They did it all for love: Wonder Woman and character motivation (#SFWApro)

wonderwoman125Along with establishing Wonder Woman has had same-sex relationships, Greg Rucka says he didn’t want her departure from Paradise Island to be influenced by falling for Steve Trevor because that makes it a less heroic act. This isn’t actually new, as the Perez post-crisis reboot did the same, and that stayed canon (as far as I know) until the New 52 (cover with Steve Trevor and other suitors by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, all rights with current holder). It’s still interesting as I’ve been dealing with the same thoughts regarding Good Morning Starshine.

The original draft had my military-officer male protagonist helping Starshine stay out of government clutches because he’s in love with her (there are logical reasons too, but they weren’t the main motivation). One reason I’ve been changing the protag is that this really isn’t very heroic: he’s not acting on principle, if anything he’s acting against principle. There are lots of times this can work (protagonist chooses loyalty to a person over blind duty to the government) but Starshine isn’t one of them.

Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a standard romance trope to have falling in love change your life in more ways than just having a new love — e.g., you finally go for your dreams, you stand up to your parents, you embrace life instead of running from it, you stop being suicidal (much as I disliked that element, it fits the pattern). And there’s nothing wrong with it if it’s done well. It can done seriously, or for comedy, as in P.G. Wodehouse’s short story The Nodder,

It’s also a standard movie trope to have love inspire you to heroism. Marjorie Rosen’s Popcorn Venus pointed out years ago that women in films rarely act for political or idealistic reasons: in the Errol Flynn Adventures of Robin Hood, for instance, Maid Marion doesn’t see the need to fight against Prince John’s tyranny until the handsome Robin opens her eyes. It’s less common to go the other way but it happens occasionally: In The Big Easy, Ellen Barkin’s idealistic prosecutor convinces Dennis Quaid’s less-than-ethical cop to do the right thing.

This can work too. In Casablanca, it’s Rick rediscovering his lost love Ilsa that convinces him to give her up and rejoin the fight against fascism. But of course, it can also be shallow — oh, the person I love is fighting against tyranny, I’ll help! So I think Rucka made a good girl not to pick up that element from the pre-Crisis WW.

For Starshine, I’m still tinkering with my protagonist’s motive. He’s not with the government so there’s no conflict with his duty and as it’s a romance, love will definitely be part of his motivation. Beyond that? I’ll have to say

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Filed under Comics, Wonder Woman, Writing

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