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Sisyphus said on August 1st, 2013 at 1:49 pm

On the Green Goblin vs. Doc Ock (and this is really the wrong place, but…)

A real arch-enemy should be, in every characteristic you can define, either a direct opposite, or they are a funhouse mirror reflection of the protagonist. Batman and the Joker are a perfect couple. Batman is moral; he has a code and he follows it no matter what. The Joker is amoral: he has capricious whim and will do whatever he feels like at that moment. Batman either works alone, or with a few people that are basically a family to him. The Joker surrounds himself with thugs that he regards as totally expendable. Batman never kills, the Joker kills when it’s funny to him. Batman is generally grim and pensive. The Joker is whimsical in every sense of the word. Batman is, really, an insane reaction to the death of Bruce Wayne’s parent. What he does is completely insane, but it’s insane in that it is hyper-logical; he can do this and it will help the people of Gotham, and no one else can. The Joker is insane in a complete lack of logic. Batman is defined by a specific event in his past. The Joker doesn’t even have a past that he recognized.

For Spiderman, Doc Ock is the perfect reflection and opposite. Both are scientifically inclined. Both have powers that reference 8 legged creatures. Peter is plagued by self-doubt and humility. Otto is arrogant. Peter hides his identity. Otto refuses to do so to the point of not even trying. Peter’s powers allow him to move with agility and strength, personally. Otto’s rely on controlling a set of arms that make up for his personal lack of physical power. In their first encounter, Otto beat the crap out of Spider-man (and, on several occasions, has done so).

Goblin is a good villain, and a good story. However, he’s not Spider-man’s arch enemy.

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@BlueBlaze88: I think the reason to “make Wonder Woman work” is that she’s a great character. Sure, she can be written in a sexist way, but that’s not everything about her. She exists in a world where mythology, magic, and technology coexist. Vaughn and Staples created the same kind of world in SAGA and it’s a huge success.

In addition: She’s an ambassador from a secret culture. And her strengths and weaknesses are very particular to her. Superman can stand around doing nothing while he’s shot at all day. Wonder Woman has to defend herself *with a pair of bracelets.* That takes some skill. She can talk to animals. She acts from compassion. She has access to an insanely imaginative technological armory (bracelets, lasso, invisible jet, Purple Ray, anything else the scientists on Paradise Island can think up) as well as the patronage of mythological figures who sometimes want to kill her.

Frankly, there’s so much good stuff about Wonder Woman that the difficulty in writing a “definitive version” of her probably comes from trying to fit all of that into a single book.

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BlueBlaze88 said on August 1st, 2013 at 4:55 pm

@Thom H. – Thanks; lots of stuff I didn’t know. I definitely agree that the bracelets are awesome (probably the only part of her costume I like).

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Les Fontenelle said on August 1st, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I FULLY agree that Rucka’s run was the closest Wonder Woman has ever gotten to a “definitive” version since Marston. Her greatest story ever? That’s easy: her televised battle with Medusa, where (spoilers) WW blinded herself to win in a magnificent moment of badassery (and later she got her vision back as a gift from the gods after an epic quest through the underworld). If you adapt THAT into a movie, it will blow everyone’s minds.

And her movie costume should look less like a playboy model’s swimsuit and more like this:

http://www.bite.ca/bitedaily/2011/03/top-10-wonder-woman-costumes/amazonian/

I rest my case.

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Les Fontenelle said on August 1st, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Another look at what a good movie-WW should look like:

http://www.pajiba.com/assets_c/2011/03/Xena-thumb-295×495-22267.jpg

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@Les Fontenelle: That story made me cry the first time I read it. Rucka’s storytelling for that first long arc on WW was amazing, and I couldn’t believe it culminated in such an act of self-sacrifice. BAD ASS.

