Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroes 2013
Wonder Women is more or less a documentary about the history of Wonder Woman and her effect on feminism in America. It’s interesting how closely Wonder Woman has been connected to the feminist movement throughout the years. The documentary is presented as a series of interviews with both figures connected with the Wonder Woman character, like comic writer Gail Simone and actress Lynda Carter, as well as figures prominent in the feminist movement like Gloria Steinem and the lead singer of Bikini Kill. All of the people represented in this doc are interesting to listen to and presented a lot of information I never knew about. And all of it is connected with plenty of artwork from Wonder Woman comics animated in a somewhat motion comic-esque way.
It’s presented in a very chronological way, starting off with the comic’s origins in the 1940’s during the second World War and it’s unique depiction of a strong woman even though there are plenty of bondage related imagery. As there are so few female superheroes, and even fewer lead female superheroes, Wonder Woman has always stood out as the premier icon for strong women. But throughout a large segment of her publishing time she became more focused on romance than fighting. It’s interesting that it was actually the feminist movement of the 70’s led by Gloria Steinem that led to the comic book writers to bring her back to her superpowered roots. The doc briefly covers both that feminist movement, as well as the later punk feminist movement of the 90’s which brought about the term grrrl.
I think one of the most interesting segments is when they talk to Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman and Lindsay Wagner who played the Bionic Woman both during an era of strong female leads in television. There wasn’t much of a discussion about movies, except for one woman who did a study on strong female characters in action movies. Of course, a large percentage of them were villains, and many of them died, often in a self-sacrificial way to save the man they loved. It is still a pretty sad state of affairs when there isn’t a single female-led superhero movie that isn’t awful, and an even bigger shame that a Wonder Woman movie project can’t get off the ground. Even though there is a Smallville/Arrow-esque Wonder Woman series slated for next year, that’s never a guarantee considering the last Wonder Woman series failed to get past the pilot stage, and it’s existence probably came about after this movie was filmed as it wasn’t mentioned.
There’s not only talk about Wonder Woman and feminism in general, there’s also a handful of interviews with women, young and old, who have been inspired by Wonder Woman in their own lives. I hate to say it, but these moments are probably the weakest part of the movie and weren’t all that inspiring. There was the obligatory very young girl, and also an immigrant who was getting her second Wonder Woman tattoo. One of the highlights of the movie was the great animation throughout. It’s very simple, as it consists of pre-existing artwork except for one funny little segment at the end credits, but it helps to add a lot of motion, and the style of animation often is quite fitting of the original subject, whether it’s the classic Wonder Woman comics, or punk rock minizines. My one complaint about the movie is that it is very short, though I believe that the PBS version was cut down from the original runtime by about 15-20 minutes or so, but it covered a lot of ground and really has me wishing they would get on with it and finally make a Wonder Woman live action movie. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.