The Wheel and Axle

Wonder Week: Villainy, Inc.

by on May.29, 2017, under Film & TV, Geeky, Queer

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Wonder Countdown: three days to go in the Philippines!

A hero is only as good as his or her villain, as the cliché goes. There is much truth to this. Superman and Batman wouldn’t be as interesting as they are without Luthor or the Joker. The same goes for Wonder Woman, whose rogues gallery – while not as famous as those of her male counterparts – is full of interesting characters, especially in the hands of the correct writer.

Many of them are metaphors, symbolic of the psychology and advocacies associated with Wonder Woman. Ares is the war to Diana’s peace. Dr. Psycho is a misogynistic freak. Various versions of the Cheetah, recognized as Diana’s archenemy, represent different things: the beast to Diana’s humanity, the predator to her hunter, the greed to her selflessness. The Silver Swan, in many of her versions, has always been about insecurity regarding beauty, a struggle many women relate in the face of sexist expectations. Circe represents a lot of things antithetical to Diana, including the transformation of men to beasts as opposed to the reformation Diana usually advocates.

And so on and so forth.

For the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, they’ve chosen Ares and Doctor Poison.

Ares needs no introduction and is a no-brainer, although so far, there has been no visual confirmation of the War God in any of the trailers save for a tiny possible look at a part of his arm in a fight scene. Diana did mention him by name in one of the recent clips. This is a good thing in order to keep things a surprise, especially given the brouhaha surrounding the revelation of Doomsday in a Batman v Superman trailer.

The question, of course, is where Ares is. Many speculate that he is secretly Danny Huston’s character, General Erich Ludendorff, who is based on a real life German WWI personality.

And considering this is Danny Huston, who’s a master of playing bad guys, the speculation is not entirely without merit. I mean, it is acclaimed actor Danny Huston. And he plays a villainous German general. His prominence in the trailers as an antagonist practically screams, “I am Ares! I am Ares!”

However, I think Ludendorff is a red herring. For one thing, the real Ludendorff lived on after World War I, so if he’s Ares, it’s unlikely he makes it out of the film as Ludendorff (unless the real one was being held hostage somewhere). Moreover, having Ludendorff be Ares is probably way too obvious. It’s like the trailers want you to assume he’s Ares, and that’s one of the tricks in Red Herring 101. I think Ludendorff is just an agent of Ares.

My personal wish? That Ludendorff is the Duke of Deception, another one of Wonder Woman’s oldest villains and an agent of Ares. The Duke of Deception is a perfect foil to Diana’s belief in truth, and Ludendorff being an illusion/impersonation of the Duke makes sense as well. Plus, that would give us a third Wonder Woman villain as opposed to a generic soldier antagonist.

So if Ludendorff doesn’t turn out to be Ares, then who could he be?

Many have speculated that it’s Harry Potter alumnus David Thewlis, who was added to the cast almost like an afterthought with minimal fanfare. Based on trailers and synopses, the character he plays – Sir Patrick – seems to be a minor character. Why would anyone cast David “Total Eclipse” Thewlis for a throwaway role?

And when they recently released cast interviews, why did David Thewlis get his own?

All I can say is: my money is on him being Ares. I have three days to be proven right or wrong.

Then finally, there is Doctor Poison, played by Elena Anaya. Although not as well-known as Cheetah or Circe, Doctor Poison does have the distinction of being the first costumed villain in Man’s World that Wonder Woman ever faced – debuting in Sensation Comics #2 in 1942. It’s thus a good nod to the heritage of Wonder Woman that her first feature film would utilize her first villain outside Ares. (Plus, Cheetah deserves to have her own turn separate from Ares, hopefully in the sequel.)

In the movie, her nationality has obviously changed, from the original Japanese to a caucasian woman (the actress is Spanish, but we don’t know yet if the character is also such, though her name is still Maru like the original). Before folks cry whitewashing, the change makes sense because the setting is World War I, and the Japanese were not really involved then.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic that we get to see a comparatively obscure Wondie villain have her turn on the big screen, and the actress also seems right for the part.

Now, we just have a few more nights to go, and we can see how much these villains will prove to be worthy adversaries to Wonder Woman.

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