Archive for the ‘WW Miscellany’ Category

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women Trailer: A Tad Salacious, A Lot Inaccurate

July 19, 2017

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The first full trailer for Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, a film about the lives of the creator of Wonder Woman and his two partners Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne, premiered yesterday, and I’ve got some mixed feelings about it. I’m excited for the film; the Marstons are fascinating, and their lives and beliefs led to the creation of Wonder Woman. Plus the movie’s got a fantastic writer/director in Angela Robinson, as well as a stellar cast. I mean, Connie Britton is playing Josette Frank and Oliver Platt is Max Gaines. If you’re a Golden Age comic book history nerd like I am, that’s just amazing.

This trailer, however, left me a little bit underwhelmed and somewhat concerned:

It’s entertaining in and of itself, I suppose. It’s sexy and mysterious and intriguing, and it looks like a compelling story. My problem is that it doesn’t seem to be a very accurate story. There are some changes I can understand, like having Josette Frank grill Luke Evan’s Marston in person. In reality, their contact was mainly through letters. As part of her role on DC’s advisory board, Frank sent letters to Marston’s publisher objecting to Wonder Woman‘s bondage imagery, which Gaines then relayed to Marston, whose messages back to Gaines were then relayed to Frank. None of that would make for a interesting film, really, so it makes sense to put them in the same room for a tense standoff. It’s far more dramatic that way.

My larger issue is with the depiction of the Marston family, and the liberties the film seems to be taking with them. They were an unconventional family; they lived together in a polyamorous relationship, and Marston had two children with each woman. The problem is that beyond this, we really don’t know much about how their relationship worked. Elizabeth had a day job and Olive stayed home with the kids, and they both had a considerable influence on the creation of Wonder Woman. Other than that, details are few. They were a very private family, and most of what’s been written about their personal lives beyond those broad strokes is questionable research and guesswork.

Take, for example, the bondage issue. Marston’s Wonder Woman comics were FULL of bondage. I wrote a book about it; the imagery is considerable, and while it’s there for a specific purpose that ties into Marston’s psychological theories, it wasn’t without its problematic aspects. So yes, Marston’s use of bondage is a historical fact, and I think it’s fair to suggest that there was a fetishistic aspect to it. He basically said so in his own correspondence. However, we have no proof that the Marstons were into bondage activities in their private lives. They could have been, but suggesting they were is pure speculation without any facts to back it up. Marston seeming to have a kink does not mean that he explored it with his wives.

This trailer appears to suggest otherwise, with Bella Heathcote’s Olive Byrne getting tied into a leather corset and the trailer clearly conflating the bondage imagery in the comics with the Marstons’ personal lives. But suggesting that the Marstons were into bondage is pure conjecture. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with bondage, or that suggesting that the Marstons were into it besmirches them in some way. It doesn’t. There’s just no real evidence for it.

The same can be said about the relationship between Elizabeth and Olive. We know they were both with Marston, and that they lived together for decades after his death, but the exact nature of their relationship with each other is ill-defined. It may have been romantic. It may have been sexual. It may have been companionate. Again, we just do not know. But like with the bondage aspect, the film seems to be putting them together in a sexual way that’s just not historically provable.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Woman looks like it’s taking theories about the Marstons’ relationship that are maybes at best and presenting it as fact. It’s leaning into salacious speculation rather than what we definitively do know about the Marstons, which is fascinating material on its own. The Marstons are unique and interesting without these elements, and the movie playing fast and loose with history makes me worry that the filmmakers may not fully understand what is compelling about their subjects.

At the same time, this is only a trailer. And making it eye-catching is just smart marketing. There’s always a bit of embellishment and sensationalizing with biopics, and I understand that. I remain curious to see what the movie actually says about the Marstons, and it would be nice to see it try to stay true to established facts. We’ll find out this October, and I’m hoping for the best.

Wonder Woman Movie Action Figures: Reviewing the Entire Fantastic Line!

