Why I love Superman and Wonder Woman.
Why do you like them? But they are not supposed to be together. They have traditional love interests. Why are you supporting this relationship? It’s sexist. It’s boring and predictable. They are too alike. They too different.
Well look here, first of all I don’t need anyone’s approval to care for what I respond to in fiction. I like what I like because I am me. I am not you. You don’t even have to agree with me. That’s okay. We can all like what we like. What I don’t appreciate is people telling me what I should like. Or calling me sexist. I am a female fan and never in all my life have I ever been accused of that. I mean, what the hell? People don’t know my upbringing, my culture, my experience and therefore can’t dictate what should emotionally move me. So yes I flew in the face of tradition and went with this pairing. And that word tradition? It’s important but we never should be a slave to it. If we all stuck to tradition for the sake of it, we’d never have progressed and art and literature would never push boundaries and encourage us to grow and think. We’d blindly accept what we’re fed.
I never shipped before. Never. I liked romance. But never got too caught up in the details to wonder about the characters and what drove them and how they might evolve and the untold stories. But this one hooked me. Hooked me maybe when I was not even shipping. As a young girl I saw Lynda Carter’s Diana and fell in love with her and what she could do. Steve Trevor? All I recall was finding him as a kid kinda yucky. Hey, I was 7. Those things did not really matter to me back then. I fell for Wonder Woman when she was without a love interest and the same happened when I picked up her in comics. She had no official love interest. Steve having been aged to an older type brother with Etta as his love interest and funnily enough he was really likable. Superman…well I liked the movie. Margot’s Lois, well, she was there. I can’t recall feeling anything strongly for her but again I was a kid. Reeve made the impression. Handsome and heroic.
Anyway I think Superman and Wonder Woman sort of got into my subconscious starting with the Super Friends. A more innocent time and simple story telling but I really liked when they teamed up and helped each other out. Was cool when I went onto the playground…I was saving people with the boys when we all played heroes. I wasn’t waiting for them to pretend save me.
I had liked Lois and Clark the TV series but it did not make me ship. Dean and Teri were probably the only Lois and Clark I rooted for because they were Dean and Teri, two very charming actors in a show that was a fun rom com and one that did not really explore the concept of Superman. You can’t have a good Superman story without exploring Superman I believe. If one just wants Clark don’t give him powers or a mission to better the world. You can’t ignore one for the other and I won’t get into the ethics of journalism and what real truth and accountability should entail. That will take me off on a tangent.But it matters. You can’t say you’re for truth or good journalism when you conveniently skip over the very things that defines them. Anyway Kingdom Come pretty much made me reevaluate the way I saw superheroes. Really question the motivations and the actions of heroes and finally see that they could be flawed and yet still heroic. And see things we never saw, like them facing their mortality and falling down and picking themselves up. Just like us. Really asking genuine questions instead of glossing over themes of morality, truth, sacrifice, heroism, aging, mortality, leadership, responsibility etc to preserve the status quo .
I went and picked up comics because of this graphic novel. I learned more about the heroes as individuals. I grew to love and respect them both. And I started to fall in love with them as a couple even when they were not a couple. Kingdom Come was about the potential but their canon relationship of close friends with some unresolved tension was the foundation.
A relationship could never be seen as predictable if you have no clue what will happen. Even the SM/WW detractors do not know what will happen but we all sort of know the endgame and been on a lot of journeys with the traditional love interests. So those are predictable. Does not make the fact we had many journeys better as well. Another journey and story could very well be just as interesting and if new, even riper for a creative mind to explore. So no, they are not predictable.
There is nothing sexist about two strong, capable and intelligent individuals working together. If they are in a relationship…it simply brings in a new dynamic of intimacy that you would not get if, say Batman teamed up with Superman. But nonetheless it is a team up of equals. And for those who want to keep Diana out of the book because, according to them, it harms her? Seems to me that is saying there is little faith in her to be able to stand as Clark’s equal. If you want to prove a woman is as capable as a man, then you give her the equal treatment. You don’t avoid the situation. You don’t keep her out of the book. That’s an admission of failure or trying to shield her from being challenged. And a good writer has to step up to the challenge. No longer does Superman get to be the man. The alpha male who saves the day. The writer has to dig deep and actually write a relationship of equals now between a man and woman, who can hold her own, as there is no major discrepancy in their power sets where one has to logically stand by while the other saves. If they were both street level it really makes no difference. They are equals in terms of what they could do, ie their training and experience. Strength is a factor when it comes to the foes created so they can have credible threats or the power set they display. But, again, it does not define their morality. So as a superwonder fan I did not match them up because they are just strong. That’s a misconception spread by detractors who don’t understand the characters. You give them powerful foes because they were created as powerful heroes. No writer has to jump through hoops to make Diana his equal ie giving her convenient powers or making her a plot device to drive the plot to give him a motivation. She was actually created to be his equal because Marston knew there was a genuine need for a strong example of female empowerment. She is an equal in the solving of a problem and dealing with a menace.
