What does Wonder Woman stand for?

David Blue

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I don't mind that Superman stands for nothing much except rescuing cats from trees, and "kryptonite is dangerous". I don't love Superman, but I like him.

But I feel Wonder Woman stands or should stand for more than that, and I find her attractive as a hero for that reason. There is, or once was (or perhaps I only imagined it?) a moral courage there I find not just respectable but inspiring. Wonder Woman stands for stuff, even if the cost is high.

Only, I can't tell what she stands for.

What do you think Wonder Woman stands for?

Post-Crisis, does she represent patriotism, and if so what does that mean in her context?

Post-Crisis, does Wonder Woman represent pacifism and non-violence? Really?

Where does Wonder Woman's deadly super-warrior attitude fit into the mix - what does it mean? (Is it just "attitude" or is there a point?)

(For comparison - I don't have any trouble at all figuring out where Ultimate Captain America stands on patriotism, and on pacifism, and what being a soldier means to him. He's an open book, and I don't need to agree with him on every issue to respect that.)

Does she represent feminism, and if so what does that mean in her context?

Does she represent traditional values or "family values" and if so what does that mean in her context?

What does she stand for on alternative sexualities and gay marriage? (Specifically, where does she stand on rope bondage? Only half-joking here - there are serious issues she should have an opinion on, about sexual politics, but I don't know where she stands.)

Is she pro-choice or pro-life, and if so with what provisos and exceptions? (I have seen hints she has taken a strong stand, but it seems to be a secret what it is. And her post-Crisis origin hinted at a side, but that origin may not apply. The whole thing seems very mysterious.)

Does she represent animal rights, and if so which ones?

Does she represent science, medicine and progress, and if so on what terms?

In one on her comics, an angry mob of protesters, apparently objecting to her views, chanted: TWO FOUR SIX EIGHT AMAZONS PREACH LOVE NOT HATE! Is that what Wonder Woman stands for?

When Wonder Woman began her career, was it possible to know in broad terms what she stood for? Did her symbols match her intentions?

Do we know what Wonder Woman stands for now? Do her symbols match her intentions?

Could Wonder-Woman's status be usurped if there was a major DC push behind a heroine who clearly stood for things, and it was no secret what they were? Or is boldly standing for ... nothing that one can confidently discern ... the best policy for Wonder Woman in sales and in merchandising terms?

Is there anyone else here who also once collected Wonder Woman (or who otherwise likes the character or is attracted to her as a superheroine) but can't tell what she stands for, and finds that a problem?
 
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ProjectX2

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She's had so many different views it's hard to pinpoint only one.
 

Friday

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Bondage. After I found out what I have about hte WOnder Woman creator all she'll ever stand for it getting tied up.
 

ProjectX2

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David Blue said:
It is.

What does she mean to you, if anything?

I guess she stands for feminism the strongest. It in her first appearances, didn't she only save females from trouble? Or did I get that from somewhere else?

She's kind of turned into the typical superhero now. She saves people because they're in trouble. No specific reason, she just does. Wonder Woman needs defining, and hopefully the movie, the new series, and All-Star Wonder Woman will do this.
 

David Blue

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ProjectX2 said:
I guess she stands for feminism the strongest. It in her first appearances, didn't she only save females from trouble? Or did I get that from somewhere else?
Wonder Woman originally came to "Man's World" during World War II on a mission from god (or rather goddess, Aphrodite) to beat up Nazis. She had star spangled blue pants, a golden eagle on her chest, and United States Army intelligence officer Steve Trevor for a love interest. That's why I compare her to Captain America: she got her start in the same conflict, on the same (American) side and with a sort of a flag-suit costume. Of course she wasn't born and raised American like Steve Rogers, but having An American love interest (Steve Trevor) sort of makes up for that.

If she had the same attitude today, she'd be tossing a lasso around Al Qaeda terrorists and telling them to talk, dragging them off to Transformation Island to be reformed, doing stuff like Captain America's hostage rescue mission in the first trade paperback of the Ultimates, and ... I think she's have had to ease back on the bondage stuff whatever happened, because getting raped and tortured by jihad terrorists and starring in a jihad decapitation video would be a bad idea.

She also had a circle of female friends, a strong interest in female power (feminism) which apparently was not incompatible with getting tied up frequently and tying other people up, and other oddities.

Wonder Woman was culturally alien and/or a true eccentric - but the different things she was into were all clear and compatible, even if other people might have found it startling that they were combined in the same person. She was not the girl next door - but she also wasn't on both sides of any particular issue.

She didn't need a cut-away when she spoke, so that no reader would know which side of an issue she was on.