June 22, 2017

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I don’t know how things are where you live, but here in Halifax it’s been hard to track down the DC Multiverse line of Wonder Woman movie action figures. Luckily, I have a sister who lives near the American border and was able to order the entire line up! And she brought them all last night (the picture above doesn’t include Hippolyta, because I was able to get that one earlier), so now I have the entire set. And they are GREAT. I’m hoping it’s just the beginning of the line because there are definitely a few missing characters I’d love to see, but it’s a fantastic start. As an action figure enthusiast, I’m really pleased with the quality of the work here. So let’s take a closer look at all of them!

We’ll start with the main Wonder Woman figure:

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Honestly, it’s kind of an odd figure with the cloak and all. I understand that the Multiverse line did a (not so great) Wonder Woman figure for Batman v Superman last year so they’d want to mix it up a bit here, but this one is hard to play with. Also, full disclosure, I am 100% a take it out of the package sort of dude, so playability is key for me. Still, it’s a pretty nice figure. She comes with her sword and her lasso (which is hidden under her cloak) and the costume underneath the cloak is very nicely done. The face sculpt is decent as well. It’d be a better figure if the cloak was removable, though. I know she wears it for a lot of the movie, but it’s hard to play with.

Luckily, there’s a Wonder Woman variant figure that’s a Toys R Us exclusive, and it’s awesome:

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It’s the Batman v Superman sculpt with brighter colours and a new face, and it’s a vast improvement on both that original figure and her cloaked counterpart in the Wonder Woman line. She looks a lot more like Gal Gadot, and she’s got a variety of points of articulation that make her easy to play with. Her accessories are rad too; while we’ve got the standard sword and lasso, the shield is the most impressive piece here. It’s a detailed, accurate recreation of the movie shield that will allow you to stage all kinds of fun poses from the film. If you want a good Wonder Woman figure, I suggest going to Toys R Us and tracking this one down.

We’ve got a third Diana, in her Themyscira outfit:

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She comes with the sword and lasso yet again, but everything else is new including an alternative head sculpt with a braid and of course an entirely different costume. The figure is very poseable, and looks good all around. It’s a great representation of her Themyscira look, and with some other Amazons in the line you can recreate some sparring scenes! It’s a simple figure, but a fun one.

Queen Hippolyta is slightly more ornate:

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They did a great job with the costume here, capturing all of the elements quite nicely. She’s got a cloak as well, which makes playing with her a little bit difficult, but it’s not as cumbersome as the black cloak on the main Wonder Woman figure. The figure also comes with a sword and a spear; all of the weapons in this line look good, plus they’re fairly sturdy and easy to put in the figure’s hands, which is always helpful. Hippolyta’s face sculpt makes her look a bit stern, but that’s in keeping with the character, really.

Our final Amazon is Menalippe:

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And honestly I have NO idea why she has a figure and Antiope doesn’t. That makes no sense at all. But it’s a super cool figure nonetheless! She comes with a spear as well, but I’ve got her in this awesome bow and arrow pose. The costume looks great, the weapons are cool, and she’s pretty good to play with despite some limitations due to the length of parts of her skirt. It’s a fun figure all around. I just don’t know why she’s not Antiope. Maybe we’ll get one in a future line!

Now onto the boys, starting with Steve Trevor:

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He’s fine. This was never going to be a super exciting figure, since he lacks the visual flair and cool weaponry of the Amazons. He’s got a gun and that’s about it. And that green jacket isn’t exactly a stunning outfit. But the textures aren’t bad and for the simple figure it is, it looks pretty decent and is good to pose and play with. He’ll look good running behind my Wonder Woman figure!

