Jun 28 2013 10:00am

The Problem With Wonder Woman

The problem with Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman. She has recently been dubbed the 20th greatest comic book character by Empire Magazine, and ranked fifth in IGN’s 2011 Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time. She stands as one of the icons of the comic book world, and has been featured in dozens of comic titles since her debut in 1941. The character has also found success in other media, appearing in a popular live-action television series in the 70s, as well as several animated series (including Super Friends and Justice League). Now that DC Comics has produced several serious superhero films—Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Snyder’s Superman blockbuster, and presumably an upcoming Justice League film—the question on everyone’s mind is simple: when will we get a Wonder Woman movie?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple. Wonder Woman is and has always been a problem for DC Comics, a company with a history of underutilizing, underwriting and just plain ignoring their biggest female icon. Now on the brink of launching their own motion picture juggernaut, they’re hitting the stumbling block they’ve been tripping over for years. Let’s analyze the problem of Wonder Woman—and maybe even talk some possible answers.

Wonder Woman ComicWonder Woman is a complicated character with a complicated creation story. The brainchild of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman was created by the noted psychologist turned comic writer and his wife (some say with the help of their girlfriend too!) to be the epitome of gender equality and woman’s liberation in the 1940s. When she first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in 1941, Princess Diana was an Axis-fighting pro-democratic Amazon, leaving behind the island of her all-female society on Themyscira to help America crush its enemies. Over the years, Wonder Woman evolved as a character from her two-dimensional, somewhat bondage-heavy origins into a staple of DC Comics. She became a symbol for powerful, forward-thinking female characters in comic books as she espoused values like valor and honesty in the name of equality while living in a Man’s World.

It’s that last part that sets Wonder Woman apart from other comic book women. Wonder Woman is a radically feminist character packed in a stars and stripes bathing suit, a superwoman in need of no super man to qualify her. Where many other DC heroines are built on the legacies of popular male counterparts (Batgirl, Supergirl, Hawkgirl), Wonder Woman is a legend all her own. And while many things about the character have changed since her reinvention in 1987 after the Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline, her foundation as a powerful female character with staunchly feminist views has not changed.

That is one of the reasons Wonder Woman has had a difficult path in the comic world. She stands as an unapologetically feminist super heroine in an industry that often relegates women to sidekicks, damsels, and girlfriends. She’s also a character mired in a complicated backstory that is not only supernatural, but also steeped in a mythology that is difficult to translate to modern audiences. All of this has led to difficult years for Wonder Woman comics. One would think that the opportunity for a rewrite would have made the transition to modern comics a little easier. Yet the “reimagined” Wonder Woman featured in DC’s New 52 has done the character no favors.

Superman and Wonder WomanThe modern rewrite of Wonder Woman has suffered, like many of the New 52 characters, from a crisis of identity. She is a stern and often humorless character who sometimes takes a backseat in her own title to a myriad of ancillary characters. On the Justice League she serves as Superman’s new girlfriend, a super-powered relationship that has seen her agency as a character give way to lots of cheesecake covershots. Even her newest comic line, entitled Superman & Wonder Woman, seems focused on a lot of super-necking rather than comic book adventure. This is what the New 52 has created—a Wonder Woman lost in the backdrop of her own comic book, relegated to the role of armcandy for her super boyfriend.

With this to build on, it’s no wonder Hollywood is having problems with our Princess Diana.

 Comic book films have emerged from years of cheesy, almost parodic movies in the 80s and 90s to solidify themselves as legitimate, character-driven films thanks to good direction and blockbuster budgets. So it’s no wonder that Wonder Woman makes a dangerous gambit for DC Comics. Nobody wants to be the one to do the film incorrectly—whatever that means—and present the studio with a flop starring one of its major characters.Wonder Woman stands as an enigma for studios wondering how to properly package a pro-feminist, butt-kicking, Amazon warrior. Focusing on her strong equality message risks alienating one audience, but favoring sex appeal over substance risks betraying the essence of the character. And you could get laughed off screen altogether, like the atrocious 2011 NBC Wonder Woman pilot. It’s a catch-22 that has kept the film in limbo for years.

