Saturday, October 23, 2010

COMICandTV: Waiting for Wonder Woman Day (Commentary)

With this Sunday, October 24th, being the fifth annual Wonder Woman Day, what better time to put a spotlight on DC's top heroine character and breakdown the recent headlines concerning the Amazon Princess.

First, what is Wonder Woman Day you ask? Well, it is a celebration of one of comics' most recognizable heroines to benefit women affected by domestic violence. Organized by the Wonder Woman Museum website, the free event has grown into bi-coastal festivities that include signings and original art auctions. Anyone that cannot make it to Excalibur Comics in Portland, Oregon or Comic Fusion in Flemington, New Jersey can still participate by bidding on pieces available on eBay.

Recently Wonder Woman has been in the news for several different reasons, both good, bad and even controversial for a character that has been around since December 1941 when she debuted in All Star Comics #8. The biggest waves were made this past June when DC Comics revealed that their classic heroine was getting a costume makeover when issue 600 of her title launched a new storyline and direction for Wonder Woman.

Designed by famed artist and current DC Comics co-publisher, Jim Lee, gone are Diana's star-spangled trunks, red and white striped boots, silver bracelets and golden eagle covered red brassiere replaced instead by dark, tight pants, a modified red top with gold accents around the top and bottom, a choker, a thinner circlet, golden bracelets and a blue jacket with a smattering of stars printed on the shoulders.

Wonder Woman is not a stranger to wardrobe changes, having gone through several over the decades and it is more likely that this outfit will only be a temporary change that lasts until the end of this current storyline. And while it makes sense for a character - specifically a woman since females tend to be more fashionable than men, especially in entertainment - to have multiple versions of an outfit and we have already seen this being done by Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark who uses both a long-sleeved sweater and a tank top as parts of her outfit, I cannot help but think this is a step in trying to make Wonder Woman more accessible to markets outside the USA.

There can be no denying that Diana's classic outfit has specific American themes in it, with the red, white and blue along with the stars (her trunks) and stripes (her boots). This new outfit tones down those details and while she may resemble a biker chick now more than an amazon warrior there is a clear toning down of the more objectionable elements of her uniform that were at times sexualized. Now her appearance may seem edgier but in actuality covers more skin and makes Wonder Woman an easier figure to push as a figure for all ages.

While the changes are most likely temporary, hopefully for Wonder Woman it gives her character a push among the mainstream because otherwise she has the danger of falling from her spot as one of DC Comics' main characters. In recent years it has become obvious that her position with Batman and Superman was more in name than in actual power given the numerous Batman and Superman projects that have been developed in other media besides comic books while Wonder Woman only has the 1970's TV show starring Lynda Carter to her credit.

New attempts to get a Wonder Woman movie have been made especially with the new iterations of Superman and Batman films but it never came to pass with script after script getting optioned but never put into production. It has gotten to the point where plans for a Wonder Woman movie have been shelved while other characters get their time on the silver screen: a Green Lantern movie will be released next summer and a Flash movie is on the road to production, not to mention a new Batman and Superman film set to be made in the next few years.

She has had moments of success in the vast DC Animated Universe, starring in several series, straight-to-DVD films and even had her very own origin film in 2009. But that does not seem enough to stave off the inevitable. DC recently released the image of their 75th anniversary logo and much to the dismay of Wonder Woman fans everywhere she was nowhere to be found. It was a big surprise given that DC has promoted their trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman for decades as their main characters but now the proof of Wonder Woman's decline and the rise of stature of The Flash and Green Lantern - thanks to Geoff Johns - came with their inclusion on the logo and her exclusion.

While I am sure their inclusion was probably aided by the fact that each has upcoming movies and Wonder Woman doesn't, it is a blow for a legendary character that has been in the pages of comic books for nearly 70 years. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is bringing some hope for fans of DC's Amazon Princess.

News broke earlier this month that a Wonder Woman TV show may be in the works for the near future. David E. Kelley ("Ally McBeal", "The Practice") is close to signing a deal to write and produce a new series starring Wonder Woman for Warner Bros. television. With Smallville coming to an end next spring, there will be a void needed to be filled for a DC property on TV and this might be the role Wonder Woman needs to be rejuvenated for a mass audience.

There is that nagging problem that many things could go wrong with such a show, especially if it is made into a show on the CW network. I would hate to see the character reduced to just another female lead in a CW drama. Of course, the CW's roots in the WB did create the phenomenon that was Buffy, so there is a chance of success if done right. One thing for sure is it will be a high risk, high reward opportunity but for Wonder Woman fans it might be just the chance they have been waiting for.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Wonder Woman themed picspam.

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