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SDCC: Celebrating 75 Years of Wonder Woman

by  in Comic News Comment
SDCC: Celebrating 75 Years of Wonder Woman

An iconic member of the DC Comics “trinity,” Wonder Woman celebrates her 75th anniversary in 2016. Created by William Moulton Marston, the Amazonian warrior-princess has become a cultural force, appearing on the cover of Ms. Magazine, enjoying a landmark TV run portrayed by Linda Carter and appearing on the big screen in “Batman v Superman” before getting her own highly anticipated film, which debuted its first trailer today. In comics, she’s had memorable runs from creators including George Perez, Phil Jimenez, Greg Rucka, and many m1ore, with Rucka recently returning for “Wonder Woman Rebirth.” Many of the creators and talent associated with Wonder Woman throughout the years have gathered at Comic-Con International in San Diego for a special spotlight panel. Panelists include moderator Tiffany Smith, artist Nicola Scott, DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee, Patty Jenkins, and Gal Gadot.

Lee spoke about the character’s origins as “a character about hope and peace” as interpreted by William Moulton Marston. Though immersed in the iconography of the time, “she grew to become much more than that,” Lee said.

“By her nature, she’s a very political figure. She was created just before America entered WWII,” Scott said. “The fact that she’s a woman, that she’s rallying the troops to go to war, is incredibly important.”

Patty Jenkins then joined the other panelists, followed shortly by Gal Gadot.

“It’s such a joy continuing the Wonder Woman journey,” Gadot said, who is currently filming “Justice League” in London.

Returning to the comics, Lee discussed the Amazon’s history of losing her power in the ’60s and other changes. “Then in the ’80s there was a run by George Perez, and that was my entry to the character,” Lee said, saying the Olympian emphasis “had a profound effect on me.” “It just shows how foreign her world is,” he said.

Lee also cited the New 52 run by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang as one of his favorite runs, as it showed “the gods among us manipulating things behind the scenes.”

Scott talked about the current “Rebirth” title, which alternates between two stories, one illustrated by her and the other by Liam Sharp, who was in the audience. “Essentially, it’s kind of peeling back all the layers of Wonder Woman to find out who she really is,” Scott said. Her arc deals with “an all-ages appropriate origin story,” while Sharp’s deals with Diana’s quest for truth.

Jenkins said the most definitive moment for her was “the show being on — everyone was obsessed with the show, I was — and everybody on the playground saying who they were going to be.” She noted that “there was this angle, that she was everything … that I wasn’t becoming one of the boys, but she can get into the action.”

Scott said Wonder Woman was the first superhero she’d ever seen, again on TV. “I learned to use the TV Guide because of Wonder Woman,” she said. “She has kind of signposted my life. She is the reason I draw comic books. I was looking for a way to make a living and not bore myself stupid, and I thought, if I half to draw something all day, why not draw Wonder Woman? Then I realized, oh my god, that’s a job.”

For Gadot, “I remember knowing Wonder Woman as long as I’ve known myself. She is the most powerful female superhero.”

“I had to wait for a very long six weeks before I got the call” to be Wonder Woman, Gadot said. After a flight to LA, she checked her phone and saw “too many missed calls” from my agent, but by that time had “forgotten about Wonder Woman” as too unlikely. She returned the calls, though, and “there were like nine people on the line. And they said, ok, Gal, you’re Wonder Woman.” Then, after a beat, “but you can’t tell anyone.”

Since the time she saw the first “Superman” movie, “this is exactly the movie I wanted to make, though I didn’t know it yet.” But as soon as she began meeting with Warner Bros., she told them “I want to make Wonder Woman.”

“When the moment came, I could not believe this moment had come, and I am so honored,” Jenkins said.

“I could have never imagined that someone so really like Wonder Woman would have arrived to be my partner,” Jenkins said of Gadot, relating her endurance and friendliness on set.

Gadot said the movie is an origin story, “the story of a girl becoming a woman.” From her safe home of Themiscyra, she travels to the world of men “and realizing there is still so much more to learn.”

“She’s a god coming in to mankind, and seeing what mankind is capable of,” Jenkins added. Having a chance to influence this is “a great character arc to tell.”

Lee said that his four-year-old daughter, the youngest of six, dressed as Wonder Woman for Halloween, and he’s happy to see the character’s presence growing for other young girls, through additional projects like the DC Super Hero Girls line.

Jenkins said an early struggle getting a Wonder Woman film was that studios “worried well, how do we make her super hard and impressive?” and that a female superhero wouldn’t be accessible. “Why do only white men get to be universal?” she said.

“The hunger for a great iconic female character is there,” Scott added, “and I’m so happy it gets to be Wonder Woman, because she was the first.”

In addition to “Rebirth,” Lee suggested fans check out Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s “Wonder Woman: Earth One” and “Wonder Woman: The True Amazon” from Jill Thompson, which arrives September 28.

Scott said that Rucka had originally approached her for his original run, and she loved his take on the character. “He doesn’t want to change her, he just wants to elevate her.” She said that she just met co-artist Liam Sharp at the con, but the two are collaborating well. Her half of the story takes place 10 years before Sharp’s, and everything in the origin is relevant to the present-day chapters.

Jenkins said she and Gadot would often discuss “what is the best — the best! — version of this we could do, what is the most awesome.”

“It felt like we were just a vessel for a greater story that we had to share with everyone,” Gadot said. “We were treating this story in an almost holy way, with so much respect, that it just felt like now is the time.”

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