Digital Media & Culture: Collaborative Essay Collection 2018/Transmediality/Research Question 3:Jenwards

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In what ways has transmediality impacted upon franchised comic book DC? Examine this question in relation to Wonder Woman comics, cinema, TV, merchandising and story world in the DC Universe. [edit | edit source]

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Transmediality is an important part of digital media and culture that we often do not realise is happening around us. It can be defined in different ways depending on the theorist, but for the sake of this essay, we are referring to Henry Jenkins's definition 'transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating unified and coordinated entertainment' (Jenkins, 2011). Our focus will be the transmediality surrounding 'Wonder Woman' in the DC Universe, Wonder Woman is an interesting case study as she has developed from comics, to movies and TV shows which has expanded the story world and merchandising- all relevant to transmedia storytelling. She's one of DC's most popular characters, and being one of the lead female characters in the comic book world, it is interesting to see how the DC universe has expanded, adapted and audiences have built up the story world. In this essay we will dissect the different elements of Wonder Womans's relativity to transmedia storytelling.

Jeneds (discusscontribs) 22:03, 4 April 2018 (UTC) Rej00012 (discusscontribs) 22:05, 4 April 2018 (UTC) MillyZombie (discusscontribs) 22:08, 4 April 2018 (UTC) Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 22:08, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Main Concepts[edit | edit source]

Comics & Transmedia[edit | edit source]

As a franchise, Wonder Woman is a very interesting one to look at in regards to transmedia. Wonder Woman/Diane Prince was originally conceived as a comic book character, in All Star Comics #8, in October 1941 (Bunn 1997). Even in these early times, Wonder Woman was using a lot of elements of transmedia to build the story world surrounding her. Comic books are fascinating to study under transmedia lenses, as they exist as a form of old media that remains wildly popular. When looking at audience consumption, even with the advance of technology and the DC universe Wonder Woman exists in, comic books are still being bought and produced at high levels. In Weaver’s book, he comments on how, compared to other forms of media, comic books cannot simply ‘exploit’ other components (2013). By this, Weaver means the technology like computer generated images (CGI) and special effects we are accustomed to seeing on big and small screens. Comic books were essentially ink and paper, which makes their immerse nature all the more impressive. By using onomatopoeia they’re able to create sounds that play in the head of readers, many of the phrases popularised by comic books. For example, Whack! and Pow! give the intended effects and Weaver explains how this increases the media’s power of escapism. This isn’t to say that comic books have stayed static in their approach to production OR consumption though. DC Comic books, among others, have faced a lot of pressure from the new technology age (Ndalianis 2011). A lot of production on comic book happens on digital tablets now, which of course makes a lot of sense in regard to time and cost. Developers of comic books are able to collaborate from separate countries due to the availability of live sharing functions that came with the internet. No longer the need to compile sketches and ideas in physical books, you can simply bring a tablet which allows you to save, write, draw and communicate from wherever you are. This shift of technology has definitely contributed to the transmedia storyworld of Wonder Woman. People can now consume comics as completely paperless by having official website subscriptions, in some cases these comics can even be ‘living’ on the page. By using the media of gifs, comic books are able to move in the action. This completely changes the way comics were originally presented, and in terms of transmedia this example can show how a form of old media can adapt to social changes. Wonder Woman comic books are also fascinating when looking at the narrative with a transmedia approach. Even in the most basic of over views, comics themselves use a strange way of telling their story. Instead of being consumed all in one go like a movie, comics let out chapters of the story over what could be years, in a serial fashion. Fans must be consistently up to date to build their world in the same time as others. Considering points made in Van Leeuwerden’s (2016) book about DC’s infancy in films, the opposite is true of the comics. Multiple comic books surrounding the origin and ongoing story of Diane Prince exist and therefore all create a storyworld of their own within the original franchise. Die-hard fans may only consider the original lines canon as fact, but many fans are happy to mix and match to create and enhance their own experience of the franchise. The expansion of Wonder Woman’s universe into DC with the creation of the Justice League, goes to show how transmedia narratives can interact with one another. Other sections below go more into detail in regard to the other media forms Wonder Woman takes. In other areas that consider the storyworld, even from the mid 1940s some physical merchandise was available like lunchboxes (more of which discussed later), but the comparison of availability to the male superheroes was slim. This is a whole other issue on its own, though. This is in a similar vein to the movies, where there has been a lot of fan-driven effort in making sure Wonder Woman has the same media output as Batman or Superman. MillyZombie (discusscontribs) 23ː36, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

TV/Film & Transmedia[edit | edit source]

