I have always been a fan of Wonder Woman. As a comics reader and a storyteller/folklore person, I always find it very cool when we see themes and archetypes from the past brought forward and re-imagined. Media and in particular the Hollywood/Comic’s industry owes a huge debt to those storytellers and myth-makers of old. Case in point: Recently, it was announced that the new Batman-Superman movie will include actress Gal Gadot as Diana Prince.
That would be Diana Prince, also known as Princess Diana of Themyscira or (big fanfare!) Wonder Woman! Heck yeah, finally! We get some big screen time for one of the most iconic female super-heroines in Comic-dom.
Now I have to admit, I have my qualms. Gal Gadot is beautiful and has some action chops. She served as an Israeli soldier, does all her own stunts, and flies around on a Ducati Monster. But my preference for Wonder Woman is the work of artist Nicola Scott (and there are many great Wonder Woman artists); <a href=”https://kryptonradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/nicola-scott-on-may-6-program-of.html” ” target=”_blank”>this sketch, in particular, is inspired!
As you can see, she’s a buff woman. In the comic books, she’s typically shown throwing around tanks. Gal Gadot is very slender. I would have been happier with someone more from the Lucy Lawless physical mold. But we shall see.
There have been several attempts at restarting Wonder Woman on the moving screen, and some have failed miserably. But I could argue that the Wonder Woman TV show in 1975 (ABC) starring Lynda Carter plowed a lot of ground for having strong female heroes going forward. Imagine if you were a young girl watching TV back then. The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman were kicking some serious villain tuchus on the TV screen. And for a young girl, who wouldn’t want to be a kick-ass Princess? (Plus, you gotta love the 70s disco-esque theme music, too! Wonder Womaaaaaaaan!)
And what do we see later? Characters like Buffy, Xena, Ripley from Aliens, and recently Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games are getting out there and owning it—great actresses and great roles, strong and inspiring. Let’s hope that Hollywood has gotten a clue and is asking for better writing as we speak.
The Super-heroine history of Wonder Woman has gone through many re-inventions and changes through the ages. Storylines in comic books change as you watch them. Think soap operas but with death beams. But some themes have remained constant. The Princess from Themyscira is fighting for peace, equality, and justice—all while being very compassionate and calm, occasionally impulsive, and once in a while, a little naïve.
Her origins are interesting from a folklore perspective. According to canon, she was made from the clay of Paradise Island and imbued with gifts from the Greek Gods. Technically she was the first child “born” on the Island in hundreds of years. Sculpted by her mother Queen Hippolyte, the statue was brought to life by a lightning bolt from Zeus. So technically … she’s a golem. Heh, I wonder if the word emet — ??? or truth in Hebrew — is hidden under her tiara? But I digress.
On my cool “hey look, myth!” meter, Wonder Woman is right up there. Her gifts include strength and amazing healing from Demeter. She gets wisdom, intelligence, and mad strategic and combat skills from Athena. Super senses, hunting, and animal skills from Artemis. Hestia gives her immunity to all fire and the fire of truth (using that “don’t lie to me” ability via the lasso). Hermes gives her superhuman speed and the ability to fly. And Aphrodite gives her stunning beauty as well and strong and kind heart.
Just for fun, let’s throw in that she’s been trained by a race of near immortal warriors, has a magical Lasso made by Hephaestus, bracelets made from bits of Athena’s legendary shield Aegis, and then throw in some magical swords. And when she’s going to really rumble, some incredible magical armor as well. Oh, and an invisible jet.
And this, kids, is why she’s the baddest, toughest female hero in the DC universe. She can go toe-to-toe with Superman, and he’s got no defense against magic. And let’s not forget. Take away Superman’s and Wonder Woman’s powers—Diana is still, according to Batman, the greatest melee fighter he’s ever seen. And coming from “Bats,” that’s saying something.
The actual comic book origins of Wonder Woman are interesting as well. William Moulton Marston is credited as the creator. That would have been in December 1941, where Wonder Woman debuted in All Star Comics #8. World War II was in full swing. Marston himself was an interesting character: He was a psychologist who had a big belief in the power of comics as a storytelling medium. He also was one of the inventors of the polygraph (hello, truth-finding lasso). And he had a poly-relationship with Dr. Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne his graduate assistant (who may have been one of the physical models of the first Wonder Woman). One of the ideas he expounded on was that society should give women a chance to run the world. This may have been part of the motivation behind the Amazons of Paradise Island. His early stories also featured a fair amount of people being tied up and spanked—in between fighting Nazis and destroying super villains, of course. So considering the time period, there were a lot of interesting elements that led to the creation of Wonder Woman.
If you think about it, the upcoming Batman-Superman movie features a triple-play for us folklore types. Wonder Woman is directly tied to Greek myths and inspired by legends of the Amazons from the Greek pantheon (possibly an actual matriarchal Scythian warrior tribe in ancient history). Superman is the Moses of comic books (check out the parallels between Moses floating down the Nile, and Kal El, which means swift God in Hebrew), being floated from Krypton to Earth. Hitler hated the Superman comic book and declared him a Jew, by the way. And of course Batman, “the Black Knight,” a reborn warrior with a strict and harsh code, sworn to not use guns, and determined to save humanity from itself at all costs (okay, Gotham City at least).
All these elements combine to make this folklorist/comic geek/storyteller very happy! I look forward to the new Wonder Woman and wish her luck. And I hope this leads to a feature with Wonder Woman taking center stage.
— Be Legendary!
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