ProjectX2 said:
She's kind of turned into the typical superhero now. She saves people because they're in trouble. No specific reason, she just does. Wonder Woman needs defining, and hopefully the movie, the new series, and All-Star Wonder Woman will do this.
I think you're right about that.
 

moonmaster

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I've always liked the idea that she's a warrior that fights for peace. It's a contradiction, but it's an interesting one.

I doubt the movie will do it, and I doubt that it will be brought into the current book, but I think that Wonder Woman should be someone who fights those who make war and at the same time tries to teach them peace. In this sense, they could add a whole new political aspect to her. Sure, terrorism is a big problem but at the same time, America and many other countries are guilty of committing acts of war, also. Wonder Woman could fight indiscriminately. She has no allegiance to anyone. She simply fights the idea of war and those who make it, no matter who they are.

Like I've said, this is too political for the main book or the movie, but I think it's the perfect angle that Adam Hughes should take when doing "All-Star Wonder Woman".
 
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David Blue

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moonmaster said:
I've always liked the idea that she's a warrior that fights for peace. It's a contradiction, but it's an interesting one.

I doubt the movie will do it, and I doubt that it will be brought into the current book, but I think that Wonder Woman should be someone who fights those who make war and at the same time tries to teach them peace. In this sense, they could add a whole new political aspect to her. Sure, terrorism is a big problem but at the same time, America and many other countries are guilty of committing acts of war, also. Wonder Woman could fight indiscriminately. She has no allegiance to anyone. She simply fights the idea of war and those who make it, no matter who they are.

Like I've said, this is too political for the main book or the movie, but I think it's the perfect angle that Adam Hughes should take when doing "All-Star Wonder Woman".
There seem to be some difficult issues of balance to strike.

1. If the character stands for nothing but being as broadly acceptable as possible, that suits some characters (Superman) but not necessarily others (Wonder Woman), and it can limit the character's appeal. Yet if they do take strong, clear stands on "hot" issues, that will win some people over but turn others off.

2. The character's costume, symbols (like the lasso) and intentions should ideally add up (as they do with Captain America or Batman), but what if they are no longer consistent? Do you change the classic look to suit what the character is about now, or adjust what the character is about to get back to the causes that are represented in their iconography?

3. For classic characters like Wonder Woman, these symbols and costumes were established a long time ago. They may not be popular any more, and nobody really knows whether they will be again, or whether what's currently fashionable will last either. So do you stay "classic" and risk being an antique if times don't change, or do you "go disco" (or whatever the latest thing is), and pray that you don't make the character look silly and also weak for giving up what the character was supposed to be about.

Let me apply that to Wonder Woman, warrior for peace, to whom America would be just another country that commits acts or war.

It's a gutsy stand, so it would win over some people big time but alienate others. I'm inclined to think that's a good bargain for Wonder Woman (though it would not be what I would want personally), because I think bland doesn't suit her, and it's not like your risking her universal popularity anyway. Judging by sales, she is not that big anyway.

This version of Wonder Woman would not suit her classic look. The American patriotic symbolism would be out of place. So: change the look, or stick to the classic and accepted look, ignoring the tension? It's a tough choice, but one you have to make once you decide that she's against what she was once for. Maybe sticking to the classic look and ignoring the tension would be best. If you're trying to win acceptance for a character who doesn't have that strong a foothold in the market-place, maybe it's best not to confuse people visually. Wonder Woman always look like X: keep Wonder Woman looking like X.

Betting on trends is tough. My feeling overall is, the best person to embody something will usually have had that idea from the start. Someone who stands for what wonder Woman stands for will lose out to the original and the best. But if you go over and play for the other team, at best you're a welcome new recruit. You can never be as convincing as someone who does not have a long history of upholding what you're now tearing down. Yet it sometimes is best to fundamentally change a character.

There's another issue you implicitly raised too: should Wonder Woman stand for the same thing in all her books and other appearances? Or should there be a Wonder Woman for the more aware and a Wonder Woman for the less aware consumers? Should she, say, boost America and fight its enemies in appearances where that might be most popular with the audience, and fight for international pacifism and beat up American (and other) warmongers in other books where that might be more popular?

If you decide Wonder Woman should stand for something, tough choices abound.
 

moonmaster

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David Blue said:
There seem to be some difficult issues of balance to strike.

1. If the character stands for nothing but being as broadly acceptable as possible, that suits some characters (Superman) but not necessarily others (Wonder Woman), and it can limit the character's appeal. Yet if they do take strong, clear stands on "hot" issues, that will win some people over but turn others off...

