Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wonder Woman Preparations

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on our preparations for the Wonder Woman film (Warner Bros.), directed by Patty Jenkins. It features the new Wonder Woman analysis team of @ottensam, @raveryn, @derbykid, and @wondersyd.



  • William Moulton Marston's creation of Wonder Woman
  • Historical context of World War 1
  • Women's suffrage and equity
  • Potential topics and themes for the film
  • Character arcs to look for
  • Questions we have going into the movie

@JLUPodcast on Twitter
 
http://www.popmatters.com/column/189651-the-secret-history-of-wonder-woman-also-reveals-a-great-deal-about-o/
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-secret-history-of-wonder-woman-jill-lepore/1119132512?ean=9780804173407
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Erich-Ludendorff
http://www.radiolab.org/story/one-vote/
http://comicandscreen.blogspot.com/p/themes-in-jlu-movies.html
https://twitter.com/PattyJenks/status/865283622235815936

<Transcript>

Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Sam. This podcast features scene-by-scene analysis of the Warner Brothers films that are part of the Justice League Universe, also referred to as the DCEU. With the release of Wonder Woman this week, I am very excited to announce the next phase of this podcast. Alessandro and I are expanding our writing team so that we can include an even broader array of interpretations and insights. So starting with this episode, we will have Wonder Woman analysis provided by myself and Alessandro as well as Rebecca Johnson and Sydney. You can find us all on Twitter @ottensam, @raveryn, @derbykid, and @wondersyd (that’s wonder-S-Y-D). And going forward, we will also be finishing our Suicide Squad analysis, where Alessandro and I will be joined by Nick Begovich, who is @NBego on Twitter.

What we want to do in this episode, just ahead of the Wonder Woman release on Thursday night, June 1st, is to collect some thoughts and prepare our mindset for the film. We’re going to speculate about some potential themes that might play out in the movie, some potential character arcs, and some questions that we have going into the movie. We will also start with some brief historical context. But first, a disclaimer: I was lucky enough to see the fan screening of Wonder Woman last week, but I am not going to include any information or spoilers from the movie in this episode. In fact, much of this was written by Alessandro, Rebecca, and Sydney who have not yet seen the movie, and other parts are from my own notes from before I saw it, so I’m going to supply what we have without shaping it or editing it based on my knowledge of the film. There’s some stuff that we’ll bring up that definitely does play out in the film, but there’s also some stuff that we wondered about that won’t show up. And as a heads up, we do want to warn you that we’ll mention a few things that have been shown in the trailers. We won’t reveal anything beyond what’s been included in official marketing, but trailers and TV spots are fair game at this point.

Character Origin

So with that being said, let’s establish a bit of basic context. First of all, the character of Wonder Woman was actually created during World War 2, not World War 1. She was created by the psychologist William Moulton Marston as the first female superhero in a genre that had been launched in full force by Superman, then Batman, Captain America, and others. Superman first appeared in recognizable form in 1938, and Wonder Woman came along in 1941, drawn by Harry G. Peter. The stars with a red, white, and blue color scheme for Wonder Woman was a direct response to Captain America and there was a desire to be very patriotic because of the world conflict with Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. And Wonder Woman’s powers were based on Superman’s, but Marston explained them by connecting to the Greek pantheon of gods. Marston was married to a women’s rights activist and together they cohabited with another strong, smart woman, one who always wore metal bracelets, by the way. Marston was inspired by the feminist movement of the times when he created Wonder Woman. He said that comic books could be a way to shape young people’s minds about the roles of men and women in society, and he explicitly wanted to send the message that women were much more capable than the patriarchal culture was giving them credit for, and Marston thought that the world would be better off if more women had leadership roles because he felt their empathy and compassion were preferable to male bravado and arrogance.

William Moulton Marston is also famous for being one of the lead inventors of the lie detector test, which people always connect with the lasso of truth because it compels whoever is bound in it to speak the truth. But it’s actually more accurate to say that Marston invented a lie detector test, not the lie detector test. The polygraph test that ended up being widely used was actually a competing lie detector test that was invented by John Larson; it’s distinct from the one that Marston contributed to.

