Character of the Month: Wonder Woman (with Comments about the New Movie!)

Why is Wonder Woman such a popular character lately? Because feminism is thriving now and writers and filmmakers are trying to show off powerful female characters? Maybe Greek Mythology is a popular interest lately? Perhaps because comic books and superheroes are ingrained into our culture? Or because the new Wonder Woman movie was so awesome it made everyone want to watch it again? Whatever the reason, Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta is here to empower women and battle gender stereotypes while saving the fictional worlds portrayed in her comic books and movies.

 

Character Basics:

A few different versions of Diana’s “birth” exist in the fictional world. In most of them, she was made from clay by Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons and given life by one of the Greek gods or goddesses. According to Wikipedia that goddess was Aphrodite but in Wonder Woman: the True Amazon, a comic book by Jill Thompson, Hera was the one who breathed life into this super heroine. In the new movie (not a spoiler – just background), Zeus is her father, but whether by giving life to clay or by being physical with Hippolyta we can only guess. The characters lie or withhold the truth a lot. William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator, was inspired by feminists and wanted to create a female character completely independent from males, hence the sculpted-from-clay scenario. However, DC Comics had 52 of its stories rewritten as “The New 52″, changing Wonder Woman’s origin (written by Brian Azzarello) to a more traditional one in which Zeus and Hippolyta have a love affair resulting in a child, Diana.

 

Regardless of her origin, Wonder Woman was a gift to mankind and given super powers to protect them. She has dark hair adorned with a golden tiara, a red bustier with golden trim, blue underpants often depicted with white stars (how American!), and red knee-high boots. Golden bands on her arms stop bullets, and she is armed with the magic lasso of truth, a sword and shield, and her combat skills. She joins Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and other superheroes to found the Justice League.

 

Relevance To Plot:

Her powers and intelligence make her a match against all sorts of bad guys, protecting humanity from villains and fighting characters from Greek Mythology who are bent on destroying her and her people. One villain pitted against her is Doctor Poison, also known as Princess Maru, who originally appears in print in Sensation Comics #2 and on screen in Wonder Woman (2017), working for a band of Nazis by creating a gas weapon. Doctor Psycho, another super villain, was a perfect adversary for Wonder Woman. While she represents feminism, he’s a woman-hating serial killer inspired by anti-feminists. Often in the comics, Wonder Woman is bound by a man and loses her Amazonian powers. She must literally and metaphorically break the chains of patriarchy restraining her.

 

Character Growth:

Wonder Woman always seems to be in a struggle against patriarchy. Whenever she is tied up, it is a symbol of being submissive, and she must break free, constantly fighting for feminism. As the story line in the comic books goes on, Wonder Woman discovers more about her origin and is immersed in a battle for the truth. She also deals with her own people stereotyping her because she is made differently (to everyone’s knowledge, at least).

Image from Wikipedia

In the new movie, Diana is not aware of her powers at first. She always has had an instinct to fight, and tries to get some combat training in whenever her aunt allows. Her mother, Hippolyta, taught her that the Amazons were created to defend humanity, but Diana soon realizes they cannot do so while they remain on the island of Themyscira. Hippolyta is hesitant in allowing her sister to train Diana, but soon she realizes she can’t fight destiny, and eventually the day comes where Zeus’s daughter is ready to go save people and end the war. As she battles the Germans alongside her friends, she learns more about her powers and capabilities and becomes stronger. Eventually she uncovers the truth about who she really is.

 

Why She Needs To Be Celebrated:

Wonder Woman defies social conventions and shows women how powerful they can be. Sure, we may not have special powers granted to us by Greek gods, but we don’t have to sit around waiting for a guy to rescue us. She also shows us human values, often fighting against corruption, stereotyping and patriarchy. Based on references in the comics and the movie, and the sheer fact that she’s from an island of women who have sworn off men, Diana is an openly bisexual superhero, which is important in a time when the LGBTQ community is still fighting for rights and equality.

 

The New Wonder Woman Movie:

 

I wanted to watch it again the same day. It made me want to go out and kick bad guys’ asses! Gal Gadot wielded the “Godkiller” sword so well it seemed to be made for her, snaring bad guys with her lasso and stopping bullets with her bracelets and shield. Her combat training in the Israel Defense Forces really must have come in handy in this movie, making her just as kick-ass on screen as off. (Did you know she does her own stunts in the movie?!) The story itself is immersive – there are points when you don’t know if the “good guys” will win, or if they are completely good at all. The movie really ponders the subject of what it means to be human and that we are all capable of good and bad.

 

I can’t wait to see her again, joining her colleagues to form the Justice League!

 

 

As A Writer, What Can You Learn:

Strong female protagonists are popular right now, so seeing this heroine fight for good and battle gender stereotypes is truly inspiring. Not to mention having superpowers is awesome, so writing a character who can stop bullets and force people to tell the truth is pretty darn cool. We see a lot of character growth here as well, starting with Diana’s training and learning about herself on Themyscira to making some pretty big decisions about who and what she is fighting for, all the while becoming stronger and discovering her powers. Her determination is a clear driving force, and she will stop at nothing until her opponent is vanquished and mankind is safe. These are all traits that can be used in any strong character.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman – Flickr photo by Tom Simpson
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