...There's another issue you implicitly raised too: should Wonder Woman stand for the same thing in all her books and other appearances? Or should there be a Wonder Woman for the more aware and a Wonder Woman for the less aware consumers? Should she, say, boost America and fight its enemies in appearances where that might be most popular with the audience, and fight for international pacifism and beat up American (and other) warmongers in other books where that might be more popular?
To adress both problems, I think her motivations should always be the same, but taken to different extents in different books. The All-Star line would be a good place to make her most strongly tied into the idea of fighting those who make war. Create a thick political layer to the story and start some controversy.

The ongoing book could be taken in this direction, but I don't think it necessarily has to. I don't think WW has been all that pro-American in the past few years anyways. They could impose the anti-War idea, but it would be have to be done rather dramatically and it would have to be established that this is a new direction for the character. As far as the films go, stress the idea of peace and take away the patriotism, but keep it from getting overly political. Comic book readers would be more likely to accept the idea, but the general population wouldn't like it and box office would suffer.
2. The character's costume, symbols (like the lasso) and intentions should ideally add up (as they do with Captain America or Batman), but what if they are no longer consistent? Do you change the classic look to suit what the character is about now, or adjust what the character is about to get back to the causes that are represented in their iconography?
Get rid of the stars and the color blue. Make the whole costume red and white. It's a quick fix and it's not too dramatic. I'd also the costume to be more mythical looking. The armor, the gauntlets. It should all look like something that a goddess would wear.
3. For classic characters like Wonder Woman, these symbols and costumes were established a long time ago. They may not be popular any more, and nobody really knows whether they will be again, or whether what's currently fashionable will last either. So do you stay "classic" and risk being an antique if times don't change, or do you "go disco" (or whatever the latest thing is), and pray that you don't make the character look silly and also weak for giving up what the character was supposed to be about.
They did that in the 60s. They took away her powers and her become a normal woman who knew Kunf Fu. It didn't take off with fans, and the feminists whom they were trying to please were pissed that they had weakened the only strong female superhero. Things were quickly put back the way they were.
Let me apply that to Wonder Woman, warrior for peace, to whom America would be just another country that commits acts or war.

It's a gutsy stand, so it would win over some people big time but alienate others. I'm inclined to think that's a good bargain for Wonder Woman (though it would not be what I would want personally), because I think bland doesn't suit her, and it's not like your risking her universal popularity anyway. Judging by sales, she is not that big anyway.

This version of Wonder Woman would not suit her classic look. The American patriotic symbolism would be out of place. So: change the look, or stick to the classic and accepted look, ignoring the tension? It's a tough choice, but one you have to make once you decide that she's against what she was once for. Maybe sticking to the classic look and ignoring the tension would be best. If you're trying to win acceptance for a character who doesn't have that strong a foothold in the market-place, maybe it's best not to confuse people visually. Wonder Woman always look like X: keep Wonder Woman looking like X.

Betting on trends is tough. My feeling overall is, the best person to embody something will usually have had that idea from the start. Someone who stands for what wonder Woman stands for will lose out to the original and the best. But if you go over and play for the other team, at best you're a welcome new recruit. You can never be as convincing as someone who does not have a long history of upholding what you're now tearing down. Yet it sometimes is best to fundamentally change a character.



If you decide Wonder Woman should stand for something, tough choices abound.
I do think that Wonder Woman needs a change. People need to find something interesting about her, and a radical and sometimes hostile take on world politics would certainly count.
 

David Blue

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Good post, moonmaster. This bit specially interested me.

moonmaster said:
They did that in the 60s. They took away her powers and her become a normal woman who knew Kunf Fu. It didn't take off with fans, and the feminists whom they were trying to please were pissed that they had weakened the only strong female superhero. Things were quickly put back the way they were.
Do you know why it was thought that that would work, and where I could look for feminist opinions of it?

It's highly relevant to a discussion of what's right for the character.

And I'm just interested in "great" ideas like this and New Coke (1985) in general.

When "creative" people get the idea that the public doesn't want a classic image that's been accepted since World War II - I could equally be talking about classic Coke or classic Wonder Woman - it's intriguing to see the thinking behind that, and how the consequences play out.
 

iceman

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Wonder Woman represents man's love of picturing women as those who are constantly in some for of bondage.

At least, that's what she represented in the 50's. And what she damn well should represent now.
 

moonmaster

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David Blue said:
Good post, moonmaster. This bit specially interested me.

Do you know why it was thought that that would work, and where I could look for feminist opinions of it?

It's highly relevant to a discussion of what's right for the character.

And I'm just interested in "great" ideas like this and New Coke (1985) in general.

