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Friday, June 30, 2006

The new face of Wonder Woman?

(Yeesh, enough with the comics posting. Sorry about this, guys!) Is this the new face of Wonder Woman? Rumour has it that Joss Whedon, who has been attached to the upcoming Wonder Woman movie is in talks with agents representing Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra to play our favourite Amazonian. From the Google images I found, the woman certainly has presence, and she can't take a bad picture to save her life. Although I don't know if this rumour has much weight behind it, I've gotta say I'm a fan of Whedon looking to actresses of colour to play Diana. This certainly sounds a lot better than a few other women that had been rumoured to play the role: Sandra Bullock, for one? My one hope: that if Chopra truly is cast, that they don't shirk from the fact that an Asian Indian woman is playing Diana Prince. Let this be worked into her big-screen origin story somehow; let's not just White-wash Chopra and pretend that she's just as White as everyone else.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Philly Jay said...

Her as wonder woman?I don't know how I feel about that just yet............
Anyway, how can they work into the story that she is indian?Do they even need to?

7/01/2006 12:45:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Well, Wonder Woman is born out of clay -- she was moulded by her mother. But she is usually shown as a White, Greek woman. The fact that the actress who would be playing her is Indian should be addressed -- I don't think it's right to send the message that she is playing a White Wonder Woman.

7/01/2006 01:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Mac said...

You know more about this stuff then I, Jen. But I always thought she (Wonder Woman) was Greek? Unless they re-write her origin for the movie to say she came from an Island near India.

7/01/2006 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

Why must this be a part of her origin? Now, you're just messing with the classics. The way I see it, gods can create their champion to look how ever they damn well please. I don't think this is a color-blind casting job that needs explanation.

Sure, she's drawn white, but I think people could deal with her being any ethnicity but black or asian. These aren't MY preferences, but I think comicdom would cry bloody murder if they announced Angela Bassett or Kelly Hu (I know you hate her, Jenn. Don't kill me!) as Wonder Woman.

As far as changing the origin, that really depends on how the WW fans will react. Some love her because of her association with the Greek pantheon and how that mythology affects her mission in "Man's World". For those fans, you don't change what ain't broken. But others like the fact that she's a strong, passionate warrior. For those fans, you could go with the "Just Imagine, Stan Lee..." origin which cast her as an Aztec warrior princess, powered by the Witchblade, as drawn by a phoning-it-in Jim Lee. Sure, I just painted a negative picture there, but I really felt that the story had potential as an ongoing.

And please don't apologize for the abundance of comic posts. I could give 2 shits about Brian Dennehy, but these are getting my wheels to spinning =)

7/01/2006 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

'cuz the woman ain't White. It's basically a logic argument for me, Will -- I'm against transracial, transethnic casting (e.g. Memoirs of a Geisha).

As far as I'm concerned, having an Asian Indian woman play Wonder Woman would be the coolest shit ever, but I would be a hypocrite if I thought that she should play a White Wonder Woman. I think it wouldn't be too hard for the Gods to fashion a Wonder Woman who looks any damned way they want -- so why not just add SOMETHING in the movie acknowledging that she's playing a Wonder Woman who *looks* like an Asian Indian woman? It doesn't have to be a whole new origin story... there can still be Hippolyta with her arms drenched in clay. Maybe she's just got an Asian fetish?

7/01/2006 03:28:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

Jenn, we're essentially on the same side here, but I feel like you wish to push us apart! :-P

I hear what you're saying, but I feel like an explanation would cheapen the bold move. It's the notion of "everything is permissable until you ask permission." In other words, it's a lot stronger if you go in, confident with your choice to have her as an Asian Indian with no explanation than if you dropped in a line as to why she doesn't exactly look like she does in the comics. You can make people believe anything you say as long as you say it with confidence. I just feel like it's cheap, kinda like explaining a joke, per se, if you feel it deserves an explanation.

