DC Comics has announced a new look and origin for Wonder Woman. They’re blaming it on the gods.
Once again DC shows it doesn’t know what to do with one of its most iconic characters. The problem with Wonder Woman isn’t her costume. It never was. But leave it to the suits to think a PC reboot is going to solve the problems that have plagued this character since her inception.
DC describes the new outfit as “a Wonder Woman look designed for the 21st century” that will allow Diana “to be taken seriously as a warrior, in partial answer to the many female fans over the years who’ve asked, ‘how does she fight in that thing without all her parts falling out?’ …The bracelets are still there, but made more colorful, tied on the inside and over the hand, with a script W on each of them that form WW when she holds them side by side… and if you get hit by one of them, it leaves a W mark. This is a Wonder Woman who signs her work.”
The problem with Wonder Woman isn’t her look. It’s her personality. She has never been a warm, appealing character. She comes from an island populated only by immortal Amazons who hate men. And men aren’t allowed to set foot on the island. This island of super-women send her to “the man’s world” where she brings the baggage of this sexist worldview.
See, here is problem #1. Most comics readers are male. So you start off telling them their gender sucks. Great sales pitch.
Let’s deal with some reality for a second. I know the PC crowd and leftists in general love the concept of “protected classes” and the idea that, say, women could do things better than men if they had the chance. But aside from the chauvinistic mentality of this argument it ignores a simple axiom. Women are human beings. Human beings are flawed creatures.
The idea that someone’s gender makes them wiser or better is the kind of elitist nonsense that every tyrant has used to justify their atrocities. Ask yourself this question: Has everyone you’ve come across in life who is a member of your gender, race or religion been wonderful to you? Can you honestly say that every member of your race, religion or gender has an impeccably perfect history of treatment of others?
The idea that a race, gender, sexual orientation, whatever sets a group apart from others is complete nonsense. We’re all human. And any story that sells the idea that one gender is bad and another good is nothing more than classist porn.
Secondly, while Diana Prince (Wonder Woman’s real name) does change her attitude somewhat when she comes ashore, the “whole men are evil” mentality continues. It’s misandry, plain and simple and that’s unappealing. She does undergo some growth as a character from her early days, but writers continue to revert to this lame argument, which is going to limit your audience to the self-loathing types. More on that in a second.
Third, she lacks personality. Any protagonist needs to be appealing in some way for the reader to identify with them or care about them. Every writer of that character failed to give us enough reason to invest ourselves in that storyline. Being good looking isn’t enough, especially in a world were 99% of the women are babes. Being able to do heroic deeds isn’t enough since that’s standard operating procedure for super-heroes and most comics writers don’t even seem to know what heroism means.
Fourth, her backstory isn’t very well thought out. It’s a hodgepodge of slap dash Greek Mythology badly researched and poorly executed by most who’ve handled her. The man (gasp!) who created her, Dr. William Moulton Marston, was a bit of a perv who was into bondage. This is why she got tied up a lot back in the ’40s when he worked on the comic. The story was supposed to be about feminism, but this is coming from some bondage loving guy who who lived with two women. One of his views was that there is “a male notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent, and an opposing female notion based on ‘Love Allure’ that leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority.” Creepy.
So, the characters origins come from a somewhat warped dude. And then, through the years DC has tried to make her some kind of ersatz feminist icon, spouting the usual clichéd bromides, basically saying “you can look but don’t touch!” Hostile, icy women may appeal to some, but are generally not going to win people over unless we’re given a good understanding of them as people. And writers over the years have failed to do that.
Until Wonder Woman gets handled by someone who understands the problems with this character and knows how to really fix them, this reboot is going to be yet another in a long line of failures. As for the costume, it’s shrug inducing. The whole point of a super-hero costume is to make them stand apart from everyone else in some way. Making her look more normal takes away what little fun was there in the first place.
Classic super-heroes are supposed to be bright spots in a dark world. Making them more muted and ordinary looking just makes them yet another face in the crowd.