The mixed reviews are already pouring in for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — some good, some bad. By the way, ours is here. Me, I’ll catch it on a quiet afternoon, probably sometime after you.
But even though I have my reservations about whether the film can deliver on a year’s worth of trailers, I’m happy that the movie promises, if nothing else, to give us a bit of follow-up context to Man of Steel. It promises, if nothing else, to give us a new Dark Knight to nitpick into oblivion. It promises, if nothing else, to show us how DC does their version of the all-star band of superheroes – The Justice League. And it promises, if nothing else, to finally gives us the live action Wonder Woman we fans have been promised for far too long.
Frankly, it’s been a long, long time coming.
Since Lynda Carter hung up her tiara, lasso and bulletproof bracelets in 1979 (!) the world has been without a live-action Wonder Woman. I’m not even old enough to remember that – I was three – and I’m hardly a young adult now. Yet for all the supremely talented women who have lent their voices to WW over the years, many of whom would have made fantastic live Wonder Women themselves: Cobie Smulders, Rosario Dawson, Lucy Lawless and Gina Torres (even veteran voice actor Grey DeLisle), we have been collectively hitting the snooze button on live action Wonder Woman for decades now.
Joss Whedon’s ill-fated WW attempt, the George Miller could-have-been Justice League film and even the notorious 2011 TV pilot from David E. Kelley and Jeffrey Reiner starring Adrianne Palicki (who proved with her engaging and ass-kicking turn on Agents of SHIELD that the problem was not with the woman in the glossy red bustier) … Every time, hope fades to “F—it” and fans like myself wait for the next teasing Wonder Woman rumor that goes nowhere.
But now … finally …
Someone got out of bed and quit hitting the snooze alarm on Diana of Themyscira. And yeah, that person may be Zach Snyder. But … is it weird that I almost don’t care whether it’s perfect or not, or even if it’s good or not? Maybe it’s because, to me, it doesn’t matter so much.
We have had something like five live-action Bruce Waynes. That’s not even including Adam West’s campy TV rendition. I sat through Batman movies where the suits had nipples, unmovable cowls, ice-skates and day-glow. I’ve seen the so-called “World’s Greatest Detective” interrogate criminals like a second-rate bouncer with marbles in his mouth “WhurrIzTuhBOMMB! Whurrrizzit!” I’ve seen weird creepy stalker deadbeat dad Superman and a campy anti-nuke Superman who made the ‘80s Supergirl film feel as serious as Mystic River. But you know what? I come back. Every time. Because I love Batman, I love Superman. There’s fun to be had, stories to be told, no matter how much better I wish they were. And I love Wonder Woman; so I’d rather see this version come up short than not see it at all.
And maybe that’s why, when it comes to Batman vs Superman and the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, there are conversations I am now completely over.
- Gal Gadot. Years of exposure to Facebook WW fan groups means I have heard a billion different unoriginal arguments about how the Israeli actress is a bad fit for the character. And I get that. She’s not my first choice either. Gina Carano is. Which should tell you why it’s good that no one consults me for movie casting. Particularly amusing are the ones who criticize her as a former beauty queen with limited acting roles under her belt, forgetting maybe that the same resume accompanied the woman we first think of when it comes to Wonder Woman. And speaking of …
- Lynda Carter. I get it. LC will always, always, always be THE Wonder Woman to a lot of people. Like Carrie Fisher, she occupied a role that all but engulfed her identity and for many people – many men, in particular – in my age group, there will never be another. Well, no. Not like her, there won’t be. I’d argue that Lynda’s grace, soft spoken, but commanding presence, and almost devilish sparkle put her miles above the material she was acting in. She is who made that silly, campy show so iconic. She set the bar. But like Sean Connery’s James Bond, she can still be that icon, even as others step into the role. Lynda herself is ready for a new WW. So to, can we be.
(as an aside, does anyone besides me remember reading angry letters to the editor in the backs of trade magazines like Starlog, from fans who, in 1989, were outraged at Michael Keaton as Batman? No? Well, if you ever get the chance, look how many times someone says “The only REAL Batman is Adam West!”)
- The costume. I never seem to avoid costume complaints on either side of the fence. Within the pages of a comic book, the current “classic” costume works for me. At least back when she was drawn by Cliff Chiang, she seemed powerful and not sexualized. More like an Olympic athlete. A Kerry Walsh. So while the #600 jacket and pants were never my favorite, of the literally dozens of costumes over the years to choose from, the BvS costume makes sense to me. A live action Wondy works better with actual functional-looking clothing and armor. And I do enjoy at least an attempt to allude to her Greek/Mediterranean roots and history. So, if I have to have one more argument with an angry fanboy on how high-cut, star spangled panties and a strapless bustier are not practical for an iconic female superhero in a modern action movie – and has nothing to do with being “PC,” my head might explode.
- The “female superhero “problem.” Nope. Simply put, there isn’t one. Not in a world of Hunger Games, Divergent, Fury Road. Fiction writers and movie producers have been busy making the wonder women that comic book movie-making studios have been shying away from. Even as their fans bang and rattle the gates demanding a solo Black Widow, Carol Danvers and Wonder Woman. It’s finally time, and I refuse to be anything but optimistic about what is to come. I won’t get Lynda Carter – definitely won’t be getting Gina Carano – but what I get – what we all get is something real.
Real, for me, is good enough for today. Tomorrow, I will nitpick. But at least it will be over a Wonder Woman who is in in our collective consciousness, and no longer simply a token icon who stays on the shelf, unseen and unheard for 37 years. I hope that a new Wonder Woman can give us what a 70s icon simply can’t. The chance to see her become someone’s – anyone’s – favorite superhero all over again. To see men in WW T-shirts the same way I see women in Batman and Flash tees. To see kids grabbing up action figures or running around with a shield, a sword and a makeshift lasso. Maybe it took until now for that moment to arrive.