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Les Fontenelle said on August 1st, 2013 at 10:45 pm

In case someone is curious about the climactic scene I mentioned from Wonder Woman’s greatest story, here’s a recap with the key pages:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/09/11/a-year-of-cool-comic-book-moments-day-254/

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Farwell3d said on August 1st, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I grew up in the era when Gobby was dead, dead, dead, and the notion that anyone other than Doc Ock could possibly be Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis has always struck me as not only wrong, but absurd.

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I blame Robert Kanigher. Marston gave Wonder Woman a solid supporting cast, and a rogues gallery who even all teamed up together once.

After he died, Kanigher slowly dropped all that structure, other than a whiny one dimensional Steve Trevor, in favour of one off flights of fancy and no continuity. Which continued into the late fifties, when he noticed that Batman and Superman were both building up families and so rather than adding new characters or bringing back old ones, he made the absurd choice of having Diana team up with herself at different ages.

And then after a few years he got bored with that and threw them away, and dabbled in a bit of retro-golden age, before he finally left the book. Then we got a few years of white pants suit Wonder Woman with the kung fu kicky action, before that was dumped too.

And by then it was too late. There was no definitive supporting cast, and the comic couldn’t hold a writer for more than a few months, so anything one set up, another ignored, all the way up to the end of the Bronze Age. And pretty much ever since.

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SIlverHammerMan said on August 2nd, 2013 at 1:30 am

Okay, so that Wonder Woman scene with the blinding is pretty hardcore, but it raises a lot of questions.

Like, why did she need to blind herself? Couldn’t she just…. close her eyes and not peek? And if Medusa’s plan is to turn her gaze on the people, why not just tell people not to watch? Or jam the signal? And how are people watching Medusa on TV, yet somehow not being affected by her gaze in that fashion? I mean if her plan is to look at the camera deliberately then surely her doing it incidentally would have the same effect. Also, who is filming this?

I probably wouldn’t be questioning those things were I seeing this in context, but that scene in isolation has an awful lot of “wait, but….” elements to it.

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dogheart said on August 2nd, 2013 at 2:58 am

I need that Doc Ock post like I need air.

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Calling the Green Goblin Spiderman’s archenemy is somewhat like calling Bane Batman’s archenemy or Doomsday Superman’s archenemy: it emphasizes a solitary event over a long time organic history with other characters.

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Les Fontenelle said on August 2nd, 2013 at 9:31 am

SilverHammerMan, WW couldn’t just close her eyes because Medusa’s voice had the power to compel people to look at her – when Medusa’s speech balloons turn purple, that’s her using that power. This is why WW began the fight blindfolded, and when the blindfold was ripped off she had to improvise.

Nobody was warned of Medusa’s plan of turning her gaze on the viewers; the transmission interrupted all channels through magic and Medusa only told WW about the plan during the battle (and there were no microphones). IIRC the TV transmission was being created by the same coven of witches that blocked off the stadium from outside interference, Medusa wasn’t working alone.

That was all explained in the story itself; the handful of pages on that link were the culmination of a months-long storyline. That scene is just a fragment of the climactic fight. You’re right, it would all make more sense reading the complete story.

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Mr. Whiskas said on August 2nd, 2013 at 9:56 am

Wow, what a great site and discussion. Lots of thought provoking insights here.

One thing that I think would be important to a Wonder Woman movie is to have a definitive villain who is intertwined with Wonder Woman’s ‘coming out’ story. I say ‘coming out’ because I think the way to tell WW’s story is the way that Marston did: a man (Steve Trevor) blunders into an amazing matriarchal society, and Wonder Woman is there. Wonder Woman is there to show him this amazing world (and what or world could be like if women had more say). Then you have an emergency in the outside world, preferably one related to how Trevor got there in the first place, the contest to see who will be the Amazon’s champion to the outside world which WW wins, and then WW goes out and saves the world.

Now that’s just Marston’s story, but I think that is about as definitive a backstory for WW that you get. Not only oft referenced in comics but also on things like the Super-Friends cartoons and the 70’s live action show.

