FEB, 2011 – There are so many kickstarter campaigns for start up comic book projects and indie films. In the comics category as of today, there are three projects out of three pages that focus on a female character. “THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE AS TOLD BY WONDER WOMAN is a feature film about female superheroes, warrior princesses and the “ideal” woman in popular culture. The film explores our culture’s love of comic book superheroes and raises questions about the possibilities for women within the genre.” In order to make this project launch, the creators raised the $10,000 they needed through kickstarter.
I admit, I’m the worst feminist as defined by some. I was a “mere housewife” for years but I will not apologize for it. I needed it and I was okay at it. I was however, no good to anyone working a desk and crying or yelling day after day. My husband at the time agreed that instead of having mental health facilities become a revolving door for me, that I could focus on our life at home. So when I dress as Wonder Woman and people hear about my life, they inevitably lecture me. The greatest feminist I know happens to be a middle-aged black man from New York. I think people need to let go of their ideas about defining a feminist or an icon to women.
I’m probably the type of woman Gloria Steinem would not want to mingle with. I am however happy that the family of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, loves me and has welcomed me into their fold with open arms. Steinem does have the good sensibility to see Wonder Woman as a revered icon despite the traditional impractical costume and her post-war decades chasing Steve Trevor. (If only Barbie were revered as well.) Steinem is one of the subjects of this documentary. She takes the time to explain why she wanted Wonder Woman on the first cover of MS. magazine. You may have seen her before on other documentaries about comics because of her choice. Her message might not be anything new to you, but a documentary focused on Wonder Woman and other female characters of comics history would be since I can’t recall any being made before. The closest thing is the commentary of the DC animated Wonder Woman movie.
The producers of this documentary have an excellent array of rewards or thank you gifts for people that can sponsor the project. Please help share the link: http://kck.st/gWGqEJ
When the general public and experts alike speak about Wonder Woman, it seems that no one can argue she’s a powerful role model. Why do you suppose Barbie, the doll created almost 20 years after Wonder Woman first appeared in comics, is so much maligned for also being sexy but capable of doing any job a man can do?
Barbie is also an interesting case study in terms of following her history and she was created by a woman to boot. I think part of why Barbie has been a target is that she was somewhat limited as a doll…there is no singular narrative about her like there is for Wonder Woman and other female heroines. And even when children play with Barbie, they are limited to her figure, poses and outfits. I guess the extremely small waist, large bust and feet permanently posed for heels have pissed off a few women, moms and even girls over the decades. My mom never wanted me to play with Barbie dolls as a kid because she thought the dolls were too sexualized and limiting in that regard.
However, Barbie does allow girls (and boys) the space to create their own narratives through play and role play. And Barbie now comes in a multitude of sizes, skin tones and professions (though some would still argue not enough!) There are a few interesting documentaries that explore that aspect of Barbie. One, Barbie Nation, a film about Barbie’s fans, foes, fetishists –and the woman who created Barbie, and a short film, The Tribe, that uses Barbie to tell the history of the Jewish people in a very humorous way!
DC Comics and Marvel Comics have historically been competitive. Marvels sales are higher yet they were never able to get Ms. Marvel nor any of the female Avengers to the same iconic status as Wonder Woman. Do you think that her creation during the war era has anything to do with why the others aren’t as popular?
Many have argued that while Marvel broke a lot of ground with comics in regards to revitalizing the medium for newer generations, taking on political issues of the times, and even creating superheroes of color, they haven’t managed to create an iconic female hero that could last AND take center stage like Wonder Woman did. The female heroines of the 60s and 70s were all members of teams and so as a standout female superhero I don’t think any one could really emerge. Plus, when Wonder Woman was created there were only a couple other female heroes so she really could stand out as the preeminant female superhero.