If you MUST have an explanation, the WW franchise already has a built-in mechanism to explain this. Let's look at another example: Catwoman. I swear, this might be the only post where you read something positive about that movie. Anyway, it was plotted where there was a loose Catwoman lineage. Not as pronounced as "The Slayer" situation, but essentially there had been previous Catwomen, which was to make the audience accept Halle in the role, without negating Michelle's role in Batman Returns.

Now, Diana's been created and reduced to clay HOW many times? Every time the DCU is rebooted, she becomes a new cornerstone in each iteration of the universe. Same sequence. Made from clay. Fights. Reduced to clay. Replaced. Rinse and repeat. Who's to say that the gods, while constructing Wonder Woman Mark XI don't decide to try something new? Maybe throw a little flava into that clay?
Just my take...

7/01/2006 03:57:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I agree that it would be possible, but if they don't outright say that she is an "Asian Indian" Wonder Woman, what would be the difference between that and her just playing a White Wonder Woman?

Will movie audiences be able to tell the difference?

7/01/2006 04:04:00 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Well, given that Diana's ethnicity is "Themiscyran" I don't really see a reason to address specifically that she's an Asian Indian. Just make sure the little clay baby is Asian Indian too.

7/01/2006 04:18:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

And I'm asking, "SHOULD there be a difference?" I mean, Wonder Woman, to me, is not a "white woman". I mean, sure, she's been drawn that way, but I could really take her either or. Now, I guess we could get into the cultural argument of "what is a white wonder woman?" is there something the "white" brings to the table for the character, or is the "white" actually a perceived absence of culture?

I hate to be the naive colorblind kid, but I honestly (and this is jsut me) could deal with her as anything but Black or Asian. I believe those to be cultural extremesfor the character, but not necessarily negative. I mean, it would be hella interesting to weave greek mythology into the experiences of a black woman. She comes to man's world with 3 strikes against her: she's a woman, she's an alien of sorts, and she's black. I'd love to see where that story goes. But could I turn my eyes off for the movie? I mean, if you're going that far, why even call her "Wonder Woman"? Hell, I should Image with that idea right now and see if Liefield's busy at the moment...

I guess I'm curious to know from everyone else if they see her as "wonder woman" or "white wonder woman".

7/01/2006 04:20:00 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

She's very obviously white in the comics, especially post-Crisis.

7/01/2006 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

She a White woman to me. As far as I'm concerned, she's always looked (and acted, and... well... been) Greek.

7/01/2006 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

As an aside, to which Crisis are you referring? I'm not trying to be difficult, but I can't for the life of me figure out what we're supposed to call New DC. For 20 years, we had "Pre-Crisis" and "Post-Crisis". But now we've had another crisis. So, are we "Post-New Crisis" now? And if so, is it Secret Agent Diana you're talking about, or JLA-founder "Post-Crisis" Diana? Wow, that was almost like a Three's Company vignette...

7/01/2006 04:31:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

you are such a dork, Will.

And I was pretty sure the convention was pre-Crisis, post-Crisis, post-IC.

7/01/2006 04:34:00 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

We've been using New Earth around the fandom, but post-IC has been in effect too. Post-Crisis still always refers to the period between Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis.

And by Post-Crisis, I meant that the original design seemed like she could be considered "pale Greek" in the Golden Age, because the coloring conventions and the crude art let her seem that way. As time went on, she was ridiculously Anglo -- even when Phil Jiminez gave her the Pitch-Black Triangle Perm From Hell, her facial features were still very, very white as opposed to Mediterranean. Even on the DC Message Boards, when it's brought up that she's "Awfully whitebread to be a Greek woman from a tropical island" no one disputes it, we just look to the multiracialThemiscyran model and shrug. By that logic, an Asian Indian version of Diana would certainly work fine as any race appears on Themiscyra because the goddesses liked variety.

As for "Secret Agent Diana" vs "Post-Crisis Diana" -- Umm, same persobn, same basic design.

