Posts Tagged ‘Wonder Woman’

75 years ago, the world was introduced to Diana of Themyscira, Princess of the Amazons, and the superhero known as Wonder Woman. Debuting in All-Star Comics #8 in December of 1941, Wonder Woman – created by William Moulton Marston, with help from his wife Elizabeth – soon achieved the status of lead character starting with Sensation Comics #1 in January of 1942. A Nazi-fighting Amazon blessed by the gods of Greek mythology, Wonder Woman was the embodiment of Marston’s ideal woman and his personal philosophy of utopia in which women were the dominant power.

Art by Nicola Scott

Art by Nicola Scott

Smart, strong, athletic, kind, loving, beautiful, and peaceful only describe some of the traits Wonder Woman has been associated with over the last 75 years. She’s worn many hats as DC Comics’s most well-known superheroine, and certainly her solo title and character progression have taken some roller coaster rides, but like Superman and Batman everyone has a version of Wonder Woman they can call their own. Hero, Princess, Warrior, Diplomat, Demigod, Daughter, and Friend, Diana has been many things to many people. Today, however, she’s an honorary ambassador of the United Nations.

The premiere feminist icon in comic books, it makes sense that Wonder Woman would be honored by an organization that has been making a much needed effort towards gender equality. From Marston’s original appropriation of suffragette garb to her appearance on the cover of Ms. Magazine in 1972 to her newly appointed status, Wonder Woman has and remains a champion for the equality of women. She has inspired millions and served the purpose of bringing feminist values to the forefront. As Gloria Steinem wrote:

 

Wonder Woman symbolizes many of the values of women’s culture that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream: strength and self-reliance for women; sisterhood and mutual support among women; peacefulness and esteem for human life; a diminishment both of “masculine” aggression and of the belief that violence is the only way of solving conflicts.

 

As part of the celebration, the U.N. invited Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot to speak on behalf of the character both have brought to life on the small and big screen. Carter, though not the first to play Diana, certainly had the longest live action run on, naturally, Wonder Woman, which ran from 1975 to 1979, and Gadot recently appeared as the lasso-wielding demigod in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with her first ever solo film set to premiere in June 2017. They were joined by the 2017 movie’s director, Patty Jenkins, as well as DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, though I suspect there were plenty of artists and writers invited to the ceremony if Twitter is to be believed.

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While this is certainly not the first time Wonder Woman has been part of campaigns for women’s rights or had her iconic image used to make an impact, this does mark her first official sanction as the Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. One of the ways DC Comics plans to fulfill that responsibility is by producing a comic book for release in 2017, distributed via the U.N., and translated into the six official languages of the organization; namely Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

Also ready for release next week, DC Comics will release a 75th Anniversary book next week featuring the writing and art work of well known comic book pros like Rafael Albuquerque, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Renae De Liz, Brenden Fletcher, Adam Hughes, Karl Kerschl, and Gail Simone.

It’s a good cap to a celebration for such an iconic character who is finally getting her due. Hopefully, next year we’ll be talking about how amazing her solo film was and speculating about its inevitable sequel. Fingers crossed.

 

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byrneWith his latest Animated Adventures trailer for Firefly sparking flames of rekindled love for the short-lived Joss Whedon sci-fi western, artist Stephen Byrne has gotten a bit of a pop culture visibility boost with a multitude of websites praising his work while demanding his trailer become a reality. He takes it well, though, celebrating the outpouring of love with his own earnest gratitude and humility. A man of many fandoms (aren’t we all), Byrne infuses heavy doses of joy and energy into his work, bringing smiles even to the grimdark worlds of some more notable characters we’ve seen grace the big and small screens. I reached out to Byrne recently and he was kind enough to answer some questions about his work, fandom, and the “infamous” kiss.

 

Maniacal Geek (MG):  For those out there who may not be familiar with your work (i.e. those living under rocks and in caves), could you explain a little bit of your background as an artist and animator?

Stephen Byrne (SB): Sure, I studied animation in Ireland at the Irish School of Animation. I’m from Dublin originally. I studied there for 5 years and then did some work in the animation industry, before falling into games and now moving more into the comics industry.

