In Wonder Woman 2, Etta Candy deserves to be front and center

Contributed by
Aug 31, 2017

When the highly anticipated Wonder Woman hit theaters this summer, there were a handful of surprises. The film was not only a critical success, it was a financial one as well, grossing over $800 million at the box office so far. What wasn't surprising, though, was the fact that Etta Candy, played by Lucy Davis, was an immediate fan favorite. She stole every scene she was in, easily, despite the fact that those scenes were few and far between. Now, with the release of the Blu-ray on September 19, Etta Candy has been given two additional scenes. The first, in which Candy recounts the events of the film from her own perspective, is relatively inconsequential, but the second, a brand-new epilogue in which she reassembles Wonder Woman's team for a special mission, finally puts the character where she belongs: right in the middle of the action. While this new scene is a boon to Candy fans young and old, it's also possible that this will be the last chance we have to see Wonder Woman's comical sidekick take charge.

Given the commercial and critical success of the film, it was no surprise that Wonder Woman 2 was officially announced during San Diego Comic-Con last month. Gal Gadot will, of course, be reprising her role as the Amazon princess, while Patty Jenkins returns to helm the sequel. But despite being an audience favorite during the first film, there's no word yet on whether Etta Candy will be involved in the second film at all. In fact, as various creators offer potential hints at a setting for the new film -- some suggesting we could be looking at a film taking place anywhere from the 1920s to the 1980s -- there's a fair chance we may have seen the last of Steve's former secretary. If true, it would mean the loss not only of a sorely needed body positive character but of possibly the most kickass sidekick in all of comics.

Etta's role in Wonder Woman's adventures began almost from the start. She appeared in the second issue of Sensation Comics, just one issue behind the Amazon herself. In that issue, readers were introduced to Etta Candy as a plump and plucky young woman who befriends Wonder Woman when the hero arrives in the World of Men. Etta's defining characteristic, other than her rotund figure and love of sweets, is the fact that she apologizes about neither. It isn't that she is unaware of her weight, but rather that she fails to see that it should hinder her in any way. Throughout her time as a character in William Moulton Marston's original series of stories in the 1940s and '50s, Etta Candy proves herself the definition of a fierce character. In addition to her confidence in the dating sphere, where she once commented to Diana that "sure, men always say I'm beautiful — if they didn't, I'd knock em for a loop," Etta was also a successful leader and fighter, making a habit of rescuing Wonder Woman herself from the Amazon's many enemies.

That second issue of Sensation Comics also saw Etta and Wonder Woman assembling a team of 100 young women who, like Candy, attended Holliday College. These women would become known as the Holliday Girls, members of the Beta Lambda sorority at the school. Throughout their tenure in the comics, the Holliday Girls, lead fearlessly by Etta Candy, would assist Wonder Woman on her adventures, serving as a full-on commando unit, infiltrating Nazi bases and strongholds to stop bad guys and, not infrequently, help the Amazon princess out of whatever bind she got herself into.

And Etta Candy did more than just lead the charge in support of her heroic friend. In many cases, she was a hero in her own right, shucking off the sidekick moniker and taking on foes alone, without powers, and without bullet-deflecting bracelets or a lasso of truth. In one instance, Etta storms a Nazi concentration camp on a solo mission to rescue children with nothing but a box of candy (which proves very helpful, actually). In another adventure, Etta takes out a whole team of armed robbers because they've gotten in her way as she's attempting to get to the dentist to fix a toothache brought on by her love of candy.

It is important to reiterate that none of this was accomplished in spite of her weight. Her weight was, essentially, a non-issue. On the contrary, Etta was quite proud of her figure, defending her love of sweets to anyone and everyone, including Diana. She never considered herself in any way less than due to her size and was extremely comfortable in her own skin. In fact, at one point in the series — in that very first adventure in which she first joins Diana's Nazi-fighting team — Etta comes to find herself inhabiting the form of Wonder Woman herself. Rather than enjoying the opportunity to take on the slim, attractive figure of the world's most beautiful superhero, Etta is extremely uncomfortable and wishes almost immediately to be returned to her original form.

This kind of hero, one who is both confident in her appearance and shaped like a real, average woman, was unheard of in the comics of the 1940s. Except for a few notable exceptions, it remains nearly unheard of now. Etta Candy was the original body-positive superhero, viewing her size, shape, and eating habits as one of the many things that made her an exceptional human being. She held the same ideals as Wonder Woman, seeing no point in submitting to a patriarchal idea of womanhood or of beauty, and she did it without being raised on an island devoid of men.

Sadly, Etta's tenure in the comics was cut short. After Marston's death, the comic was turned over to writer and editor Robert Kanigher. Kanigher made sweeping changes to the comic and its characters, turning Etta's characterization especially on its head. Etta Candy lost her moxie, becoming insecure and concerned about her weight. Eventually, he wrote the character out of the stories altogether.

Which brings us back to the Wonder Woman of today, and the concern that Etta Candy may be cut from the sequel in order to bring the story closer to the present-day happenings of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and this November's Justice League. Etta has appeared in a variety of forms throughout the history of Wonder Woman comics, but while she has appeared as everything from Steve Trevor's secretary to a soldier in the U.S. military, she has never quite returned to the indispensable sidekick and best friend to the titular hero. Warner Bros. and the DCEU have a chance to change all of that, to bring back the Golden Age of Etta Candy on the big screen.

This new clip, of which we've only gotten a small snippet so far, is already laying that groundwork, building on some of the moments Etta had during the film itself. In the second half of the film, despite the fact that Etta remains behind in England while her boss and new friend storm the front in Germany to take on Ludendorff and Dr. Poison and Ares himself, she still manages to make herself useful to the cause, helping to run down military intelligence and assist Steve and Diana and their team in navigating the most dangerous part of the war. Now, with her new role in reassembling that team to embark on a secret mission to bring mysterious artifacts to the Americans, Etta has the potential to finally return to her roots, storming enemy strongholds and becoming a leader and a warrior in her own right.

But first, they have to make sure that Etta appears in the sequel. The key to that is keeping the story close in some way to the first film, not jumping through time in large leaps and bounds to rush Wonder Woman's story to the present day. Allow the audience the time to get to know this version of Etta Candy, and give the world a brand-new (yet very old) type of hero, one who looks like them, but whose attitude and personality are larger than life and way ahead of her time.