Saturday, August 29, 2015

Movies, Doomsday, & Salt

Heyyooo...figured I'd get some thoughts out about recent developments in the land of Wonder Woman. No real united theme or point, just catching up on recent stuff and news.

So let's get rambling...

The Movies
I suppose the appropriate place to start would be on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, what with the San Diego Comic-Con and I haven't touched on the subject since they cast Gal Gadot. she'll look in the movie. Quite a few months ago, we got the first official image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman:

The costume itself doesn't look bad. When the first picture was released, the lack of color was a concern, but I'd assumed that was simply because this particular pic was given a sepia-toned filter and the actual outfit would have the classic red and blue. An assumption confirmed with more recent images of Wonder Woman in action.

All in all, I figured this was best one could hope for design-wise—assuming you wanted the outfit to look at least somewhat like she does in the comics and not something radically different. On a personal note, although the heels seem kind of odd, I am relieved they didn't put her in sandals. As stated in the past, I hate the sandals look—even if it's more "historically accurate."

Gal Gadot herself looks okay. Granted, it's hard to judge from only a few seconds of footage, but my main concerns right now are elsewhere.

No, the big thing for me was the implication of this Wonder Woman design. Namely, given its resemblance to Xena and that she's utilizing a sword and (worse) a shield, we would not be seeing the compassionate Diana who only fights as a last resort, but rather, the sword-happy "warrior" best personified by the Nu52 version of the character.

Implications seemingly confirmed not long ago when Warner Bros. announced this Wonder Woman was indeed going to take its cues from the Nu52. Ergo, the joyless daughter of Zeus who hacks & slashes first and "isn't human."
I am willing to wager, though, that the Amazons will be limited to merely despising men, and that raping and enslaving them will be left out, least there's that.

Rumors have been flying about regarding Diana's own movie(s). Word of a trilogy in the works, and the possibility Wonder Woman's origin will take place in the 1920's—specifically, Diana's arrival in the world of men will coincide with the women's suffrage movement.
I'm not going to go too deep on this subject right now, but I am not a fan of the idea of setting Wonder Woman's origin in the past. I don't support the notion that Diana first adventure as Wonder Woman needs to take place in the early 1900's, that she herself should be hundreds of years old, or that Nazi's are integral to her origin. Wonder Woman, I believe, should be set in the present, and her origin should be timeless—not anchored in World War II.

I could elaborate on that, but that topic may warrant a blog post of its own, so I'll leave it for now.

Now as for the actual trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice...the line from Macbeth springs to mind: "...sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Truth be told, the presence of Wonder Woman—even if I have very little confidence she'll be done right—is the only reason I'm paying any heed to DC's movies now. The overly self-serious tone of these movies and how desperately they want to be accepted as some kind of "edgy" and "gritty" alternative to the relatively more colorful Marvel movies just makes me shake my head.
If that's what fans want, you're welcome to it. Me...I just don't care.

I am amused this seems to be embracing the criticism of Man of Steel that Superman did a pretty lousy job saving Metropolis and making that, not just a plot point, but the driving action that sets the story in motion.
"Yeah...we meant to do that! For reals!"

I've been asked by friends who I'm rooting for in this big fight between the Dayman and Nightman and my answer—not even just to troll them or because I'm a fan of her—really is Wonder Woman. Because, even though she's only seen for a few seconds and we've yet to hear any dialogue from her, I'm not very motivated to root for either Superman or Batman based on how they're presented in the trailer.

Superman—as he was in Man of Steel—still seems to remain a mopey and dreary sourpuss. And Batman, meanwhile, appears to be in full-on, paranoid jerk-ass mode. And both of them seem like they're being manipulated into fighting by Lex Luthor (who comes across like a kid in a school-yard chanting, "Fight! Fight! Fight!").

So yeah...despite seeing so little of her, I'm tempted to root for Wonder Woman by default.
In fact—even though she's going to be based on the Nu52 version—I would love it...LOVE it...if Diana turned out to be the voice of reason that gets Superman and Batman to stop being idiots.

And at the risk of sounding optimistic (hsssss!), recent comments about Wonder Woman's role by Zack Snyder have made me wonder if that just might be possible:

"[Wonder Woman] plays a super-important part. In a lot of ways, she’s the gateway drug to the rest of the Justice League."

Could Wonder Woman indeed be the cool head that prevails, breaks up the fight between Superman and Batman, and makes them realize who the true threat is?
Although Diana being the diplomatic figure that ends the fighting would be appropriate to her character (or rather, how her character is supposed to be), it clashes with the Nu52 depiction of her...where she'd more likely glower the whole time, threatening to chop both Clark and Bruce's heads off.