 

MG: What was the first fandom that inspired you to make fan art? Was it the world itself that inspired you? The characters? Both?

SB: Power Rangers!! I was drawing Power Rangers comics at age 8. I think my tiny brain wanted to draw things and tell stories but didn’t really have the capacity to come up with anything new at the time, so I would draw out Power Ranger comics, which I was obsessed with at the time. I made like 60 of them! Still have them somewhere…

 

MG: The Animated Adventures of Firefly has gotten a huge response from fans, media outlets, the original cast, etc. What has surprised you the most about this outpouring of love for the trailer?

SB: Maybe Nathan Fillion retweeting? Although I was hoping for that because I know he’s pretty active on social media. Actually more the fact that he sent me a tweet that indicated that he found the whole thing quite meaningful. I look at it as a bit of fun, but the amount of comments and messages I got from people having intensely emotional responses to it was surprising, but that’s down to what Joss Whedon did, not what I did.

MG: You’ve done a few Animated Adventures trailers (and a tease for Harry Potter), but what’s the most difficult aspect of distilling such expansive worlds into videos that last less than a minute? What do you try to focus on?

SB: Uhhhhh it’s kinda all over the shop. I usually have a basic outline of what I want to do overall. I want to put in a few time-consuming shots that will be challenging to do. But then it becomes more like ‘what can I do quickly that will look shiny?’. Because I work full-time, the whole thing is pulled off in evenings and weekends over a long period of time, so it’s easier to do a spaceship with some zoom lines flying past than it is to do River doing acrobatic insanity.

 

MG: Gushy statement: I love the way you use lighting and bold colors in your work! So much is captured in a page or a headshot with the moods and tones you create. Actual question: Do you like to challenge yourself with technique? Was there ever a project that pushed you to change how you approach your art? Or have your style and methods been pretty solid and steady?star-wars-episode-7-5

SB: Thanks! Funnily enough, color used to be a trainwreck with me. I was like ‘grass is green, sky is blue’ and it all looked very garish. I was determined to figure it out but it developed over many years and is now probably the thing I get noticed most for. As for challenging myself with technique – always. Every thing I do is an attempt to improve on the last thing I did, in some small way. I’m always looking for improved approaches.

 

MG: Your fan art comics for Spider-Man, Star Wars, and the DC Trinity have caught a lot of attention as well, the Trinity comic especially for the “surprise” ending. Do you go in with the intention of subverting expectations or do these stories write themselves as you go along?

SB: The ending to Trinity changed halfway through. And it wasn’t even my idea. A friend in work said it would be funny if Batman was actually jealous of Wonder Woman. I was like ‘yep that’s way better’ and rejigged the story from that point, so it became a little longer, but better.

Star Wars Episode 7.5 was all built around the Jar-Jar reveal. That’s the whole reason I did it. I was thinking it would be fun to do something Star Wars-y. I had really enjoyed the new movie. And I was envisioning the story in my mind and I got to the moment when Kylo Ren turns around and I was like ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if it was some else?’. That was the moment I actually decided to go ahead and draw the thing. I have lots of ideas flying through my brain at any given time, but only a limited amount of hours to do them, so yeah, I do pick things that I think will get a reaction.

 

MG: And because I’m morbidly curious, what was the overall response to the SuperBat kiss? Did you experience backlash from the dark side of fandom? How does that aspect of fandom push you creatively?batman-superman-kiss

SB: Naw it wasn’t too bad. There were some commenters that were like ‘WTF? GAY.’ Very astute people. There were only a couple of vitriolic hateful comments, which I will delete or block or whatever. But I enjoy negative responses generally, because they are either rooted in some sort of fan outrage, which means they care about what I’ve done, or they are constructive criticism (less often) which means you can learn from them.

 

MG: You seem to live and breathe superhero and sci-fi genres with a good portion of your work, but is there a genre you haven’t really tackled that you’d like to?