Wonder Woman Adrianne PalickiAnd the failures of other comic book films with female leads (Elektra, Catwoman) are used as examples to argue that superheroines wouldn’t draw an audience to make the effort worthwhile. There’s also the problem of the vanishing movie heroine in today’s cinema. Even outside of comic book films, fewer movies feature women as their lead characters every year. Go to a cineplex and you’ll find women taking a backseat everywhere. But you couldn’t do that to Wonder Woman and get away with it—her character (and fanbase) demand a starring role worthy of her.

So scripts have come up and been rejected. Directors have been attached to potential projects. The CW announces a potential TV series for Wonder Woman, and then we don’t hear anything again. And people speculate on who would make the “perfect” actress for Diana in the films, critically viewing Hollywood actresses for everything from acting chops, fighting capability, and of course the ability to fill out the spangled bathing suit. And while Zack Snyder has hinted he’d love to helm a project about Wonder Woman, the debate continues.

But is the problem of Wonder Woman so difficult? Not really—because it’s been solved before.

One only has to turn to DC’s animated films division to see the Hollywood problem answered. DC has been putting out well-written animated versions of Wonder Woman for years now, including her portrayal in the acclaimed Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon series. There was even a fantastic 2009 Wonder Woman animated movie with Keri Russell voicing Diana alongside Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor. These animated portrayals were able to capture the essence of Wonder Woman and provide quality comic book entertainment by adhering to one basic rule: they never forgot where they came from.

Wonder Woman is a comic book character with all the grandeur and earnestness that the medium holds. The animated versions have managed to embrace that characterization without getting too preoccupied with making the films realistic, which frees them from being anything but intense, fun, well-done stories. They don’t tiptoe around the fantastic, as live-action comic films seem to do, and transcend the hemming and hawing about what makes these films super so they can focus on just being good stories. Christopher Nolan understood that when he adapted Batman, opting to mix the modern sensibilities of a live-action film with a thoughtfult homage to the comic book stories that made fans love the Dark Knight. Hollywood could take a lesson from this—or else just go and hire the animated Wonder Woman writers and be on their way.

And as for the controversy over who would portray the Amazon princess, there are plenty of talented actresses in Hollywood waiting patiently for a film that will finally put them front and center again. There is never going to be a “perfect” Diana because, in truth, she’s created as a comic book ideal. But Hollywood is full of capable women who could see the character done well. Names like Eva Green, Michelle Ryan, Katrina Law and Bridget Regan come to mind, or even an outlier like MMA fighter Gina Carano could fill the princess’ bracelets. Each of these women and plenty more could stand as great choices for one incarnation of Diana or another—if given half a chance.

So will we see Wonder Woman on the big screen sometime soon? I don’t doubt that we will. If DC wants to make a Justice League movie, they need a Wonder Woman. The question is, will they take a shortcut and make her just another member of the ensemble cast, or will they have the bravery to treat the character like they would her male compatriots in the Big Three and give her a vehicle for her own story? That remains to be seen.

Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and

Bryan McMillan
1. bmcmolo
The Wonder Woman animated movie is marvelous. I have the same reaction whenever I hear about the "impossibility" of an effective WW film being made: just do what the animated film did, problem solved.
David Goodhart
2. Davyd
My co-workers and I have spent the last couple weeks trying to decide who could be cast as WW and do it Justice. (Rimshot)

I'm for Bridget Regan all that way.
Michael Grosberg
3. Michael_GR
Modern interpretations can rework Wonder Woman to almost anything, but there's a big problem wiht the original depiction of the character. Her creator may have claimed that she epitomizes woman's equality but she was more of an exit for Marston's fantasies of female domination/submission and bondage. Which is OK in and by itself but if you're looking for a depiction of a female character - as opposed to a man's sexual fantasy - early Wonder Woman ain't it.
Jason Parker
4. tarbis
I can think of two reasonable concerns that a studio might have about a Wonder Woman movie.

