The Size and Color Tug of War Surrounding Amanda Waller

Will we ever get to experience ‘The Wall’?

{Excerpt — Batman: Assault on Arkham, 2014}

KGBeast: Ahhh, I am leaving!

Amanda Waller: Stop! Sit down! I’m Amanda Waller. I’m here to indoctrinate you convicts into our Special Forces.

Killer Frost: Pass!

Deadshot: I kill to keep degenerates off the streets. I won’t work alongside them!

Captain Boomerang: Fresh air and time off my sentence? Feel free to keep calling me up love!

Amanda Waller: Task Force X is an off the books government strike team made up of convicts with no hope for release, serving as expendable agents, for impossible missions. Succeed and I’ll shave time off your sentences.

Deadshot: If we don’t?

Amanda Waller: You’ll be dead. Any other stupid questions?

Killer Frost: Yeah, what’s in my neck? A tracker?

Amanda Waller: Yes, and a powerful nano-tech explosive. Run away, get yourself captured, disobey an order…hell, give me a right answer too slowly and I’ll blow your head clean off.

KGBeast: You’re lying. You would not take all of this trouble just to kill us.

Amanda Waller: Try me.

KGBeast: Wha — ?? Ahhhhhhh! *head explodes*

Amanda Waller: Anyone else? I didn’t think so.

Don’t mess with ‘The Wall’!

Amanda Waller is one of my favorite comic book characters and in my opinion its been a travesty that there has been this tug of war over her image for so many years. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to Amanda Waller’s first comic appearance and wade through all of her iterations thereafter (tv and movies included) so we can pinpoint when things started to go awry. Her first comic appearance was in the debut of D.C. Comics Legends #1 in 1986. She was created by a team of white writers that placed Amanda’s origins in the Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago. During this time, she had one son, one daughter, and her husband that were murdered in the projects. She was shown to be a formidable and tactical woman even during these tragedies, by finding the murderers of her loved ones and exacting vengeance.

My only movie compromise for Amanda Waller because, you know…Viola Davis.

Fueled by her own internal drive, the state of her community, and the passion for justice she greatly excelled at her University academics, especially in the fields of political science and government; her talents later led to her becoming a congressional aide. Noticed by various persons within the government for her stellar work and unwavering forwardness in the realm of policy, she received, or should I say took greater self agency and became the creator of The Agency, which was a global operations unit that was solely vested in American interests. There is something to be said for the imperialist slant that they wrote Amanda Waller in. Further into her career, she took command of the 3rd iteration of the Suicide Squad, which in various comics was a single or revolving door team of heroes or villains that were used for missions by Amanda Waller or the United States government.

There are a plethora of reasons why people really really adore Amanda Waller in the realm of comics and animation. Firstly, she is one of the few African American women in comics — with dark skin and natural hair I might add — that has had her own storyline for the past thirty plus years; all variations of her story imbue her with a unique beauty, intelligence, agency, power, prestige, and influence. Her foil in the comics more often than not is Batman, so think about that in regards to the best chess match of all time.

Implanted bombs in the neck?! How terrifyingly ingenious.

Furthermore, she is one of the only mainstay visible characters in comics that is fat and perfectly comfortable in her body and is known as ‘The Wall’ for her literal size and impenetrable force of will. The comics have never shied away from her size until the New 52 run of her character in which she was modeled more after your prototypical secret agent type, wherein she’s been drastically slimmed down, visibly muscled up, and given a clearly altered hair texture. Needless to say, the response to the new Amanda Waller was not positive and swiftly in her next comic book series appearances she was returned to the image we all know and love. What’s always been interesting about comics is that they often veer into reality and directly break the fourth wall, with our Presidents’ and political climate at the foreground. Here are a few of my favorite panels from Suicide Squad Rebirth #1 that illustrate that very instance.

{Edited Excerpt — Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1}

President Barack Obama: Finished Director Waller, period. Frankly, I would have made this decision a lot sooner, but it wasn’t until I was already in my second term that I was even made aware of your…program, which is exactly the way you liked it, I’m sure. Task Force X…A squad of costumed felons, thieves, killers, and worse — operating on behalf of American interests around the world, afforded no due process, no civil rights…and answerable only to a Woman whom no one elected, whom I did not appoint, whom no one in Congress even knows about…I don’t know how this whole things got started Director Waller, but the Suicide Squad is not only a betrayal of our ideals…it’s manifestly a bomb waiting to blow up in our faces. I swore an oath to defend this country. We do not do this. Not here.