As comic books remained a popular medium with the fans, and with the success of both Superman and Batman TV shows, it was only a matter of time before Wonder Woman received her very own TV adaptation. This did however take a while for it to kick off with the failed 1974 pilot. After a year of rebranding the show, and casting Lynda Carter as the now iconic role for her, Wonder Woman became a success. The Wonder Woman TV show was mostly adapted from the comics, taking elements from multiple storylines to create the TV show. This allowed DC not only to bring in new fans who have not read the comics but also allowed fans of the comics to see their favourite heroine in action. ‘The audience gets a greater enjoyment of the narrative with each new platform because of the narrative knowledge they carry with them from previous platforms’ (Jenkins cited: van Leeuwerden: 2016: 2). This gave comic fans a chance to witness their favourite storylines come to life, whilst also seeing new and expanded storylines happening within the TV show. For instance, a new concept added to the show was the famous Lynda Carter spin, where she spins around quickly to change from Diana Prince into Wonder Woman. The show took several elements from the comics which included the classic Wonder Woman costume, her superpowers, and the origins of Diana Prince. This followed what Henry Jenkins describes as the ‘Hollywood model’ (2011) as it allowed the DC universe to be explored from Wonder Woman’s own point of view, but it also allowed the show to be sold separately from the comics. 2013 saw Warner Brothers fresh attempt at creating a DC cinematic universe, to catch up with the Marvel cinematic universe. The first instalment, Man of Steel (Zack Snyder: 2013), proved to be problematic as it did not mention any of the characters which would later be introduced (van Leeuwerden:2016:6-7). This meant that when Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (Snyder: 2016) was announced, fans were left concerned the movie would be more about establishing cameos of future heroes rather than the much desired fight between Batman and Superman. This movie however, did introduce audiences to Wonder Woman. Tyler Weaver notes that Wonder Woman as a character has not changed much since her first introduction in the 1940s (2013:101) however Gal Gadot’s portrayal saw the first major multimodality to the character (Jenkins:2011). Not only was her costume changed from the bright, vibrant colours to a more dull and metallic look, but her superpowers and origin story was also changed to fit in with the DC cinematic universe. Her introduction into Batman vs Superman left many fans confused and questioning certain personality traits that Diana had, which included the conversations she had with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). These questions were answered in the 2017 Wonder Woman movie (Patty Jenkins). This was Wonder Woman’s first big, solo appearance on screen which got long term fans of the character excited. It also allowed for a new generation of fans to be introduced to the beloved heroine. The new movie added convergence (Jenkins:2011) to the now growing DC cinematic universe. It expanded the universe not just from the world of Batman and Superman but also time as well, as the Wonder Woman movie, like the first season of the TV show, was set in World War Two. An important element of transmedia is that each platform offers something new to the story world, and Wonder Woman did just that. The movie brought a fresh look on her origin story, as well as her superpowers. Her new and altered superpowers left many fans confused however, those who had been involved in the comics would recognise her new ‘god-like abilities’ was actually taken from the storyline in which Diana became a goddess (Beatty et al:2009). This type of transmedia is what Weaver describes as additive, in that it starts in one platform and adds more to the story as it moves from platform to platform (2013:11). Despite van Leeuwerden predicting that as DC introduced the heroes who would appear in the Justice League movie in Batman Vs. Superman, it would limit what they could do with the characters, Wonder Woman proved him wrong by going back in time to explain the present-day character (2016:5). Rej00012 (discusscontribs) 22:03, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Merchandise & Transmedia[edit | edit source]

As world building arguably enhances the audience's experience, this is taken further with merchandising as the story expands further into the physical world. Jenkins states that transmedia products aim to 'create a unified and coordinated entertainment experience' (Jenkins,2007). Merchandising aids this process as it expands the franchise's platform and narrative, thus unifying the 'entertainment experience by giving the consumers more products to fulfil their involvement and allows the story to flow. For this section of the essay, I will be focusing on merchandise surrounding Wonder Woman and how this correlates to Wonder Woman's transmediality and it's subsequent impact.

As with most DC characters, Wonder Woman has a particularly extensive range of dedicated merchandise. Examples include: figures, LEGO toys, costumes, appearances in DC video games and the popular LEGO Dimensions video game. This demonstrates Jenkins transmedia theory that 'fiction is dispersed systematically across multiple channels' as through merchandising, the story is dispersed and expanded. The video games allow the narrative to continue on another platform and similarly the toys and costumes allow the consumers and fans to build their own connection to the world and continue the story themselves through their own imagination. Elaine Raybourn explains that 'transmedia storytelling is not just about multiple media, it's about connecting with something personally and emotionally so that they will want to create content, share it, talk about it and stay engaged' (Raybourn, 2016). Merchandising allows the consumer to connect emotionally and personally as they continue the narrative themselves; thus allowing them to stay engaged with the particular world and franchise. Shewell perfectly summarises this: 'Using a storyline that's stitched across multiple platforms with the audience at the centre makes the content all the more relevant for it to engage and stick in the epicentre of the audience's heart and mind' (Shewell, 2017).