Anyway, you can read a lot more about Marston and the creation of Wonder Woman in the book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore. There is also a biopic film coming soon that will star Luke Evans. It’s entitled, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, from Sony Pictures.

And you’ll find that Marston did have a clear feminist purpose for the character. And we recognize that there are several different facets to feminism and different forms that it has taken, but Marston explained his position pretty clearly in a press release in 1942 (in which he revealed himself as Wonder Woman’s author, explaining that Charles Moulton was a pseudonym): Marston said that Wonder Woman was conceived “to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; and to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations and professions monopolized by men.” http://www.popmatters.com/column/189651-the-secret-history-of-wonder-woman-also-reveals-a-great-deal-about-o/

Marston stayed at the helm of the character for many years, and its sales were strong enough that he could keep to these ideals that he set out for the character. But with his failing health and some other company dynamics, there were some other writers that took over, such as Gardner Fox, best known as the creator of The Flash and Hawkman. Fox and other writers after Marston were much more chauvinistic. Fox, for example, relegated Wonder Woman down to being a secretary for the Justice Society of America, not even kidding, and she would regularly be written out of the main action of the stories. Later writers and artists also sexualized the character quite a bit, but the good news is that it looks like, with Patty Jenkins at the helm, this new movie version is presenting her with respect and good taste.

While we’re on the subject of Marston’s creation of Wonder Woman, we wanted to share a couple passages from her first comic book issues. This is from page 1 of her first appearance, which was in All-Star Comics #8. “At last, in a world torn by the hatreds and wars of men, appears a woman to whom the problems and feats of men are mere child’s play -- a woman whose identity is known to none, but whose sensational feats are outstanding in a fast-moving world! With a hundred times the agility and strength of our best male athletes and strongest wrestlers, she appears as though from nowhere to avenge an injustice or right a wrong! As lovely as Aphrodite, as wise as Athena -- with the speed of Mercury and the strength of Hercules -- she is known only as WONDER WOMAN…”

And here’s an excerpt from page 1 of Sensation Comics #1, which was released just a few months later. “Like the crash of thunder from the sky comes the WONDER WOMAN, to save the world from the hatreds and wars of men in a man-made world! And what a woman! A woman with the eternal beauty of Aphrodite and the wisdom of Athena -- yet whose lovely form hides the agility of Mercury and the steel sinews of a Hercules! Who is Wonder Woman? … Let us go back -- back to that mysterious Amazon isle called Paradise Island! To that enlightened land of women floated the unconscious form of a man -- Captain Steve Trevor… Here on Paradise Island, on which man had never before set foot, the Amazon maid Diana fell in love with Captain Trevor, and decided to bring him back to America to help him wage battle for freedom, democracy, and womankind thru-out the world!”

So in both of these passages we can see references to the powers of the gods as analogs for Diana’s powers and we see that she is meant to be a blend of beauty and power, suggesting that the idea that beauty means weakness or that power means brutishness are false associations. Beauty and power can both exist in the same person. The comic book passages also contain explicit references to men and mankind’s world as one in need of saving, and Wonder Woman has just the characteristics and skills to help save it. The phrase “hatreds and wars of men” was used in both passages, which resonated at the time with World War 2 but which could also resonate during World War 1 and indeed could still resonate today as male leaders in North Korea and Iran and in the Western world seem to be destabilizing our social orders.

World War 1

So Marston created Wonder Women in the era when several male leaders were dragging mankind into a dark and despicable place -- there was of course Adolf Hitler, but also Hemmler and Mussolini and Stalin and Hirohito as well as many warmongers on the allied side. The film, however, takes things back and places Wonder Woman’s origins in the First World War. That war took place from 1914 to 1918, so one century ago, and it is significant because the industrial revolution had led to entirely new forms of weaponry and so the death and destruction reached new levels of brutality and horror. Not only was mankind’s technological ingenuity turned into violence but also the national alliances that were supposed to make everyone safer were actually what led to most of the world being pulled into the conflict. And it was also a heartbreaking war because much of it was fought in trenches on the front lines that barely moved for months or years, so it seemed like it was a deadly but pointless exercise.

