Prompted by this weekend's screening of Wonder Women: the Untold Story of American Superheroines (which happens to feature my organization, Reel Grrls) at the Seattle International Film Festival (where it happens to be preceded by my latest short film), I decided it was time to educate myself about the preeminent American female superhero. So I got a collection of Wonder Women comics out of the library and have been having a great time getting educated this week.
preview for the Wonder Women documentary at SIFF this weekend
Origin story time (in case you were as clueless as I was about WW): There is an ancient race of Amazon warriors that now live on Paradise Island. Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, was granted the power by Aphrodite to create a living daughter of Earth, which she did. That daughter, Diana, grew up to be the princess of the Amazons, and eventually left Paradise Island to live among the world of men and be their champion as Wonder Woman.
As origin stories go I find it to be a pretty weird one, but I guess it's not any more strange than many of the others out there. Her Amazonian upbringing does allow her to have all sorts of random powers too: she's super fast and super strong, can fly (or sometimes just ride on the wind currents), has bracelets that deflect bullets and fingernails that can cut through steel, plus she has a silent transparent plane and a magic lasso that can do all sorts of near things. Did I mention she also has the (culturally-coded female) powers of compassion and truth, and is compelled by Amazonian code to never kill a human being if she can help it?
Especially when you consider the era in which she was created, Wonder Woman is a pretty amazing character. If you watched the preview of the documentary embedded above, you can see that her character changed a lot over the years, unfortunately becoming much less radical. But in the early comics featured in my collection, she is constantly saving her boyfriend, Steve Trevor. He keeps asking her to marry him but she keeps saying no because her career (as, y'know, a superhero) comes first. Rad.
I find all the references to Greek mythology in her comics to be pretty awesomely odd too: Wonder Woman is always saying stuff like "suffering Sappho" (as in the top panel below). I've gotta bring that one into my daily conversation. You'll also notice from this page the tendency in these early comics for Wonder Woman to fight villains who are also women, though she can totally beat up men when the occasion calls for it.
Basically, all this is making me want to read a lot more Wonder Women comic books, not to mention that I'm dying to see that documentary! Hope you can come and join me there this weekend:
Sunday May 27 at 4pm at the Egyptian
Monday May 28 at 6pm at the Harvard Exit