heard they were going to switch her to World War 1 instead of WW2 to avoid confusion with Marvel’s Captain America. Not hopeful. But as the darker, grittier DC movies failed at the box office, Wonder Woman went from sepia tones to stripes of color to a full red, white, and blue in her ads, and I began to be optimistic.
I hope you’ve all seen the film now. As I said, I’m not reviewing it, although I will if we don’t in the next couple of weeks, but what you should understand from this entry is that Wonder Woman and I go way back, and I have always hoped for a Wonder Woman who felt right. This film satisfied me in almost every way. I was shocked and delighted that Warner Brothers came through, not only on Wonder Woman, but on the Amazons. It might also be the best treatment of Steve Trevor I’ve ever seen. I guess sometimes when you wait 44 years, you are not disappointed.