Diana of Themyscira has a big movie coming out today. She’s also a major player in new release Injustice 2, a video game where superheroes fight each other over crossing moral boundaries. But Wonder Woman shouldn’t just be part of an ensemble; she should be the main character.
With the release of the Wonder Woman movie this weekend, Diana Prince finally joins Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and others in the ranks of DC Comics characters who became the focal point of a major motion picture. Superman and Batman have both also anchored dozens of video games ever since the days of the Atari 2600, but Wonder Woman still hasn’t been afforded the same honour. It’s a bizarre fact because so many of the component parts of the Wonder Woman would be great fodder for a video game.
I’ve written about this subject before, seven years ago to be exact, and much has changed on the video game landscape. Nowadays, thanks to the shifting fortunes of the video game publishing business, we’re lucky if a shallow mobile game accompanies a superhero movie release. It used to be that such occasions were accompanied by a big-budget video game featuring the same character. Yes, games for the first Captain America and Thor movies — along with Green Lantern, Batman Begins and Superman Returns — were cash-in opportunities designed for marketing and ancillary revenue streams. While these releases were largely middling in terms of quality, they made those characters and movies feel like important cultural moments. They also dangled new chances to control these characters in modern-day game design worlds, so that we could leave horrible memories of Superman 64 behind.
With the Batman Arkham games, the Dark Knight has gotten a whole cycle of games that stood apart from goings-on in the realms of movies or TV. Wonder Woman is an important enough character to merit the same treatment. She’s one of the most meaningful superheroes ever, a global icon on par with Superman, Batman or Spider-Man. And, like those characters, her publishing history and character mythos feature enough scope and depth to power any number of possibilities in the video game space.
Diana is a character that game-makers could put in just about any time period or setting with plausible narrative justification. You can put her in World War I, World War II, or any armed conflict and she’d be right at home. She’s an ambassador of peace so seeing her broker a truce between, say, warring alien races wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, either. Her ties to the Greco-Roman pantheon mean that a Wonder Woman game could be also be a widescreen action-adventure in the style of the God of War franchise or the new Tomb Raider games, something that send her far and wide. She’s one of the best fighters in the DC Universe, with access to a plethora of enchanted mythological weapons that could be used against elite soldiers, demons or celestial beings. Flying around and lassoing giant myth-beasts, then wielding magical axes or swords against them, is reason enough for a Wonder Woman video game to exist.
At the same time, in her best iterations, Wonder Woman works toward greater compassion and peace, and her inherent contradictions could make for great narrative branching. Does the player have her extend an olive branch to antagonists at a critical moment or harshly eliminate a threat with the edge of her blade? She’s done both in comics stories over the years, and putting players in control of such moments would be a great way to illustrate the layers that Wonder Woman has.
It’s great that Wonder Woman is getting a special Multiverse event in Injustice 2 to celebrate the release of Wonder Woman in theatres. But, in the dysfunctional Injustice universe, Diana is one of the main enablers of the oppressive regime that Superman established after taking over the world, preaching a lot less mercy and a lot more murder. She needs a video game star turn that spotlights all the best aspects of her character. A full-blown AAA Wonder Woman game should have been out this week; let’s hope we don’t have to wait much longer for Diana to show up in the Man’s World of superhero video games.