When "creative" people get the idea that the public doesn't want a classic image that's been accepted since World War II - I could equally be talking about classic Coke or classic Wonder Woman - it's intriguing to see the thinking behind that, and how the consequences play out.
From Wikipedia:
At the end of the 1960s, Wonder Woman surrendered her powers to remain in "Man's World" (partly to assist Steve Trevor, who was facing criminal charges) rather than accompany her fellow Amazons into another dimension so they could "restore their magic."

Now a mod boutique owner, the powerless Diana Prince soon came under the wing of a Chinese mentor known as I Ching. Under I Ching's guidance, Diana was trained to use her body as a weapon, learning martial arts and weapons skills, and proceeded to undertake secret agent-style adventures.

The new format of the comic book was strongly influenced by the Emma Peel era of the then-popular British spy series The Avengers. It also bore some similarities to the later TV series Kung Fu, with Diana being an inexperienced student to I Ching's master. Diana Prince also resembled the golden age Black Canary, who ran a flower shop by day, fought crime by night, and had a detective boyfriend, while Diana Prince ran a boutique, fought crime, and had private detective allies in Tim Trench and Jonny Double. Soon after the "new" Wonder Woman began, the editors removed one-by-one her connections to the superhero world, most notably killing off Steve Trevor (though the character would later be revived). One exception was a one-on-one confrontation with Catwoman.

This period of the comic book has its supporters and its detractors. Some critics welcomed the change from campy super-heroics to more serious, "topical" storytelling in the wake of the Batman TV series. Others felt that the comic had abandoned its history. Storylines included secret agent-style plots, as well as some occult tales. One controversial cover showed Diana Prince brandishing a machine gun and firing at an airplane; contrary to the traditional depiction of Wonder Woman, the updated version of Diana Prince was not against killing in order to defend herself or others.

The revised series attracted some writers not normally associated with comic books, most notably science fiction author Samuel R. Delany, who wrote two issues.

This storyline lasted for some five years, with Wonder Woman finally being restored to her powers and costume in 1973 with issue # 204. Part of the credit for the revival of Wonder Woman as a superhero was due to a campaign in which feminist Gloria Steinem — who was offended to see the most famous female superhero depowered — had a hand. The 1972 first issue of Steinem's Ms. Magazine featured Wonder Woman in her 1940s costume on the cover, and contained an essay in appreciation of the character. Ironically, the change in format was originally an acknowledgement of the Women's liberation movement. The I Ching era, despite the controversy, would continue to resonate for some years to come, both in the comic book and in live action adaptations of Wonder Woman a few years later. The 1974 Cathy Lee Crosby telefilm and the three seasons of Lynda Carter's popular series (see below), would borrow heavily from the characterization of Diana Prince in the early 1970s.
 

Zombipanda

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Wonder Woman represents comic fandom's most vocal, pandering attempt to say "See?! Superhero comic books respect women too!!"

It works about as well as you'd expect.
 
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SSJmole

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What does Wonder Woman stand for?

Women
Originally
Never
Drank
E.......


forget it it's too long, joke's not worth it.
 

Jaggyd

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Originally, she stood for her creators', Dr William & Elizabeth Marston's, ideal for women, as well as representative of he and his wife's BDSM lifestyle. She was created in the image of their live-in Dominatrix (Olive Byrne), who, when in Dominant Mode, wore steel bracelets. Amusingly, Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne were described as "Beautiful, strong and liberated women".

After that, she's represented different writers' ideals of what a "Liberated woman" is. Sadly, the rest of the industry doesn't see her that way, they see her as either T&A, a revenue stream, or both. I think that's why I loved Rucka's run so much, he seems to love, and writes, strong women well (Case in point, his WW, Rene Montoya and Batwoman).
 

Grocer Man

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I feel like these days, Wonder Woman's place in DC's Big Three has been taken by Green Lantern.
 
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Cabocomics

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Seriously; where does she stand on civil rights, gay marriage, bondage??? It's a f-ing comic book people .... I like depth in the characters, too, but geez!

She's the strongest female hero in comics. Period.
 
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bluebeast

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Seriously; where does she stand on civil rights, gay marriage, bondage??? It's a f-ing comic book people .... I like depth in the characters, too, but geez!

She's the strongest female hero in comics. Period.

There shouldn't be a reasy not to dissect her as a character "just because it's a comic". Watchmen, We3, Ultimates, Action Comics, etc. ad infinite have been used as platforms for creators to comment since they were fist made. They've become icons over the years and any icon ranging all the way up to religion and mythology back down to TV, movie and comics are rife to be interpreted and discussed.

But most of all she stands for one thing: truth.
 

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