But you can’t stop there, the problem is that in Marston’s story WW goes on fight the Nazis, they are the world threat and certainly fit the bill at the time. But, no Nazis today. And I don’t think you can replace them with current geo-political threats (WW fighting Islamic extremists would be interesting, especially with the element of mistreatment of women in that movement) because she has to fight someone ‘super.’

But that’s the problem I see. Who will she fight? As noted her rogues gallery is weak, and many would never translate to film very well. But perhaps more importantly whoever is chosen should have their origin story intertwined with Wonder Woman’s. Superman’s Zod and Luthor have this and Batman has this in Batman Begins. Additionally, they need to be a world threat, and one outside of WW’s world (else no real ‘coming out’ to save the day). I think Cheetah could translate to film and is a great character, but I don’t see her as a world threat or intertwined in with WW’s story in a way that would work.

Perhaps the answer is that the outside threat has to be something like Kobra (DC could sure use a staple bad guy organization like Hydra and AIM), and the loser to WW in the Amazonian trials to represent to the outside world could go join them and provide the super-foil to WW.

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OK, I’m writing as someone who is familiar with Wonder Woman but I don’t know much about her and am not a Fan, and I’m honestly asking because I’m honestly curious… Why try to make her work?

I’m not particularly a fan of Wonder Woman either, but I’m interested in the discussion for a number of reasons.

For one thing, DC is going to keep trying to make her work, because she’s by far their biggest-name heroine. I realize neither of the Big Two are all that great with their female characters, but at least Marvel has had Storm in a leadership position since all the way back in the 70s, and there are several other notable X-women, and Black Widow is well-known at the moment thanks to the movies. DC has Wonder Woman and… Wonder Girl. Power Girl, Catwoman and Zatanna have all the problems you attribute to Wonder Woman but worse, Hawkgirl is well-known from the cartoon but not in the main DCU, and so on. (I’m exaggerating a bit, but not too much, I don’t think.) DC pretty much has to make Wonder Woman work, so they might as well do it well.

Secondly, I think she has potential. Several ideas in this thread look good. I’d read that version of the character I described up there. I don’t think I’d read Thom H.’s version, but there are worse ideas out there. The ambassador/politician version of the character is relatively unique.

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Mr. Whiskas said on August 2nd, 2013 at 10:30 am

Why try to make Wonder Woman work? Iirc there are only three heroes that have been published continuously since the Golden Age: Superman, Batman and…Wonder Woman.

That’s why. No other heroine character comes close.

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Regarding the need for an ongoing villain in her origin, the comics (both Marston and Perez) already have one: Mars/Ares, the God of War. He’s one of the probably three candidates for archnemesis she has.

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chiefsheepy said on August 2nd, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Once again I submit that WW’s defining villain ought to be Vandal Savage, the embodiment of the Patriarchy.

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Brian T. said on August 2nd, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I would totally read or watch Toby’s proposal.

Maybe it’s because I’m a big urban fantasy nerd, but I definitely think focusing on the monster hunting and the warrior culture is the way to go. I loved it when George Perez changed Hippolyte from some blonde gal dressed like the statue of liberty who seemed to spend most of her time explaining why she wouldn’t lead the Amazons into battle to a warrior in bronze armor armed with the traditional Amazon double-bladed axe.

“My” Wonder Woman would be similar to Toby’s. The Amazons would wear sensible clothes and armor instead of sexy outfits, and they would be known for things like their archery skills and their experience dealing with weird supernatural problems.

My big thing is that Wonder Woman would just be invulnerable instead of having a magic force field that doesn’t stop bullets, or whatever the latest excuse is for her continuing to need to block bullets with her fashion accessories. Before the “new 52”, she was invulnerable to fire, could survive unprotected in space, and she had a force field that protected her from most things (and got stronger when she crossed her arms in front of her for some reason)… but she still could theoretically be hurt by a bullet or possibly an arrow with a narrow tip. Why, other than tradition?

