Wonderous

This past week I took an evening for myself and watched Wonder Woman. Spoiler: it was a good movie and an excellent representation of what female superheroes should be.

WW3

Beautiful. And I don’t just mean Gal Gadot, the Woman herself, but the entire movie. It was moving, fun, action-y, and thought provoking. While the DCU has been very lackluster and straight-out bad, they went where Marvel has yet to venture with all it’s success: a female directed, female led movie about a female superhero. From little girl Diana shadow boxing while Amazonian warriors spar to adult Diana deflecting bullets with shield and bracers above the trenches of World War One, this film delivered on almost all of it’s promises.

Without going into a bunch of detail, or long plot discussion, I will say this movie was excellently written, with witty dialogue, good themes, foreshadow, callbacks, delightful fight choreography, and great casting. As I write, I am listening to the score, and that is fantastic as well. From start to finish, this film was well constructed. However, it isn’t perfect.

I felt that a few moments were unearned, and that lessened my opinion, but not enjoyment of, the movie. First unearned moment, and perhaps a big one: when Wonder Woman and her love interest (I loved typing that phrase just now! finally not a hero and his love interest!) supposedly have sex. Earlier in the film, Steve and Diana discussed sex and reproduction, and Diana (having grown up on an island entirely populated with women) admits that men are necessary for reproduction but unnecessary for sexual pleasure (!) but seems uninterested in trying heterosexual relations for herself. But then, in what a few days, or weeks, maximum, she is inviting Steve into her bed and arms (again, supposedly, the movie suddenly cuts to the outside and shows nothing but gently falling snow and only implies the union). I do like that Steve was about to leave in the scene, having escorted Diana to her room, but then Diana herself invited him in and initiated the first kiss between them. It was nice to see Diana not only taking the lead on the battlefield, but also in the bedroom. Too often the man imposes himself in near sexual assault, so it was nice to see a reversal here. Still, though, the love story had barely developed by that point and I thought that it was unearned. Small quibble.

Secondly, it was a little ham-fisted setting up General Ludendorff to be the big bad, Ares God of War. I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t be him, as he was just a little too evil and intent on conquering the world, which no one really was in World War I. As I understand history, the war to end all wars was more about protecting self-identity and honoring alliances. Anyway, without a mustache to twirl, Ludendorff was too twirly for me to believe him as Ares. Interestingly, the guy with the mustache I missed completely as Ares until he showed up to reveal himself. I was thinking there was no Ares in this film, as the story was developing, and indeed didn’t need him to be for the story it was telling. (But what is a superhero movie without a big boss battle? A better superhero movie, in my opinion, but then, this is DC.) Anyway, the reveal of Ares I thought was pointless except to give Diana a boss to battle at the end while Steve was actually, you know, fighting for something.

Now, to the real Big Bad: World War I. In the comics, and history of comic-book Wonder Woman, she saves Trevor who I believe was originally a World War II pilot (and then every conflict thereafter? in updates) but never a WWI pilot. Setting the film in World War 1 was a brilliant move for the story they were telling, which was that Diana believed she could end war, and bad men, by killing Ares the God of War who was supposedly the machinator behind the scenes. If you have this set in World War 2, there is a clear Ares: Adolf Hitler. And killing him would have almost definitely ended the war then and there, thus proving Diana right without her learning anything about mankind or conflict. However, WW1 is a war without sense, purpose, big bad, or natural end. It was simply a meat grinder. Without a big bad to kill, even if you mistake Ludendorff for Ares, you must come to grips with the reality that mankind carries within each person the capacity for depthless evil and insurmountable good and it is a personal choice for each one of us which path we follow, God of War or no. This is a lesson that Wonder Woman learns the hard way when she does kill Ludendorff and nothing changes. It was, for me, the climax of the film.