There are some writers who are comfortable with having one hero being the savior and then they compensate for his/her doing the saving by making the love interest somehow indispensable to the character’s maturity, morality and even heroism. I don’t subscribe to that. No love interest should define any hero’s motivation and morality. To say that one person alone is why they care is totally against the reason why these two characters were created. It’s simply pandering. If anyone came and told me Diana needs Steve and Steve alone to value humanity, or he alone somehow is the best of humanity, I will say NO. Just No. Similarly Clark’s goodness and empathy for his adopted planet is not reliant on one person. Both Clark and Diana have met and interacted with many good people, human and non human. All of these people, along with their upbringing, should help contribute to them becoming the people they are. And with that is the choices they make. One reason I love them is because it has been made clear in previous canon and the new 52 these two would put the world first. It is not about themselves. To make it about one’s self/ love interest makes the hero a weak character. With or without each other they should be able to be heroes and appreciate life. Life is not defined by the life span of one person. They are both characters with longevity. They were created/evolved over the decades that way. To ignore this is to ignore what they are. Maybe this is why in so many Elseworlds Superman runs away, hides, quits or goes evil when life tosses him a curve ball because one love interest is not around. Writers do a disservice to any character when they make it about one person. We wouldn’t expect Lois or Steve’s goodness to be defined whether Clark or Diana lives or dies, would we? I would hope not. They supposed to be individuals in their own right who are brave and good at what they do. Love interests can provide love and companionship etc but certainly all characters, be they heroes or supporting cast, should never be crippled because they can’t romance x or y.
Diana also challenges Clark. It maybe that it brings a difference of opinion as in Kingdom Come or Sacrifice or The New Frontier or even my favorite JL A League of One…but behind it all is the goal to help save the world. In Doomed she was having none of his let me save you. She would stand with him. Even race him to it. She also takes away that guilt and burden he normally would feel when he has to leave. When they part, it’s to have trust and faith in the other to do the job they know they have to do. She does what needs to be done too. In Doomed Diana was in tears but she had the guts to slay the man she loved to save the world if he turned into a monster. Now that takes so much damn courage and he knew she would do it too. He trusted her to put the world first on so many occasions. When they blew up the nuclear plant to stop Zod and Mongul, they sacrificed themselves, their budding love for the greater good. Clark and Diana cares for the world. Anyone saying they would betray it or their principles I believe does not get who they are and clearly not reading the books. Their love strengthens their resolve and they learning they are better together.
And challenging is what characters need to grow. To look at things from a different point of view. Be it Clark’s grounded upbringing to Diana’s royal one. They have the same goals in life but different up-bringing. And these contrasts are rich for story telling. Diana, adapting to our world, is always learning too and Clark can provide an insight into the humdrum of everyday life. Does not mean he is teaching her how to act, any more than if he came to live on her island and learn about her culture and her ways. Every character needs to learn and grow. If any writer has a character so mary sued he/she needs to learn nothing…well there is not point in telling a story about their journey. And if you are a couple, you learn compromise and learning to be together, and at times it can be scary or intimidating. Giving and taking in a relationship is not an affront to feminism. A relationship of equals is about reciprocation. Soule did this to great effect in Power Couple Vol 1.
They both can truly empathize with what the other has to deal with. They both on some level feel a loneliness due to the fact that they are different. He is an alien , who hides the truth about himself. The whole world is not enamored with him. That’s got more pathos than everyone suddenly accepting this guy to police them over night. He has to work for their trust. She is a demi goddess whose birth was a shameful secret and now is part of a dysfunctional family. Some fans accuse us of pairing up two people only because they are good looking and wear matching colors. Well, first of all I never knew any of their traditional love interests to be plain or even set up as underdogs. If anything the underdogs were always Clark Kent and Diana Prince. They struggled to get the attention of the object of their desire over the years, who were often seen a beautiful and glamorous and handsome and heroic and the best at what they could do. So let us debunk that notion Clark and Diana have it easy as individuals or as a couple and their traditional love interests had it hard.