Woodrow Wilson was the president of the United States at the time, and Kaiser Wilhelm the second was the leader of Germany. Note that there were no Nazis yet in Germany. World War 1 simply involved the Germans themselves, as Germans. The Nazis were a fascist political group that rose out of the ashes of World War 1 during the depression of the post-war period. The Nazis appealed to nationalistic pride and scapegoated outsiders to rise to power in Germany, and then the Nazis led the Axis powers in World War 2 as they tried to establish a new German Empire. Many, perhaps even most of the Germans in the 1930s and 1940s did not identify themselves as Nazis, but nevertheless the Nazis were able to gain power and then rig elections so that they kept it and expanded it until they ultimately lost the Second World War.

But back to the First World War where Wonder Woman is set, there are at least three reasons that we think it was brilliant for the filmmakers, starting with Zack Snyder but including Geoff Johns, Patty Jenkins, Jason Fuchs, and Allan Heinberg, to frame the movie during World War 1. First of all, World War 1 marked a new low at the time for the paternalistic leadership of the nations. It also started a sequence of conflicts that went from World War 1 to World War 2 to the Korean War and the Cold War, so it was an ironic time because the so-called “war to end all wars” ended up being just the starting point.

Second, it is an elegant choice to have a World War 1 movie exactly 100 years after the war itself. It’s a good point in time for us all to reflect upon those events, to see in what ways we’ve moved forward but also in what ways we still have some of the tendencies as a society that got us into the war in the first place. In terms of cinema, it is also a smart choice to use World War 1 because there are far fewer movies focused on this war than there are movies about World War 2 or the Vietnam War. If you are looking for another World War 1 movie, though, then I would personally recommend Paths of Glory, directed by a young Stanley Kubrick.

It’s also pretty interesting that Wonder Woman will prominently feature a real person involved in the war. Erich Ludendorff, portrayed by Danny Huston, was an actual German general and one of the leaders of their military. He was known for his purist line of military thinking and after the war he became well-known for his theory of total war, that is, the idea that all of the resources of a nation, both physical and moral, should all be focused on the war effort. To Ludendorff, a nation at war means that its weapons, its materials, its food, its media, its schools, everything should be supportive of the cause. And to Ludendorff, peace is merely an interval between wars. So we are very curious to see this character in the movie, because he seems like he could very well be an agent of Ares, if not Ares himself.

And the third reason we think it was brilliant to set Wonder Woman during World War 1 is because of the potential connections to the women’s suffrage and women’s rights movement. The right for women to vote was starting to gain ground in the late 1800s and there were a few countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, as well as some Western states in the U.S., that had granted women’s suffrage already. And then in 1904 the International Woman Suffrage Alliance was founded, in Germany, actually. And after 1904, women’s suffrage expanded into Finland and Norway in Northern Europe. But as of World War 1 in the 19-teens, most of the world was still a male-only electorate. It was actually World War 1 itself that started to change public opinion, because women found many ways to contribute to the war efforts. They picked up the slack from the men who were off fighting the war and women also served near the battlefields as nurses and in non-combat positions. They showed their capabilities in public life and it became very hard to say that they were physically or mentally inferior to men. So right around the end of the war, Great Britain, the location of much of the Wonder Woman film, granted women the right to vote. And a couple years later, in 1920, the United States ratified the 19th Amendment. There is actually a nice episode from RadioLab that tells the story of the surprise ratification by Tennessee that put the 19th Amendment over the edge. We’ll put a link to it in our show notes: http://www.radiolab.org/story/one-vote/

After 1920, in the next couple decades, many more countries around the globe also granted women the right to vote. But it really got going because of World War 1, and so it will be cool to see Wonder Woman coming onto the scene in a society that has not yet given women even that basic right of participation in the political process, and yet she comes from a society that is completely composed of women and strong women leaders. Wonder Woman’s rise will parallel the rise of the public acknowledgement of the value of women in society. Of course, it’s important to recognize that there’s still a long way to go --- Saudi Arabia did not let women vote until very recently, 2015, and even now Saudi women can only vote in municipal elections, not nationwide elections. And there’s actually one sovereign nation that still does not allow women to vote, and that is Vatican City where only cardinals can vote, and of course only men can become cardinals.

