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Saturday, August 30, 2014 

Reinvention isn't always for the better

The Wall Street Journal spoke with Cat Staggs and Amanda Deibert, two writers/artists who've produced some digital takes on Wonder Woman, and here's a few answers they got about adapting WW to the silver screen, and what they think of replacing Thor with a woman. At the beginning, they say:
Long considered one of DC Comics’ “holy trinity” of heroes, along with Superman and Batman, Diana of Themyscira’s mass-media cachet has faded somewhat in recent decades, particularly as her male cohorts have scored big hits at the box office. But, with Wonder Woman finally — FINALLY — set to make her big-screen debut in 2016′s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” it’s once again the Amazon warrior’s moment to shine.
But what if the movie doesn't turn out well? That's the big question realists worry about. We've already seen how the Green Lantern and Jonah Hex movies turned out, and despite the success of Christopher Nolan's Batman films and the Man of Steel, there's no guarantee other adaptions will find the same. Making a big screen debut alone isn't reason for rejoice any more than it was when Jonah Hex made one, since we don't know what the quality of the finished product will be like.

Now to address a few parts of the interview. For example:
On the representation of women in comic-book and pop culture:

Cat Staggs: I feel like there’s this weird thing happening where people think women just showed up, like we haven’t been here the whole time.

Amanda Deibert: To go with what Cat’s saying, women have been here all along, but for some reason we’re still massively unrepresented. For me it doesn’t make sense. I mean, you see films with female leads doing well at the box office and it still translates somehow into “chick flicks don’t make money.” … I don’t understand the false logic being given. I think that every medium could use more, comic books included.
There's something they've missed here: chick flicks, to my knowledge, doesn't usually mean action flicks, and that's what we expect a WW adaption to be. Most "chick flicks" are usually considered comedies and dramas. And the Catwoman and Elektra movies did no favors for comic book movies starring women in the leads. Based on that, it may not be surprising few producers till now want to try out comic films with female stars, especially not if the screenplays turn out badly. Now, here's where they talk about Thor's change:
On Marvel making Thor a woman:

Staggs: I have no problem with it.

Deibert: I think it’s kind of fun. I know there’s an argument, ‘Why not create unique individual characters?’ But I think there’s always these — over time, these different kinds of characters, they constantly change, they constantly get reinvented

Staggs: Thor was a frog at one point.

Deibert: Thor was a frog at one point. (Laughs.) So, I think people who would get upset about it — I don’t know. I don’t think that they need to worry that they’re never going to have their beloved, classic male Thor. And I think it’s kind of fun to have big, iconic characters that are female because there’s Wonder Woman, who I’d say is up there with iconic characters. But she’s kind of alone when you get to characters of that caliber. Of course, there are plenty of female superheroes, but I’m talking about huge, iconic, everybody-knows-who-they-are characters. People like my grandparents know who they are.

Staggs: I always thought it’s probably just temporary. I mean, it has to be temporary, right?
I figure as much. Depending when this was conducted, it would sound as though they're fine with giving Thor a sex change operation, as it first sounded like. Do they really think that makes sense? (I think it hints in the article they're a lesbian couple.) Because it doesn't, nor does it guarantee good writing that won't bore readers to sleep. And does reinvention always work for the better? Most of these modern reinventions are for politically correct diversity pandering only, and aren't character driven in the real sense. Some, like the change to Alan Scott, have even had the effect of alienating veteran fans while failing to impress possible new ones. And a lot of these changes have only been done with superheroes, though even the ones performed on co-stars can be pretty awful too.

And WW alone as a mega-major? If it hasn't dawned on her, that's because DC and Marvel's managers spectacularly failed to promote other heroines like Black Canary, Hawkgirl, Scarlet Witch and Firestar to higher recognition based on enjoyable writing that isn't tarnished by embarrassments like Identity Crisis and Avengers: Disassembled, the former being something I'll bet they won't dare criticize lest they incur the wrath of DiDio and Harras. How do they expect various other heroines to gain wider recognition if the only kind of publicity the mainstream books get are based largely on crossovers? Another interview with writers/artists that doesn't offer any meaty notes on the importance of talented writing sans political agendas and publicity stunts.

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