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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Woman of the Month: Wonder Woman

Diana Prince from Wonder Woman
Well, who else was I going to pick?
Making her debut in last year's Batman vs Superman, and generally considered to be the best part of that film (though I enjoyed it, flaws and all) Gal Gadot's Diana of Themyscira was a quintessential One Scene Wonder, appearing only sporadically throughout the film before turning up to help defeat Doomsday in the final act. Whoever cut the final trailer must have known the impact she'd have, as her appearance at the climax was used as the preview's trump card.
So despite fandom fears, I had a feeling her solo film would be a success – and so it was. My review can be found here, and Diana is truly its star: infused with conviction and empathy, wisdom and innocence, strength and gentleness. It makes for a wonderfully (no pun intended) three-dimensional character, one that's allowed to be unworldly without being comically naïve. Here is a woman who will coo over a baby and delight over ice-cream, then thoroughly beat the crap out of German soldiers.
But Wonder Woman has been around much longer than this. She was first invented in 1941 by psychologist William Moulton Marston as a deliberate response to all the male superheroes that dominated comics. In this he was helped by his wife Elizabeth Marston and their mutual partner Olive Byrne, and inspired by the women of Greek mythology: namely Artemis, goddess of the hunt (who of course, the Romans called Diana).
Her next big appearance involved a transition from comics to television with the 1970s show starring Lynda Carter. I'll admit this was a little before my time, which is a shame since it's still considered a beloved cult classic. After that, the character faded a little from mainstream pop culture, finally appearing in the animated Justice League and the 2009 straight-to-DVD film. In both cases, Diana wasn't particularly well-drawn. The former was rather haughty and "a little stuck-up" (to accurately quote another character) and the latter's story was overshadowed by some awful gender politics (let's just say Steve Trevor is a chauvinist sleazebag and leave it at that).
She's popped up elsewhere over the years, including cameos in Young Justice and The Lego Movie, but not until the release of her own blockbuster film has she truly re-entered the cultural zeitgeist. All you need to know is that I went with my mother to see Wonder Woman, and she ended up really enjoying it, despite not being a huge superhero fan.  
So with the big-screen Justice League and a Wonder Woman sequel (now confirmed to be directed by Patty Jenkins) on the way, it's a great time to be a fan of female superheroes – especially if you're a little girl. As someone remarked on Twitter, we now live in an age where Rey is a Jedi-in-training, the Ghostbusters are women, and Wonder Woman is one of the top-grossing superhero films of all time.
(Kids these days, they're so spoiled!)

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