Probably false hopes and lip service, but then there's this comment by Gal Gadot regarding her portrayal of Wonder Woman:

"Wonder Woman has all the strength of a super-hero, but at the same time she’s very sophisticated, loving and has a lot of emotional intelligence."

Interesting comments to consider, but as with all things, it's probably best to take this with a grain of salt. Just from personal experience, it's easy to talk a lot about how compassionate, smart, and powerful Wonder Woman's, unfortunately, something else to actually execute it.
I'll believe it when I see it.

Doomsday Sucks
I also want to address a recurring rumor that's been hovering around the DC movies for a long time: Doomsday.

A lot of speculation regarding the route Batman/Superman will go and how it will lead into Justice League is that Lex Luthor creates Doomsday, this leads to Superman's death, and that leads to the formation of the Justice League which will likely see Superman's resurrection.

And let me just say: FUCK THAT!

It should be noted Warner Bros. has, for some reason, been obsessed with bringing Doomsday to the big screen and adapting The Death of Superman for decades now. And honestly, I think the fact they regard this—of all comic book stories—as some sort of Holy Grail illustrates how out of touch they are with their own characters.

The actual Death of Superman, once you get past the grand hype behind it, was not a good story. Subsequent stories involving Doomsday's return have been similarly lackluster.

Because here's your standard issue Doomsday/Death & Return of Superman plot:
Doomsday shows up and owns the entire Justice League—otherwise, how would we know ONLY Superman can match this threat? Superman & Doomsday kill themselves by punching each other a lot—compelling. With no more Superman, the League has to carry on without him...enter a new villain who completely owns the League (again)—paving the way for Superman to make his grand return and set things right.

Note how much of this plot revolves around the Justice League being made out to be jobbers so we can bask in Superman's greatness.

Superhero comics are at their worst when they devolve into fanboy dick-measuring contests and Doomsday is the epitome of that bullshit. Because he's the "thing that killed Superman" no one else is allowed to defeat him—neither individually, nor as a group—because that (apparently) makes Superman look his fanboys.
And most Doomsday stories—along with stories featuring the death or disappearance of Superman—often devolve into: "the entire Justice League is worthless without Superman."

No, I can't say I'm enthused by the idea of this being Wonder Woman's big screen debut. Pass.

Elsewhere in Wonder Woman related news, she apparently has another new costume:

Maybe it's just because I haven't been frequenting message boards or comment sections as much as I used to, but I haven't encountered as much of a response as previous "new Wonder Woman costumes" have gotten.
I mean, from the way people reacted to previous attempts to put pants on Diana, you'd think we either landed on the moon (if you're pro-pants) or a monument had been vandalized (anti-pants).

I suspect it might be due to the fact the "Wonder Woman's pants" discussion has been done multiple times already quite recently. First was the Jim Lee costume made for The Odyssey storyline. Then the David E. Kelly pilot. Then they initially teased Wonder Woman would get pants for the Nu52—although she wound up in her traditional bathing suit.
Maybe people are just numb to it by this point..?

I have a feeling, though, what discussion there has been on the subject has gone the expected route:
On one side, you have a lot people insisting this is a blasphemy and insult, insisting that our inability to see Wonder Woman's bare legs is some kind of assault on freedom and a betrayal of the character—because, as we all know, the single most important thing about her is how much skin she's showing.
And on the other side, you have the contingent of fans declaring it long overdue and progressive and cheering that NOW they can finally take Wonder Woman seriously. Because that's how you prove your feminist credentials, right? By absolutely refusing to take a woman (fictional or otherwise) seriously unless she dresses according to your definition of decency?

I know that's very dismissive, and I know there are plenty of people on both sides with valid reasons why Wonder Woman should have whichever costume...but let's face it, the two camps I just described are usually the loudest (and most obnoxious).

As for my own thoughts on the new costume...ehhh.
As I've said elsewhere, overall I prefer the classic costume. But at this point, given how badly Wonder Woman's been portrayed the past few years, I'm of the mind that whether or not she's wearing pants is the least thing to worry about.

The bottom half of the costume doesn't bother me. The sash/loin-cloth/whatever thing works, and I think brings something design-wise I always thought was missing just turning Diana's briefs into full pants.
I could do without the sleeves. They don't really fit with the outfit, in my opinion. And besides, Diana's got guns—she should show them off.

