Wonder Woman is perhaps the most recognizable female superhero of all time. Even people and children who know nothing of superheroes or comic books have likely heard the name Wonder Woman or could identify her image thanks to her longstanding presence and popularity. From animated series, films, video games, and endless merchandise, the amazon princess remains relevant after all these decades.
While Diana has appeared in video games, unlike Batman or Superman, she has not had a solo console game until now (or soon to be, at the time of this article posting). She was first playable in 1995’s Justice League Task Force as well as several Game Boy Advance games based on the DCAU Justice League animated series. Superman has had solo games as early as 1979, and Batman in 1986, with the Dark Knight, also getting games based on several of his films and animated series. Part of why Diana didn’t get games sooner is likely because she also, somehow, didn’t have any shows or films of her own up until 2017 with the Wonder Woman film in the DC Extended Universe. Diana has definitely long deserved a solo game of the highest caliber.
Hopes and Ideas for the Wonder Woman Game
Besides how badass Diana herself is, Wonder Woman is well known for her interactions, bonds, and team-ups with other women. Whether or not they’ll also be playable, the game should prominently feature many of Diana’s noteworthy supporting characters and allies such as Donna Troy, Cassie Sandsmark, Nubia, Yara Flor, Queen Hippolyta, Philippus, Artemis of Bana-Mighdall, various other amazons of Themyscira and Bana-Mighdall, Helena Sandsmark, and other women of Patriarch’s World (aka the world outside of the island). Also many, if not all, of the deities of Greek myth should be featured and play roles. Perhaps an unpopular idea, but I think the game should mostly focus on women characters overall, especially key characters. There can and should be some male characters and villains/goons, but the game should focus by far and away on Wonder Woman’s female bonds.
I like Steve Trevor, but he should be left out of this game. Instead, we could choose any number of Diana’s canonical female love interests. I don’t mind a cameo or mention of Trevor, as well as a fun Easter egg or cameo of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent (as their civilian identities specifically, I’ll explain later). The game should be open world. Maybe the game has three different, large, and lovingly detailed regions: Themyscira aka Paradise Island, Washington D.C., and Mount Olympus. Themyscira is a lush, green island paradise with lovingly rendered jungles, forests, beaches, oceans and waters, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, mountains and cliffs, animals, and aquatic life. Also temples, an arena (possibly a minigame based on the famous Wonder Woman contest. It could feature the other playable characters if they would not otherwise be playable in the story mode or free roam, though hopefully, those would be options as well, maybe after the player beats the story mode as Diana first, or maybe the other characters get their own independent storylines), the palace, the catacombs, caverns, and maybe even Tartarus might be explorable areas.
Villains and Cameos
The main villain should be Circe. No more male main villains. Circe’s powerful magical abilities would be visually striking and provide some of the most fascinating and visually-arresting battle sequences and boss fights in the game. Circe’s ability to turn humans into horrific “beastie morphs” can also be the basis of one of the main enemy types in the game, particularly on the island or in D.C.
Other villains could be Barbara Ann Minerva as Cheetah (with a backstory similar to the DC Rebirth comics where she was reimagined as a friend of Diana’s who was an Indiana Jones-type figure who was cursed to be the Cheetah and was also a lesbian in this iteration), Vanessa Kapatelis aka the Silver Swan who hates both Diana and Cassie Sandsmark for allegedly stealing Vanessa’s destiny as the second Wonder Girl, Doctor Psycho could be one of the few male villains and characters whose misogyny would provide a cathartic beatdown for the players to take part in, and finally, Ares could be a threat on Mount Olympus except he’s trying to cause strife among the gods rather than outright attack them.
If we have a Spider-Man PS4/Miles Morales-type of situation where you can respond to crimes in progress on a map and help people in trouble, perhaps one such crime in progress involves some human goons attacking a man in a business suit. Wonder Woman gets closer and sees most of the goons are already knocked out and sees the man take down the rest. She then sees it’s Bruce Wayne who is in D.C. on business. He asks if she needs help from Batman and she tells him that Bruce Wayne being in D.C., as well as Batman showing up, might tip people off that they’re one and the same, not to mention she’s got the situation in hand with help from her sisters. She also later witnesses a woman slip expensive jewelry in her pocket and realizes it’s Selina Kyle. Diana tells Selena to put the jewelry back, and Selina remarks that Diana is no fun, but wisely listens and then decides to return to Gotham, while asking about Bruce. At some point, Diana, in civilian clothes, comes across Clark Kent and Lois Lane covering a story, and Clark, like Bruce before, offers some super assistance, but Diana, again, reminds her friend that his alter ego and his civilian identity appear in the same place might blow his secret identity.