And finally, the Ares build-a-figure:

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So, I think the filmmakers changed their mind on how Ares should look during production because both this figure and the Lego Ares look like this, with old fashioned armor and a ram skull helmet and such, and his look in the movie is kind of different. The toys must have been developed so far that they couldn’t change things when the movie did, and so we get this figure that’s not terribly movie accurate. The good news is, I think the figure looks a lot cooler than the movie version! He’s kind of awesome. I’ve got him pictured with one of the fiery swords that come with Menalippe and the shield that comes with the Toys R Us exclusive Wonder Woman, but there’s another sword that comes with someone in the main line that’s fine as well. He was easy to build and very fun to put together. I’ve never collected a full line before, so I’ve never made a build-a-figure. It’s fun! And he’s bigger than everyone else, which is cool for a bad guy. Here’s a comparison shot:

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It’s a great Ares all around, and he’s a blast to play with.

There are a few figures I’d love to see in a hypothetical second line, Antiope first and foremost among them. It’s bizarre that she’s not in this line. It’d be fun to have an Etta as well; she was such a joy in the movie, and I’d love to pair her with one of my Wonder Women. Dr. Poison would be cool too, to give us another villain, and perhaps a Ludendorff for the same reasons. I’d also be okay with a Diana Prince figure, in her London garb, just to have another Wonder Woman in the line. Sameer, Charlie, and Chief I can take or leave. It’d be fun to have the team, but there are other characters that I think would be more fun. So hopefully there’s more coming! But if not, this line is great and there’s a lot of fantastic figures in the mix.

Wonder Woman Film Review: A Movie Worthy of its Heroine

June 2, 2017

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Well it’s finally happened, gang. After decades of watching the boys get movie after movie, we’ve finally got a Wonder Woman solo film. And here’s the good news: It’s really, really good. Great even. Full of heart and action and excitement. It’s far and away the best film from the DC cinematic universe so far and, more importantly, it does Wonder Woman justice and captures the heart of the character well. Let’s dig into it all, first with some spoiler-free general thoughts, and then with full on spoilers after a jump so anyone who hasn’t seen it yet won’t have anything ruined for them.

So gosh, where to start? With Wonder Woman herself, probably. Gal Gadot is pretty much a perfect Wonder Woman. We got to see her for a few minutes in Batman v Superman and she totally stole the show, and now with a show all of her own, she absolutely shines. Gadot captures the heroism and compassion of Wonder Woman so well; she’s fierce when she needs to be, kind when she needs to be, and just has so much heart. She smiles a lot, which is a lovely contrast with the grim darkness that’s dominated other DC movies, and it’s the most earnest and charming smile. It’s Wonder Woman’s smile, really. It’s something that could easily turn corny, but Gadot makes it utterly genuine, sincere, and believable. And while Diana’s got an interesting journey throughout the film, a sort of loss of innocence as she leaves her utopian home and experiences the horrors of war, Gadot does a fantastic job playing this evolution and it’s darker, questioning moments without losing the heart of the character. She’s just so good. I want to see her continue to play Wonder Woman again and again and again.

Holding his own with such a stunning take on Wonder Woman was a tall order for Chris Pine, but his Steve Trevor was excellent. I’m steeped in Wonder Woman comics and very familiar with every incarnation of Steve Trevor, and this was my favourite version of him ever, by a considerable margin. He was written really well; it’s a sidekick/love interest role that keeps the focus squarely on Wonder Woman, and Pine plays it spot on. He’s a tough guy with some skills, but he very quickly realizes he’s no Wonder Woman and is totally okay with that, in part because he’s just kind of in awe of her. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry together is delightful, Pine’s got charm to spare and is also hilarious, and the two of them made for a really winning partnership.

The supporting cast is pretty solid, too. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright do great work as Hippolyta and Antiope, guiding the film well through it’s early scenes with young Diana. Wonder Woman’s crew in Europe are all fun too, but Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy is a total scene stealer. She’s so funny and enjoyable, albeit underused. I could have done with a lot more Etta Candy! The bad guys were suitably evil, as they should be, if somewhat underdeveloped, but such is the case with most superhero films.