1) Franchise Villain Escalation. The two villains that are powerful enough and tie to her origins well enough for a first movie are Ares and Cersi. However if she takes down a god in the first movie then the villains in the next two will be anti-climactic at best. If you start with Cerci then you can step up to Ares in the first sequel, but you're stuck when it comes to number three. (It doesn't help that Wonder Woman's bench of interesting villains isn't very deep. The only other ones worth putting in a movie are Cheetah and Dr. Psycho, both of which are big steps down from Ares and Cerci in threat level.)

2) The costume or more precisely people talking about the costume. If you are releasing a summer blockbuster that needs a wide audience you do not want the interviews to focus on the heroine’s clothing. You want the interviews to be about the action or the romance or the scope. However it seems like every time Wonder Woman comes up in the media all people talk about is the costume. Entertainment Weekly had a full page spread about the costume in the pilot that never went anywhere, so how many pages would the costume get with a $200 million dollar movie?
Sol Foster
5. colomon
tarbis, why not just take the same approach Thor did? Ares is the villain, his scheme is defeated but not destroyed, and so he is available for future movies as well. Frankly, I've never understood the weird superhero movie tendancy to kill off villains -- it's completely against the spirit of the genre.
Chris L
6. Chris L
The problems with Elektra and Catwoman had very little, if anything IMHO, to do with them being about strong female comic book leads, but were almost entirely due to being BAD MOVIES and BAD SCRIPTS!

In regard to Elektra, making it semi-sequel and spin-off from Daredevil handicapped it from the outset. The fact that it didn't make any sense compunded matters.

As for Catwoman, please explain what that movie had to do with the DC character, apart from the name and use of a whip? I am not an expert on either the character or the various comic series she is in, but I don't think DC has been trying to sell a connection to an ancient egyptian goddess or miraculous return from the dead. From what I gather, Catwoman has always been conflicted character, sometimes a hero and sometimes a villain, who started as a cat burgler!
Mordicai Knode
7. mordicai
Sex appeal, but no sexuality. Wonder Woman's sensuality in the early years is implicit & central. Then she was pulled into being the Madonna. Dressed her up for the male gaze but denied her any real sexual agency. It feels hollow because it is.
Chris L
8. Joe Q
Yes- the DCAU Wonder Woman and the animated Wonder Woman movie were both pretty awesome.

My problem with a live action Wonder Woman? Lucy Lawless was already the perfect Wonder Woman as Xena (although Maggie Q recently voiced her in Young Justice and I’d love to see her take on the character in real life).

Wonder Woman would have the same problems the Thor movie had (how do you incorporate a mythical character in a realistic setting?). As Thor is probably my favourite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that is not a fantastic team up- I say we let Kenneth Branagh take a stab at Princess Diana.
Jason Parker
9. tarbis
They kept Loki around, but they've also reduced him as a villain. In Thor he was THE villain, in Avengers he was the face of the real villain, and it looks like he'll be the untrustworthy sidekick in Thor 2. If you put Ares in the first movie then it would be an uphill battle against audience expectations to sell him as a threat in the second let alone the third.
Cain Latrani
10. CainS.Latrani
This is only my opinion, but the real problem lies with Hollywood simply having no understanding of how to make a female lead. That hurdle is the only thing really stopping a Wonder Woman movie from being awesome. The animated Wonder Woman movie proves it can not only be done, but done extremely well, with the right script and direction, which are must haves for any movie.

Therefore, the only thing really standing in Diana's way is Hollywood itself. The idea that female characters have to fill certain roles, and have a man to give them legitamacy, is the thing that keeps a Wonder Woman movie from happening. It's pretty much the only thing, too.

Which baffles the crap out of me. Just write it like you would any comic adapation. Just because she's a woman doesn't mean a damn thing. Write the movie with a focus on telling her story as a super hero, with a dash of lost in time, since she comes from a mystical island.

