last few years have been tough for Wonder Women. While her Justice League colleagues have
gotten big screen treatments, she suffered the embarrassment of network
rejection for her pilot. Considering it
was from David E. Kelley, maybe it was just as well. The heroic Amazon will always have her fans,
several of whom explain her personal significance and lasting cultural
influence in Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s Wonder
Women: the Untold Story of American Superheroines (trailer here), which screens as
a Midnight selection of the 2012 DOC NYC.
William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman to embody feminine virtue, but she
also found herself frequently bound-up, like a comic precursor to Bettie
Page. Wonder Woman might imply much about
her creator’s subconscious, but her self-reliance struck a chord with many readers. Unfortunately, when the Comics Code Authority
began nannying the industry, Wonder Woman was amongst the hardest hit, effectively
becoming a costumed Ally McBeel.
incorporates many talking head interviews with self-identifying feminists who
celebrate the 1940’s era Wonder Woman and bemoan her subsequent watering
down. Frankly, she would have gotten
much the same response had she interviewed conservative cultural critics as
well. The old school Wonder Woman might
have been an Amazon Princess, but she adopted the American cause, fighting the
Axis tooth-and-nail. That’s a role
the film frequently frets about how society responds to “strong women,” yet it
scrupulously ignores a recent high profile woman, known for being an
accomplished outdoor sportsman, who rose to prominence in a male dominated
world, only to become the target of some shockingly profane, sexual explicit
vitriol. Her name is Sarah Palin.
when addressing the Wonder Woman’s cultural influence, the doc is rather
hit-or-miss, by any standard.
Guevara-Flanagan and her experts draw a straight line from Lynda Carter’s
Wonder Woman to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena the Warrior Princess, who
serve as representatives of a small contemporary golden age of strong women
action figures. Yet, they ignore a huge
chunk of Michelle Yeoh’s intervening filmography, in which she made a practice
of playing strong butt-kicking women.
(She still does.)
Wonder Women largely ignores recent
developments for the character, including her comic book reboot in conjunction
with the 2011 re-launch of the DC universe, the 2009 animated direct-to-DVD
animated feature (featuring the voice of Keri “Felicity” Russell), or the much
hyped but ill-fated pilot. That is too
bad, because the film is at its strongest when tracing Wonder Woman’s early
Too politicized for the natural comic fan
audience, Wonder Women is expressly
intended for those who fondly remember her appearance on the first issue of Ms. Magazine. For the rest of us, it is quite uneven,
reflecting a rather insular perspective.
It screens at the IFC Center this coming Sunday night (11/11) and the
following Tuesday (11/13) as part of DOC NYC 2012.
Labels: DOC NYC '12, Documentary, Wonder Woman