In terms of the directing, Patty Jenkins did a remarkable job. While Wonder Woman had a lot of the beats you expect from a superhero movie, it also had its own unique style and tone. The action was especially spectacular; I’ve never seen fighting like that in a superhero movie, particularly some of the amazing acrobatics we got from the Amazons. They were astonishingly good. I also loved the little touches throughout the film, like the gorgeous, sweeping establishing shots we got for Themyscira, London, and the front. There was a real flair to the film that set it apart from other superhero movies. Jenkins also smoothly married the action and stunning visuals with the emotional aspects of the film. All of the humourous, romantic, and quiet reflective moments rang true, and everything flowed together nicely.

It was just fun to look at, too. Themyscira was so epic and cool, uniquely ancient and breathtaking in its scenery. I want to go to there. A lot of the movie was spent in the cramped confines of London or on the front, all of which was nicely done, but there was a good amount of time spent outdoors in lovely, natural settings that were shot exquisitely. On top of the settings, the costumes were quite striking. Wonder Woman wore an updated version of her Batman v Superman outfit, one that actually had colour this time, and it looked fantastic. All of the Amazons got cool costumes, with everyone wearing something a little bit different but yet thematically similar to the each other. The costumes in the outside world were a little bit drab in comparison, of course, but all of the major supporting characters had their own special look that suited them well.

If I wanted to nitpick, there are a few things I would change. For me, the final fight scene wasn’t quite as cool as the earlier ones and got a bit messy with all of the fire and chaos and CGI. Also, some of the supporting characters got outshone by the leads. To be fair, Gadot and Pine were ridiculously good, but a few folks did fall a bit flat. And there were a few changes to the Wonder Woman mythos I didn’t love, but we’ll save that for the spoilers section.

All in all, though, it was a great movie. Well executed on every level, so much fun, and most importantly, true to who Wonder Woman is and what she means to so many fans. I loved it. Now, that being said, I’m not sure that this is the movie they should have made. Setting the film in World War I was a big change that made a lot of elements very different from what we usually get with Wonder Woman, and while it was all done well and a lot of those changes were interesting, I don’t think it was the best showcase for what is great about Wonder Woman. Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent showcase for Wonder Woman, but in an intriguing alternate universe way rather than a relevant, modern way. An origin set in the present day could have been more resonant and more reflective of the character, her past, and what she means, especially in terms of tackling modern women’s issues rather than poking fun at sexist attitudes that are a century past. I get that the film is what it has to be given the existing framework of the DC cinematic universe, and it succeeds triumphantly at that, capturing the heart of the character beautifully. I just think that setting up Wonder Woman as this older, wise superhero who predates Batman and Superman limits her in certain ways, and I’d rather see this young, plucky Wonder Woman dealing with the modern world, rather than the more experienced, somewhat world-weary Wonder Woman we seem to be getting with Batman v Superman, the framing device of Wonder Woman, and what we’ve seen from Justice League thus far. But so long as Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, it’s absolutely a Wonder Woman worth watching, and Patty Jenkins and the whole team did an amazing job making this new setting and backstory work for the character and stay true to who she is.

Let’s move on to some spoilers now, after the jump!

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Cat Grant, President Marsdin, and Elizabeth Holloway Marston All Went to the Same College

May 16, 2017

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Last night’s Supergirl was one of the best episodes of the year, in no small part due to Lynda Carter guest starring as President Marsdin and the long awaited return of Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. They even got to share the screen together before the Daxamite queen Rhea, played by Teri Hatcher, shot Air Force One out of the sky. Luckily Supergirl was there to save Cat, and the President was able to save herself when she revealed that she was actually an alien. It was all a lot of fun; one of the things that makes Supergirl special is its depth of amazing female characters, both heroes and villains, and they were out in full force last night.