SB: I’m a superhero comic nerd. That’s my jam. I could see myself doing an indie ‘real world’ comic but I think you can say more about the world and speak more honestly through a genre filter. I may get tired of it but it hasn’t let up in the last 20 years.

 

MG: Your first of two Green Arrow issues came out last week, so congratulations! What challenges and triumphs do you find working on mainstream books vs indie or creator owned projects? Any other DC characters you’ve always wanted to tackle?

SB: Challenges and triumphs: With mainstream books the schedule is tighter and the money is… Existent. Which is great. Lots of DC characters I would love to draw yes. Watch this space 🙂

 

MG: You’re also working on a creator-owned sci-fi book with Dan Slott. Any information you can give about it or is it still a bit hush-hush?byrneslott

SB: Nope I can’t say anything about that at all! Sorry! Except that it is gonna be AWESOME.

 

I’d just like to say thank you, again, to Stephen Byrne for being gracious with his time despite his busy schedule.

Links to Stephen Byrne:

 

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Yeah I know we’re at least two years away from this being any sort of reality, but if Warner Bros. and DC Comics want to make that June 23rd, 2017 release date, then they’re going to have to assemble a cast some time soon. I’d say San Diego Comic-Con would be the best place for such announcing, but I’m not holding my breath. Anywhoozle, Featured_Batman-WonderWoman-Superman_EWwhile Gal Gadot’s acting prowess as Diana of Themyscira/Wonder Woman has yet to be seen, there are a number of actresses who would do a bang up job filling the ranks of Diana’s sister Amazons. While no one is certain how much time will be spent on Themyscira, it’s still important to feature the Amazons in some significant way. The Amazons, like Diana, can embody a wide range of archetypal and modern roles, but you need the right actresses to pull it off.

So, here is just a small offering of actresses who could grace Themyscira with their presence. This is only scratching the surface, mind you, because there are a lot of Amazons.

 

 

Gwendoline Christiegwendoline

Was there really any doubt that she’d end up on this list? One of the breakout characters on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Gwendoline Christie’s Brienne of Tarth has been responsible for a lot of “fuck yeah, Brienne!” moments as the character evolved amidst the War of Five Kings and her interactions with Catelyn Stark, Jamie Lannister, and Podrick Payne. Through it all, Brienne stubbornly maintained her core tenants of loyalty and honor, naming her sword Oathkeeper as a constant reminder of who she is and the promises she made to Renly Baratheon and Catelyn Stark. Christie’s work as Brienne has led to roles in The Hunger Games and the upcoming Episode VII of the Star Wars Saga, both of which have cast her in warrior-type roles. Casting her as an Amazon wouldn’t be that far out of left field and I can easily see her as a confidante to Diana or one her primary antagonists on Themyscira. Either way, a fight scene will ensue and it will be glorious!

 

 

Laverne CoxSophias1promo2_crop

The breakout star and personality of Orange is the New Black, Laverne Cox has proven herself to be an amazing actress as well as a compassionate and compelling representative for the transgender community. The presence of Cox in the ensemble cast of women emphasizes the importance of media representation and acceptance of who she is rather than dictate who she should be. The fight for complete LGBTQ acceptance continues, but it would say so much if Laverne played a character who stood side-by-side with Wonder Woman in battle or counseled her on Paradise Island, not just as a transgender woman but also as a woman of color. Of all the characters in the DC Universe, Wonder Woman has the most love and compassion for all living beings, but especially women, and certainly the solo film should find a way to display that whether through actions or dialogue. So far, Warner Bros. and DC have been proving their openness to casting people of color within their ensemble tv shows like Arrow, The Flash, and the forthcoming animated series Vixen and spinoff miniseries Legends of Tomorrow. The casting news for the movies have followed suit with Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. There is a willingness on the part of WB and DC to diversify and the Amazons would certainly embody such a philosophy.