Lastly, the final unearned moment of the film: Steve sacrifices himself to stop the Germans from gassing a bunch of people, and Diana goes ballistic, enabling her to defeat Ares, whom she is battling thus far without success, because she loves Steve and is devastated by his death. Like I said when I was discussing their maybe-sex scene, it didn’t really seem like she had loved him that deeply. Obviously he did her, but not her him, yet. Minutes ago she even thinking Steve was as evil as everyone else on the planet. And then he dies and she is all “but I love you!”. I just didn’t buy it. That and the unnecessary battle with Ares ruined the end of the movie for me, but not enough for me to not enjoy the movie as a whole. Bigger nit.

Wonder Woman, despite it’s flaws, is a good film, and a better one for what it is, the first film in which a female leads, and leads well, and where the men around her are equals or content to follow her obvious expertise. I enjoyed it, and will probably own it. I cannot say the same of any other DCU movies to date, or even in the future as I can foresee it.

League of Justice #3.1: “The Dogs of War”

Deep Space

On a dark rock spiraling through the blackness of space, two members of the Black Lantern Corps met.

“A son of Krypton has survived.”
“We told Jor-El he would endure unharmed.”
“Not the son of El. Another has lived. Our enemy.”
“Where is he?”
“He lives on the same planet as the son of El.”
“Then war will descend on them both.”

On an Unknown South Pacific Island

Green Lantern thought hard. Her ring manifested a bulletproof shield. Wading into battle, she fired her gun from behind it while bullets bounced off, ricocheting in various directions. To her left, Wonder Woman also shielded herself from bullets, but with her metallic bracers. The military scientists that Hal and Diana worked with only concluded that they were made of an as of yet unknown element, which they promptly nicknamed wonderflonium after their heroine, Wonder Woman.

Diana moved superhumanly fast as she deflected bullets with her forearms and beat the daylights out of the rebel soldiers. Green Lantern and Wonder Woman had been sent in to quell an uprising and take out a rebel leader. This they were doing handily. Hal’s gun ran out of bullets. Without stopping her assault, she concentrated and her ring manifested another magazine full of ammunition. She kept firing. She didn’t know how her ring worked, but she was glad it did. The items she manifested only persisted for about thirty minutes. After that, the bullets she created would vanish, wherever they were, whether buried in a concrete wall or someone’s brain matter. Where they vanished to was as big a mystery as where they manifested from, but her scientist friends muttered something about the conservation of matter and energy. She hadn’t really been paying attention.

Wonder Woman fought her way to the main building on the rebel compound. She kicked down the door and waited. It was a good move as bullets flew out. She waited for magazines to empty, then cleared the room with her bare hands. None survived. Green Lantern set down her shield. Manifesting a shotgun, she entered the room. There she saw bodies strewn all over, most resting at impossible angles that told her Diana had been taking no prisoners. Diana nodded towards a closed door and mouthed There! indicating that the rebel leader had taken refuge inside the closet.

Green Lantern spoke: “Come out and surrender and face justice or be killed like the coward you are. You have about five seconds.”

Her answer was gunfire. She shrugged and emptied her shotgun into the closet. Not bothering to check, she manifested a cube of C4 explosive and stuck it to the door. Setting a timer, she and Wonder Woman started to leave the building.

Seconds later, the building exploded. Another victory for Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern.

Gotham City

Batman’s fists both connected with the chest of a thug, shooting him backwards into a brick wall. A quick roundhouse kick to the jaw put him out of action. Batman turned to the other would-be robber.

“This is your one chance to surrender.”

The crook foolishly thought he could shoot faster than Batman could pummel him into a bloody mess. He thought wrong. Batman broke the shotgun in half with his reinforced Bat-Armor. This new suit was working out better than his defensive Kevlar-Titatium suit. Made from Carbon fiber and metal alloys, as well as Kevlar, the suit was reinforced with actuators and a mechanical exoskeleton. This gave Batman a much faster, and stronger, physical presence than mere muscle and human reaction time. Nodding to the store owner, Batman grabbed both criminals and dragged them outside. By that time Detective Gordon had arrived with two squad cars. Gordon had just enough time to shout.

“You’re under arrest,” in a somewhat uncaring tone of voice before Batman’s grappling hook took hold of the building roof and hoisted him out of reach. “Oh well, another time.” Gordon shrugged and handcuffed the men who were now coming around from their Bat-beating.

