Random Blogness: Wonder Woman, Brave and Bold
Before I start ranting, I’ll just jump into some awesome. Here’s a preview of tonight’s episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
Wonder Woman only pops up in the cold opening, while the main episode is devoted to a Batman/Green Lantern team-up. But for Wonder Woman fans, it’s a small breath of fresh air in a long period of blandness for the most iconic woman in comics.
Flash back a few years ago and Wonder Woman had one of the best comics out there. Fully 40% of my list of most awesome Wonder Woman moments comes from Greg’s Rucka’s run in the early- to mid-2000s. When Rucka left, DC struggled to find someone who could attract more women to the comic. And therein lies a lot of the problem.
Like it or not, comic books tend to be a misogynistic industry. Sure, women do come across as powerful and capable from time to time, but even then they tend to be ridiculously sexualized. The key demographic is adolescent males, and the industry makes no attempt to try for more mature themes, since doing so could alienate their already small customer base. And even if there was a book with a strong woman who was something other than just a sex symbol, it would still be in a comic shop, where casual readers usually don’t go and a lot of women fear to tread. Being part of a small industry that can’t afford to take too many risks, comics are a hard sell to female readers to begin with. Then there’s the fact that, since most comic writers and editors are ascended fanboys themselves, a lot of the people making the decisions just don’t connect well with modern women. DC wants Wonder Woman to sell among women like Batman sells among men, but it’s very hard to reach women with the way the industry is.
Following Rucka’s departure, DC’s solution was to shoot for celebrity writers that were popular with women. So we got folks like Allan Heinberg (writer and producer of things like Party of Five and Sex in the City…’cause girls watch those shows, right?) or Jodi Picoult (author of My Sister’s Keeper) on the book. But then DC ran into the problem with celebrity writers. Heinberg’s scripts came later and later due to the fact that he was being swamped with his TV work. Picoult didn’t bother doing basic research on the character, and it’s not like DC is going to tell the award-winning novelist that she’s screwing up the book.
All of that led to Amazons Attack!, a truly awful crossover event that is best known for Batman’s immortal words:
Sure, we eventually got some good Gail Simone stuff (which landed two more spots on the “Crowning Moments of Awesome” list), but she left to hop onto Birds of Prey before her run really got a good sense of direction going. J. Michael Straczynski came up with a big reboot of the character, then jumped ship four issues into it. And now that we’ve almost got the return of the actual Wonder Woman, complete with a gorgeous cover…
…she’s about to undergo another reimagining in DC’s Flashpoint storyline:
So by the time Flashpoint is over, it will have been about two years since Wonder Woman as the public knows her has actually been present in a Wonder Woman comic.
Meanwhile, Diana hasn’t done so well in other media, either. She did get an excellent animated film in 2009, but its low sales caused DC to not only decide not to give it a sequel, but to stop working on films starring female superheroes altogether. That’s mind-boggling and really kind of sexist – Wonder Woman does not equal every female character ever, guys. (Really, I’m mostly ticked because it kills any chance of a good Birds of Prey adaptation for the time being.) Green Lantern: First Flight came out the same year and also didn’t meet expectations, but I don’t see DC deciding to stop working on films with male superheroes in them. In fact, Hal Jordan’s getting his own darned feature film (although I have to admit, despite my initial misgivings, it looks pretty badass).
Then there’s the ill-fated attempt at a new Wonder Woman TV series. The one written by David E. Kelley, creator of Ally McBeal, which should never be seen as a qualification for doing a superhero show. The leaked script was an abomination, featuring such plot elements as Wonder Woman creating a Facebook page as a key character building moment. When that show’s pilot didn’t get picked up, it was a blessing even to the languishing Wonder Woman fans who have been waiting for a decent live action interpretation to their heroine ever since Linda Carter hung up her tiara.
Which brings me back to the one-minute clip from The Brave and the Bold up above. Again, Wonder Woman is only in the opening of the episode, but her appearance is an amazing ray of hope. The guys doing this show get it. She’s not some bastard interpretation of a superheroine trying to channel Sex and the City. She’s not seen as the be-all and end-all of female comic characters. She just jumps in, kicks ass, and she has a smile on her face. For good measure, there’s even the theme song from the Linda Carter series.
A one minute preview has managed to show off the character better than years of comics and a proposed TV series even came close to. Take a look at that clip once more. Would it really be that hard to give audiences that kind of ass-kicking lady again?