When Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel hit theaters, audiences didn’t need to notice the Wayne Enterprises logo within the film to know that DC and Warner Bros. had created a Superman universe in which a character like Batman could exist. Those suspicions were later confirmed when Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was announced, with Snyder having shown that the story of a superpowered alien really could be cast in a grounded, rooted, believable light.
But the confidence of even optimistic fans was somewhat shaken when it was announced that Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) would be featured as well. Aliens are one thing, but a mystical princess from a hidden island of Amazons, worshipers of the ancient Greek deities – even clothed in some classical armor – is a stretch. Now, Diana’s movie origin has become clearer, casting the princess as the daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and Zeus, ruler of the gods.
There’s a chance that some may not be familiar with the story of Wonder Woman’s birth, since it tends to be out-shined by her superheroics. To make a long story short, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons desires a child, fashioning one out of clay, and begging the gods to bless it with life. The gods hear her request, and grant it. Since the society is one of only women, Diana takes on the title of not just princess, but Daughter of the Amazons.
The story has been changed over the years, but the same basic elements remain intact (clay, prayer, divine father-less birth). That was, until Brian Azzarello was charged with rebooting the character as part of DC’s recent New 52 relaunch. In it, the Greek gods and goddesses were shown to still walk the Earth – and Diana was the daughter of Zeus, with the origin story a lie told by Hippolyta to protect her.
It was a controversial change for some, but the reasons should be clear enough; it’s easier for new readers to place Diana alongside demigod heroes like Hercules, Achilles, or Perseus than it is to grant her an origin story calling on magic and divine intervention not seen in the rest of DC’s catalogue. It’s also a change in origin story we deemed more likely for DC’s Justice League movie universe than a clay doll brought to life.
So when Batman V Superman producer Charles Roven discussed the film for LMU Film School’s Hollywood Masters series, his comments regarding the next heroes to be introduced weren’t too shocking:
“Well Wonder Woman’s in it, we know that. She has powers, she’s a goddess. She’s half… she’s a demigod. Her father was Zeus.”
It shouldn’t be assumed that all aspects of Diana’s New 52 origin will be used for the film version, since Dawn of Justice will presumably be focusing on the two titular heroes. But once Justice League is out of the way, there’s the question of a solo Wonder Woman film to deal with.
There’s no question that altering the origins of Wonder Woman sacrifices some story potential for the sake of explaining her superpowers. Obviously, even the change cited by Roven leaves the writing team with some serious hurdles – audiences may have bought that an alien could crash land on Earth, but a woman born of a Greek god… is a different matter entirely.
We have already offered a lengthy explanation for how a Kryptonian origin story could explain Diana’s powers while honoring the rest of the Amazon society. But even that solution will require some heavy metaphors, if Diana is actually introduced as the daughter of Zeus. It may seem cynical to claim that bringing Batman and Superman together was a molehill compared to the mountain that adding Wonder Woman will prove to be.
But could audiences be more willing to accept some magic in the DC universe than we’re giving them credit for? We’ll keep you up to date as more details arrive, but for now, what do you make of the new explanation for Diana’s powers? Share your thoughts – and concerns – in the comments.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives on March 25th, 2016.
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