The Gameplay, the Vibes, and Wonder Woman’s Powers
A personal taste, but I hate when Wonder Woman can’t fly. They don’t usually take away Superman’s ability to fly, so why do so many adaptations do it to her? With her ability to fly, Diana can help people and respond to certain dangers in many more ways. If a plane or jet is falling and she can’t fly, what is she going to do? The open-world games I’ve played don’t typically feature characters who can fly. Usually, they run around, perhaps use vehicles, and jump or use parkour or swing around or climb buildings or cliffs. Diana could still be able to do all of that while also being able to fly. One might wonder, why climb cliffs or buildings, do parkour, or run around if you can simply fly? Options, that’s why. Furthermore, Diana has super speed and that should also be present in the game. Her combat should consist of complex and intricate martial arts, as the amazons are among the finest warriors in all of history and have countless decades of experience due to their agelessness.
As for actual gameplay, I think some elements of the PS4 God of War game, or perhaps the free-flow combat style of the Batman: Arkham games might be the most useful. Or maybe something closer to Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales except with the ability to fly instead of web-slinging. Diana and the other characters’ superhuman strength should be taken into consideration where objects, environments, and combat are concerned. Diana and her sisters should be able to engage in combat which will affect human enemies and mythological or mystical ones differently. They should be able to straight-up yeet some of their enemies, especially the human ones. There could also be more enemy types like harpies or other flying enemies to provide a challenge in the air. The invisible jet could be flown manually or used for fast travel. There could be some danger on Mount Olympus courtesy of Ares, though I like the idea of it being more neutral territory especially since the Olympians would already be there to stop whatever might pop off there. Certainly, we would not have any of the Olympians, especially not all of them, being wiped out by Ares this time. The goddesses especially should play a large role in the story and be revered by the amazons and Diana.
How to Handle Diana’s Backstory
As I mentioned in my George Pérez article, I vastly prefer the Pre-Flashpoint Wonder Woman era to the current era. However, there are fans of the current era as well as the DCEU version based on it. The best way to please the most amount of fans and make the game and story accessible to new fans is to avoid discussing Diana’s origin altogether. We don’t need hard confirmation if this Diana is indeed the daughter of Zeus or if she was created from “sand and lesbian power, plus Hermes”, as I prefer.
We also don’t need to know for sure if this Donna Troy would be an orphan rescued from a fire by Diana and raised on the island before being given powers (Titans as well as the Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths era), a magical duplicate of Diana spirited away and caused to age slower than Diana before being rescued (Pre-52), or an amazon molded from clay designed to kill Diana who became heroic (the current version). Nubia, whether this version will be Diana’s Black twin sister or not, should share her same powerset, as it seems she does not in the current comics (according to the wikis anyway). Diana and her sisters should just be badasses with strength, speed, flight, durability and healing, Amazonian fighting skills, and access to weapons and skins based on their iconic looks. Diana’s lasso can compel the truth, Donna’s can make people do whatever she wants, Cassie’s can expel Zeus’s lightning, and Nubia and Yara use other weapons.
At the time of the posting of this article, we have not had a solo X-Men console game since 2011’s X-Men: Destiny which wasn’t well-received by most fans. The first mistake was having an X-Men game with no playable pre-existing iconic X-Men characters, just random new characters. Similar to the ideas and hopes I have for the Wonder Woman game, an open-world and lovingly-rendered X-Men game would be truly memorable. Also, an intricate and badass combat system based either on the Batman: Arkham games or the PS4 God of War game would be great.
Marvel’s Spider-Man had a side quest involving a lightning storm that was beautiful and also terrifying and the only thing I could think of was how cool it would be to have Storm of the X-Men being responsible for or creating something of that magnitude. Perhaps a mission where the wind rider has been brainwashed or she has lost control of her powers and you have to stop her from destroying the city. It could also be another mutant absorbing or copying her powers who loses control of them in her place and Storm herself has to help try and literally calm the lightning storm.