I would argue that today, Wonder Woman’s iconic status stems from the popularity of the Wonder Woman TV show which aired at a time when women (and men) were hungry for the story of a strong, action-oriented heroine. She definitely broke new ground in that regard and the series took the character from cult to iconic status. Wonder Woman as a marketing enterprise: emblazened on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and now Mac lipstick has continued to insure her status (somewhat ironically) as an icon of female empowerment. I don’t think it has a lot to do with Wonder Woman’s current comic run.
But I do think Wonder Woman’s creation during the war era definitely helped push her popularity. Women in general were being asked to play more important roles in society at that time and her character was closely aligned with the war efforts. So as a symbol of liberty and Americana, she was a nice fit for what would resonate with audiences (men and women) of the time.
The costume: from the traditional star-spangled bodysuit frequently referred to as “the bathing suit costume” to warrior armor to the new corset with pants, which look of Wonder Woman do you prefer? Should she be restricted to one costume since people got so upset by the recent 2010 change?
That’s a tough one! I am partial to everything about the original comics: the drawing style, the storyline and the dress…and I like the culottes best of all! I don’t love the new outfit, but not necessarily because it deviates from “the bathing suit costume”. I just think it’s a little silly looking and I don’t think it will stand the test of time. I also found some of the boob poses with the corset a bit much! I do think it would have been great to see more costume changes throughout her career, so it wouldn’t shock audiences so much when her “one” costume is replaced. I do think the warrior look is cool and bold! I would have liked to have seen something more like that in her makeover! But pants are not a bad idea in my mind for an action heroine.
Wonder Woman comes from a land of all women yet DC Comics has never been brave enough to incorporate a lesbian storyline for the Amazons. How do you feel about that?
I do think that is odd. I mean, c’mon an island of nothing but women? Clearly there would be dalliances, liaisons and long-term relationships amongst them! But, it is not surprising. There are only a few mainstream comics to really explore any lesbian storylines – or gay male ones for that matter– in any authentic way and some of those were cancelled shortly thereafter (The Young Avengers and Batwoman*). But Wonder Woman would be an obvious place to test the waters for lesbian characters and I think there have been oh-so-subtle hints over the years. Sadly, I think that Wonder Woman is too big of a DC commercial enterprise for them to try anything that they might see as “risky”. But I bet they would be surprised by what the fans might think.
Wonder Woman herself as a character, however, does seem to remain rather celibate and asexual. Perhaps she is too immortal or too deified for any writer to imagine her have anything resembling a real relationship.
*note: The Batwoman comic book is still an ongoing series published by DC Comics with a new #1 issue on sale April 6, 2011. ~ead
Why are you making this documentary and why should people help fund it?
I am making this film because I grew up loving the Wonder Woman TV show and characters like Ripley from Aliens. I also loved fantastical female heroines in literature: Alice in Wonderland, characters from books by Madeline L’Engle and Ursula Le Guin. I still like fantasy and sci-fi, but strong leading ladies in these genres seem mind-bogglingly rare even today. I wanted to explore those issues and how heroes and in particular superheroes continue to capture our imagination.
The more I researched Wonder Woman as a comic book heroine, the more interested I became in using her as a through line for a film. Comic books as a populist medium–cheap and fast to produce–are fascinating to explore because of how much they can tell us about our culture and society. Wonder Woman, therefore, was interesting to view both as a reflection of the times and in terms of the progress of the women’s movement.
Entertainment media, like politics, is still largely controlled by white men! I would like to share some great heroines but also implore women to get out there and create their own heroes and action heroines. We have been making THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE AS TOLD BY WONDER WOMAN for almost three years and hope to release the film this year. We have secured incredible interviews with Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, George Perez, Gail Simone, Danny Fingeroth, Jennifer K. Stuller, Trina Robbins, Mike Madrid, Andy Mangels, Shelby Knox and many more!
We are at a critical moment in the making of the film, trying to get to a rough cut. With a rough cut in hand, we will be that much closer to getting the big funders, broadcast and festival programmers on board. A small donation goes a long way in bringing this film to the public!