 

 

Gina Torresginatorres_8497

Probably everybody’s first choice for Wonder Woman, especially if this had been back in the days of Firefly. Had WB actually put the green light on Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman script, Gina Torres’ casting in the lead role would have been a moot point because “duh”! Unfortunately, we don’t live in that reality, but that doesn’t mean Torres can’t have a role in shaping the Wonder Woman universe. The epitome of the “strong female character”, Torres has had a number of roles that make her casting as an Amazon a no brainer. From Nebula on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys to Zoe on Firefly and Jessica Pearson on Suits, Torres is a powerhouse actress with a loyal fanbase that would lose their minds if she showed up on Themyscira. Plus she already played Super Woman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the evil equivalent of Wonder Woman. She’s got this, so, yeah, WB get on it!

 

 

Tatiana Maslanyorphan-black-cast

If you’ve been watching Orphan Black, and I’m pretty sure you are, then you know exactly why Tatiana Maslany should be an Amazon. Playing no less than nine separate characters as part of Project Leda, Maslany has given each clone a distinctive voice and personality, which one really can’t appreciate until one clone has to impersonate another. Trust me, it’s brilliant. Her ability to fluidly transition from psychopath to soccer Mom is amazing and I’m pretty sure Warner Bros. would be missing out on a huge opportunity if they didn’t attach her to one of their DC movies. Wonder Woman makes the most sense right now, but who knows what movies lie in the future? There’s no shortage of potential for Amazon movies or build a movie around her amongst the myriad magical characters currently in need of an actress to bring them into the forefront.

 

Michelle YeohMichelle Yeoh in a scene from CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, 2000.

I love Michelle Yeoh! Even when she’s in mediocre movies like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, I still love her because she’s often the best part of those movies. A dancer turned martial arts actress in China, Yeoh gained fame from Western audiences after her appearances in Tomorrow Never Dies, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s worth noting that Pierce Brosnan referred to as the “female James Bond” because of her professionalism and skills as a combat actress. Yeoh was also in one of my favorite movies, Sunshine, where she gets a beautifully shot death scene if I do say so myself (and I do). Yeoh’s presence in Wonder Woman, especially on Themyscira, would further show that the Amazons are a multicultural society and a safe haven for those lost at sea.

 

 

Nikki Beharie and Lyndie Greenwoodsleepy hollow

All the Sleepyheads out there will agree that one of the best things to come out of Sleepy Hollow has been the relationship between estranged sisters Abbie and Jenny Mills played by Beharie and Greenwood respectively. More so than Mills and Ichabod Crane’s bond as witnesses, Abbie and Jenny’s reunion and their slow climb towards forgiveness and understanding has been a highlight of the show, for me at least. On their own, Beharie and Greenwood kick all kinds of ass defending Sleepy Hollow from the forces of evil, but whenever the two share scenes together it’s a wonderful display of actresses feeding off the other and elevating what could be considered very campy material. I believe that they would bring that same energy and elevation to Wonder Woman, working together or separately.

 

 

Rila Fukushimathe-wolverine-yukio

Yes, I know she’s already played Katana on Arrow and Yukio in The Wolverine, but here’s the thing: she was the best part of The Wolverine. Really, every scene she shared with Hugh Jackman was worth watching and I would’ve loved to see a movie all about the various adventures of Yukio and Logan, especially when the movie indicated that might happen towards the end. Then they did the Days of Future Past tag and all my hopes and dreams were dashed. As far as her role on Arrow, the WB has confirmed they have no plans to connect their movies and television shows, so why not put Fukushima on Themyscira? She can fight, she can deliver a good one-liner, it’s really just a matter of time before someone casts her in a franchise-related role. I can’t think of any better place than an island of Amazon warriors, can you?

 

So those are my picks, but who do you think should show up on Paradise Island? Let me know in the comments!