After the plane crash, everyone was wondering how Cat Grant got on the plane in the first place. It turns out that she was old friends with the president, and that they’d gone to college together. Marsdin was her RA in the dorms of Radcliffe College, and that choice of university is a very fitting one.

Supergirl has been making sly references to the history of Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter’s President Marsdin, and fittingly so. When you’ve got Lynda Carter on board, you’ve got to have some Wonder Woman fun! Her name seems to be a double reference: Marsdin is reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, while Olivia appears to reference Olive Byrne, Marston’s partner and a major inspiration for Wonder Woman. With tonight’s episode, we got a shout out to Elizabeth Holloway Marston, the third member of the Marstons’ polyamorous relationship, co-inspiration for Wonder Woman, and a graduate of Radcliffe College.

Having already earned a BA from Mount Holyoke College and a law degree from Boston University, Elizabeth went to Radcliffe College in 1919 to get a master’s degree in psychology. At the time, Radcliffe was a women’s college; women weren’t yet allowed to attend Harvard itself, so Radcliffe was Harvard’s sister school. While at Radcliffe, Elizabeth worked with her husband researching systolic blood pressure and helped create the lie detector test, and eventually graduated in 1921 with her third degree.

Having Cat Grant and President Marsdin go to Radcliffe too is a delightful deep cut reference to Wonder Woman’s history, and that the writers at Supergirl took the time to make it speaks of their respect not just for their titular character but for Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman, and the women of the superhero world generally. William Moulton Marston didn’t create Wonder Woman on his own; Elizabeth and Olive contributed to the character in ways we’ll probably never fully know, and they deserve to be remembered as a key part of her history. With last night’s episode, Supergirl did just that in a small, enjoyable way. It was a cool moment in what was an absolutely great episode that has me so excited to watch next week. Did you guys see that ending? It’s crazy! Such a good cliffhanger!

Is Warner Bros. Doing a Poor Job Marketing the Wonder Woman Movie?

May 2, 2017

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We are exactly one month out from the theatrical release of Wonder Woman, and first off, oh my lord we’re only a month away from Wonder Woman! How amazing is that? Fans have been waiting years, decades really, for a Wonder Woman movie and we’re finally about to get one. Plus it’s actually looking pretty cool. From everything we’ve seen thus far, it feels like Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and the whole team have put together something fun, exciting, and most importantly true to the character. We got two TV trailers at the end of last week that made me increasingly hopeful about the film:

We also got this longer preview during Gotham last night, and it was great too:

The trailers are funny, which is good to see because that’s something the DCEU’s been sorely lacking, but they’re also stylish and action packed. I also appreciate that neither these nor the full trailers have given away too much story. We don’t even have an official look at Ares in full on Ares mode yet, and that shows some admirable restraint.

More importantly, these new trailers are telling me exactly what I want to hear about the Amazons and Wonder Woman, namely that the Amazons were created to bring peace to the world and that Diana is their champion for this cause. The “Power” spot has the tagline “There is a power greater than man,” which is perfect, and it’s hard not to get excited when you hear Wonder Woman say, “I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.” That’s who Wonder Woman is, and it’s encouraging to see that they’ve captured the essence of the character in this way.

However, while the trailers are fantastic, there’s been some concerns in the fan and film communities about Wonder Woman‘s lack of marketing more broadly. We’re only a month out now and we’re just starting to see TV trailers roll out, plus there seems to be a lack of Wonder Woman product branding, tie-ins, and what have you. Others suggest that the film is about on track, with Warner Bros. having spent the same amount of money a month out with Suicide Squad as they have thus far with Wonder Woman. There are interesting points on either side of this issue across myriad posts you can read at your leisure.

