Wonder Woman Movie Rocks! Documentaries Lack.

There are plenty of reviews of the new animated Wonder Woman movie out there, so I won’t take more than a few sentences to say that it was a really fun movie that emphasized everything makes Wonder Woman a great character. Her core virtues all shine through – strength, love, determination, feminism, and her undeniable and ever present sex appeal (Check back tomorrow for rel’s titillating examination of this subject).

This was my favorite retelling of Wonder Woman’s origin story. It kept the core story and took it in new and creative directions. They avoided most of the obvious plot twists, which I sincerely appreciated, and the action was very violent and intense. The battle scenes were obviously influenced by Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300 – Silhouetted beheadings anyone? 

In short, I really enjoyed the movie.

The standard DVD had one short documentary about Wonder Woman’s history. The special edition had two additional documentaries.

The history of comic characters (and pop culture in general) is a big area of interest for me. I’m not really into the continuity and history of the characters in within the story. I don’t care what happened in issue 187 and how it conflicted with what happened in some other obscure part of the character’s canon. However, I am passionate about the story of how the characters came about and how they evolved into their present forms – Especially within the context of other historical events. 

With that in mind, I was pretty excited about these documentaries. Wonder Woman’s creation is just about the oddest and most interesting back story I have ever encountered in pop culture history (I have a whole post about it here: Wonder Woman: The Super Secret & Kinky Origin of a Feminist Icon) (How can you not investigate a post with a title like that?). 

Sadly, the documentaries hid and obscured a lot of the history that makes the story so interesting.

First, the documentary that comes on the standard DVD doesn’t mention anything about any of the more interesting aspects of Wonder Woman’s conception, early years, or her creator William Moulton Marston.

The documentary titled Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream on the special edition disk isn’t quite as bad. At least it acknowledges the darker portions of the characters past.

Here are a few corrections that you should be aware of:

  • Olive Byrne was not William & Elizabeth Marston’s assistant. They were living a polygamous lifestyle together and they were all happy with the arrangement (I’m not judging).
  • Wonder Woman was a strong female role-model that was years ahead of her time, but her day jobs were always stereotypical for women of the era. She was usually a secretary or a nurse. She was powerful as a super-heroine, but not powerful as a normal woman. 
  • They acknowledged that Wonder Woman spent a lot of time tied up in all manner of damsel in distress bondage scenarios. However, they failed to mention that originally, Wonder Woman lost her powers when she was bound.

These facts don’t damage the character, nor do they diminish the symbol that she came to represent. These flaws in the character and oddities about her creator add more historical context and underscore just how important she was and still is. 

The only reason I can think that DC left these small details out is to whitewash Wonder Woman’s history. The movie had a PG-13 rating slapped on the cover like a badge of honor – a couple mentions of sexuality in a documentary wouldn’t have hurt anyone. 

Dishonoring such a rich history is a pathetic move on DC’s part.

Otherwise, the documentaries capture the significance and impact of Wonder Women very well, so they aren’t a total loss. They are almost there… but those little details matter a whole lot.

DC – You can retcon your character’s stories all you want. Leave the history alone.

3 thoughts on “Wonder Woman Movie Rocks! Documentaries Lack.

  1. The origin was told well enough, if slightly cold. The men of this universe were lame, and Trevor was depicted as a lecher which I felt was unfair to his character. Still, it was not militant feminist, but it did hit you over teh head.

    Overall, it was better than many of the other direct to video comic hero outings. The animation style was simpler. It was violent, but not distasteful.

    Here is my take on it with lots o’ pics and a speck of wit if you want to check it out:

    http://fortresstakes.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/wonder-woman-2009/

  2. I agree, it’s a shame they left those details out of the documentary. Great film though, cn’t wai till they get around to a live action blockbuster! Especially with how good the recent comics have been, a Xena esque version where its revealed that Diana is the daughter of Zeus…
    I’m extremely fascinated by the Marston/Elizabeth/Olive dynamic. I’ve read that after his death the two women lived together for the rest of their lives, and Diana herself was based on Olive. Another interesting fact: Bob Kane and Marylin Monroe had a fling, and he based Vickie Vale off of her. If you know of any sources specifically on the Marston triage let me know… :)

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