Screw that. Either she’s invulnerable as long as she wears her bracelets, or she got dipped in the same stuff as Achilles or something. I have always found it silly that she could survive having huge boulders dropped on her and survive fights with giants and stuff like that, but a sniper with a silencer might get lucky (or at least, that might have worked before Rucka gave her Daredevil’s radar sense or whatever the deal was there).

I’m not totally sure why they felt it was necessary to upgrade Wonder Woman’s powers to the point that she was comparable to the Martian Manhunter or possibly even Superman but then left her with a weakness that would mean she would be in trouble in a fight against Deadshot, or even some gangbangers doing a drive-by. To me, that’s almost as dumb as the Martian Manhunter fainting when he gets near fire.

“What happened to Wonder Woman?”

“Ten guys with AK-47s. Even she couldn’t block every rifle bullet.”

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Brian T. said on August 2nd, 2013 at 6:23 pm

My last comment was way too long, but I have more. I never really understood why Wonder Woman needed to be able to fly under her own power and operate somewhere in the Captain Marvel power range.

I kind of prefer the Golden Age Wonder Woman, who could run fast enough to keep up with a getaway car but was really more like Hourman in terms of how strong she was and stuff. That made the whole thing from before Crisis on Infinite Earths about how her powers were at least partly derived from special Amazon training programs make more sense.

I’m thinking something like this. The Greek pantheon blessed her in various ways. Hermes gave her incredible speed. She was granted superhuman strength, agility and senses. She was given invulnerability like Achilles.

The problem is that even though she can bench press several tons, exceed the speed of sound, jump over stuff like on the Lynda Carter show and so forth… there are inconvenient limits to the gods’ blessings. Her invulnerability, for example, is fine against pre-gunpowder weapons but grenade shrapnel and bullets hurt when they hit her and man’s world might have something that could kill her. So, the gods gave her magic bracelets that protect her from harm as long as she’s wearing them (deflecting bullets with them is just something she does to show off). They gave her other gifts to help her out. For example, she has a pair of winged sandals she uses to fly. Athena gave her a magic sword she sometimes uses to kill monsters. She uses a special bow sometimes when it would be helpful to have a ranged attack.

Wonder Woman might not be able to beat Superman in a fair fight, but who cares? She is awesome because of her skill set and her resourcefulness. She is practical, an excellent strategist and extremely likeable even though she is also a pragmatic killer.

She also has a knack for learning languages and is fascinated by other cultures. She loves learning about other ways of life and is able to win people over by showing some sensitivity to their cultural values.

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On the one hand, Byrne wanted WW to be second only to Superman in strength. And that level of super-strength pretty much demands invulnerability both in terms of being able to punch things without destroying your fist and in terms of surviving blows from the kind of foes that can challenge such strength.

On the other hand, blocking bullets with her bracers might be the most fundamental iconic thing Wonder Woman does. More so than the lasso or the invisible plane, I’d say. And however ridiculous the idea is, it’s a totally badass thing for your hero to do.

One possible solution might be to play with her invulnerability being magic with arbitrary limitations. Maybe she’s only invulnerable against weapons that existed in the time of Greek legends. Perhaps the wording of a blessing from the gods, “no peril in this world can harm her” has the technicality that it only applies to perils that existed when the blessing was given. So a sword, a punch, a falling boulder can’t hurt her any more than they would Superman, but a bullet or a laser gun she has to block with her bracelets. It would be a nice inversion of mythical heroes/villains that can only be harmed swords and other ancient weapons.

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After reading some of the other comments here, I think I’ve found another good reason to make Wonder Woman work: To present feminine characteristics as strengths.

Her compassion, her curiosity about and connection with other people, her passion to make the world a more peaceful place for everyone — all of those things deserve to be attached to a character who is strong, smart, assertive, and self-assured.

She’s what more women would be like if they didn’t live in misogynist societies. And that’s a great role model for anybody to emulate. It’s why Wonder Woman falls so flat when she’s simply portrayed as the sexy, female Superman. She’s so much more than that.