The sexist view of women in film is the problem, and nothing else.
Chris L
11. sofrina
"She’s also a character mired in a complicated backstory that is not only supernatural, but also steeped in a mythology that is difficult to translate to modern audiences."

why is the mythology difficult to translate? i'm rusty on that and have only a few books which aren't from the same incarnation.

i feel like scripting a feminist icon would not alienate the adult male audience. elektra is off my radar, but part of the problem with catwoman was that word got out early that she wasn't the iconic catwoman everyone loves. if they had focused on a thief from gotham, a charming criminal, people would have showed up in droves. look how well that worked for TDKR's catwoman, and no one really liked anne hathaway in the role until they actually saw her. the characterization as much as the acting won people over. a meek artist who shows up to work in the same clothes two days in a row just wasn't what people were hoping for. (personally, i'm okay with the movie. it'll do. but i appreciate the frisky attitude of the good girl breaking her chains.)

look at what they did with johansson's black widow. of all of them she should be exhausted and bedraggled halfway through that manhattan battle. natasha romanov is not superhuman. but she's intense and on task at all times. wonder woman could easily be that and more. not only that, but she could carry some of the optimism and righteous conviction that capt. america exudes. isn't that why she leaves themyscira? because she's called to serve in a larger world that lacks her incredible gifts? (feel free to name it: wonder woman: called to serve!)

this project seems tailor made for joss whedon. he's got degrees in all these issues. his pedigree, filmography and fanbase alone is a major draw. all the fanladies will buy in, and bring their daughters (and sons). and the guys won't want to be left out. her comics haven't been solely supported by females all these years. if a badass movie goes down, no one is going to want to be left out of that conversation.
Chris L
12. Zephyr Stone
I was always given to the idea that Wonder Woman's modern day "costume" in the real world could be a traditional Greek/Roman hoplite armor attire -- or at least something heavily influenced by it. That way, you would not have the silly "is she wearing a bathing suit?" argument AND you would still be adhering closely to her Greek/Amazonian origins.

Of course, the armor could only be for situations where she feels she is going into a full-on battle. Otherwise, perhaps she would feel more comfortable in ancient Greek wear, or modern wear, or maybe some stylish combination of the two.

Oh, and 2009 WW animated film for the win! It was my introduction to the Amazon Princess; and is still my favorite portratyal of her in the media.
Steven Lyle Jordan
13. Steven_Lyle_Jordan
I'm surprised by so little reference to Xena: Warrior Princess, the live-action TV show that ably demonstrated how to put a strong female action hero on-screen. If I was Warner, I'd be conferencing the hell out of the writers and producers of Xena on even days, while conferencing with the writers of the animated and comic series on odd days (Paul Dini's Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth is a particularly good example, as well as Mark Waid's Justice League: Heaven's Ladder), to get the job done.

Others have commented that, because of the supernatural nature of Wonder Woman, she doesn't need a lengthy character set-up... like Thor, you just need to present the set-up, and let audiences go with it. Concentrate on the character and how they react to the new situation, and let the audience sink their teeth into that.
Chris L
14. Kasiki
@4 tarbis

A key part of the problem is getting the character out into the world. As it seems the decision is to do a Justice League movie first then that issue can be solved. So we don't need the first villian to be someone so big and strong that all others don't compete. Chetara, or one of the more minor in strength but with a solid history against the character, could easily be the villian(ness) in WW1 because she is already introduced in some way. WW1 would be probably be much like MoS in that there would be flash backs to what happened before she left the island.

It is an odd combination though in many ways it is a female version of Thor that needs to be done. As Joss just said you need to be carefull that you don't just flat out copy the competition.
Chris L
15. DougL
Okay, I am a guy, and while I believe in equality for women, like not promoting one at work when she is better at the job is really stupid, I am not ever going to believe that men and women are the same or ever will be.

Like it or not, Wonder Woman, is pretty sexy. Is it better to have her in a skin tight outfit? Does putting her in her traditional garb automatically make the movie campy? I watched the Supergirl movie a long time ago, I don't think her outfit had anything to do with the cheesiness of the movie. Nobody who watches the cartoons worries about her outfit.