Possible Locations and Characters
To be completely honest, aside from Grand Theft Auto V, I haven’t seen many open-world games with more than one playable character. The ones I’ve played tend to only have one, just for the sure gravity of possible scenarios and situations and other characters to speak to, address, etc. That being said, if we can get truly beautiful and intricate locations, visuals, and story-building and character development with multiple different characters being utilized, I say let it happen. We need some of our usual suspects: Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey (without the Phoenix), Storm, Psylocke (maybe Kwannon this time), and Colossus. We could also use Rogue (this time with her current Wonder Man powers), Iceman, Namor, and others we have seen in other popular games. This game should feature characters we don’t usually see being playable or even shown in video games: Magik of the New Mutants is an obvious choice with her diverse powerset. Also, Emma Frost with fully rendered telepathy and a useful and awesome diamond form could be included as well as Polaris this time around.
We also desperately need Black characters aside from Storm or Bishop being playable and included overall: Monet St. Croix is basically “Veronica Lodge meets Supergirl” with added telepathic and telekinetic powers and is currently able to transform into the Penance form in the comics as well. Synch has the ability to become “in synch” with mutants and copy their powers, which could be similar to Delsin Rowe from InFamous: Second Son except he can copy his allies, enemies, or anyone near him. Prodigy has the ability to copy the non-powered skills of others and also possesses the skills of several X-Men already. Prodigy could provide a unique and different gaming experience if handled well. Imagine being able to utilize the combat skills of ninjas or other enemy types, especially if they are human. While I wouldn’t have her be playable, Dr. Cecilia Reyes should be included as the team medic/doctor who helps heal and patch up mutants and innocents in the field as well as the person running the infirmary. She should be visibly Black as she has always been in the comics.
As far as locations, the X-Mansion seems like the obvious choice for a base of operations and main location, but perhaps we could also or specifically have the home base be in Krakoa like in the comics right now. Krakoa, perhaps with the Mansion being located there (don’t ask me if that’s the case, I still need to read Hickman’s X-Men series) can be one possible location, with New York City or another metropolitan city being another location you can travel to, and perhaps the Savage Land or another location being the third (assuming Krakoa isn’t too similar to the landscape/environment of the Savage Land with the notable difference being Krakoa is sentient).
Supporting characters should be many of the other X-Men characters, some human allies such as Moira MacTaggart, and maybe an appearance of other characters like Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver. Also, the characters should have multiple different costumes and looks from their histories and also alternate versions like Ultimate Comics versions, MC2, and other media versions as well as civilian outfits for everyone.
With a cast of villains in the stories of the X-Men, the possibilities are endless. Perhaps we can have Mister Sinister or the Phoenix Force as the main villain. We could encounter Sinister’s Nasty Boys as well, as they don’t get the most exposure. Or the Phoenix Five if we go with the Phoenix. Magneto could either be a villain here or a part of the X-Men and a citizen of Krakoa. Mystique, rather than being a henchwoman of Magento, could be an independent villain and assassin who infiltrates a mutant detention camp to rescue Nightcrawler, despite the two having no real relationship. Speaking of mutant detention centers, a government-sponsored group of humans could be one of the main enemy factions who kidnap mutants and eventually do a raid on the Mansion and kidnap several allies and students, and the X-Men need to raid the detention camps to rescue them, perhaps battling sentinels there.
Other villains might be Sabretooth, Silver Samurai, Proteus, Madelyne Pryor (maybe at one point she kidnaps and impersonates Jean), the Hellfire Club, Emplate (Monet’s brother), Adrienne Frost (Emma’s sister who once killed Synch), villains of the Savage Land such as Sauron or Zaladane, or alien foes such as the Shi’Ar Imperial Guard or D’Ken.
Choosing a character might be done before the game starts, but you can possibly team up with/travel with an ally or two. Magik and her stepping discs could also serve as the game’s fast travel system whether you play as her or not. The Blackbird as well as other vehicles for land, air, and sea travel could also be accessible.