Beyond suffrage, there are also issues of economic equality. One highly visible issue is the gender pay gap, with women still only making about 83% of what men make. The good news is that gap has been shrinking over the last several decades. The bad news is that in March President Trump revoked the Fair Play and Safe Workplaces executive order. That order, from President Obama, had made it so that large federal contractors had to abide by workplace safety rules and had to have paycheck transparency so that any pay discrimination would be visible. They also had to avoid covering up sexual harassment through forced arbitration. Now, as of March 2017, companies who contract with the federal government no longer have to have paycheck visibility and they can force arbitration on sexual harassment cases.

And because we talk about movies on this podcast, we can also see some of gender inequity in cinema itself. There’s a lot we could go into here, but we’ll just mention that only once has a woman director received the Academy Award for best director, and that was Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. Only once before has a woman director been granted a production budget of $100 Million, and that was Kathryn Bigelow for K-19: The Widowmaker, and actually some sources put the budget at $90 Million, not $100 Million. So either way, Patty Jenkins on Wonder Woman is the first woman director with a budget that surpasses $100 Million. Its budget is probably around $120 Million. In the future, there will be a couple more big budgets for women as the live-action Mulan and the new Wrinkle in Time movie will be directed by women. And hopefully we get a Wonder Woman sequel, too.

Looking at roles for women on screen, a University of Southern California study found that, in 2014, only 29% of speaking roles in movies were women. And then there is also the controversy that came out of the hacked Sony emails where we saw that actresses were getting paid quite a bit less than their male counterparts, even when the actresses had bonafide credentials as movie stars. For superhero movies specifically, the standard-bearer, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is on its 15th movie, but it has not yet had a titular female character. And it won’t have one until Captain Marvel, which is still 6 films away. This under-representation of women in superhero movies has been blamed on the failures of past movies like Supergirl, Catwoman, and Elektra, but those movies, in the opinion of many, just weren’t very good, so they should not be used to judge the potential of what a female-led superhero movie could be. Warner Brothers, to its credit, has done a little bit better. Their third movie, Suicide Squad, although it is not a solo movie for a female character, it did feature three women amongst the main five characters -- Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller, and Enchantress together with Deadshot and Rick Flag. And now Warner Brothers is opening Wonder Woman as the fourth film in their cinematic universe, with Batgirl and Gotham City Sirens and hopefully a Wonder Woman sequel in development.

Anyway, the point of all of this is to say that Wonder Woman is set in an era where women’s rights were beginning to take center stage, and now, one hundred years later, there has been some clear progress but this is still a world that can benefit from the example and the inspiration of Wonder Woman. And that brings us to some possible themes that might play out in the film.

Potential Themes

Now, if you’ve listened to our analysis of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, then you know that we enjoy looking for themes and symbolism. And we view themes as a meaningful statement about a topic, not just a topic itself. So in BvS, powerlessness is a topic but it is not yet a theme. The theme would be the following statement that the movie tries to make through its characters, plot, and visual elements: Power can be a corrupting force, but so can feelings of powerlessness, turning people toward cruelty. We are collecting themes like this on my blog, ComicAndScreen.blogspot.com. And we look forward to identifying some themes for Wonder Woman.

Because we look at themes as more than just topics, it is basically impossible for us to identify themes in Wonder Woman before seeing it. But we can definitely identify some topics that seem to be at play, and we can even speculate a bit about what the themes might end up being.