However, if you make the the big movie, prepare for backlash from women who have never read the comics, don't know anything about the character, to be critical. Laura Crofts boob size had to come down because it was silly, but here outfit doesn't need to change that much, we all understand that there is more to the woman than the way she looks or is dressed, I mean, we do as fans. But you will never ever satisfy people who only look at a poster before making up their mind to say something they don't know anything about.

Remember all the stupid reaction to the "rape" scene in Tomb Raider? It's about 10 seconds long, you kill the guy, and it says way more bad things about men than about women; yet men never complain about being portrayed as monsters.

Well, I can't be offended on behalf of women when I see Wonder Woman in her outfit because I am way past caring about the outfit, I got over that when I was like 10 years old, I really just want a good story, and the outfit is fine. I am not sure what so offends women about it? I think movies like Salt have shown we will go watch tough women in less than sexy outfits, I just think we shouldn't mess with a character with this much history. You really do need fanboys on your side for these movies to succeed, without alienating the regular public.

I am sure I remember a lot of 80s movies with men in loincloths and nobody complained. But then men are in charge, so we have to correct our behaviour through putting Wonder Woman in a sensible outfit. I am not sure how much effect it would have on making men more likely to see women as people of the opposite sex.
Chris L
16. Sanagi
We've come a long way from Marston's portrayal of feminism and sexual liberation, but as a culture we're still afraid to address those issues on anything but the most superficial levels. DC wants the character sanitized, a safe and inoffensive piece of intellectual property. But there's no point to Wonder Woman without the issues Marston based her on. The mythology background is almost insignificant by comparison, but that's all anyone has had to go on for decades.
Chris L
17. NormanM
How have we gotten this far into the comments without mention of Gail Simone? Her portrayal of Wonder Woman was the most interesting and nuanced I have seen. And as far as movie-worthy enemies, a story combining her origin with Simone's story The Circle would be fantastic!

It's a simple-enough narrative: Diana takes Steve Trevor back to Man's world, but is pursued by the escaped Amazonian prisoners that tried to kill her as an infant. Diana is more accepted than the she expects, and triumphs over her attackers, so she decides to stay as the Ambassador of the Amazons and share Athena's wisdom with man's world.

There's no doubt there are actresses who could fill the role. The real question is who could write it, and who could direct it? Joss Whedon would have been a fabulous choice, but DC blew that deal long ago.
Chris L
18. NormanM
With a simple story like that, there's no need to see any of the gods or go into much detail on that part of the backstory. Leave it for later films when Ares *is* the central villain.
j p
19. sps49
I think the problem is dressing any actress as Wonder Woman.

There are great stories, the animated shows are very good, and of course this sounds right up Joss' alley. But her costume is very difficult to reproduce in live action. Any serious physical action would have her bouncing out of her top, and cameltoe would also be a concern. Comics books and cartoons can control view angles better than live action.

The original costume is faintly ridiculous in real life- altough I liked both, Lynda Carter was not able to completely pull it off- and modifications are sometimes not thought out (Adrienne Palicki was expected to run in those heels and keep everything together?) or worse (the armor-type outfits). And no modification is the iconic suit.

How about a long sleeved top with bare legs and better shoes? Maybe, but finding an actress may be easier than finding her costume.
Chris L
20. NormanM
"But her costume is very difficult to reproduce in live action."

That's true, but it's not really more true for WW than it is for Superman or the X-Men. No spandex costume has ever re-created the sprayed-on effect of Superman's tights, and Bryan Singer was wise to completely abandon the idea of the flashy colors on Wolverine.

There are *lots* of realistic costume redesigns out there for Wonder Woman. None of them will make everyone happy, but there are plenty of options if the right creative team is on board.
Chris L
21. sofrina
yeah, the costume is down to construction and design. it can be done and tastefully. lynda carter's outfit was designed with the popout issue in mind. clearly it would have taken a lot for that to happen in the second version of it.
Bruce Arthurs
22. bruce-arthurs
Scott Lynch does an outstanding presentation of what a Wonder Woman movie should be like: A Timely Proposal
James Whitehead
23. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Not sure what current actress would make a good Wonder Woman, honestly. I loved the Linda Carter series as a kid & found the Wonder Woman on the two runs of Justice League to be fabulous.