Amanda Waller: With respect, Mr. President. That is a lie.

President Barack Obama: …I beg your pardon?

Amanda Waller: Ideals belong on flagpoles and in museums and in the movie theaters. This is reality — and reality is ugly. For our loved ones to sleep safely at night, I know that you, sir, have had to make difficult decisions. And this is another one you have to make.

President Barack Obama: Your people are unhinged Waller, and on my watch they have brought terror all over the world. You’ve managed to keep a lid on things by sheer force of will and bloody mindedness, it seems, but can you imagine what would happen if the world discovered your team’s actions were covert missions for the United States?

Amanda Waller: What I imagine, Mr. President, is what happens to America without Task Force X. It’s a sick nasty world, and bad things have to be done to protect the American people from things they can never know about…that the Justice League can never know about…that you can never know about.

President Barack Obama: Someone has to know Director Waller. Someone has to represent the American people. Some must be accountable. And it’s obviously not you.

Amanda Waller: I have just the man.

President Barack Obama: Approved. Good bye Director Waller. I sincerely hope we never meet again. You know, politicians are sadly forced to lie in order to protect innocent people. The real problems start when they lie to themselves, Director Waller.

Ultimate voice-over for Amanda Waller: CCH Pounder.

Now, let’s talk about the quote unquote proper iterations of the animated variants of Amanda Waller. For at least a decade straight these were stellar with the correct size, demeanor, and full embodiment of the character. First and foremost amongst them, the incredibly mesmerizing voice work by the inimitable C.C.H. Pounder. Other portrayals by voice actors Penny Johnson Jerald and Sheryl Lee Ralph stayed true to her original size, with a few cosmetic variations that still kept her original beauty intact and even played with some fashion choices in a really flattering way. Before I get into the controversial issues, I am thoroughly impressed that all of her voice appearances to include tv/major film appearances, save for one random white woman…which gave me pause…have all been played by Black actresses. Kudos to the industry for that and allowing various Black actresses the opportunity to embody the character for a while. The new slender, sometimes lighter complexioned variants of Amanda Waller played by Yvette Nicole Brown, Debra Wilson, Pam Grier (yes Pam Grier), Angela Bassett, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Viola Davis, and most recently Vanessa Williams have all ranged on a scale of dreadful to stellar performances…and when I say dreadful, its not so much their acting or voice work, but the material and story that the actresses have been given as a whole.

Who is this? And what have you done with/to Amanda Waller? Return to sender.

The television and Hollywood industry seems to be unconcerned or perhaps overly concerned with their image when it comes to what is considered beautiful and what they think and what we think we want to see on our screens. Amanda Waller has existed for over thirty years and we still haven’t seen a live action version of her fully realized as ‘The Wall’ on any screen, anywhere yet…and I begrudgingly say this next statement…I suppose Viola Davis is a fair compromise for now. In short, I and the fandom love and appreciate Amanda Waller just as she is, a small in stature fat Black Woman in an ultimate position of national and global power. One can dream, but maybe in the next DC Universe movie, we’ll finally see the Amanda Waller that we all deserve…but for now I’m sticking with the comics…

{Excerpt — Batman: Assault on Arkham, 2014}

Batman: Waller! You knew when you sent your little Suicide Squad into Arkham, they’d go off script.

Amanda Waller: Oh, it’s just you.

Batman: When your bombs didn’t ice them, you figured the SCU would. All that, just so you could kill the Riddler.

Amanda Waller: Let’s just say I break a lot of eggs to make an omelette.

Batman: And because you’re a messy cook, The Riddler was able to escape.

Amanda Waller: I got careless. My men will get Nygma next time.

Batman: There is no next time.

Amanda Waller: No? We’re the U.S. Government. Who’s gonna blow the whistle on us? The convicts? Who’d believe ‘em? You? HA! You gonna start a blog and expose us? I don’t think so. That’s checkmate Batman.

Batman: I’m warning you.

Amanda Waller: Enough! Don’t they need you back in your squalid little city?

Batman: *exits in stealth hi/bye fashion*

EIC: We Are Horror Magazine. Writer: An Injustice, Gayly Dreadful, Ghouls Magazine, Rely on Horror, SUPERJUMP, and Upper Cut!

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