“You have the right to remain silent…”

Cleveland, Ohio

The Flash flashed into the middle of a busy intersection.

“Whoah!” fortunately, he was becoming as well known as Batman and Superman. Cars swerved to avoid him with only a minimum of swearing and honking of horns.

“Gotta get better at re-entry timing.” Barry Allen muttered to himself. He was hot on the trail of an illusionist thief calling himself Mirror Man. Barry’s information led him to believe that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was next on the list of high priority targets. Barry hoped to get here before Mirror Man and set up an ambush.

Once he reached the safety of the sidewalk he looked around and saw Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. Smoothing out his red leather jacket, and mask, he swore.

“Dammit. Not only did I flash into traffic, I’m off the mark.” Barry shook his head. Teleporting still wasn’t as easy as he first thought it would be. Rather than risk another incident, he hailed a taxi.

“Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, please.”

“Hey, you’re that Flash guy! Hey buddy, ride’s on me!”

A week or so ago the Flash had stopped a ring of corrupt cab drivers from stealing from their partners and passengers. Now, no matter what city he flashed into, he was the recipient of free rides. Fighting crime did pay. Occasionally. Now to get to the Rock and Roll and set up his trap for a Mirror Man.

Metropolis

Superman flew as fast he could. The mission was desperate and the need dire. Only a superhero could save the day and the hour. Faster than a speeding bullet, over tall buildings, up in the sky Clark Kent raced for class. If he was late again he would be failed for having too many absences. Sometimes superheroes needed to save themselves from themselves. Clark had been so busy hopping the planet rescuing ships in distress, planes with engine failure, cats from trees, and even helping with the occasional high speed pursuit, that he tended to lose track of time and miss class. If he was going to graduate from Metropolis University with the degree in journalism he was also pursuing, he needed to find a way to balance saving the world and studying. Dropping from high in the atmosphere to a dark alley a block from his building, Clark Kent emerged running for class. He made it with just seconds to spare. Another superhero victory!

Smallville

Canary found she quite liked living in small town America. Ma Kent had taken her in and given her what she hadn’t had in a very long time: a family. As a result, Dinah hadn’t killed anyone in almost a year. She was looking forward to celebrating the anniversary. She didn’t regret any of the scum she had put under the ground, but she didn’t like the darkness in herself. Besides, this was what her small town exile was all about. With Clark’s help and Ma and Pa’s guidance, she was emerging from her shell of hate and fear and becoming a full woman again. She volunteered with the Smallville Police Force as a crossing guard and truant officer, helping to guide kids into school and off the streets. She sang in the church choir, for once using her voice to build rather than destroy. Dinah, for the first time since her mother was murdered, had found some measure of peace. A victory for a super heroine if there ever was one.

Bermuda

AquaMan surveyed the heavens with growing unease. He couldn’t put his finger on it yet, but something wasn’t right. His satellites and sensors that he had placed in orbit were more sensitive than NASA’s or those of other countries, so it would be some time before the governments of the world were aware of what he was tracking, but even AquaMan didn’t know what that was yet. He floated in his tank and checked his readings again.

“This can’t be good.” He whispered to himself.

League of Justice #2.5 “Thoughts That Deck Our Kings”

Lt. Hallie Jordan and Diana, woman of nowhere, only spent a few hours at sea. It didn’t take long for the NAVY rescue choppers to find them. When they did, they were puzzled as to where Diana had come from, but they didn’t ask questions. That would be for Admiral Russo.

Admiral Russo was the commanding officer for this particular test aircraft program, and he was Hallie’s direct superior officer.

“So, Lt. Jordan. Care to explain where she came from?”

“Sir. Yes, Sir. She rescued me, sir. I crashed on an uncharted island, and she and her tribe pulled me from the water. Unfortunately, the aircraft did not survive. It broke up on impact. All I managed to recover was myself and my life raft. Being that her people were unknowns, I incinerated the aircraft, thus preserving the secrets it contained.”