I know Carter looked good in the costume but I always felt she made the character believable. Just as Christopher Reeve made you believe he was Superman. That is far more important than how good the costume fits. If I can't buy that this actor/actress is supposed to be a superhero(ine) then I'm going to have a hard time with the movie.

As to her backstory, I don't think WW's is any more or less convulted than Superman's or Batman's. As it's all based on Greek myths there are lots of tie ins there and is familiar even to modern audiences. Also, the director does not have to follow the current DC stupidity if he/she doesn't want to.

Chris L
24. jonathan inge
The key obstacle to a Wonder Woman feature film getting off the ground is audience, particularly women. Note I do not say (female) comic book fans.

I enjoy the inclusion of the female voice (creators and readers) in comic books but I noticed most women do not take comic books seriously (I'm going to be in trouble for that statement but it is my observation). This is why the 2011 TV pilot took so many liberties with the character. The creators wanted her to resonate with women generally familiar with WW but who don't read the books. It is also the reason why the makers of "Elektra" and "Catwoman" tried to cater to the wide female audience by including tropes not normally associated with the comic book heros (i.e., nurturing, older sister figure and identity/transformation respectively) but very common to "chick flicks." If women generally knew more about Elektra and Catwoman (who aren't as iconic as WW), they would have complained in better detail. (Again, I'm making a distinction between female fans and the average moviegoing females.)

Moreover, execs at Warner Brothers may be worried about political and social fallout more than financial failure. What if Wonder Woman doesn't live up to her iconic status? What if feminist, religious, and other groups complain? Seeing the reaction to "Man of Steel," we get an idea of what may happen if people have polarizing interpretations.

Why not just do a live-action version of the 2009 animated movie? The general public are unaware of how Diana was "conceived" and "born." Religious folks will get mad if they follow the original origin.

Why not update her for the times a la 1974 TV movie? 'That's not my Wonder Woman!' many fans will cry. 'Where's the star-spangled sexy suit?'

What would have happended if the general public had the chance to see and judge the unaired 2011 TV pilot? I'm truly curious because all I heard was comic book fans gnawing on their pillows (in a bad way).
Chris L
26. Erik Dercf
One big problem with Wonder Woman for me is that the names of all the directors are men. To direct a Wonder Women movie needs a woman. It can be written by men but a woman needs to be in the loop. I'm a guy and I want an attractive Wonder Woman but I want a character that is wonderful and not a sex object. I would want DC to get K. Bigelow to direct the same woman behind Point Break and The Hurt Locker then I would feel the project is on firm footing.
Chris L
27. BobPea
I will keep it short, please add Stana Katic to the potential list of WW ladies...
Chris L
28. TomHayes
I'm a man, so feel free to take my assumptions about the female cinema audience with a ton of salt, but here's what I think.

@DougL I don't think women moviegoers are as likely to complain as you think. My mum grew up in the 70s and watched the Lynda Carter TV series, and she liked it as did many women and men of that era. I think 2010s audiences will be just fine as long as they make a costume that isn't too cheesecakey, put an actress in it who sells the role and get a director who isn't shooting it with the Male Gaze turned up to 11.
@jonathan inge The studio needs to be much braver when making this film than the half-assed decision making that went into Catwoman. They should not be trying to make Wonder Woman more like a chick flick just because the protagonist is female - Wonder Woman's appeal is an empowerment fantasy, not a relatable Bridget Jones type. They should be trying to make a good Wonder Woman film, not force Wonder Woman into a generic plot, if they're at all serious about preserving her status as an icon rather than just homogenising her into a brand. This failure to commit to translating the icon from page to screen is the original sin that sank the Supergirl and Catwoman films. Don't blame the audience for being fickle, blame the filmmakers for treating the audience with contempt.

