Reviving Wonder Woman

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage

Let me be upfront about this. I have no real positive hopes for the newWonder Woman TV series.

I mean no offense to anyone involved in it.

Okay, I may need a little offense to the people who were creating the strange-kit bashed concept. It sounds like pile-of-stuff theater. How many secret identities here?

This is the last thing that assorted Nazis and mythical villains see before they wake up in traction.

Then again, I should probably be sympathetic. Wonder Woman is an incredibly hard property to adapt. Sure, a woman from a mysterious island with magical powers of fights evil? Shouldn't be hard to do, right? We've seen heroes and heroines who reinterpreted again and again in amazing ways. Why not Wonder Woman?

I think ion hit on it in this article. Basically, Wonder Woman has two things going on for her - she's about mythology and fighting Nazis as an ally of the US and the world. You need both to make her work. Hell, you need the latter to explain why she keeps the patriotic outfit around.

She's not an easy character to handle. I suspect the TV series we're seeing is just to "do something" with the property, a case of people saying "hell if I know."

So, of course, as I do here now and then, I'm going to analyze the property of Wonder Woman, and try to figure out how to make a modern take, for multiple medias, that works.

Walking between many worlds, and kicking ass in all of them.

And that? That means staying true to the character, yet modernizing her, and not losing what makes are great–a mythical character kicking the ass of modern villains (Nazis included). So here's how I think a viable Wonder Woman media property could be made. It needs these traits:

Hippolyta in World War II. I always liked this idea, a bit of retcon that explain Wonder Woman's World War II adventures were really her mother. So when she took up the mantle she of course took the costume that mom had. It's got a nice bit of character dynamics that people can enjoy, a sense of history and explains the patriotic outfit is a bit of a legacy. Plus of course, Nazi-beating, which I enjoy.

If she doesn't make you a bit afraid, she's not written right.

A reason to come back. So, what gets Diana off the island into the tights and back in the world raining righteous smack-down on bad guys just like mom did? We already have an explanation–globalization. The world is too small, the Amazons want a representative to the greater world, and Diana ends up being that person–who takes up mom's mantle. You can mix in some of the diplomatic concepts from previous incarnations of the character, or just throwing some interesting new bad guys–and girls.

Wonder Woman as symbol. The outfit isn't just moms. It represents a commitment to the ideals of America, and in many ways the greater alliances that came together to beat the Nazis. Diana is a symbol, a diplomat, and represents a new alliance. You can have a lot of fun playing up the different pressures in different sides of her life–and how she deals.

Diplomat and crimefighter. Make it part of Diana's legacy that she is fighting assorted forces of evil, crime, and so on as her way of participating in the larger world, the world the Amazons are seeking to become part of. It's a great, simple excuse for her to get in on the action.

The outfit for the TV series. It doesn't work. All due respect to the actress, never should I feel bad about a beautiful woman in tight clothing.

Culture clash. It can be a lot of fun to have Diana encounter our modern world, in-depth. But she's no helpless fish out of water; this is a woman of immense confidence, training, education, and butt-kicking potential. She's going to encounter our world, our ever-smaller world, from a different perspective–but from a perspective of strength, and understanding. This has immense potential for good writing.

The intellectual warrior. How would I handle the character? She's educated (hey, if the Amazons are kind of a Greek/Roman culture mashup I'm sure they have an intellectual tradition), and she doubtlessly prepares for her voyage into our world. She also, of course is a trained warrior with magical implements and powers - she's capable of delivering mighty smackdown. As a kind of intellectual warrior, mixing courage, curiosity, and honor, she'd provide interesting perspectives on modern times, on combat, and on the various supervillains. She'd be an outsider - very sure of herself.

Steve Trevor's lineage. You can leave out Steve, but I would go with the idea that he was a man in World War II, perhaps now dead if not extremely old. Instead I'd introduce Steve Trevor the third–probably a government agents, secret agent, or something similar, and incredibly trained, smart, and courageous. He, of course would end up paired with Diana, probably due to the government figuring he may have some idea of how to understand her. This gives you all sorts of potential from wacky hijinks about their partnership, to deep discussions about inheriting the family lineage. Plus it acknowledges the classic character of Steve Trevor.

Myth and reality. Diana lives in two worlds a magical one of gods and artifacts, and our world. Well okay, DC Universe world. Either way she's not fazed by anything between her upbringing and her acquaintance with things mystical. She would be excellent for stories that blended the mythical and the everyday–not quite magical realism but you get an idea what I mean. When gods start walking or someone gets their hands on something deadly and magical, she goes in to fix things.

So that's how I'd handle Wonder Woman interpreted for other media–or complete reboot. A representative, warrior, intellectual, connecting two worlds–sometimes by punching parts of them, other times as a formal philosopher and diplomat. She walks across many worlds.

Just like the character did ages ago, when she fought Nazis with mythic powers.

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