I am thinking about the generational shift in characters.
For a long, long time, when you mentioned Batman, I am told, the average person’s mind went directly to the campy (but fun) 60’s tv show. That was Batman to the non-comics-reading public.
At this point, I think a huge percentage of the world doesn’t even know there WAS a 60’s tv series. They know Batman from Dark Knight, or Nolan’s movies, or the animated series.
And that’s a different guy altogether.
Keep with me for a moment here.
I am wondering…is that happening with Wonder Woman as well?
I have noticed something very interesting. There are still a lot of people hung up on Wonder Woman. They don’t think you can make a movie with her. They say her origin is ‘tricky.’ They don’t think dudes will go see her in a film.
And almost every one of those people is a baby boomer.
Meaning, when they first encountered Wonder Woman, it was likely in a very small handful of sources;
1) The comics themselves, in that weird period where she wasn’t particularly well-written or even very interestingly portrayed.
2) The very violence-free SuperFriends animated series.
3) Or the Lynda Carter live action series. Beloved by many, but a bit dated, to be kind.
That’s Wonder Woman to them, that’s the impression that is indelibly in their minds. Baby-boomers know one of these Wonder Woman versions.
But is that the end of the story?
What does a younger person know Wonder Woman from today?
I don’t see younger people saying Wonder Woman can’t make a great movie. They grew up on Ripley and Tomb Raider and Buffy and Xena, or even later kickass female characters.
More tellingly…where did they get their Wonder Woman from? Not those old comics, they have rarely been available in reprint form. Not SuperFriends or Linda Carter, those things are still fairly scarce.
No. When they first encounter Wonder Woman, it is likely to be from;
1) The recent comics, which in the last decade or more have portrayed her as an asskicker. Varying degrees of quality, but that hasn’t changed. She kicks ass in the comics now, at least in her own comic, and has for years. If someone’s first experience with Wonder Woman is Greg Rucka’s writing, how different is their perception than someone who first saw her on SuperFriends?
2) Video Games. DC has produced some massive tie-in hits in the past several years, particularly in the fighting game arena, where that’s all Wonder Woman DOES, is kick ass. She’s not hugely sexualized in INJUSTICE or DC VS. MORTAL KOMBAT, not in the way Catwoman might have been. And she is presented how? As a WARRIOR. Millions of people have played these games, and the DCU multiplayer game. Far, far more than have read her comic in decades. If THAT is where they first learned about Wonder Woman…are they thinking, “Ooh, she’s tricky, her origin is complicated…” or are they thinking, “Wonder Woman is AMAZING.”
3) The DC Animated Universe. Okay, again, millions of people all over the world watched these cartoons, and they are still being viewed. Bruce Timm, Dwayne McDuffie and others, they LIKED Wonder Woman. They RESPECTED her. And they drew her as the team’s badass. There was a successful animated film (that I worked on, full disclosure) and again, she was portrayed as nobody’s pushover. She fought gods and won. If THIS is where a kid first learns of Wonder Woman…are they thinking, “Ohh, I don’t think female action heroes can work?” No. They are thinking, “Damn, that Amazon kicked everyone’s ASS.”
I am wondering if we have reached a generational shift and we aren’t really aware of it because the people doing all the talking are baby boomers with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FRAME OF REFERENCE for Wonder Woman.
They rethink Superman every few years. They allow for a dozen different interpretations of Batman at the same time. But I keep hearing about a Wonder Woman who is problematic for film, who hasn’t actually EXISTED for a long time. She has evolved, just like the other icons.
There will be a time very shortly when the average person will have no baby-boomer reference for Wonder Woman at all. It will all be from the Timm-verse or from video games or from some really well-done recent comics that allow Diana the opportunity to be dangerous and funny and smart all at once. It will be a Diana distilled from visions of Diana that are presented by creators who actually love the character.
I have heard a thousand times that she wouldn’t make a good film, for excuses that could have been used on the recent Marvel characters (Captain America? Too corny. Thor? Too goofy. Hulk? Too silly). But I also see hundreds of comments that follow from younger people saying, “I don’t get this at all…why CAN’T there be a Wonder Woman movie?”
I am questioning if it’s a generational shift that’s already happening.
But don’t mind me. I’m just wonderin’.