Batman v Superman begins next week, but the most interesting character may not even be in the title.
|Brilliant artwork by Doug Chiang showing live-action depictions |
of Wonder Woman, forty years apart: Lynda Carter (left) and Gal Gadot.
But the bright spot for me is finally seeing a live action depiction of the third member of DC comic's trinity.
|Gal Gadot, soon to be seen as the first big screen Wonder Woman|
The former Miss World USA starred in two closely related but separately produced series between 1976 and ’78 (the single, WWII-set Wonder Woman season for ABC followed by the contemporary New Adventures of Wonder Woman for CBS).
Given that superheroes on television were still equated with the campy ‘60s Batman series, and that the mid-seventies were hardly noted for progressive media representations of women, I recall that the Amazing Amazon actually fared pretty well on the tube.
Yes, she had a figure which impacted our developing libidos like a crashing invisible plane, but Carter also managed to depict a strong, sensitive, inspiring and intelligent character who still served as a role model for young women for generations afterwards; long before (the obviously derivative) warrior princess Xena. Her sincere portrayal also gave a comic-book character 'verisimilitude' before Christopher Reeve ever took to the air.
|All hail to the Princess, baby|
Actually, she will be the fifth.
Join me in the result of a long journey down an internet rabbit-hole which convinced me that the more you think you know, the less you actually do...
The first actress to play Wonder Woman in person was another Linda - Linda Harrison (Charlton Heston’s love-interest ‘Nova’ in the first two Planet of the Apes films).
|Linda Harrison as the first live-action Wonder Woman|
In the intersts of completism, here are 5 minutes of your life you’ll never get back again - but if I were you I really, really wouldn’t bother:
The first time Wonder Woman was successfully broadcast on the small screen, she was blonde:
|Now, that's incredible - Cathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman (?)|
Then-tennis star Cathy Lee Crosby (later to find fame on the That’s Incredible series) donned a costume completely unlike anything the character ever wore in the comics, to combat the mighty Ricardo Montalban in a 1974 ABC TV movie. No I’m not making it up - here's an image to prove it.
And perhaps because the memory of Ms Carter is held in so much affection, it took another thirty-two years for the character to (almost) reappear on television.
In the interim years nominating an actress to play the Amazing Amazon was a popular pass-time for fans. Sandra Bullock was always cited in the ‘90s, to be followed by almost every dark-haired actress in existence, from Jennifer Connolly, to Kate Beckinsale, to Megan Fox (remember her?)
However, another Megan really was a contender. Mad Max Director George Miller cast Australian actress Megan Gale as Wonder Woman in his 2008 Justice League film, but as this was aborted before filming began due to a writer’s strike, including her here would be dubious. Except, apparently-genuine shots of Ms Gale in costume came to light recently, so here she is what we very nearly could have had...
|Megan Gale was cast as the first big screen Wonder Woman in 1998|
|Cobie Smulders, (looking quite a lot like Lynda Carter here), |
voiced Wonder woman in The Lego Movie
|Not a wondrous Amazon, but a marvel-lous Valkyrie (sort of). |
Jaimie Alexander as Asgard's Lady Sif
In 2010, Shield's statuesque Adrianne Palicki became the first to finally play Wonder Woman in over three decades - in a TV Movie pilot which unfortunately was never even screened.
|Adrianne Palicki was not well-served by the script of the aborted 2010 TV movie|
She certainly looked the part, (the only actress invited to test for the role), but once again, the concept of the character was unnecessarily reshaped.
At least we weren’t given the by-now cliched ‘origin story’ approach, but instead a jaded, cynical and even sometimes cruel character who has lived in the ‘World of Men’ for some time, and become some kind of corporate brand and media celebrity.
My feeling is that with a far better script, (even either of Lynda Carter’s TV pilots), Palicki could still be Diana Prince now.
But instead we are finally getting Wonder Woman on the big screen: first guest-starring in an unsightly scuffle between two testosterone-over-dosed Capes who ought to know better, followed by her own feature film. Early footage can be seen here:
Wonder Woman fights the Nazis, just like old times
There’s been a little bit of thin-shaming (TM) after news of Gadot’s casting, (regardless of the fact that the actress is also a former Israeli army combat instructor who put on 17kg of muscle for this role), but she certainly looks the business from what we’ve seen in the trailers.
Despite the character's history of handing the titular male heroes their own bottoms in occasional clashes, I for one hope that we will see some of the gentleness and feminine wisdom in Batman v Superman, which Carter brought to the role all those years ago.
If Wonder Woman has to act like just another posturing male to succeed in the 'World of Men', then I think the character will lose much of her wonder.
And in the upcoming film, would a ‘power pirouette’ be out of the question?
|More wonderful artwork, this time by Phil Jimenez, evoking the spirit of Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman.|