Imagine the teaser trailer. Peeks at the iconic costume, a villain’s growled one-liner, the title looming suddenly out of the darkness with THIS CHRISTMAS or SUMMER 2014 beneath it. Imagine the interviews in Entertainment Weekly: the costume design chief noting how they “went with the more textured fabric, to get that realism in there,” the director expressing “what a joy it was to work with such an incredible team,” the special effects artists explaining just how they created that one shot with the fire and the rubble and the huge, undulating snake monster. Imagine the special magazine pull-out sections, the news segments, the posters at every bus stop. The lead actress in a gown of shimmering silk, glowing with pride at the premiere, hamming it up with Quesada or Didio or Stan Lee. She’s so honored, she says, “at this chance to portray one of our culture’s most beloved heroines.”
Imagine the children pulling their parents into the toy aisle, emerging with a golden lasso or batarangs or a long scarlet cape—“just like hers!” Imagine them at your doorstep the following Halloween, bright and beautiful in gold lamé and spandex. “Ooh!” you coo at them, scooping an extra few Hershey bars into their plastic pumpkin, “She’s my favorite too.” Imagine them years later, returning to her story again and again in times of strife. Imagine them connecting with friends over it—“Oh my god!” the roommate exclaims as a familiar poster goes up on the other side of the room, “That’s one of my favorite. Movies. Ever.” Imagine them getting tattoos of her sigil, writing papers on what she meant to a generation, carefully following her adventures across mass media for years to come. Imagine them as aged creators themselves, paying homage to her in their own books, movies and TV shows—“she’s such a symbol of our generation, I had to sneak her in there somehow.” Imagine them introducing her to their children. “Oh wow,” they come to remember, “my grandma and I used to watch this every Thanksgiving.”
Imagine the fandom. The forums, the Facebook pages, the blogging platforms bursting at the seams with passion. The arguments, the speculation, the careful dissection of every trailer, TV spot and magazine advertisement. The recommendation lists that get passed around—“This is her best arc, but the art was REALLY great after the 2003 reboot.” The banners at comic book conventions proudly emblazoned with her face, the exclusive, con-only figures, the panels with lines of thousands on her “timeless bravery and continued relevance.” The cosplay, both meticulously constructed and thrown together at a thrift shop, the smiles on those faces as they pose for pictures and get to be their heroine for a day. The endless reams of fanfiction and fanart. The exclusive t-shirt collection at Hot Topic and WeLoveFine. The slow simmer of excitement that builds to a great eruption across every entertainment-oriented publication as the release date draws near. Imagine her as the movie event of the season.
Imagine the premiere. Imagine standing in line for hours, milling around the theater from 9 PM to midnight, clutching a movie-themed drink and eyeing the getups of other fans. A tall dude in front of you wears a shirt with her face on it, the girl by the popcorn machine is feverishly reading a trade paperback of what many believe to be the heroine’s finest story arc. You get to talking with both of them and discover that he’s a fan because of a popular cartoon of your youth, while she’s just getting into the comics. You trade recommendations, then get to the real business of squealing over how excited you are for the movie. People pose in front of the poster, people are tapping out Facebook statuses on their phones to let the world know that “omg!!! AT THE PREMIERE CAN’T WAAAAAIT.” The usher comes out at 11 and announces that the crowd should form an orderly line because seating is about to begin, and a great roar of excitement goes up.
Imagine the movie. Imagine sitting there, the synthetic sunlight dappling your face as your heroine’s origin is told, as you watch her rise from unsure adolescence to unstoppable adulthood. Imagine the training sequences, the sweat flying off her face as she grows more and more committed to her duty. Imagine the humor, the lines you’ll chuckle out to friends after this. Imagine the heroine’s dry wit, so praised in all the reviews. Imagine the scenes of tragedy. Imagine our heroine at her lowest point, unconfident and unsure and untethered, suddenly, to all that once made sense. Imagine the villain, silken and sinister. Imagine them menacing her, imagine the moment when all seems lost, when your hands cover your mouth and your whole body scrunches up in the seat and you know it’ll all turn out fine but oh my god she has to go faster, she has to save them, she’s going to crash, the bomb’s about to go off! Imagine the music’s sudden upsweep, the steely resolve in our heroine’s eyes as she saves the love interest, lobs the bomb into space and sails off with the bus full of children safely balanced on her index finger. Imagine her turning towards the villain, murmuring a one-liner that makes you shriek “SO! BADASS!” in your head as the theater bursts into applause. Imagine the righteous haymaker she delivers to the jaw of the bad guy, the lavishly budgeted throwdown between good and evil so carefully alluded to in all those interviews and featurettes. Imagine her emerging from the wreckage, bloody but unbent. The music dives into its key refrain as she stands triumphant, her eyes blazing with victory. Imagine the screen slowly fading to black, the crowd exploding into clapping and cheering and whistling as you turn to the friends you made in the lobby and say “Oh. My God.” Imagine walking from the movie to the parking lot, jabbering excitedly all the way about this scene or that line or that moment and how perfect it all was. You pass the poster for the movie on the way out and you smile. It was everything you wanted.
Imagine a world where we don’t have to imagine.