Recently, The Cut put out a list of 25 quotes from famous women all about female friendships. The topic is an inspired one, in my opinion, because, as the article points out, friendships between women are complex – far more complex than movies, television, or most forms of media will cover. Via the lens of Hollywood, women, as we relate to each other, are rarely depicted in a positive manner. Much of this is due to the skewed gender dynamics of any grouping of oldacquaintance-toastcharacters. Whether it’s an action movie, a television procedural, or a popular cartoon series, women are typically outnumbered two to one.  And that’s assuming there’s more than one woman in the cast. There’s a reason why “The Chick” and its corresponding trope the “Smurfette Principle” exist; the lone female character in the main cast serves as the only representative of half the viewing audience, of which the other half gets at least four characters to latch on to, and her entire reason for existing is to be the love interest/girl equivalent of the male lead or just simply “The Girl” meant to embody all things under the broad category of feminine.

So you can imagine how difficult it is to portray friendship among women with any depth when this tendency to keep to one girl per team means the lone female’s personality and drive are always dwarfed by her relationship to the male cast, specifically the leading man. Men get to “bro out” because there are just more of them while female characters are either one-of-guys or sporting the coldest shoulder in need of the leading man to thaw. The message sent to girls and women is clear; this character has earned a special place amongst this group of men, something you too should strive for but if another woman shows up you should be wary of her immediately. Think about cartoons of the 80s and 90s. One girl in this special group with mostly guys, she has doe eyes for the leading man, and then another voltron-teamwoman shows up. This femme fatale immediately zeroes in on the lead guy and openly flirts with him just for the sheer pleasure of making the girl jealous. Typically she ends up being the villain of the week defeated by the end of the episode, but that storyline shows up in just about every cartoon. Trust me. It’s a very rare thing for an extra female character to just randomly show up and become best friends with the sole leading lady…unless that’s also a ruse for the episode. Cartoons were really formulaic back in the day. The point is, girls are taught from a young age to be distrustful of other women, which dovetails into adolescence and adulthood as the media constantly pits women against each other in a way that emphasizes spite and jealousy over friendship and loyalty. And the general lack of a female plurality means women have fewer characters to identify with and emulate.

And that’s where the ultimate problem lies. Because of the gender imbalance, female characters are either written with no personality so as to be a blank enough slate for female viewers to project themselves upon or they’re written with ALL THE PERSONALITIES so as to cover every base that the writer believes to be salient to women – assuming all women go through the same milestones and experience full character arcs within a predetermined time frame. The luxury of multiple male characters is you can have varying personalities, ya know like in real life, that viewers can relate to. It’s why Black Widow’s storyline in Avengers: Age of Ultron has received so much criticism, lots-of-new-avengers-age-of-ultron-character-detailsmostly but not exclusively, from women bemoaning the romantic drama between her and Bruce Banner as well as the disclosure of her sterilization while being trained as an assassin. As the only female lead in the Avengers ensemble, some felt the romantic/can’t-be-a-mommy angle was unnecessary for Natasha and further proof of Hollywood’s systemic misogyny. In truth the absence of women creates an absence of stories, which creates a need to see those stories done correctly for fear that it’s a one-time offer.

Mark Ruffalo reiterated this point during his most recent AMA:

If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner. She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it’s a misplaced anger. I think that what people might really be upset about is the fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can have love affairs, they can be weak or strong and nobody raises an eyebrow. But when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there’s not much else to compare it to. [Source: Nerdist]

WWTo put it another way, think of all the scrutiny the Wonder Woman solo movie has come under before a script has even been written. Casting decisions, Gal Gadot’s body, the costume, the director, the studio, her cameo appearance – all of it has been and will continue to be debated and picked apart until the finished product is released in 2017. And even then it will be the subject of multiple conversations, essays, and op-eds about women in the film industry, female led movies, female led action/superhero movies, and the depiction of women in comics. The scrutiny and the nitpicking will be exhaustive and unrelenting. Why? Because we’re concerned that this is it. If Wonder Woman doesn’t succeed, for whatever reason, it’s just more fodder for studio executives to proclaim that female led movies don’t sell. Thus, Hollywood continues to trudge along like men are the universal demographic, which makes it even harder for women to carve out even a smidge of safe space in the Hollywood machine.