The terms 'producer' and 'prosumer' are relevant when discussing merchandising within transmedia storytelling. Producer (producer/user) and prosumer (producer/consumer) define the change in consumers actively participating in media. Jenkins stated in his TED Talk that in 2010, '65% of American Teens had produced media' (Jenkins, 2010). The merchandising website 'Redbubble' epitomises these concepts of 'prosumer' and 'producer'. Redbubble allows fans to make their own merchandise by uploading their own designs which visitors can buy on a variety of merchandising. These products can come in form of clothing, stickers, mugs, phone cases and much more. Therefore the consumers are taking on the role of the producer as they are consuming the narrative, then making their own products from it. This engages fan as they ca display their dedication but ultimately becomes 'free' advertising for the franchises. This is known as 'synergy', where the lines between marketing and entertainment become blurred- which as discussed, is very easily done with merchandising.

Henry Jenkins defined the tern 'franchise' as 'a corporate structure for media production which has a long history and throughout much of that history, there has been an attempt to move icons and brands across media channels' (Jenkins,2011). DC and Wonder Woman is certainly a franchise by these terms as through its merchandising, Wonder Woman has flowed through different mediums, channels and platforms. Whilst merchandising might seem like fun, it tactfully and intelligently expands the story, increases audience interest, creates advertising and in turn creates profit. Jeneds (discusscontribs) 22:04, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Storyworld Building & Transmedia[edit | edit source]

Finally, we must look at the story-world in reference to the ways in which transmediality has impacted upon franchised comic book DC; specifically Wonder Woman. If we take a moment to focus on the DC world as a whole, it is clear that within the movie world; at least in this new era, it is struggling to keep up with the likes of Marvel. This is interesting to note as DC in comics has been around since 1935 and Wonder Woman herself first appeared in the comics in December 1941 (Lyons) Although there was 76 years between her first comic book appearance and her first stand-alone film; although she was featured in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice the year before her stand alone. It was clear that the introduction of Wonder Woman in the previously mentioned film was leading to DC’s world-building film; their own version of Marvel’s ‘Avengers’, Justice League which was released in November 2017, five months after her stand alone and one month after the film ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’; the biographical film about the man who created the character, was released. 2017 was truly the year of Wonder Woman.

It was clear from 1975 with Lynda Carter’s stint as Wonder Woman in the TV series that this was an iconic character that would never go out of style and although fans of the films have been cosplaying as her for years at Comic Con, Halloween, fancy dress parties and wearing the merchandise it was 2017’s comic con in San Diego that showed just how popular she was. As Andrew Liptak says in his post; “Every Comic-Con, the community seems to champion a specific character, releasing an army of meticulously dressed near-clones… last year it was Harley Quinn. This year it was Wonder Woman.” (Liptak) The fans have been the one to keep Wonder Woman relevant even before her 2017 release and re-boot within the DC cinematic universe. In 2013 a research was conducted on the world of cosplaying and there was an example of a response that demonstrated how certain features inspired a cosplayer to go as Wonder Woman; she talked of how Wonder Woman being strong and independent but also beautiful and not needing a ‘prince to rescue her’ was deeply inspiring and the person also stated that “In Wonder Woman I saw the best qualities of my mother, and the type of woman I wanted my sister and I to become.” (Rosenberg and Letamendi) Through the example of cosplay it is clear that even if Wonder Woman’s stand-alone film had been a flop or not made altogether, people would still be dressing as the character. If anything fans of Wonder Woman have been building the story-world in their own way since 1941 and the TV series, comics and subsequent films and cameos have only added fuel to the fire that was already building through the cosplaying, roleplaying, fan-art and fan-fiction.

Tim van Leeuwerden wrote a critical review on DC’s cinematic universe and as he says in response to the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer; “…Wonder Woman teaming up with Batman and Superman. The public started doubting; perhaps this movie would be too much focused on cameoing the establishing pieces of the DC League Universe, rather than being a good movie on it’s own.” (Leeuwerden) Throughout the review it is clear that DC’s new story-world era is still in it’s infancy compared to Marvel as they haven’t seemed to have grasped Henry Jenkins concept of transmedia storytelling as he states; “Each franchise entry needs to be self-contained so you don’t need to have seen the film to enjoy the game or vice versa.” (Jenkins) But out of it, Wonder Woman officially became the highest grossing superhero origin film with an international box office total of $821.74 million beating Marvel’s Spider-Man back in 2002. (Hughes) That point only stresses how impactful Wonder Woman herself can be without the help of other male superhero’s to back her up as her woman led film, also female directed, could be the what DC needs to elevate it’s story-world and join the ranks of Marvel as long as the fans stand behind DC; continuing to build their own story-world that will one day weave within the DC cinematic universe.

Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 20:55, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

In conclusion, the research we have undertaken reveals that Wonder Woman is a good example of a transmedia product. The ways in which her narrative does this extends across many platforms and most of the theories and terminology Henry Jenkins coined, are very relevant to the DC and Wonder Woman franchise. With a rich history spanning many decades and different forms of media, the transmedia effect of Wonder Woman has had a huge impact on different audiences and generations. With this, each new platform has brought new generations of fans and in terms of transmedia, its effects will continue to grow alongside the advances in technology and media production and consumption. MillyZombie (discusscontribs) 23ː55, 4 April 2018 (UTC) Rej00012 (discusscontribs) 22:55, 4 April 2018 (UTC) Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 23:06, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

References[edit | edit source]

Comics & Transmedia References[edit | edit source]

Bunn, Geoffrey C. (1997). "The lie detector, Wonder Woman, and liberty: The life and work of William Moulton Marston". History of the Human Sciences. London: Routledge. 10 (1): 91–119

Jenkins Henry, 2007, Transmedia Storytelling 101

Jenkins Henry, 2011, Transmedia Storytelling 202: Further Reflections

Ndalianis, A., 2011, Why Comics Studies?, Cinema Journal, Volume 50, Number 3, Spring 2011, pp. 113-117

van Leeuwerden, Tim. (2016). Dawn of Worldbuilding: a critical review on DC’s Cinematic Universe.

Weaver, T. 2013 Comics for Film, Games, and Animation: Using Comics to Construct Your Transmedia Storyworld, pp. 5-14 ; 57-62. MillyZombie (discusscontribs) 23:39, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

TV/Film & Transmedia References[edit | edit source]

van Leeuwerden, Tim. (2016). Dawn of Worldbuilding: a critical review on DC’s Cinematic Universe. Comics: For film, Games and Animation: Using Comics to Construct Your Transmedia Storyworld; Tyler Weaver, 2013; Focal Press; Burlington, MA

Jenkins Henry, 2007, Transmedia Storytelling 101

BEATTY, S., GREENBERGER, R., JIMENEZ, P. and WALLACE, D., 2009. Wonder Woman. In: A. DOUGALL and V. TAYLOR, eds, The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide To The Characters of the DC Universe. Great Britain: DK, pp. 376.

Jenkins, P., Heinberg, A., Snyder, Z., Gadot, G., Pine, C. and Wright, R. (2017). Wonder Woman (2017). [online] IMDb. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2018].

Marston, W., Ross, S., Carter, L., Waggoner, L. and Kratochvil, T. (n.d.). Wonder Woman (TV Series 1975–1979). [online] IMDb. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2018].

Snyder, Z., Goyer, D., Goyer, D., Cavill, H., Adams, A. and Shannon, M. (2013). Man of Steel (2013). [online] IMDb. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2018].

Snyder, Z., Terrio, C., Goyer, D., Affleck, B., Cavill, H. and Adams, A. (2016). Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). [online] IMDb. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2018].

Snyder, Z., Terrio, C., Whedon, J., Affleck, B., Gadot, G. and Momoa, J. (2017). Justice League (2017). [online] IMDb. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2018]. Rej00012 (discusscontribs) 22:46, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Merchandising & Transmedia[edit | edit source]

Jenkins Henry, 2007, Transmedia Storytelling 101

Jenkins Henry, 2011, Transmedia Storytelling 202: Further Reflections

Jenkins Henry, 2010, TEDxNYED-Henry Jenkins- 03/06/10, TEDTalk

Rayborn Elaine, 2016, Engage Learners with Transmedia Storytelling, TedTalk

Shewell John, 2017, The Rise of Transmedia Storytelling, Foco-Global

Jeneds (discusscontribs) 22:04, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Storyworld Building & Transmedia[edit | edit source]

Hughes, Mark. "'Wonder Woman' Is Officially The Highest-Grossing Superhero Origin Film." 2 November 2017. Forbes. 4 April 2018. <>. Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 22:28, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. New York: NYU Press, 2006. Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 22:28, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Leeuwerden, Tim van. "Dawn of Worldbuilding: a critical review on DC's Cinematic Universe." ResearchGate (2016): 1. Rej00012 (discusscontribs) 22:14, 4 April 2018 (UTC) Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 22:28, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Liptak, Andrew. "The popularity of Wonder Woman cosplay at Comic-Con is a message to Hollywood." 28 July 2017. The Verge. 4 April 2018. <>. Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 22:28, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Lyons, Charles. "Suffering Sappho! A Look At The Creator & Creation of Wonder Woman." 8 August 2006. 4 April 2017. <>. Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 22:28, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Rosenberg, Robin S. and Andrea M. Letamendi. "Expressions of Fandom: Findings from a Psychological Survey of Cosplay and Costume Wear." Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media (2013): 14. Lauraanniegoodwin (discusscontribs) 22:28, 4 April 2018 (UTC)