It’s not about reducing the number of visually unique characters. It’s not about sending a derogatory message regarding people who are fat. It’s not about the sexualization of all female characters.
It’s about making the decision to use a character that people are fond of—and changing the key attributes that made readers fond of the character in the first place. Listen, given how black women are devalued in the media in regards to physical attractiveness, I’m always happy to see a young, svelte, sexually attractive black woman in a popular form of entertainment. But DC’s editorial staff did not have to change the attributes of Amanda Waller in order to make that happen. Flint and Onyx are currently sitting in limbo and could have easily been adapted to assume such a role. Given Onyx’s role as a law-breaking vigilante, she could have appeared as a character within the suicide squad sans any character tweaking.
But Amanda Waller? Waller is a strategist. She uses her brain and technology, not brawn. In fact, she focuses so intently on her career and the intricate plots she so carefully constructs that she often ignores the body completely. She moves boldly into dangerous situations, blithely relying on whatever weapon she has at hand to subdue her foe. She enjoys creature comforts like good food and good drink—which has resulted in weight-related illnesses. She smart, she’s scary, and her only weakness is the fatty part of the steak.
And you know what? Fans love that about her. Fans love the fact that this insanely competent woman doesn’t fit the mold and yet is able to move men and women of steel around like chess pieces. It’s a key part of her character.
And DC’s editorial department wiped that away because Angela Bassett is thin. And that’s silly. No one expects the comic to be a carbon copy of the film. Is Perry White now black? Does Catwoman have long hair? Does Batman have brown hair instead of black? No, of course not.
To make a long story short, there is no need to change what your audience expects and is comforted by unless it will (1) improve sales and (2) make for a better story. Appealing art aside, is a thin, young Amanda Waller going to bring in more fans than she has turned off? Is she going to allow for interesting new stories that wouldn’t have been available if the character had not been changed visually? Personally, I think subtracting from Waller’s weight and age makes her a bit bland and unrealistic. What woman in her twenties would be a high-ranking government official? Plus, one now has a character that is no different from Vixen visually. This is akin to Storm and Misty Knight looking the same.
On the other hand, this small change has received a huge amount of publicity. And changing the character’s weight and age to match the characters surrounding her has now opened up the possibility for new romantic arcs. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would have handled that one. There are benefits and drawbacks to each option available.
But when it’s all said and done? I just plain miss “The Wall.”