comic books

Wonder Woman has all the potential to be more than a breastplate-wearing, female version of He-Man

With Patty Jenkins at the helm of the movie adaptation, the stage is set for DC Comics to save the world and their flailing pride.

She was arguably the best part of the gloomfest that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Every time her electric guitar theme rang through the theatre, there was a perceptible change in atmosphere, the fun and hope of the comic book genre finally peeking through the overwhelming darkness. DC Entertainment, which has thus far not scored critical success with any of its DC Universe movies (i.e., pretty much anything since Christopher Nolan doffed his directorial cap), is really, really counting on her to save the world, and also, their flailing pride.

Wonder Woman comes to a screen near you in June 2017. Played by Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress best known for her performance in the Fast and Furious franchise, this marks the 75-year-old’s comic book character first live outing on the big screen. She’s been on TV, she’s been in animated movies, notably The Lego Movie (2014), but she’s never been in a feature of her own. Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, then, is historic, not only because it’s a first for the character, but also one of the first superheroine-led movies of what promises to be a long-drawn-out war between Marvel and DC.

The Jennifer Garner-led Elektra released in 2005, but for some reason no one seems to remember that.

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‘Wonder Woman’.

Trailers have been leaking out for the past few months, and put together, the rough outline of the story of Diana Prince (Wonder Woman’s alias) is visible. Raised on the island of Themyscira, Diana and her fellow Amazons are protected from the woes of the modern world, until an American pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands there, and jerks them back into the present. Unsettled, Diana recalls the ancient edicts of the Amazonians, to protect mankind, and enters the fray of what turns out to be World War I or, as Trevor gasps dramatically in the trailer “the war to end all wars”.

Unlike many of its predecessors, which have largely operated in a time much like ours, Wonder Woman enters the territory of the period piece, locating the heroine as a fish out of water in a world that would be, for many of today’s viewers, foreign territory. In this way, it’s close to Captain America: The First Avenger, which also took a leap into the past, telling the origin story of a man who fought in World War II and then landed up in the present, confused about cell phones and other things we take for granted. But Diana is much, much older than Cap, a demi-goddess whose memory spans events no human can possibly remember.

Wonder Woman is one of DC’s flagship heroines, a founding member of the Justice League and its most famous powered figures. Where Superman stands for “truth, justice and the American way”, Diana Prince has long been a symbol of women’s empowerment and LGBTQ representation. The film addresses the former in obvious, and rather hackneyed ways. Grasping for what to call her, Trevor labels Diana his “secretary”. The trailers have made clear Diana’s disdain for the term. When told what a secretary does, she blithely retorts, “Where I’m from we call that slavery.” Raised on an island of women, sexism would be an entirely unfamiliar concept to Diana, and her incredulity over flouncy dresses is completely understandable.

Tied into this is Diana’s understanding of sexuality. Comics writer Greg Rucka recently made headlines for saying that Wonder Woman has “obviously” been in romantic relationships with women. She was raised on a paradisical island of women, where “you’re supposed to be able to live happily”, Rucka pointed out. Romantic love, a part of that “happy” life, would have been found only with another woman.

It’s not clear whether the film explores this aspect of her personality, though Gadot stated in an interview that the character “can be bisexual. She loves people for their hearts”. Perhaps a franchise, not planned at the moment, could open it up further.

DC has a lot riding on Wonder Woman, and not only because they need a hit to counterbalance all the bad press their movies have been getting. Diana’s status as a queer icon has only been raised after her public outing. The United Nations’ rather controversial decision to appoint her an Honorary Ambassador of Empowerment of Women and Girls has put her in the spotlight as well. Taken together, the cultural weight of Wonder Woman has only been increasing. The audience is being prepared to see her as more than a breastplate-wearing, female version of He-Man. Hopefully, Patty Jenkins and her crew will deliver more than that.

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The perpetual millennial quest for self-expression just got another boost

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Having come of age in the Age of the Internet, millennials had a rocky start to self-expression. Indeed, the internet allowed us to personalise things in unprecedented fashion and we really rose to the occasion. The learning curve to a straightforward firstname.surname@___mail.com email address was a long one, routed through cringeworthy e-mail ids like coolgal1234@hotmail.com. You know you had one - making a personalised e-mail id was a rite of passage for millennials after all.

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Created using Imgflip

And with chat rooms, early millennials had found a way to communicate, with...interesting results. The oldest crop of millennials (30+ year olds) learnt to deal with the realities of adolescent life hunched behind anonymous accounts, spewing their teenage hormone-laden angst, passion and idealism to other anonymous accounts. Skater_chick could hide her ineptitude for skating behind a convincing username and a skateboard-peddling red-haired avatar, and you could declare your fantasies of world domination, armed with the assurance that no one would take you seriously.

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Created using Imgflip

Then of course social media became the new front of self-expression on the Internet. Back when social media was too much of a millennial thing for anyone to meddle with, avatars and usernames were a window into your personality and fantasies. Suddenly, it was cool to post emo quotes of Meredith Grey on Facebook and update the world on the picturesque breakfast you had (or not). Twitter upped the pressure by limiting expression to 140 characters (now 280-have you heard?) and the brevity translated to the Twitter handles as well. The trend of sarcasm-and-wit-laden handles is still alive well and has only gotten more sophisticated with time. The blogging platform Medium makes the best of Twitter intellect in longform. It’s here that even businesses have cool account names!

Self-expression on the Internet and the millennials’ love for the personalised and customised has indeed seen an interesting trajectory. Most millennial adolescents of yore though are now grownups, navigating an adulting crisis of mammoth proportions. How to wake up in time for classes, how to keep the boss happy, how to keep from going broke every month, how to deal with the new F-word – Finances! Don’t judge, finances can be stressful at the beginning of a career. Forget investments, loans and debts, even matters of simple money transactions are riddled with scary terms like beneficiaries, NEFT, IMPS, RTGS and more. Then there’s the quadruple checking to make sure you input the correct card, IFSC or account number. If this wasn’t stressful enough, there’s the long wait while the cheque is cleared or the fund transfer is credited. Doesn’t it make you wish there was a simpler way to deal with it all? If life could just be like…

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Created using Imgflip

Lo and behold, millennial prayers have been heard! Airtel Payments Bank, India’s first, has now integrated UPI on its digital platform, making banking over the phone easier than ever. Airtel Payments Bank UPI, or Unified Payment Interface, allows you to transfer funds and shop and pay bills instantly to anyone any time without the hassles of inputting any bank details – all through a unique Virtual Payment Address. In true millennial fashion, you can even create your own personalised UPI ID or Virtual Payment Address (VPA) with your name or number- like rhea@airtel or 9990011122@airtel. It’s the smartest, easiest and coolest way to pay, frankly, because you’re going to be the first person to actually make instant, costless payments, rather than claiming to do that and making people wait for hours.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel Payments Bank and not by the Scroll editorial team.