“Horseshit. I don’t suppose I’m going to get a straight answer. Should I court martial you here or wait until after breakfast?”

“At your earliest convenience, please sir.”

“Fine. You are charged with insubordination and willful destruction of NAVY property. I hereby sentence you to drift aimlessly at sea for 36 hours.” He smacked a closed fist on his desk. “Now, considering time already served, I hereby release you from custody. You are dismissed, Lieutenant.”

“Yes, sir.” Hallie saluted and left the office. Diana remained.

“Now, miss, what are you and where did you come from?”

“In actual fact, Admiral, much of Lt. Jordan’s story is true. However, my people wish for total anonymity and seclusion. Lt. Jordan does not know where our island lies and I will not tell you. It is highly unlikely the United States NAVY or any other force on the planet will find it unless we wish them to.”

Admiral Russo cocked an eyebrow.

“That so?”

“It is.”

“Very well. So what do I do with you?”

“I request asylum in the United States of America as a foreign refugee.”

“Request granted. Look, I don’t know who you are or where you came from. I can’t formally do anything about you except either throw you in the brig or put you off at the nearest port. But, I do have a rather large jurisdiction when it comes to this program and its personnel. I will hire you as an outside survival consultant. How’s that? You won’t be a citizen, but you can apply for citizenship later. For now, you’ll work with Hal and under me. That work for you?”

“It does. Thank you, sir.”

“Welcome to the American NAVY, miss…?”

“Diana.”

“Diana. What, you don’t have a last name?”

“Diana Prince.”

“Welcome to the American NAVY, Miss Prince.”

With that, Diana was part of the team. As she was to find out, Admiral Russo’s unit was an oddball mix and one extra person suddenly part of the team raised few official eyebrows. Admiral Russo managed to concoct and present some of the best special equipment the US Armed Forces had ever seen, so he did indeed have much freedom to do whatever he damn well pleased. His superiors didn’t want to accidentally disrupt whatever good things he had going.

***

Well, that went well. I figured the Admiral would go for Diana. Besides, she’s pretty hot. I can’t imagine anyone turning her down. And, I’ve now got the hottest bunkmate on the ship. All those poor sailors are going to be so disappointed. Well, now to find that weasel who designed my jet and give him shit. After all, encounter an invisible force field and immediately go nuts a crash? What kind of jet is that?

***

Diana and Hal returned to Hal’s quarters. First order of business was to shower and get stowed. After that, they went to the mess for a hot meal. After a few hours of R&R, Hal and Diana felt almost human again. Nothing makes a body weary like being lost at sea. There were a few curious glances at Diana, but a few “Classified”s later and people started to ignore her. Anyway, she was with Hal and everyone knew about Hal so most people assumed that not only was Diana part of a top secret something, she was also playing for the other team. Whether she was or not was actually to be determined, something Hal wanted desperately to know, but wasn’t sure how to bring up.

***

So, do you want to have sex with another girl? Do you girls do that sort of thing where you’re from? Doesn’t really seem appropriate ice breaker territory. No, I’ll just have to play the long game on this one and see where it leads. Patience, Hal. Patience. All good, hot sultry things come to those that wait.

***

General Russo, given Hal’s ordeal, was kind enough to give her a few days leave. Besides, the plane was gone and there wasn’t much to do at the moment anyway. A test pilot is usually good only for flying things. With nothing to fly, no need for a pilot. So, Hal made use of the time well. She taught Diana all about American culture. Together they watched Star Wars, played ping pong and poker, had a hilarious night getting drunk and teaching Diana to swear, and no small amount of flirting. Diana, as it turned out, was a switch hitter. Nothing made Hal more happy. They hit it off well, and in no time were getting in plenty of batting practice. All in all, it was the best few days of Hal Jordan’s life.

Then, for the first time in known human history, humanity made contact with an alien race. That the alien died soon after contact was unfortunate, but also not the fault of humans. As first contacts go, it wasn’t too bad. But the nature of that contact changed the course of humanity’s future and Hal Jordan’s life forever.