Who Is Your Ultimate Wonder Woman? – Grappling To Define A 21st Century Heroine At Comikaze

Michele Brittany writes for Bleeding Cool from Comikaze:

With rumors buzzing around the film industry of a Justice League of America movie on the horizon (as early as 2015 according to IMDB), a lively discussion took place during the panel titled Wonder Woman – Why Can't She Be Done Right, and What Can Be Done About It! Moderated by Girl on Geek Jessica Tseang, the panel included Steven L. Sears, executive producer of Xena: Warrior Princess; Barbra Dillon, marketing editor and co-founder of Fanboy Comics; Heidi Hilliker, Wonder Woman cosplayer; and Jordan B. Gorfinkel, writer/editor of Batman.

Wonder Woman Panel 1Tseang started the hour-long panel by asking the panelist who their ultimate Wonder Woman would be. Gorfinkel stated Lynda Carter, who starred as the super heroine in 60 television episodes that ran from 1975 to 1979. There was general agreement from the audience, but there were a few dissenters from the audience and the panelists.

"Wonder Woman has gone through so many permutations," Sears stated in defense of his dissenting opinion and hence, she meant different things to each person and therefore hard to pin down. What one value or characteristic a person identified with, there may be others aspects that they did not. To him, Carter's Wonder Woman was powerful, but then she would giggle and apologize for being powerful. He felt that although she did well, she was a product of her times.

Wonder Woman Panel 2Hilliker liked the George Perez era of Wonder Woman in comic book form where he was the plotter and penciller for DC Comic's reboot of the series in 1987. Perez's heroine was aligned to the Greek mythos, laying the foundation of telling epic stories populated by characters that were more fully developed.

Dillon grew up with Carter's Wonder Woman and found it very difficult to suspend her disbelief when it came to the portrayal of her powers, therefore she could not identify with her. However, she felt that the DC animated film from 2009 that borrowed from one of Perez's relaunch titles, provided a portrayal more in line with what Dillon expected from the heroine. In addition, she found it hard to visualize a live action Wonder Woman in a Christopher Nolan film for instance. It was a sentiment that resonated closely with the audience, and led into Tseang's follow up question to the panel and the audience: what would a live action Wonder Woman look like?

Wonder Woman Panel 4Both Gorfinkel and Sears reiterated that whatever values the heroine embodied, it was not likely to please everyone and could very well be a failure. Sears stated that you had to get to the core of Wonder Woman and then incorporate bits and pieces from the various mythologies used in the past to tell her story. He added that costume choices would play a big part in her identity as well. Dillon agreed. For example, she appreciated when Wonder Woman had been outfitted with pants via writer Brian Azzarello, because it made more sense that for all she was expected to do, pants would be a better choice.

Hilliker advocated returning to her roots to "educate people to her origins," because part of the problem with Wonder Woman was that her mythos was vague and not really known to the average person. Sears stated that the strength of her character had to come from her back story.

Wonder Woman Panel 6From various audience attendees, Wonder Woman had to embrace a rebellious spirit and break away from her 1940s roots. Our heroine was "created in a time of perfection," Sears revealed. In other words, perfection was sought as the ultimate goal of that generation's heroes and heroines – just think of June Cleaver, housewife extraordinaire – unlike the flawed and complex characters of today.

Were the big questions surrounding Wonder Woman discovered during the course of one hour? For this writer, we are no closer to discovering the "true" Wonder Woman; her mystic remains intact for another day and more heartfelt discussions in the future.

Michele Brittany is an independent pop culture scholar and semi-professional photographer currently editing an upcoming anthology on the influence of James Bond on popular culture, and she regularly posts reviews and analysis on the spy/espionage genre on her blog, Spyfi & Superspies.


About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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