The top half though I think is too busy. What I really don't like are the shoulder-armor things. They look too big, cumbersome, and distracting. And as I've said in the past, I've never been a proponent of putting unnecessary armor on Wonder Woman.
Diana doesn't need armor—SHE IS HER ARMOR.

And the combination of sleeves and shoulder-things make her.....collar..? Shirt..? Cleavage cover..? I don't know what to call it......THIS seem like too much. Lose the sleeves and shoulder-things, and I think that works better. It looked better in Justice League: War anyway.

But the one thing that outright offends me is the addition of blades to her bracelets. If you've been following this blog, I really shouldn't have to explain why.
I've addressed this subject here. And here. And here.

Odds, Ends, & Hell Might Be Freezing Over
I'll admit, I've not been following much in comics, overall.
I know just recently, DC pulled yet another continuity clusterfuck, Convergence. I haven't been following it, and all I've heard about it is one of the big payoffs is that now "everything" is in continuity.

I have no idea what that means.

Meanwhile, Marvel is apparently doing its own continuity clusterfuck with Secret Wars, and I've no idea what that means for the characters I like there either.

Being a comic book fan can be so exhausting.

As for Wonder Woman in particular—I haven't heard many good things about the current run by David and Meredith Finch. Nothing in terms of retcons or outright character assassination from what I've heard—just not very good.
I hear her relationship with Superman isn't going so hot. I don't know if DC is planning on breaking them up, but if so, I say good riddance.

I caught wind of a "Darkseid War" storyline in Justice League, in which writer Geoff Johns claimed Wonder Woman would play a critical part:

"A lot of the elements and a lot of the character and a lot of the revelations and mythologies point back to Diana. And this is a journey for Diana and almost a reaffirmation of what Wonder Woman is, and what she represents..."

I never like making direct shots on specific creators, but seriously, nothing good has ever come from Geoff Johns writing Wonder Woman. I shudder to think what his idea of reaffirming "what Wonder Woman is, and what she represents" means.
Experience dictates it probably involves Diana chopping people's heads off, then lecturing them like a nagging robot.

However, from what I understand, Geoff Johns' recent portrayal of Wonder Woman has actually been fairly well received. Having not been following Justice League, I can't comment, but apparently many Wonder Woman fans are calling it a substantial improvement.

In a recent interview, Geoff Johns had this to say regarding Wonder Woman:

"[Wonder Woman's] absolutely one of my favorite characters to write. She's turning into that ever since Jay and I have been working on the book together, and you can see it in the story. Her perspective brings such a different viewpoint from what anyone else would have. Because at the end of [Justice League]#43, she's telling this story, and the whole point is that war is never good, right? There's never a good option when you're fighting. I think that will go to the heart of this story, where we're going with it.

"But she, really for me, embodies a different viewpoint on tackling conflict and doing it with such a smart, compassionate, strategic and yet strong and powerful point of view. So that will continue throughout this storyline.

"And I have to say, the reaction to what we've been doing with Diana, I'm very, very grateful that the hardcore Wonder Woman fans have responded to it, because we're putting everything we have into it. We're very lucky that we get to work with this character. I really appreciate the nuance and complexity of Diana. I feel really good about Jay and I pulling those out and looking at those and realizing them and shining a light on them and saying, 'Look how amazing and powerful and wonderful this character is.' There's a reason she's so unique among every DC comic.

"Again, I'm really grateful that big fans of hers are responding to what she's doing. Our goal is to do right by her, and I hope we continue to do that."

As with most things, I'll take it with a grain of salt. But if Geoff Johns has finally managed to write Wonder Woman even somewhat properly...I honestly don't know how to take that. As a fan, I've been burned too many times with this sort of thing and it's hard not to default to cynicism. I'm waiting for some horrible catch or other shoe to drop.

Speaking of which, here's one final item that's been brought to my attention. Apparently, at the recent Comic-Con, Grant Morrison—discussing his Multiversity plans—has this to say regarding Wonder Woman:

"My take on Wonder Woman is that I don't like to see the sword and shield thing. I don't like that the only way to show strong women is to make them Conan the Barbarian."

Grant Morrison . . . Grant Morrison . . . said something about Wonder Woman that I . . . agree with..?

Gal Gadot describing Wonder Woman as loving and emotionally intelligent. Geoff Johns (supposedly) finally getting Wonder Woman right. And now Grant Morrison....
Maybe I'll have to take those grains of salt I've been mentioning and start sprinkling them around the places Hell's frozen over.

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