Friday, March 26, 2021

Wonder Warrior

 Wonder Woman kills.

I am referring immediately to her actions in Zack Snyder's Justice League.  Really, it's more like Terminating With Extreme Prejudice.  

It's not the first time Wonder Woman has killed; I'm sure many of you will remember in comics when she killed Maxwell Lord (the Neck-Snap Heard Round the World).  

Someone is NOT a Keith Giffen fan.

Set aside Elseworlds stories and the like; and give her a pass on monsters, demons, and anything from mythology.  She's a Greek hero and killing monsters is just sort of what they do.

But ever since the neck-snap (retconned or not), there has been a 180 on depicting Wonder Woman (who can "make a hawk a dove" and "stop a war with love", you'll remember).  In the Golden Age, Wonder Woman was all about reformation of her foes.

Resemblance to Marlene Dietrich causes SO much war crime.

Naturally, that focus on reformation was all in the service of the "loving submission" of her strange creator's DISC theory. You can't prove that bondage is the key to happiness if you go around killing everyone.  But still, Wonder Woman was about doing things the hard way: trying to defeat your enemies philosophically rather than just doing away with them.  

Guess whose side Wonder Woman was supposed to be on.

Zeus knows I have made fun of Wonder Woman's strange creator, William Marston enough.

Okay, perhaps not "enough". Let's just say "a lot".

But, although a bit naive, his thesis (that war is mostly caused by men, and if they submitted their aggressive tendencies to someone more benevolent--women, in Marston's estimation--that would alleviate a lot of the world's violence) is non-absurd.  

Honi soit qui mal y pense.

He created the Amazon bracelets as reminders of the evil that happens when women submit to men and Diana's lasso as a symbol of the need for women to dominate men to control their aggressiveness.

Never forget that what is now usually called 'the lasso of truth' is in fact...

... the lasso of OBEDIENCE.

Marston's Wonder Woman certainly didn't hesitate to DOMINATE others, she did so not aggressively but responsibly. Mostly.  Nowadays, however, Wonder Woman doesn't have time to dominate you, and it's not politically palatable. So, now, she'll just kill you.  It's the Xena-fication of Wonder Woman, by which she has become a "warrior princess".  

Instead of the foe of War, Wonder Woman has become his heir.

It's not incomprehensible.  Unlike Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman is rooted in World War II; she was fighting a war.  

Although she took frequent vacations.

And, in war, we understand that warriors kill and, for society's sanity, we don't hold them individually accountable for that.  Unless they are on the losing side, of course.  When we do see Wonder Woman kill its often in a warlike context, such as fighting off alien invaders.

Or, um, natty terrorists. Whom I am pretty sure Superman or Batman or Flash would have managed not to kill.

Also, for what it's worth, it DOES distinguish her from Batman and Superman (although probably not in a way her strange creator would approve of). It's no accident in ZSJL that Aquaman and Wonder Woman are teed up to deal the killing blow(s) to Steppenwolf, because it avoids having Superman or Batman do any killing.  Nor is this unique to Synder's vision; in comics Wonder Woman and Aquaman get away with a lot more bloodshed than their fellow leaguers.  

Do we excuse them because they are royalty?  Is killing a royal prerogative and if so what does that say about us?  It's notable that in James Wan's Aquaman, Arthur pointed choose NOT to kill his half-brother when, by all right and custom, he is not only entitled to but supposed to.  His choice makes the point that, well, that's part of why Atlantis sucks and he's here to change it.  

Sure kills me, though.

But as a result have we now entered a world where in the public consciousness, Wonder Woman is more likely to kill than Aquaman?  And is that a world we are comfortable living in?


cybrid said...

"It's notable that in James Wan's Aquaman, Arthur pointed choose NOT to kill his half-brother when, by all right and custom, he is not only entitled to but supposed to."

Well, there's also the fact that Aquaman killing Ocean Master would be kind of pointless because Ocean Master will return to menace Aquaman again no matter what. Ocean Master died? Big deal, he just un-died. :-|

BTW, to save a few people a Google check, I checked for myself and "honi soit qui mal y pense" means "shame on him who thinks evil of it."

John C said...

Thank you! The "warrior" issue (which sometimes bleeds into the broader DCU as a team fighting a "war" against...a single villain), along with Diana's absurdly fussy costume that defied decades of streamlining, have probably been my biggest objections to the character, myself. It's a weird idea that, because both settings use the term "hero," that they must be interchangeable ideas. I mean, we wouldn't accept a version of the Flash whose power was glowing in the dark. A writer who decided that Clark Kent's skin should turn into steel, because he's the Man of Steel, would be fired.

I sometimes wish that Julie Schwartz had taken a pass on rebooting Wonder Woman. It would've been stupid, obviously, but a couple of decades where Diana wore a simple bodysuit and came from a "Paradise Planet" could have put the Perez reboot in a position where writers didn't need to constantly justify wearing a suit of armor (and coming up with "she was a child soldier, but in a good way") and artists didn't feel the need to constantly figure out what that armor would "really" look like. And we also might be spared the goofy split characterizations in adaptations, where she'll draw a sword on flunkies, but also get giddy over snack foods, because that time on that cartoon.

I'm not entirely pro-Marston, but I'd vastly prefer a Wonder Woman that jettisoned the Greek myth (and, by the way, if they are the Amazons of myth, why are they portrayed as Greek and not Turkish/Iranian!?) and kept the sexual kinks, rather than the other way around.

Scipio said...

You have to admit, thought: ice cream IS pretty impressive.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, I got a little tired of how all the heroes on TV were constrained to be unfailingly noble. It wasn't just Wonder Woman and David Banner; even the Hulk was too fundamentally decent to ever hurt anyone. It wasn't even that all these heroes were "too" good; it's that they turned into a parade of cookie cutter good guys.

These days, though, I miss those truly good good guys; there aren't enough of them on TV. And in the comics, while there are some characters where shades of grey are a good look, other heroes shouldn't be that way, and Wonder Woman numbers among them.

It seems simple enough to me: she is talented enough of a melee fighter that she can almost always subdue rather than kill, and if that fails, she's got a lasso that can physically restrain and also maybe compel people to submit.

John C said...

Just to be clear, I'm pro-ice cream. However, with access to mountains and salt, I suspect that Amazons who created healing rays could've figured out how to make their own, and object to how flighty/naive moments like that are emphasized, making it seem like she only has "gritty warrior demigoddess" and "giddy teenager" modes, with nothing in between.

But the best Superman story in decades has also been Ted Lasso, so I guess poor Wonder Woman doesn't really have a chance...