Having followed Wonder Woman closely, I fall on the side of being underwhelmed by the marketing thus far. Just over a year ago, I was up to my ears in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice paraphernalia. That movie was EVERYWHERE, not just in theater and television advertising but in piles upon piles of branded products, toys, and other items. There were cereals, for goodness sake, one for Batman and one for Superman. And the marketing team made a big show of sending them out to notable folks in a special box so that they’d share it on social media. It was all a bit goofy and over the top, and the flavours of the cereal sounded disgusting, but it speaks to the omnipresence of the Batman v Superman marketing that their weird cereals got such a massive push.

Wonder Woman doesn’t have her own movie branded cereal. In fact, she’s got little in the way of any grocery item tie-ins, apart from Dr. Pepper. Wonder Woman is different than Batman v Superman in little ways as well, like Lego, for example. Batman v Superman got three different Lego sets, while Wonder Woman has only one. It looks super rad, with Ares and Steve’s plane and such, but it’s still just one set. A month before Batman v Superman, you could walk through any major store, be it grocery or big box generally, and see Batman and/or Superman stuff EVERYWHERE. We were inundated with it. A month out from Wonder Woman, the Wonder Woman items are few and far between.

Now, I don’t think that Warner Bros. is intentionally trying to tank Wonder Woman or anything nefarious like that. But I do think it’s clear that they allotted far, far more resources and effort to their dumb movie where the superhero boys punched it out than they have to Wonder Woman. And this is somewhat troubling, because even with all that effort, Batman v Superman  only did about fine at the box office. It made Warner Bros. a good amount of money and obviously the franchise is continuing, but it wasn’t near major Marvel levels despite the fact that it starred the two most famous superhero characters in the universe. With all of that marketing effort behind it, Batman v Superman still got bested by the lower budget, R-rated Deadpool in the United States.

The thing is, Batman and/or Superman can have a mid-level performance at the box office and be fine. We’ve seen it several times over. Batman & Robin sucked? Don’t worry, here comes the Nolan trilogy. Superman Returns flopped? Don’t worry, here comes Man of Steel. Warner Bros., and studios generally, are dedicated to their male characters. This is not the case with female characters. If Wonder Woman doesn’t do well, it might be a long time before Warner Bros. takes another crack at her, and it would certainly hamper the chances for future female-led superhero films.

That’s why the underwhelming marketing for Wonder Woman thus far is a concern. An aggressive marketing push can really help a film succeed, but the studio seems to be taking a more relaxed approach. It feels like a missed opportunity on multiple levels. First, strongly pushing Wonder Woman would show that Warner Bros. is committed to Wonder Woman and female leads generally, which would have been nice to see. Second, a successful Wonder Woman would inevitably come with a strong female fanbase that could even further expand the audience for the DCEU, which would be great for the studio. And third, after decades of development, they’ve finally got a Wonder Woman movie and it looks really good, so it would make sense to set it up in the best position possible. And Warner Bros. isn’t quite doing that, relative to how they’ve promoted movies in the past.

The good news is that Wonder Woman does look great. The new trailers are fantastic, the movie feels exciting and cool and different, and the buzz has been very positive thus far. I’m optimistic not only that the movie will be good, but that it will do well. It just would have been nice to see more of a push from Warner Bros. to help ensure that it does more than well. Hopefully it does so on its own merits, and maybe we’ll see lots more promotional stuff roll out in the weeks to come. It just doesn’t feel like Warner Bros. has treated Wonder Woman like the landmark movie it should be.

Talking About Wonder Woman at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam: A Recap!

April 17, 2017

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I am now home from my five day visit to Amsterdam, and it was such a cool trip. I’m from Halifax, which is one of the oldest cities in North America, but it doesn’t even come close to the history and legacy of Amsterdam and it was so fun to get to explore the city. While I had to keep my head on a swivel to avoid bicycles as I did so because they’re EVERYWHERE, I adapted to that pretty quick and got to see a good portion of the city.

First, though, here’s a hot tip, gang: If you ever get the chance to fly KLM, do it. We flew there and back on KLM, and it was far and away the best airline I’ve ever been on. They give you so many drinks and meals and snacks! Plus there are a pile of good movies to watch. I saw Moana, Arrival, Finding Dory, and Doctor Strange; it was great. So yeah, highly recommended.