So let’s go through a few topics that me, Alessandro, Rebecca, and Sydney have identified. First, there might be the topic of equality amidst diversity. There will definitely be an emphasis on a society of women contrasted with a society dominated by men. But are there some things that the two have in common, even across their differences? How do people of different backgrounds behave and treat one another? This topic may turn into a theme not just by contrasting Themyscira with Man’s World but also by taking people from diverse backgrounds and putting them into dangerous war torn situations. Maybe by going through the threats together and seeing how precious life is, they will realize their common humanity.

Second, there may be the topic of brotherhood and sisterhood. Sisterhood is a common idea in Wonder Woman stories, and the character often refers to other Amazons and other women in Man’s world as “sister.” So it’s possible we will see a strong form of sisterhood amongst the Amazons, and then we can watch to see how Diana brings that sisterhood into her new relationships in Man’s World. Perhaps she forms a bond with Etta Candy and shows her a new type of connection amongst women, where they don’t have to be subservient or less than men. Or perhaps the sisterhood of the Amazons will be juxtaposed with the brotherhood of soldiers in the war. There will be this band of operatives, with Steve Trevor, Sameer, Charlie, and Chief. Maybe they are brothers in arms and then they gradually accept Diana in as one of their group whom they respect. In this way, Diana could open up the brotherhood into a bond that is includes all genders. And maybe, whether it be brotherhood or sisterhood, maybe the movie will have something to say about the personal strength that individuals can get from their bonds, allowing them to overcome adversity. It could also be that a brotherhood and sisterhood that transcends national boundaries is what’s needed to end the conflicts in World War 1 that are exacerbated because of nationalistic borders.

A third topic is feminism and empowerment. We’ve already touched on the feministic aspects of Wonder Woman’s origins and of the era of World War 1, but there also seems to be a 21st Century type of feminism in this film, based on the trailers we’ve seen. There are lines about the kinds of clothing that women were expected to wear in the early 20th Century and also lines about women needing to prepare for battles that are not necessarily fair, just like women have to go into situations that are tilted in subtle ways toward men’s advantage. And the idea of empowerment shows up in the great shot of a young Diana who has just been told that she can’t do something, but she looks like she has her mind already set on doing it.

So we can look to the movie to see if Wonder Woman brings a new set of capabilities to a male-dominated war; maybe her compassion and desire for peace will be the key to stopping some aspect of the conflict. And we can also look to see if Diana brings a new perspective to the civilian life of London in the 19-teens.

But director Patty Jenkins has said that there is not an overt feminist agenda. Quote: “She has no feminist agenda at all. What made her have any kind of feminist storyline at all is just what you can’t avoid, like her total obliviousness. That was something I cared a lot about, she could never be lecturing and she can never be scolding, she just walks out and goes ‘What’s going on? Why would this be happening?’ which is a funnier way to look at it and talk about it. So we had fun with that part of it.” End quote.

So as Diana enters Man’s World as a fish out of water, we can also vicariously take a look at our own societal norms and maybe bring a new perspective to them, like “Yeah, why is it that way? Why aren’t we more empowering and inclusive as a society?”

A fourth topic is beauty and ugliness. It’s already clear from the trailers that Themyscira on one side and then smoggy London and the muddy trenches on the other side will form an important visual contrast in the film. As we’re watching, we can look for deeper meaning behind these visuals. Perhaps Themyscira will represent the beauty of what the world could be, while London and the trenches will represent the ugliness that men create if they don’t take care of the world or one another. Or perhaps Themyscira will represent innocence and Man’s World represents our true nature, and so it’s not that Diana needs to bring beauty back to Man’s World, it’s that she needs to learn a lesson about mankind’s true nature and she needs to leave her naivete behind. Maybe naivete is beautiful but it’s not realistic. In addition to the contrast between Themyscira and war torn Europe, there might also be juxtapositions between individual people. For example, there will be Diana representing the Amazons and Ludendorff representing the Germans. There will be Antiope representing leadership on one side, and the World War 1 generals representing leadership on the other side. We suspect that the comparisons and contrasts between Women’s World and Man’s World will be multi-layered, so be on the lookout for it to show up in visuals, in the music, in the action, and in the personalities.

