Waiting for ‘Wonder Woman’

  • Promotional poster for ‘Wonder Woman,’ which hits theaters June 2. DC Comics

  • DC Comics DC Comics

For the Bulletin
Thursday, June 01, 2017

“Wonder Woman” opens in theaters Friday, prompting Amherst comics pro L.A. Williams and comic aficionado and journalist Zenobia Simmons to discuss both the weaknesses — and the wonderfulness — of the title character.

Williams: A packed theater. Eager fans. And the audience erupted with applause... when Wonder Woman appeared on screen.

Sure, the movie was “Batman v. Superman,” but those two have been in films since 1943 and ‘48, respectively, while fans had waited 75 years for Wonder Woman’s debut.

Now, will they cheer when her solo film opens on Friday?

Simmons: Created by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941 (Interestingly, Marston was in a polyamorous relationship and his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and their girlfriend are considered uncredited co-creators, but one of the biggest indications Wonder Woman was created by a man is that she fights crime in star-spangled panties and kitten heels). She was created from clay by Hippolyta, who prayed for her statue to come to life and Princess Diana was born. As an Amazon from Themyscira, aka Paradise Island, she’s strong, fast and a master of multiple fighting styles and weapons. She’s gifted by the Gods with Athena’s wisdom, speed, strength and flight from Hermes; beauty and a loving heart from Aphrodite; Demeter’s power over earth allows her to repair her body with clay when fatally wounded; expert hunting skill from Artemis; and a love of sisterhood and the ability to inspire from Hestia. Her gadgets include an invisible plane, a truth-compelling lasso and bullet-deflecting bracelets. Her mission as an ambassador of peace was to fight evil while championing women’s rights. As a female comic book reader, I had a role model who wasn't a derivative (sister, wife, cousin, sidekick) of any male superhero and as powerful and intelligent as any of her male counterparts. Wonder Woman has always been one of my favorite heroines because she’s a complex character and her own person.

Williams: “Complex character,” indeed. When a character’s been around for 76 years, she’s bound to have some problems and Wonder Woman’s no exception. Her origin, power levels, and priorities seem to get redefined every ten to fifteen years, resulting in inconsistency being her “Kryptonite.” Clark Kent has always been a reporter. Bruce Wayne’s a billionaire. Wonder Woman/Diana Prince has been a nurse, spy, ambassador, Goddess of Truth and Goddess of War. In the 1940s, the Justice Society of America was a popular superhero team (that the Justice League of America was modeled after) and Diana was their first female member, content with serving as their secretary (and thereby abstaining from key missions) even though she was easily one of their most powerful members. She has one of the weakest supporting casts of any iconic character. And she pined for a character named Steve Trevor and concocted schemes to deceitfully get his proposal.

Simmons: Giving in to the wack idea that a woman always needs a man!

Williams: But when presented well (as has been the case for many decades now,) Diana is the epitome of womanhood: beautiful, brave, confident, funny, graceful, honest, kind, patient, personable, regal, sophisticated, strong, and wise.

Simmons: In the ‘70s TV show, Wonder Woman (played flawlessly by Lynda Carter) captured my heart the first time she twirled to transform into costume. Tossing bad guys like paper dolls, on the show she got to rock other outfits, like scuba gear and an equestrian ensemble while showcasing her superpowers. I could also reenact episodes the next day on the playground and that always made me feel powerful.

Williams: The Punisher would commandeer an enemy’s tank and use it to blast opposing soldiers to shreds, whereas Wonder Woman would grab the tank, throw it over the Empire State Building, and tell the opposing General, “Now, let’s discuss this reasonably, shall we?”

Simmons: I have high hopes the movie will make a strong statement about feminism and equality. As an immigrant, a feminist and a female icon, Wonder Woman’s story is more relevant than ever right now.

Williams: Indeed. And stakes are high for her film for two reasons.

“Batman v. Superman” was a terrible movie but since there have been excellent Batman and Superman movies before that one, both the studio and audiences are willing “to let it slide” and financially support those characters in future solo movies. But there’s never been a Wonder Woman movie before, so if this one does poorly, who knows when another will be done?

Additionally, just as Marvel Studios first launched Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America solo movies before assembling those characters in the blockbuster “Avengers” film, DC Comics hoped to replicate that formula with Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman movies before characters from most of those films assemble in this November’s “Justice League” movie. But so far, that plan is on shaky ground. Many of those movies got lukewarm to awful reviews and some folks are starting to be as wary of DC movies as Charlie Brown is of Lucy’s football. So, like the lyrics from her TV theme song, DC has to be thinking “Get us out from under, Wonder Woman,” hoping a successful Wonder Woman film will create or restore anticipation for the Justice League movie.

If so, it’ll hardly be the first time Woman Woman saves the day!

Wonder Woman comics and graphic novels are available at comic shops and bookstores throughout the Pioneer Valley. The Wonder Woman film will be in area theaters beginning Friday.

L.A. Williams is an Amherst Regional High and UMass Amherst alumnus and former Assistant Editor on the Wonder Woman monthly comic. L.A. runs AquaBabyBooks.com online comic bookstore (and yes, they sell Wonder Woman books).

Zenobia Simmons was the publicist for Hip-Hop legend DMC’s comic book, “DMC,” and is an accomplished music journalist and avid comic book collector.