Monday, March 25, 2013

You Fail Me Yet Again, DC

Okay, I was working on my next post when I came across this and felt obliged to stop what I was doing and rant about it.

It’s just been announced a new DC video game titled Infinite Crisis is being worked on. Some kind of MMO or some-such, I don’t really know or care—my gamer days have been over for some time now.
What I want to discuss is the little bio the developers have created for Wonder Woman:

"Born of Zeus and Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons, Wonder Woman protects those in need with sword and shield.
"The Amazons lived in isolation until pilot Steve Trevor crashed on their island paradise and Diana fought to accompany him back to civilization as Wonder Woman. Expecting a world of peace and prosperity, she instead discovered war and hate, vowing then to enact change. Viewing conflict as an ugly necessity, Diana offers opponents mercy if at all possible."

I want you to soak this in.
If you’ve been following my ongoing ramblings about Wonder Woman, you might not be surprised to find I am at a loss. This little blurb here, this little summation of who Wonder Woman is, illustrates so much of what I’ve been saying is wrong with how Wonder Woman is portrayed and advertised by DC Comics.

And I’m going to break it down, piece by piece.

“Born of Zeus and Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons…”
Okay, to start: I hate they made Zeus Wonder Woman’s father. Hate, hate…HATE…it. But to be fair, that is the current continuity, so I’m not going harp on them for conveying that with their little bio here. Much as I despise the retcon, it has little to do with the big picture I want to discuss.
I’m only pointing out that, right off the bat, I’m pissed off reading this thing.

“…Wonder Woman protects those in need with sword and shield.”
Sword and shield. Sword and Goddamn Shield. It just kills me. Does Wonder Woman protect the innocent with her superpowers? Does she utilize her trademark Lasso or Bracelets? Abilities and weapons that would suggest she's an exceptional being with great powers and skills beyond those of normal people?

Nope. A sword and shield.
Because we wouldn’t want to suggest Wonder Woman can fight evil with her know, like a superhero would. We wouldn't want to imply she has great skills that allow her to fight with these strange and out-of-the-ordinary weapons like a magic rope or unbreakable bracelets. To do so would make it seem like she's powerful and unique, and we can't allow there to be any wonder with Wonder Woman, can we..?

And I’m going to come back to this, because there’s something else here that pisses in my radiator.

“The Amazons lived in isolation until pilot Steve Trevor crashed on their island paradise…”
Okay, what..? They call Diana Zeus’ daughter, in keeping with Nu52 continuity, but then they describe Themyscira as a paradise and imply they’re still peace-oriented people. No, they’re not! Not anymore…’cause when they showed up in Wonder Woman, they were savages and it’s been revealed they hate men, rape them, and engage in slavery.

I brought this up in "Deconstructing" Amazons & Practicality. Does no one realize what a mess of Wonder Woman’s backstory this is? How the hell is anyone supposed to understand or relate to this character when we’ve no frame of reference and—evidently—the people friggin’ working for DC don’t even know what the hell’s going on?

Seriously…should I just accept that the Wonder Woman I’ve known and loved all these years is simply gone..? Phased out of existence along with Cassandra Cain, Wally West, and Helena Bertinelli because of Flashpoint? Or is she still the same Wonder Woman and these changes are just retcons that I’m supposed to reconcile with the character I’ve been following? I have no fucking clue.
And if I—a longtime fan—don’t know, how does DC think it’s going to win over the fabled “New Fans” it so desperately wants? Because all they’re getting are mixed and muddy messages.

“Expecting a world of peace and prosperity, she instead discovered war and hate, vowing then to enact change.”

This is the kicker. This illustrates exactly what I was saying in Why Doesn’t Wonder Woman Understand Ice Cream and in "Deconstructing" Amazons. This is how DC presents and advertises Wonder Woman, and they get surprised when people regard her as an unlikable, un-relatable, sanctimonious, and hypocritical zealot. This isn’t rocket-science. You just suggested our hero is a snob who came to our world and promptly looked down on us as inferior and that she's taken it upon herself to fix us.

In the end, I think it boils down to one simple thing. I think this is where so many writers—one in particular that I won’t name, but he’s a major offender on this—fuck up when it comes to Wonder Woman.

Diana did not, does not, should not come to our imperfect world from Themyscira and say, “These people are hateful and violent. I have to fix them.” What she should say, what she's supposed to say is this: “These people may be flawed, but are good and decent. I want to help them be better.”

It's a subtle thing, and I guess I can see why many writers screw it up. But that’s the difference between a Wonder Woman who is a preachy, snobby, sanctimonious zealot and a Wonder Woman who is a compassionate, generous, and helpful hero that we can like and root for.
End of line. If you don’t get that, you don’t get Wonder Woman and you have no business writing her.

“Viewing conflict as an ugly necessity, Diana offers opponents mercy if at all possible.”
And I love that they tack this on at the end, almost as if someone reminded whomever was writing it that Wonder Woman is supposed to be a compassionate and peaceful person—even though they just presented her as a sword-wielding zealot with an agenda to force people into being good.

And to take it back to the sword and shield thing: you advertise lethal weapons as her primary tools—again, not the Lasso, Bracelets, or her powers—then you say she’s merciful and doesn’t like conflict. And, again, you get surprised when people look at Wonder Woman like she’s a hypocritical paradox with a nonsensical, contradictory philosophy that doesn’t make sense.

This shouldn’t be hard and yet, DC makes it hard. Then they blame the character and insist she’s fundamentally flawed or weak. It’s your own damn fault! You don’t understand your own damn character and you send out these inconsistent presentations to fans.

Someone who doesn’t know anything about Wonder Woman might look at her presentation in this game and accept it at face value. And he or she might like this type of character and they’re welcome to. The problem is, Wonder Woman shouldn’t be this type of character and naturally the fan will get confused and upset when he or she is told the Wonder Woman they were introduced to and grew to like is wrong.
So then DC blames the fans for Wonder Woman not being successful and says they’re impossible to please and aren’t happy with anything.

Oh, great Cthulhu save me!

Amusingly enough, another bit of news I found today is the Wonder Woman XXX parody is being made. The filmmakers released a picture of the actress playing Diana, and frankly, this is probably the best live-action adaptation of Wonder Woman's costume I've yet seen...

How sad is it that we’ve reached a point where I have more faith in a goddamn porno giving me a faithful presentation of Wonder Woman than DC friggin’ Comics?!

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