A fifth topic might be technology and violence. We mentioned before that World War 1 is infamous for including a huge increase of new technological warfare. Some of the new technology that had never been used in war before included airplanes, tanks, flamethrowers, depth charges, and poison gas. This last one will most certainly be associated with the character of Maru, aka Doctor Poison, in the movie. So we’ll see some new scientific advances or maybe a brilliant scientific mind that is put to very destructive purposes. And we will also see some old technology, like guns and bullets, that are new to Diana and the Amazons. So overall, this movie might have a lot to say about destructive forces and the implements of war. Perhaps they strip people of their humanity, or perhaps we are only using them in those violent ways because we are listening to our inner demons instead of our better angels. In other words, maybe it’s the influence of Ares, the God of War.

And that leads up to our sixth potential topic -- Greek mythology and Gods and Mortals. We know the Amazons will have connections to the Greek gods, and they at least have legends of the gods bestowing on them several gifts. We also know Ares will be the villain, though we don’t know exactly what form he’ll take or how he will show up. But the movie might explore the theme of humanity’s relationship with the gods. If it does, that would be an interesting connection to BvS in which Lex Luthor and Superman both embodied different relationships to the idea of God. And Lex actually referred to Zeus by name in the fundraiser scene. But here in Wonder Woman, it may be less about a love/hate or resentful relationship with god and more about the idea of humans as stewards of the Earth, a gift from the gods. Perhaps Amazons represent good caretakers of God’s gift whereas mankind might represent poor stewardship. Maybe that poor stewardship is because of Ares influence, and so if Diana has to go and defeat Ares, maybe that will represent the idea of Diana bringing harmony and care to a civilization that has lost its way, lost its positive connection with god. The movie might also take up several of the common mythological values of heroism, generosity, love, and sacrifice. It might be that Diana embodies some of these values and brings them into a dark and despairing place that needs them exemplified.

The seventh and final topic that we’ll mention here as something to look for in the film is war itself. World War 1 is known to be a sort of pointless war, whereas World War 2 had a clearer objective of stopping the aggression and genocides committed by Germany and Japan. But maybe the setting of World War 1 will allow the filmmakers to explore the idea of whether war is ever justified. Is there ever any good that comes from it? Or maybe it will personalize the costs of war, and then Wonder Woman has to fight valiantly to actually end the war. Perhaps Wonder Woman will see all the flaws of Man’s World and Man’s War, the same kinds of hatreds and wars of men that Marston wrote about. But maybe she’ll decide that mankind is worth saving anyway. This connects to a theme that we and Adam White have already been talking about for the Justice League Universe overall -- Is humanity worth fighting for, even with all its flaws? I think Wonder Woman will add to this overarching theme by showing some pretty brutal flaws in humanity and the way we treat one another and the Earth, but I think Diana will still find some reason and some sense of purpose for saving humanity.

Before we move into some potential character arcs and some final questions, we want to include some thoughts from director Patty Jenkins and actor Chris Pine. Here is what Patty Jenkins said on twitter when she was asked what the message of the movie was for girls and women. The message of the movie is, Quote “That if each of us can find the hero inside us, we can change the world. It's not going to be easy. It's not simple. But we could do it!!” End Quote

And in an interview with DC All Access, which appeared in the back of some of the May comic books, Chris Pine said the following: Quote “The movie has a pretty wonderfully, beautifully transparent message of that, no matter how ugly this world gets that we live in, no matter how much death we encounter, no matter how many homicidal dictators are out there, no matter how much genocide happens, how many wars happen… there is still hope in the best parts of ourselves to be good and to protect one another and to do right by one another. She’s not just a superhero that because of X, Y and Z capabilities can defeat the bad guy. She has a powerful loving spirit and is a savior in many ways.” End Quote.

