Monday, February 05, 2007

Wonder Woman

Well, I figure I'm now adjusted to the idea of daily wittering without necessarily having any point in mind, so we'll leave aside the random music selection for those days when something else leaps to mind.

Joss Whedon has quit as director of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, something that I thought was reported several days ago, but apparently qualifies as today's news over at the cutting edge BBC Online entertainment news division.

Whedon's explanation of his departure is that he "had a take on the film that nobody liked," although helpfully the BBC don't actually explain what it was. One version has it that he wanted to reinvent the character and get rid of all the tacky camp stuff that she's usually associated with. You can probably see why they wouldn't go for that.

Wonder Woman is a problematic character. To people who live inside the comics bubble, she's an icon. But frankly, she's a confused and garbled concept. The character is based on some very out of date ideas about femininity, and the costume is just plain dire. Quite how you start with the idea that she's an ambassador from a pseudo-Greek culture, whose whole purpose in life is to spread the values of that society to the ignorant people of the outside world, and then end up dressing her in the stars and stripes... well, that's just absurd, despite the occasional efforts that have been made to justify it.

Yes, she's the only top-drawer female superhero with any claim to iconic status. Yes, it would be nice if she was any good. But really, you've got to be terribly forgiving to take Wonder Woman seriously - or willing to reinvent her from scratch.

More to the point, the rest of the world couldn't care less about her. As a character concept, she means nothing to the general public who are supposedly going to see her film. It speaks volumes that when the writers of the BBC story were casting around for suitable links, it never crossed their minds to throw in DC Comics. No, when they wanted a Wonder Woman page, they chose this one - a brief summary of the Linda Carter TV show under a banner saying "I Love 1978."

And that's Wonder Woman. That's the franchise. That's all the public know about her. Linda Carter used to go twirly-twirl, around 30 years ago.

Superman and Batman are at least, on some vague level, understood by the general public as characters. Wonder Woman is just nostalgic camp. Trying to sell her to the general public as a serious character is, at best, an uphill struggle and, at worst, desperately unwise because she simply won't bear the weight.

Still, on the bright side, perhaps Joss Whedon will now be able to hurry Astonishing X-Men along a bit. Marvel have just announced yet another rescheduling of the series, which means that it'll now be coming out quarterly.