I know I’m being hyperbolic, but don’t tell me any bit of that doesn’t at least have a grain of truth. It’s frustrating because as a woman I’ve been taught to find more sympathy and empathy with male characters purely because my choices were limited in the amount of women present in the cartoons, tv shows, and movies I watched. As a kid, and a tomboy, I didn’t think much of it, but as an adult it just doesn’t make sense to put limitations on the amount of women in an ensemble when you’re effectively closing your story off to other narrative avenues and character interaction. Pro tip: If there’s only one woman on the bridge crew of a spaceship, or a group of mercenaries, or a ragtag team of miscreants looking to raise hell maybe make one of the four or five interchangeable meatheads a woman. Hell, make half of them women. Or better yet, make the WHOLE CAST WOMEN!guardians-galaxy-walking

It’s not such a crazy idea since women generally interact in groups, so the National Geographic specials have told me. And it’s not just a case where one woman is hanging out with a group of men. Nope. Get this. Women occasionally hang out with other women. Weird, right? Sometimes a group of women can get together, all of them from differing backgrounds and life experiences, somehow stay in a room together, have a laugh or a serious conversation, and part ways on friendly terms with the desire to hang out again. But you wouldn’t know that from Hollywood where all-female casts = romantic comedy/drama/coming-of-age/Lifetime cancer movie of the week tear-jerker. We’re given the “Chick Flick” label because all other movies are for guys? Again, that’s a limitation based on the old school assumption that women have to be coerced to see westerns, sci-fi, horror, or action movies where we typically see the a significant shortage of female characters. In actuality, we love those films just as much as men and willingly go see them. But you know what we rarely see? More than one woman in those genre ensembles. And if there are maybe two women they’re either rivals, they never have a scene together, or one of them dies to further the male character’s plot.

bridesmaids_poster021-e1304923490553-700x361That’s why all-female casts like the Ghostbusters reboot, the much maligned Expendabelles, the up-coming Jem and the Holograms, and even the rumored 21 Jump Street spinoff matter. The same goes for Bridesmaids, The Heat, Rizzoli and Isles, Cagney and Lacey, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Parks & Recreation, Broad City, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and Sailor Moon. They feature more than one female character in the lead, if not a female-dominated cast, which allows for personalities to flourish and create differing character interactions based on those personalities. No one character has to shoulder all of femininity. Instead, all of them get the chance to showcase how nuanced women are in relation to each other.

A blog post from Amanda C. Miller about Sailor Jupiter sums this up nicely:

You see, when you have an entire team of girls instead of just one or two, it makes the writer’s job easier because they don’t have to be as worried about playing it safe with their sole precious female character, and can therefore be more nuanced and complicated in their approach. You can give them each distinct personalities, flaws, strengths, desires, POVs, etc, because you have more than just one person representing an entire gender. With proper representation, you have the freedom to just show people as human. The good, the bad, the ugly, the quirky, so on and so forth. This goes for any underrepresented group of people.

Women are funny, competitive, vulgar, emotional, intelligent, romantic, standoffish, brazen, intimidating, generous, etc. but we need more properties that emphasize these aspects through interactions with other women. We need and want an all female Ghostbusters because we had to sit through two movies where four guys with varying Broad citybackgrounds in science and psychology ran around busting ghosts but the only two women in the cast were the secretary and the damsel. You know what would be awesome? Four women from varying backgrounds of science, psychology, and paranormal studies running around busting ghosts and talking to each other like friends or colleagues would. Will one of them have a love interest? Will one of them be married with kids? Maybe. It’s always a possibility. But it’s just as possible that all of them are single, two of them are in the Illuminati, and three-fourths of them eat ice cream while watching late night B-movies on basic cable. The point is you have the option to choose without worrying about who representing “The Girl”. They’re all “The Girl” but now it’s time to figure out what that entails.

Don’t get me wrong, some headway is being made. Comic books like Batgirl, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Gotham Academy, Rat Queens, Lumberjanes, and the new Jem and the Holograms are going strong with their emphasis on girl power and the strength of friendship but it’s still a small pool in an ocean of books featuring male leads. Television and film? Yeah, needs some work, but it’s work worth doing to have an even greater selection of quality stories.