The first day in Amsterdam was largely a blur. My mother came with me, because if you ever luck out and get a free trip to Amsterdam and your mother’s never been to Europe, you should take her. Plus she’s a swell lady! Our flight there was an overnighter but we didn’t sleep much, so we ended up crashing at the hotel when we got there, then exploring the area a bit in the afternoon, then more sleep. Or attempts at sleep, at least. Jet lag is rough, folks.

Day two was more exploration. We figured out the metro, which was super easy and convenient, and walked through some of the good shopping places in the city. I didn’t buy much, but I did an ice cream at this rad place called Banketbakkerij Van Der Linde; they only make vanilla ice cream but it’s amazing and there’s always a line up out the door, even on a cool day like Thursday was.

Day three was my presentation, so I mostly went over my notes all day. We had some near-drama when I arrived at the EYE Film Institute and the presentation wouldn’t play; we tried my laptop, then another laptop, but nothing was showing up on the big screen. Everyone behind the scenes at the Imagine Film Festival was super great, though. The technical folks worked like crazy to get everything sorted while everyone else chatted with me and joked about our predicament. I’m still not sure exactly what was wrong, but after replacing the same small box several times, it worked. We started a few minutes late, but everything worked perfectly from then on.

The presentation itself was very fun to do. I always get super nervous before I have to give a talk, but once it gets going it tends to be more pleasant, and this was no exception. The crowd was wonderful, which helps a lot. We had a good number of people in, all of whom seemed very enthusiastic to hear about Wonder Woman, her evolution, and the role of her costume therein. I started with Marston, of course, and dug into the bizarre origins of both Wonder Woman and his own background, psychological and life-wise. Then we discussed the American symbology of the costume and how it was meant to help Wonder Woman fit in and thus help America while slyly spreading Amazon values there as well. We also looked at this great panel:

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Talking about the costume led to a deep dive into her bracelets and the bondage metaphors of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics, which segued nicely into an examination of her golden lasso as a symbol of feminine power.

From there, we passed through the Silver Age pretty quickly because her costume stayed largely the same and that was the main focus of the talk. The Bronze Age and Wonder Woman’s mod revamp, however, merited close examination. We looked at the story in which Diana Prince got trendy clothes to help Steve Trevor out of a jam:

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After which Steve started to show interest in Diana for the first time ever and Wonder Woman realized she no longer needed to be super to keep his interest. This introductory issue really set the tone for this whole era, in which Diana gave up her superpowers and got very into mod fashions, all while falling for every man she met and behaving hysterically when they inevitably betrayed her. It was an attempt to make Wonder Woman a more modern, relevant character that failed rather spectacularly.

But it did lead to Gloria Steinem campaigning for Wonder Woman to return to her roots, which was followed by her appearing on the first cover of Ms. magazine and eventually the Lynda Carter television show. The latter was particularly fun to chat about, and I showed a clip of Wonder Woman talking to her sister Drusilla in both of her identities so that we could see how Carter played them differently. We also chatted briefly about her awesome Wonder Woman scuba suit, because how could we not?

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This all was followed by a quick run through the Perez era, the ridiculousness of the Deodato era, and how Wonder Woman’s costume has remained fairly constant since the television show. Any big changes rarely lasted for long, even much hyped alterations like her ill-fated pants and leather jacket in 2010. We looked at the New 52 era as well, which led to Gal Gadot and her onscreen Wonder Woman. It was a film festival, so I wanted to be sure to give her a lot of attention.