We can all have a ton of friends but it doesn’t mean we will find that one person to love, who will understand what drives us or makes us fearful or understands what it means to feel different. Their friendship in old canon showed how often they turned to each other to find intellectual and emotional comfort by venting and sharing. It must feel different to have someone you come home to and you tell them about a battle or the people you lost in a battle…they know. They know how that feels. The burdens and the weight of being an inspiration and leadership. They can understand because they walked in those shoes. And there was never any conditions to their friendship and even now their love. She did not care for him because of what she could get or vice versa. For me, it is so refreshing to read a relationship that is not reliant on the cliched will they/won’t they troupe and one that is not dysfunctional. Sure they learning and sure they’ll make mistakes…no one is perfect…but I love that both are fairly open and optimistic characters and we seeing them humanized via this relationship.
For far too often we have been inundated with bad boy/good girl dynamics in media, be it the cad or the moody, damaged soul. The noble, good man with no psychological hangups is considered by some as boring. And it is commonly the woman who has to fix the damage. Put up with what is essentially BS. And her reward?She gets to sleep with him, he wins her. Oh yay. I eye roll here. I am tired of that. It is a lazy troupe. It is a poor message to send to girls and boys. It goes both ways too. I don’t subscribe to a female character treating a male like crap and then the male gets her as some prize when she finally opens her eyes to see what was always before her. You should be with someone who treats you right. Someone who respects you. Someone who does not abuse you emotionally. Someone who wants to be with you. I could go on and on and if you’re really against sexism, then no way should anyone charge or label Superman and Wonder Woman as that. He treats her with respect. Loves her. Admires her strength. Diana values him for who he is. She always saw past the glasses. Now and even back then. He always trusted her with his secret. Real love is based on truth, trust and faith. Not dysfunctional and unhealthy dynamics no person would want for themselves or someone they care about. As a confident Amazon, raised to know her worth, who is compassionate, Diana being attracted to Clark makes so much sense. She would be drawn to this man than any other. This noble, grounded, humble man who uses his gifts for good. He is such a contrast to the power hungry Gods of Olympus. She fights for peace, well here is a man who understands the value of that and opts for justice, not vengeance . And sure she could reach out to damage souls but she does not have to sleep with them to do it. (So this is why I never shipped her with moody mission obsessed Batman. No to Orion as well. Friends for sure who she can help but not as lovers.) Clark would be drawn to her courage, compassion and her truthfulness and the fresh, honest eyes she would have as a newcomer looking at our world. That she could easily keep up with him and even kick his ass would more than well be a source of fascination. Diana has so many burdens as well. Princess, at times Ambassador and now God of War; how nice to have a companion who is not a jerk or needy. One who is proud to be with you. He learned from her self acceptance and that he does not need anyone’s approval to be with her. That being open can be uplifting. And she loves the beard!
I could go on and on, but for me, these two characters hold so much fascination. I hope DC do not end them any time soon. Give them their time this canon. Some of of us who shipped before have waited years. We saw the potential. Those who came on board now came on board because THIS did the job with them,despite what comics and live media presented. So it’s not as if we did not have a choice. We did. We just prefer this. There is great potential to go beyond the stories we are accustomed to seeing because one couldn’t have Superman or Wonder Woman’s world change too much if something as simple as time was allowed to play out. It was sort of stuck in amber yet it was making these broad statements about the characters morality/ heroism without any real, deep examination of what challenges they would face over time. Now I think we can push the envelope to explore other themes. And since the new 52 Clark and Diana have constantly been tested.
It doesn’t hurt Clark/Diana represent the zeitgeist and they inspire so many people in the real world. They’ve opened up channels among fans. So many diverse fans too. Different ages, gender, orientation, races…all mainly very open minded people. We are grateful to DC for being brave and exploring it.. End if the day it’s fiction and it may not last forever. But it won’t stop me from loving it. I was into it before and most likely be into it after it’s gone. It’s nice to have it and say it is official. Nice to open up the books and read this superwonderful relationship unfolding and not have other disgruntled fans tell you you’re being stupid to ship something that will never be. And you know I have seen so many positive things as a result of the coupling being a joint admin for the hellyeahsupermanandwonderwoman blog. Fans feel encouraged to be true to themselves; to reach and fulfill their own potential and be good to others. To be a Superman, to be a Wonder Woman. It’s basically empowering yourself, whether you find your Superman or Wonder Woman is a bonus. You live up to your vast potential. That is a good message I think for anyone.