Before Wonder Woman

The original intent of the article isn’t clear at first, but it is actually a look at why Hollywood desperately needed Wonder Woman, and how far we’ve actually come.

s a gibson


This year’s Wonder Woman is not Hollywood’s first attempt at showcasing a powerful leading female. Early film makers hinted at and teased audiences with portrayals of strong women.

The first Alice in Wonderland was released in 1903. The 1939 The Wizard of Oz is a well beloved musical film story about Dorothy’s struggles to return home.

The 1950s saw many exploitative representations of powerful women, including Cat-Women of the Moon (1953), Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), Queen of Outer Space (1958), The Wasp Woman (1959), The Leech Woman (1960), and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968).

In the 1968 film, The Lion in Winter,  Henry II of England’s wife and adversary, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is the main female character. She became, through inheritance, marriage, and her own military actions one of the most powerful women in western Europe in the 12th century. She led armies and…

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3 thoughts on “Before Wonder Woman

  1. First of all. we should give credit where credit is due. The ever-famous Slave Girl outfit Leia wore was in Return of the Jedi (1983), the third of the original trilogy (and the last good Star Wars film, but that’s another subject entirely). I think, given the era, Lucas showed incredible restraint.

    Where I think Wonder Woman might succeed where others have failed comes in the familiarity we have with the subject matter. There have been some very good efforts made with a female lead that have been labeled as falling short. The Long Kiss Goodnight and Cutthroat Island as movies and Star Trek Voyager as a television show just don’t seem to match up. Mind you, they are the same sort of material as Bruce Willis, Stallone, The next Generation, DS9, etc, but there’s an undercurrent where some men can’t quite engage with or are threatened by a bad-ass female, and thusly those movies/shows are graded down. Our favorite Amazon has been around for so long that she might be able to circumvent that tendency in males with these issues.

    I love a female lead! They are more fun to write, definitely more enjoyable to take in as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a good point with Voyager especially. Captain Janeway is one of my favourite characters of all time, and certainly no one could accuse her of being a stereotypical Hollywood female lead! And I liked Cutthroat Island, but the plot was (let’s face it) rehashed and insipid. I hear it was a lot better in the original script before the Hollywood producers (of course) slashed it. But perhaps you’re right; maybe people are just finally ready for Wonder Woman at last.


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