The open world of the city, mansion, and other locations outside of the Danger Room should be pretty explorable, with many areas you are allowed to enter and interact with. There could or could not be some kind of money system, but shopping should be allowed in shops in the city, particularly for civilian clothing or collectibles. Wealthy characters like Emma Frost or Monet could have the most access to more items or exclusive items, and perhaps they can give items to other X-Men. Other X-Men can earn funds by rescuing people, doing favors, and completing missions. Since the X-Men are heroes, there should be no real ability to do crimes, unless this might be a game where you could be the villains and thus be able to steal, harm, and commit crimes.
The mansion should be fully rendered and explorable, with many rooms you can enter and figure out based on what’s inside whose room is whose. The Danger Room could provide a bunch of other locations to see in the form of training grounds which can be other iconic locations such as Asteroid M, alien worlds, Madripoor, Japan, and others. There should be a kitchen you can cook or eat in, a living room to watch TV or play arcade games or pool, a swimming pool, gardening (Storm would be the best at this), and other random activities and minigames and side quests you can do. A staple from the comics which was also shown in X-Men: Evolution is mutant baseball, where the mutants play a game of baseball and end up using their powers in the game. It would be such a fun and inventive way to show the mutants having fun and make for a memorable minigame, excellent visuals, and trophies/achievements.
Grand Theft Auto VI or Other Eventual Titles
Grand Theft Auto remains one of the most enjoyable, guiltiest pleasures for many gamers today. Part of what makes it a guilty pleasure is that it features killing and crimes and centers on morally gray or morally reprehensible protagonists who regularly engage in criminal activities. Grand Theft Auto V is the latest game at the time of this posting and is, by most counts, the pinnacle of gameplay thus far in terms of the games overall. The graphics are crisp and very detailed, the story is pretty solid and the character development for at least two of the three playable protagonists (more on Franklin later) is pretty interesting and well thought out.
Franklin, the Black protagonist of the game was largely short-changed by the middle-ish of the game once Trevor comes in. One wiki says that part of this is because the voice actor for the character of Lamar, the main supporting character of Franklin’s story, faced legal troubles that caused him to not be available to finish his lines for planned cutscenes and sequences and this made Rockstar cut Franklin’s storyline shorter. While unfortunate and mostly out of Rockstar’s control, they still could have gone ahead and maybe used a different character to stand in for Lamar. Either way, there are ways we can improve on Black representation in a future game, starting with a Black woman protagonist.
Black Women in the GTA Games
I’m only aware of Black women notable characters in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V. If I’m missing any noteworthy Black women characters in other titles or even from the games I mention here, let me know in the comments. Of the women here, I found Kendl to be the best developed and interesting, and to have the most presence and influence over both story and protagonist.
The other character even close to narrative importance is the late Mrs. Johnson, CJ, Sweet, and Kendl’s mother. Mrs. Johnson has already been brutally killed for being in the wrong place and at the wrong time and it is her death that sets in motion the events of the game. Not only is it the dead parent trope, particularly dead mother, but it’s a Black woman, which is unfortunate. Why couldn’t the death of CJ’s brother, which was also a plot point, be the driving factor for the game? Better yet, why can’t we stop killing off Black people for the plot?
Other than Kendl and Mrs. Johnson, CJ dates Denise Robinson who introduces players to the concept of dating in the game. As a story-centered girlfriend, she cannot be avoided or missed. But she serves no real narrative importance aside from introducing how girlfriends work in the game. Barbara, a cop, is a missable optional girlfriend who provides a useful perk if found and dated: she gets the player out of jail for free and lets him keep his weapons after being busted.
In V, the women are slightly better crafted and handled overall, with clear motivations and goals, but overall have less narrative importance than Kendl or Mrs. Johnson because Franklin is not only not the sole protagonist, but is the least developed and explored protagonist out of the three. Tonya, an addict and old friend of Franklin’s, uses him to do towing missions for no pay for a mutual friend you never see in the story mode. Depending on your tastes, you might find Tonya amusing or incredibly annoying, either way, she is relegated to several towing missions and isn’t seen again in the main story mode.
Franklin’s aunt Denise is kinda there, living her best life and overall disapproving of him and disliking him. Eventually, he moves out and up and rudely tells him he ain’t shit and never was, instead of congratulating him for moving into a mansion and staying on his good side to see if he’ll show her any favor or money. But I digress.
