Any re-imagining of a comic book character is practically guaranteed to face some sort of backlash. If you stay too loyal to the character’s roots, some fans may criticize it for not taking enough risks. If you stray too far, you run the risk of alienating long-time fans. This holds especially true in the film medium, which is often faced with the harshest of critics. This happened with Zack Snyder’s recent re-imagining of Superman in 2013’s “Man of Steel,” and if comic book writer Grant Morrison’s opinion is any indication, Snyder may face similar criticism for his portrayal of “Wonder Woman” in the upcoming “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
For those unfamiliar, Grant Morrison is a longtime comic book writer with a bibliography that spans decades. Perhaps his most recognizable work to the modern reader is his 1989 graphic novel “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” One of his current projects on his cache is “Wonder Woman: Earth One.”
In an interview with Nerdist, the writer went on to discuss the modern interpretations of the iconic character, and from the sound of it, he isn’t too keen on the direction they’re taking her in Snyder's film, “Batman V Superman.”
“I can understand why they’re doing it, I get all that, but that’s not what [Wonder Woman creator] William Marston wanted, that’s not what he wanted at all! His original concept for Wonder Woman was an answer to comics that he thought were filled with images of blood-curdling masculinity, and you see the latest shots of Gal Gadot in costume, and it’s all sword and shield and her snarling at the camera. Marston’s Diana was a doctor, a healer, a scientist.”
The writer’s skepticism is well founded, as creator (and feminist) William Marston was largely inspired by his interest in women’s suffrage, and in Margaret Sanger, who led the birth control and women’s rights movement. Though ironically enough, the costume was inspired by erotic pinup art.
Morrison’s concern is also a kind of reflection of our time. In today’s equalist society, many want role models for girls that prove they can be as strong as men. Though, of course, the flip side of that argument is that in doing so, you abandon all the qualities that make women unique, and these strengths are then shown as weaknesses in the eyes of society.
At least that was Marston’s argument in a 1943 American Scholar article.
“Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
Is the physically empowering route the right way to go with the character? We’ll have to wait and see. We also can’t ignore the fact that we’ve only seen two shots of Wonder Woman in action, so it’s hard to judge at this point.
“Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” hits theaters on March 25, 2016.