Potential Character Arcs

So we can definitely look for a profound character arc for Diana. We are going to see her as a young girl, and a young woman in training, and then as a wide-eyed newcomer to the world of Man. What are the lessons that she is going to learn along the way? What are the convictions that she will have to commit herself to in order to make it through the trials of war? In what ways will her definition of heroism or truth conflict with the definitions that she finds in the culture of war?

Steve Trevor is probably the next most important character for whom we should look for a character arc. What are his beliefs and values at the beginning of the movie when he arrives on Themyscira, and in what ways do those beliefs or values change by the end of the movie, probably through the influence of Diana? What are some of the personal lessons that Diana teaches him, perhaps by being a role model for him? Maybe she teaches him about how to be a hero in difficult times, or maybe she helps him to see things like war or women in a new way because he can now see them through her eyes.

There will also be the love story between Diana and Steve. We can look for the phases of that relationship -- what draws them together initially, in what ways does their relationship reach new levels of connection throughout the movie? Patty Jenkins has talked about this love story as being an important element of the film, and so it will be really interesting to see how they decided to have it play out.

Etta Candy will also be interesting to watch because perhaps there’s a give-and-take between her and Diana where she is showing Diana the ropes, so to speak, with regard to the culture of London in 1917, but then maybe Diana shows her a new role that women could assume in society. Perhaps Etta can be a barometer for Diana’s influence on society at large -- if we see Etta’s mindset changing, then we can extrapolate that out to people in general being inspired into a new way of thinking.

Moving on to the villains, we have Doctor Poison and Ares. These are some great choices because they are classic villains that have long been associated with the Wonder Woman character, and they both fit very well with the World War 1 setting -- Doctor Poison because she can connect to the poison gas and to the idea of warfare poisoning the souls of those who experienced it, like the shellshocked or the basket cases who came home without limbs and so had to be carried around in baskets. And Ares because the God of War is probably having a field day stoking an international conflict and one that led to decades of subsequent wars. We can’t say much more than that because the marketing has been pretty careful with Ares, so we can all just get excited that within a few days we’ll be able to see how Ares is involved and how he and Diana ultimately have their showdown.

Questions going into the movie

We want to finish with some questions that we have going into the movie. These are going to kind of bounce all over the place, but we’re going to put them out there and if you have some thoughts on them we’d love to hear from you in the comments or via our Twitter account @JLUPodcast.

Question 1: What are some of the main sources of material that the creators drew on for this movie? The Justice League Universe thus far has not been doing direct adaptations of comic book stories or prior TV or film stories, but each film has clearly drawn inspiration from a small number of sources. What are those sources for Wonder Woman? Is it some of the original Marston stories, where he established Themyscira and Doctor Poison showed up pretty early, or the George Perez run in the 1980s after Crisis on Infinite Earths in a story that featured Ares? Or maybe the newer run by Brian Azzarello in the New 52? Patty Jenkins has also mentioned her fondness for the 1970s TV show and the original Superman movie. So maybe those are some influences.

Question 2: What does the movie say, if anything, about the current geopolitical, social, and socioeconomic atmosphere regarding such topics as immigrants, equality, and leadership? We’ve touched on some of these ideas already, but we’re curious about the extent to which the film might deal with them and what message it might have, and whether it will resonate with audiences.

Question 3: How will Diana’s relationship with Steve Trevor cultivate her perspective on Mankind? And what will Mankind learn from Diana? We talked earlier about the love story between Steve and Diana, but we’re wondering not only how their love will develop but also how their relationship will change each of them. A deep and meaningful relationship is not only about affection, it leaves each person changed in some profound way.