In the story mode, Tanisha is Franklin’s ex-girlfriend who disapproves of his criminal lifestyle and wants a comfortable lifestyle, but legitimately. She achieves this by getting engaged to a doctor. She appears once in a brief cutscene when switching to Franklin at one point, is heard over the phone in another, and you can read a text from her during the game. Otherwise, she is mostly heavily mentioned and is the one who got away for Franklin. Apparently by GTA: Online the two got back together, got married, and had kids. Maybe I should finally play Online after all.
Overall, while the Black women in these games serve different functions and might be engaging or infuriating depending on the player, none aside from maybe one or two serve the story as well as they could.
Why a Black Woman Protagonist Would Be a Good Idea
While Franklin was shortchanged in the story mode of V, he still was there and was a Black man, making the GTA franchise have two Black protagonists. There has never been a Black woman protagonist in GTA, and if handled well, she could be one of the greatest we’ve ever seen. With good voice acting, awesome design, and hair design options, she could provide style and looks for days and bring in more fans. She should have natural hair options, shaved options, undercuts, braids, locs, wavy, straight, curly, and colors, lengths, and textures galore. But most importantly, she should be given an awesome backstory and a personality that is fun, engaging, complex, and compelling. She should have a personality that makes her very fun and engaging for players to enjoy. But this is still Grand Theft Auto and she has to have negative tendencies as well to enable her to engage in criminal activities, or maybe it’s a situation where she had to enter the life of uncontrollable circumstances. Either way, she should be badass, but also be human.
V had two white men and one Black man. What if this time we had a Black woman and two ethnic fellow protagonists? What if one was middle Eastern? What if the other was South Asian, Polynesian, or Indigenous? White people can still be supporting characters and villains, but there should be plenty of ethnic supporting characters, villains, and love interests.
V allowed the protagonists to sleep with sex workers or have booty calls, but two of the three had main love interests. Michael De Santa had his wife Amanda, and Franklin had Tanisha. What if one of the male protagonists had a main love interest who was of the same sex? I’m not sure if the GTA games ever had any LGBTQIA+ protagonists aside from Trevor (who was also a cannibal and r*pist, so he’s not the best representation, even if he is popular among fans). It might be interesting if one of the male protagonists had his partner who was male, who we assume is just the homie. But they seem really close and say somewhat flirty and homoerotic things to each other before the partner is in danger and the protagonist kisses him, the partner kissing him back. Meanwhile, the Black woman and other protagonists can remark on how it was about time and be slowly nudging the two to get together because they could see their chemistry all along.
Furthermore, sex workers as well as dating/booty calls should not be limited to women you can bed or take out on dates. All of the protagonists should have the option to date or bed women, men, or non-binary folks. Canonically, perhaps one or two of them are LGBTQIA+ or cishet, but the player can date and engage with anyone on their own accord. Sex work in real life is not a profession limited to women, and while V and even San Andreas mention rent boys, maybe we can actually see or even pick up male or non-women sex workers in this game.
Gameplay and Elements
V and (I’m assuming) Online, is the pinnacle of what GTA can be, but even it can improve. We can bring back the body customization of San Andreas except you can visit a gym or other training facility (I think dojos would be welcome additions specifically, more on this later) or a plastic surgeon to achieve a certain body type. Unlike San Andreas you wouldn’t have to keep training or eating/not eating to maintain a certain aesthetic, once you get one, it doesn’t change until you change it again. Perhaps there’s a muscular build, a chiseled build, a lean build, a fit build, a swimmer’s build, a model build, a slim build, a thick build, a fat build, etc.
Also missing from San Andreas was the ability to acquire new fighting styles. Perhaps you can learn boxing or wrestling from gyms, karate, or other martial arts from dojos and also Krav Maga.
I already mentioned hairstyling choices for the Black woman character, but I think the men could also have some cool options, but the non-Black characters should not have access to Black hairstyles such as braids or locs, to avoid cultural appropriation, just like V masterfully did. But all the characters should have multiple hair options and many color options as well. Perhaps you can so piercing shops can be added and you can pierce things on your face, your nipples (for the male characters at least), or the naval. More options for customization of looks and for lifelike experiences that better mirror life could be amazing.