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Kristopher A. said on August 3rd, 2013 at 1:00 am

Deflecting bullets with the bracers despite being invulnerable can be logically explained in a lot of ways:

1) It’s instinctual. She’s still vulnerable to magically weapons (example: Arrows fletched by Hephaestus and his artisans), so she always deflects things on instinct; that’s how she trained. So when someone decides to try and use a magic bullet on her, she isn’t going to get caught flatfooted like Superman might with a bullet made of Kryptonite.

2) It’s to limit collateral damage: by deflecting the bullets, she can put them right into the ground rather than risking ricochets hitting a bystander. So there’s a basic purpose behind it.

3) It’s intimidation. She isn’t dodging your bullets: she is purposefully bitchslapping them out of the air. Instead of Superman’s “Yeah, you can’t hurt me” nonchalance, it sets her up as a more serious “I don’t take any threat lightly”.

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Brian T. said on August 3rd, 2013 at 9:21 am

I like the cut of your jib, Thom H.

@ other people: I still don’t like the “bullets and bracelets” thing, even if it is traditional.

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Candlejack said on August 3rd, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I saw a little girl walking around Walmart yesterday in a Wonder Woman costume, presumably just for the joy of it. That’s reason enough to keep trying for a Wonder Woman film.

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[…] An interesting take on a Wonder Woman movie from MightyGodKing, a.k.a. Christopher Bird. He talks about how Wonder Woman isn’t as strictly defined as, say, Batman or Superman, due to the creative control the various people who write her have over her story. But he’s also arguing that a Wonder Woman movie would provide that structure and make her as popular as Bats and Supes. […]

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strawhair said on August 5th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

In truth if I were going to write Wonder Woman – note the strain of grandiosity, take with grain of salt, etc. – I would use as many of the Golden/Silver Age tropes as possible. If taking over the title in previously ongoing continuity, keep the great bulk of the previous writer’s infrastructure. For example Azzarello’s mythic grotesque villains are a good innovation and worth keeping. If there’s another continuity shuffle – and who are we kidding? – just go right back to Diana Prince, bespectacled lady bureaucrat with a crush on Steve Trevor.

The goofy stuff from old WW comics should be in the forefront, in any case. Why? Because they haven’t/wouldn’t prevent the character from kicking ass. And because hiding from Silver Age silliness bespeaks a lack of confidence in the character. How are readers supposed to invest in her if she’s ocnstantly under construction? The reason Spider-Man still appeals to readers/cartoon watchers/moviegoers isn’t because Doc Ock and the Vulture aren’t silly bad guys, at root. It’s because whatever else the writers do they show confidence in the material given.

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My husband hates this idea but I still think that what WW lacks and needs is a tragic event setting her into the path of heroism. Spiderman has his uncle Ben, Batman has the Waynes, Superman has his whole planet exploded and to take the point home the new movie has his father killed in front of him. Even Thor has Loki even though it was live character development. The most powerful the character the more you need a reason for the audience to care, IMO.

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Candlejack said on August 15th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I agree with your husband, Ana.

I get frustrated when every hero seems to have the same motivator in his or her background. It’s boring. And offering the same old thing they’ve seen in almost every superhero so far is, in my opinion, pretty much the exact opposite of giving the audience a reason to care.

Personally, I think a Wonder Woman movie should skip doing any kind of in-depth origin. She’s an Amazon, she doesn’t need a reason to want to fight monsters. She just needs a reason to get off her island and start playing tourist.

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[…] people think Wonder Woman is hard to write for (an idea Christopher Bird examines and demolishes here), then the very thought of writing for Harleen “Harley Quinn” Quinzel must surely […]

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I loved the Greek mythology perez focused on in wonder woman # 1 through 21. His portrayals of the olympian gods were very accurate to the myths , especially Zeus and heracles. There could be serious potential in those issues for a wonder woman movie.

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