The early discussion surrounded Zack Snyder’s brown, desaturated version of the costume which had all of the classic Wonder Woman elements but none of the brightness and vibrancy one would expect from Wonder Woman. We also watched a clip of Wonder Woman showing up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the first time, i.e. pretty much the only good part of that movie. Her general mysteriousness in that film led to some speculation about the character in her new solo film, and I was glad to dig into how Patty Jenkins seems to be embracing color. We watched the latest trailer and dug into how we got a lot of the elements we would expect in a Wonder Woman origin story, including the requisite incarnations of the characters and her corresponding outfits. But we also discussed how her sword seems to have superseded her lasso as her primary weapon:

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And the way that this, intentional or not, is an assertion of masculine concepts of heroism and power over the more classic feminine power represented by her lasso.

Finally, we talked about “Rebirth,” particularly how Rucka and Scott reasserted the importance of the lasso in “Year One.” Talking about Scott led us to Wonder Woman recent, short-lived United Nations ambassadorship, and we discussed the body-shaming petition for her removal and how reducing the character to her appearance ignores what she has meant as an inspirational figure for generations of fans.

So yeah, it was a fun talk! And there were some excellent questions after, which is always fun. My favourite may have been the woman who chatted about the historical reality of the Amazons, which was very cool, but they were all great. Then I got to hang out with the film festival folks for a bit, who were delightful and kind and so enjoyable to visit with.

Day four was the Rijksmuseum; it’s HUGE and took up the entire afternoon, really. I got to see Van Goghs, and Rembrandts, and Vermeers, but my favourite painting of all was this one by Nicolaas Baur called “A Women’s Skating Race on Stadsgracht in Leeuwarden, 21 January 1809”:

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There was a skating race for a gold cap-brooch and 64 unmarried women entered, but some of them were so into the race that they threw off their cloaks and skated bare armed, causing quite a stir among spectators who considered them shockingly immodest. There was such an outcry that it was the last women’s race for several years.

So that was my trip! Huge thanks again to the Imagine Film Festival for bringing me to Amsterdam; it was such a nice city to visit, and everyone at the festival was wonderful. Thanks to everyone who came to my talk as well. It was very fun to spread the word about Wonder Woman on a whole new continent!

Come See Me Talk About Wonder Woman at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam, April 14!

April 3, 2017

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I’m going to Amsterdam! The major theme for this year’s Imagine Film Festival is “Fantastic Fashion,” and they’ve invited me to come give a lecture on Wonder Woman, her costume, and how the character and her appearance have evolved together over the decades. I’ll be speaking at the EYE Film Institute on Friday, April 14 at 6:10pm, and tickets are available now.

It’s a fun topic that I think will make for a great presentation. We’ve got the fascinating feminism of Marston’s early years, the mod fashions of the late 1960s and the subsequent return to her classic look, all of the bizarre attempts to update her appearance over the years that never ever stuck, and of course both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot’s versions of the character. Plus I’ll be discussing both Wonder Woman and Diana Prince, since her alter ego often serves as an interesting counter to her superheroic form. There’s lots of great stuff to dig into, and I’ve been having a lot of fun putting the presentation together.

Beyond my own lecture, the Imagine Film Festival is going to be particularly cool this year. They’re opening the festival with Get Out, Jordan Peele’s hit horror film, and there are lots of other great selections. There’s also going to be a costuming master class from Lindy Hemming, the costume designer for a number of James Bond films, The Dark Knight trilogy, and, most excitingly, the upcoming Wonder Woman movie! The festival is going to have a very strong Wonder Woman focus this year, which is very fun.

I’m glad to be part of this excellent line up, and I’m really looking forward to both the presentation and visiting Amsterdam. I’ve never been to Europe before, and I so appreciate the Imagine Film Festival giving me the opportunity to explore such a beautiful, historic city. It’s going to be an enjoyable journey, I’m sure!

So if you’re in Amsterdam, or the Netherlands generally, or perhaps in a country nearby, you should come to the festival, and in particular to my talk, “Wonder Woman and Beyond.” It’ll be a good time, with lots of informative discussion about Wonder Woman and a lot of fun as well!


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