Question 4: With regard to the DCEU overall, how will the events of this film inform our interpretations of her character in Batman v Superman and Justice League? One of the great things about BvS was that it not only gave us a great story well told, but it also shed new light onto Man of Steel. We see Zod in new ways having seen how he turned into Doomsday, and we see the Black Zero Event differently knowing about Bruce’s perspective on it all. We see Clark’s initial journey differently now that we know how humanity responds to him down the road. We are curious whether Wonder Woman will continue that rich tradition of the films informing one another and providing parallels and long-form character development. We also are curious to see if the ragtag group that Wonder Woman joins up with here in World War 1 will echo forward into the Justice League that she helps form. We won’t know the answer to this until November, but it will be interesting to see how she fights alongside Steve and his men and then map that forward into how she fights alongside Batman and the other Justice Leaguers.

Question 5: What will be Diana’s mindset at the end of the movie? We heard her talk in Batman v Superman about a Century of horrors, and she seemed largely cynical of mankind. Was that cynicism earned because of events in Wonder Woman, or was it cynicism that grew out of the aftermath of World War 1.

And Question 6: Although we are primarily concerned with the creative efforts of the filmmakers, we are also very interested to see how this film will be received. What demographic groups did it seem to target and how broad is its appeal? What will be the overall reception and word-of-mouth trend for Wonder Woman? As you know, we have been very happy to defend Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and even Suicide Squad, and there are millions of people worldwide who love these films. But perhaps Wonder Woman might strike a more accepting tone with audiences and if it’s less divisive, that would be fine with us.

We’re just excited to see the movie and finally discuss it with everyone. People have worked very hard on this movie and we are ready to dig into what they’ve put together.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Mr. Sam. I'm certain that by the time you read this comment, you would have already heard the good news. And for those who haven't, I just wanted to inform that "Wonder Woman" is actually getting some good reviews so far, and it looks like at the end of the day most of the reviews will remain positive.

    This is good news because, if the future films are recieved like this, we won't have the need to constantly defend the DCEU from now on. That would be a great relief if you ask me. However, there are still a few and small lingering concerns in the back of my head, and I would like to discuss them here if that's okay.

    I apologize beforehand for talking about concerns when we should be enjoying the refreshing positivity, but I just wanted to let it out of my chest before it spoils my enjoyment:

    Do you think that the positivity WW is recieving will be yet another 'weapon' the detractors will use to bash the previous DC Films? Kinda like how some folks where using "LEGO Batman" as an excuse to insult BvS and the people involved in it, my only true concern is that a DCEU film that is genuinely praised will become yet another excuse to criticize the previous films by those who live to hate DC. Including Snyder's directing and the characterization of the characters in his films, since I also heard that Patty based her Wonder Woman in Donner's Superman of the 78 film.

    Again, sorry to talk about concerns and worries in the wake of this positivity, but as I said, I really needed to let it out. And thanks in advance for taking time to read all this.

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    1. No worries. These are valid concerns that are already playing out, actually. Some people are definitely using their praise of Wonder Woman to give yet another slap to Snyder and Ayer (especially Snyder). I think we just have to let that roll off of us and we can just choose to focus on the positive.

      And yes, Patty Jenkins did draw inspiration from Donner's Superman, but the movie is also based on a story by Zack Snyder, and Snyder cast and introduced the character in BvS. So it's disingenuous to try to separate WW from Snyder and make it an indictment of his approach.

      For now, I'm just going to try to focus on the positive reception of WW and ignore the needless hate thrown at Snyder. The real challenge might be this fall when Snyder is back in the spotlight, and people might say, "Oh no, not more of this Snyder stuff. Why can't we have more of the stuff like Wonder Woman?"

      As for me, I just posted my vague, spoilerfree thoughts on Wonder Woman. (http://comicandscreen.blogspot.com/2017/05/vague-review-of-wonder-woman-no-spoilers.html) I can see why it will be more generally well-received than BvS, and it does have some good themes that I will enjoy analyzing, but I do not think it rises to the level of MoS or BvS in my opinion.

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  2. Cute! ^^
    I don't know the character (sorryyyyy) but I think that the wig's color fits you really well!
    This reminds me that I want to cosplay characters with glasses too... XD

    ☆ ☆ Costumes ☆ ☆

    ☆ ☆ Free Costumes☆ ☆

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