If there had to be one single character chosen to represent this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, it would simply have to be Wonder Woman, who is currently celebrating 75 years of continuous publication. Wonder Woman was chosen as the character to be on the cover of the official SDCC program, and she also had a special 75th anniversary installation downtown, where fans could take pictures inside her invisible plane, as well as see Wonder Woman art being created live. One can even make a solid argument that the trailer for the Wonder Woman movie was the best trailer to come out of the whole convention.
So it’s fitting that DC Entertainment and Warner Bros celebrated the Amazing Amazon with her own 75th anniversary panel, moderated by DC All Access host Tiffany Smith, which featured DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, as well as current Wonder Woman ongoing series artist Nicola Scott. But the two surprise guests of honor were Wonder Woman film director Patty Jenkins, and the new hero herself, Gal Gadot, who both spoke at length about giving Princess Diana her own feature film at long last.
The panel started with Lee and Scott talking about Wonder Woman’s comic book origin, when she debuted as a back-up story in All-Star Comics #8 in December, 1941. Lee recounted the story of how DC publisher Max Gaines was looking to create a new superhero, and contacted psychologist Dr. Willaim Moulton Marston, who Gaines was familiar with due to having read his articles on educational theories. Marston proceeded to create a hero who represented hope and peace, and at the urging of Marston’s wife, they decided to make that hero a woman. Wonder Woman would go on to reflect her creator’s own sociopolitical beliefs about gender equality, as both Marston and his wife were part of the early women’s liberation movement.
Nicola Scott then spoke about how it was an incredible privilege to work on a character that has now been around for generations, that has meant so much to so many over the decades. She mentioned how Wonder Woman galvanized America’s push to “go forth and conquer evil” during the second World War, and how important it was that that galvanizer was a woman.
Scott talked about the importance of when the feminist movement in the ’70s was looking for a cultural icon, and how Glorian Steinem found one in Wonder Woman, and put her on the cover for the first issue of Ms. Magazine. The renewed popularity of Wonder Woman during the early ’70s ultimately led to the Lynda Carter TV series, which made the character even more famous. Scott continued, saying that in our current world, “Coasting through third wave feminism can be quite divisive,” but that Wonder Woman is “the most inclusive superhero in pop culture.”
Jim Lee then elaborated on Wonder Woman’s evolution through the decades following her introduction, including the period in the ’60s when she lost her powers to emulate the popular British TV series The Avengers, that starred Diana Rigg as secret agent Emma Peel. But Lee put particular emphasis on the ’80s reboot of Wonder Woman from writer/artist George Perez (who received a large round of applause from fans), which amped up the Greek mythology aspect of Diana’s mythos, and added Olympian intrigue to Diana’s world. Lee referred to it as “Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones.”
Lee also praised the New 52 reinvention of the character from writer Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. Nicola Scott brought the discussion to current times with DC Rebirth, describing the current series as “peeling back all the layers of Wonder Woman, in order to find out who she really is.” She also talked about making Diana’s love interest Steve Trevor as important and cool as Lois Lane is to Superman.
At this point, the panel was joined by Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot. Patty Jenkins spoke of how awesome it was to be editing this movie, and having to occassionally stop herself and remind herself that she was indeed bringing a Wonder Woman movie to life at long last. Gal Gadot shared a funny anecdote about finding out she got the part of Wonder Woman on a plane, but not being able to tell another soul for months.
Tiffany Smith asked the panel if they could remember what their first impression of Wonder Woman was, and Jenkins said it was the Lynda Carter TV show, and Nicola Scott echoed that sentiment, telling the panel she discovered the series when she was only four, saying, “She’s the reason I draw comic books.” Gal Gadot said that Wonder Woman was as much a household name in Israel as she was in the United States, adding that she’s the ultimate “Shero.”
Patty Jenkins also talked about the influence of the Richard Donner Superman film from 1978 when filming Wonder Woman, and how she wanted to make something that would make people feel the way that movie made audiences feel when it came out. Gal Gadot said of her director, “I couldn’t ask for a better partner for shooting this movie, six days a week, every week for six months, in the freezing cold.” Jenkins stressed that Wonder Woman as a character is “about love, about forgiveness, but she’s still strong.”
When asked to describe the origin story aspect of the film, Gadot said, “This is the story of a girl becoming a woman” and how it’s very much a coming of age story. Jenkins agreed, saying it was a “classic coming-of-age story arc. She wants to save the world.” She said Wonder Woman is “a god coming to mankind, and seeing what mankind is capable of. You come in wanting to save the world and to be great, but how do you learn to be a loving and powerful hero? Power comes easy, but how do you do all the other things?”
Before the panel wrapped up, Jenkins talked about wanting to make this movie for years, but there being an apologist attitude (from the studio) towards the character, and that there were discussions about trying to make her hard and tough, because of the “universal” version of a superhero was a man. Jenkins said, “Why do only white men get to be universal? I feel like my job was the opposite of what people think. She’s vulnerable. She falls in love,” she said, going on to explain that they did all that for Superman and Batman, so why not Wonder Woman? She wanted to make this “everybody’s movie.”
How do you feel about Wonder Woman’s place in popular culture, and her finally getting her due in a big budget film? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Images: DC Entertainment / Warner Bros