Origins: Wonder Woman 1984

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IMDb

I don’t know about anyone else, but Wonder Woman 1984 is another movie I’m anticipating. I was also interested in delving into her history, which I’ve never really done before. Thing is, though, I hesitated to even post this because of studios constantly pushing back release dates during the pandemic. Or just throwing theaters under the bus by skipping street dates altogether and going right to a streaming service. Wonder Woman will play both sides and be available both in limited theatrical release and on HBO Max.

Yeah, studios are almost literally telling theaters, “Lotsa luck,” and just in case the wound doesn’t have enough salt, apparently still not allowing them to screen classic titles if and when they do reopen. When I went to watch Tenet back in August I didn’t see a repertory schedule anywhere, and they used to be focal points of a lot of theaters.

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Deadline

Some cinemas are getting creative by hosting virtual screenings of indie content and titles from arthouse and niche companies such as Kino Lorber, which is good for drawing attention to older and overlooked content, but bad for the legacy studios because it siphons away more funds. Theater owners are good with that because it meets their needs while getting them out from under the studios’ thumbs.

Revenue? We don’t need no stinkin’ revenue. Or good will, ’cause that’s highly overrated.

Anywhoo, back to Wonder Woman. Here’s the trailer for 1984:

Good golly, this looks cool. Wonder Woman was my favorite superhero growing up, except for Batman and Robin. I had the Kenner action figure. And the Underoos. She and She-Ra were always goals for me.

My only misgiving is that when a film gets pushed back and pushed back like this one has, there’s more time for people in the know to talk about it. Unfortunately some reviewers have pegged the new Wonder Woman as a bloated mess trying to take pointed political digs at nineteen-eighties consumerism and a certain chief executive who shall remain nameless.

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The only thing missing is the tiny lasso. (Pinterest)

Director Patty Jenkins has stated on record that the film isn’t meant to be political, and I plan on giving her the benefit of the doubt because she has a good track record with Wonder Woman.

The 2017 film was great–it’s one of the very few times I have waited and waited to see a current film and not been disappointed in it. It gets outside the Wonder Woman canon a little bit by moving the character to the First World War instead of the Second, but it still respects the accepted Wonder Woman lore. It’s not an especially feminist movie even though its protagonist is a strong female character; it’s a story about people of both sexes relating to each other sans identity politics, which, in this day and age is exceedingly rare indeed.

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So where did Wonder Woman come from? Rumor has it her history is rather salacious. Who else knew about this? I didn’t before I started researching this post.

Wonder Woman was the brainchild of Dr. William Moulton Marston, a psychologist and Harvard grad who believed women would become America’s dominant sex. He’s also credited with helping invent the polygraph machine.

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The Marston family in 1947 with family friend Marjorie Wilkes Huntley (far left). Olive is behind Dr. Marston’s left shoulder. Elizabeth is on the far right. (BBC)

Marston may have been a wee bit biased when it came to the future being female. It’s rumored that he and his wife, Elizabeth, were in a polyamorous relationship with Olive Byrne, a former student of Marston’s and his paramour, engaging in certain, err…adult activities. This supposed arrangement was the subject of a smutty 2017 film, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.

Yet not much about the relationship between the Marstons and Byrne is certain. People who knew the family swore up and down there was nothing seamy going on. The Marston children didn’t know and didn’t want to know. Professor Marston has been slammed as fabrication. What we do know is that William, Elizabeth, and Olive lived together and Marston had children by both women.

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Wonder Woman scored her first cover in January of 1942. (Smithsonian Magazine)

No matter what the real story is, Wonder Woman was the subject of controversy after she first appeared even though her patriotism was a big hit. People didn’t like that she got tied up in every issue because it was too sexual, and they really didn’t like that she lost her powers if men did the tying because it seemed like bondage. Early issues featured a lot of torture, which didn’t go over well, either. And Wonder Woman’s costume was too skimpy.

In his favor, Marston was very much against real torture or bondage in the series, and he actually agreed with the criticisms, saying that while he was in favor of harmless erotic fantasies, actual sadism was a huge no-no: ‘Those are 100 per cent bad and I won’t have any part of them.”

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Wonder Woman #178. (Talking Comic Books)

After Marston’s death in 1947 Wonder Woman continued to appear in comics. She wasn’t always true to her original form; from 1968 to 1973 she was reduced to a superpower-less martial artist and spy because accessible. The change didn’t go over well and Wonder Woman was back to her old ways in 1973, never to permanently lose her goddess-like status again.

This paved the way for her appearances in various shows throughout the seventies and eighties, which is where I think she took on a more critical mass. Most my fellow Gen-Xers can attest to having seen at least an episode of the Lynda Carter series. And Super Friends. Those were both huge back then. I’m sure plenty of people rejoiced when they found out the new DC feature films were on the way–Gal Gadot is a revelation.

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GIPHY

Wonder Woman has remained pretty much intact in her look and purpose despite a few detours, and regardless of Marston’s possible inspirations she has stayed a strong female character that looms large in American storytelling. I hope Patty Jenkins’s latest installment adds another interesting layer to her saga.

And with that, we have our third and last Origins post of 2020. I can’t promise there will be a lot of these next year, seeing as Hollywood decided to go fully woke. Inclusion and diversity are great, but they have to be organic, and Hollywood is basically flattering themselves that they’re ending systematic racism by being…systematically racist. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Never mind that it’s been shown over and over again that when quotas take precendence over merit, quality suffers. It’s not just Hollywood, either. Ask any university in America how well Affirmative Action worked out for them.

The new rules don’t take effect until 2024, but who knows where Hollywood will go between now and then. Studios are pretty cash-strapped and are probably desperate to lure audiences back in any way they can. We’ll see what happens.

Speaking of seeing what happens, it’s time for my holiday break. I’m gonna sit back, relax, and watch 2020 end. I will, however, still be reading and commenting around the blogosphere, so I won’t be completely away.

First, though, here’s what’s coming up in January:

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If anyone would like to join these events, please check in with these folks:

All right, thanks ‘for reading, everyone! Have a great holiday season and I’ll see you on January sixth with a new “Stage To Screen”…


Wonder Woman (2017) is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K from Amazon. The Lynda Carter series is also available on DVD and Blu-ray, as is Super Friends (DVD only).

~Any purchases made via Amazon Links found on this site help support Taking Up Room at no extra cost to you.~

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