7/01/2006 06:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Fire Fly said...

I roll my eyes at you and the other bloggers/commentators/self-professed pundits who know so little about Indian history that you could be drawing this clear line between "White" and "Indian" in critiquing Priyanka Chopra's rumoured nomination for the role.

For one thing, most North Indians and upper caste Indians would have some Greek ancestry, thanks to our buddy Alexander the Great.

For another, Pinky's "fairness" (i.e. light skin) is also something which probably got her as far as she is in Bollywood -- India is a deeply racist society, itself.

Seems like you all want to insert your own politics into this issue and ignore the actual politics that come with it.

For me, first thing I thought was "Woo, a chance to costume as a character who isn't as hard to do as Promethea! Go the browngirls!"

Also, Whedon was never much good with race (see Firefly/Serenity), no matter how good he may be with gender.

7/01/2006 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Ahem. One interjection Firefly.

An American movie about an American comic superheroine will logically possess American racial politics. No one's discounting the race politics of India, but it's not like people are speaking about an Indian production. Before you injure your optics, remember that one actress' ethnicity (an actress barely known to American audiences mind you) can't trump the entire race politics of a blockbuster movie. She's not the only cast member, nor can one expect an audience count of zero worldwide.

Certainly, no one wants to discount the race politics she brings to the table, but I don't exactly see how that's been done so far.

That being said, the disconnect I notice involves audience intelligence, or the ability of the random WW movie audience member in America to distinguish between an Asian/ Indian WW played by Priyanka Chopra, or the general Caucasian WW, even if played by Priyanka Chopra. To me, Jenn's position works only if you have next to zero regard for the American movie audience's racial sophistication.

Of course, if you saw Kill Bill in theaters, that's something you'd probably not respect, and you'd want to make sure via dialogue or plot device or costuming or whatever that the audience was watching an Asian Indian WW. Seriously, unless Hippolyta crafts Diana in the movie from silt in the Ganga River Delta (How racist is that image! Mississippi River dirt could allow Whedon to cast Basset with this device.) or a newscaster does a story on the new WW with a paraphrased Watchman line: "The superwoman exists, and she's Indian!", I can't see how Jenn's idea would work.

But I can understand the inclination to short-circuit basic American default inference that all movie protagonists are White unless otherwise stated (or obviously Black or Asian).

7/01/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Firefly, I'm well aware of the race politics of India, but frankly, I don't see how it's relevant to an American movie about Wonder Woman. The ONLY way I could see how it might be relevant is in the fact that there was some legal dispute early in American history over Asian Indians, who had been categorized as Caucasian in America for several years before they were "lumped in" with Asians over labour politics.

Secondly, though she has light skin, which is probably what got her far in Bollywood, she is still Asian Indian. Lucy Liu looks like a White girl, which is what got her far in Hollywood -- that doesn't make her less racially Asian American. As far as American race politics is concerned, passing does not equal transracialization.

Priyanka may have some Greek blood, but I did do my homework, and if she has Greek blood, it is not direct. (i.e., I would not have said all this if I found she was directly bi- or multi-racial. The politics would be different).

And everything else I would want to say has already been said above.

James, I don't know HOW it could be done -- maybe it's not feasible. Maybe it would be clunky. I just worry about the race politics of a woman of colour playing an implicitly White woman. If the Asian American community is 100% okay with that, then we shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to passing and yellowface -- we make it a one-way street.

7/01/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Well, the initial easy way is to introduce her secret identity -- Diana Prince. When she introduces herself that way, have one of the bystanders mention that he was expecting an Indian name or something. Or even "You don't look angloz-saxon."

:( Still sounds forced. It's probably better to leave it to audience perception. Something like that needs to be smooth, and it's not like she's not obviously Asian Indian.

7/01/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Oh, I've got it!

"You don't look Greek."

7/02/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

yeah, that would be good enough for me! :)

7/02/2006 07:18:00 PM  

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