Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Superhero Theme Project Part 2: Wonder Woman

I always expected to connect with my offspring through the shared mythology of superheroes. This world is one created by men and generated by their boyish fantasies, however, a fact of which I became acutely aware when I found out that I was going to be father to a daughter. While I did not want to oppose the Little One from becoming a fan of male superheroes, I also wanted her to be aware that there are equally inspiring female options. As the most established comic heroine, Wonder Woman was the obvious choice, but at the time my knowledge of this character’s accepted canon was relatively shallow.

I did some research on her more current iterations, and while I admit that I was a little disappointed when I found out that the invisible jet had been retconned out, I certainly got a better feeling for what makes her unique and distinct from other iconic DC characters. Wonder Woman is both an idealistic princess and an archetypical Greek warrior. She isn’t a sheltered farmboy like Superman, but she is, in some ways, more alien to the world that she defends. She isn’t darkly damaged like Batman, but she answers to a morality that stands outside of the status quo.

Despite my efforts to make the Little One aware of Wonder Woman, she has a clear preference for Superman. Who can blame her? Although female superheroes are deeper and more prevalent than in the past, there is still virtually no effort to make these characters more visible. Superman is everywhere, while Wonder Woman is still mostly relegated to the flattened page. I hoped that musically rendering her would add some dimension to the Little One’s concept of the character as it had for Superman. When I was looking for music to represent Wonder Woman, the obvious choice would have been to play on her Olympian roots. The Olympic Fanfare and Theme was a contender.

Olympic Fanfare and Theme by The Boston Pops Orchestra, John Williams on Grooveshark

Due to its length, however, this one would require some editing. Also, as a John Williams piece in a fanfare style, I was concerned that it would not contrast enough with the Superman March to stand on its own. As I talked to more people about this project, Basil Poledouris’ soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian was a recurring suggestion. It has been many, many years since I have seen the movie, and in truth, I really didn’t remember the soundtrack at all, but the serendipitous nature of these recommendations forced me to revisit this forceful theme.

Anvil of Crom has a raw power that immediately started turning my wheels. It was certainly different from the Williams and Elfman themes, and it would make sense for Wonder Woman if I played up the “warrior princess” aspect of the character. Still, because Spider-Man had been so successful, I wanted to get it right. I had not made a conscious commitment when the Little One unexpectedly asked me, pointing at a picture of the character, “How does Wonder Woman go?” Without a better idea, I sang the pulsing rhythms of the opening to Anvil of Crom. She looked at me and said “Wonder Woman is strong.”

Seed planted.

I was still a little apprehensive on next day’s commute when, after a couple of plays through Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man each, I asked if she wanted to listen to Wonder Woman. She enthusiastically agreed, but as it thundered forth from the speakers, her initial reaction was a little opaque. She stared out the window for the entire song, and did not request a replay when it was over. I thought that I had lost her. When I came around to get her out of the car, however, she smiled and said “DUN-da-da-DUN-DUN-DUN-da-da-da…….Wonder Woman! She’s strong!” We kept this up as we walked all the way to her classroom.


To see the previous post in this series, go HERE.
To go on to the next one, click HERE.

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