I bet people thought no one outside of the US would like Captain America. Well they were wrong about that. Some probably thought no one would care about B-list Marvel hero Iron Man, and guess what hey were VERY wrong about that. And the Avengers movie? Never going to work they said, too many characters, it'll turn into an overwritten mess. Well look how that turned out.

Marvel is going full speed ahead into at least trying to bring what makes their characters work onto the screen. Marvel was in dire straits a decade ago as a company but look how far they've come just by sticking their necks out and giving it a go. Why on Earth Warner/DC are so bloody scared of trying when they have the most recognisable superheroine ever in their roster is baffling.
Chris L
29. Wonderfan
There is no "problem" with Wonder Woman. The "problem" lies in a culture that still has no idea what to do with strong, powerful women--superpowered or othrewise. The "problem" also lies at DC Comics who have repeatedly proven (and the new 52 is a perfect example of this) that they have no idea how to treat Wonder Woman.

How to get Wonder Woman to live action again really isn't rocket science:

DO pay attention to Gail Simone, Phil Jiminez and Greg Rucka's runs on the character in modern comics. Simone, Jiminez and Rucka genuinely loved Diana and, more importantly, they UNDERSTOOD her. Allow people who actually LOVE this character to guide you in your choices.

DO pay attention to the animated movie and Justice League Unlimited which both presented wonderful representations of Diana that resonated with groups of people in the pop culture context.

DO NOT give any attention to this horrible business in the new 52 with Superman/Wonder Woman. That relationship is, without question, one of the worst and most sexist choices that the ALL MALE leadership at DC Comics has ever presented. That relationship should NEVER EVER make it to live action and I hope anyone involved with the film division is smart enough to know that. It would be a truly terrible way to re-introduce Wonder woman to the general public. Also, frankly, it messes up the Superman mythos too as Lois Lane is one of the few significant other figures in the genre who truly does have her own agency and feminist power. I don't appreciate seeing two feminist icons representing two very different but equally valuable kinds of womanhood treated like pawns. NO. Wonder Woman does not need a love interest and if she's going to have one it should never be Superman.

DO NOT give us a story where the Amazons are presented as murderers, man haters or disturbed because they have been without the company of men for years upon end. That truly misses the points of the story.

DO cast an actual talented actress in the role and not just someone you want to see in the costume. Don't treat the casting for this role any differently then you would the men. Find the best actress possibly capable of portraying the character's many emotional depths and layers. Sorry, Gina Carano. That's not gonna be you.

DO take great steps to keep the costume recognizable and yet to understand that it cannot be sexualized. This is a tough balance to strike but they need to strike it.

The problem here is not with Wonder Woman. It's with the mishandling of Wonder Woman. DC Comics has handled her horrifically in the new 52. But there were others (Simone, Rucka, Jiminez etc.) who handled her wonderfully before all of that. There were other properties (the animated film) that got it right. Draw from those and ignore the stuff that got her wrong. Stop blaming women for the mistakes of men around them.
Cain Latrani
30. CainS.Latrani
I really like Wonderfan's response. Very well said.

To that end, please allow me to submit what I believe is the easiest way of assuring we will get a high quality Wonder Woman live action film.

Put Alan Burnett in charge of it.
Luis Milan
31. LuisMilan
My suggestion: make the (first) Wonder Woman film set in the 40s. Nazi guys invade greek island that turns out to be Temiscyra. Make the Amazons to be fierce warriors, but no match to the enemies due to #InsertNaziSecretWeapon. Introduce Steve Trevor, who crashes into the island defending it from the nazis, meets Diana, follow the ol' soldier boy meets amazon girl routine. After Diana's done kicking Steve's butt for intruding, they join their forces to destroy the nazi menace, she sees that not all foreigners are bad, decides to leave her island and meet the modern, 1940's world.

Jump to the present. She's still alive and looking young since she's effectively immortal, working in all kinds of causes from women's shelters to Habitats for Humanity. Steve Trevor is now a Secretary of Defense, and he's been hiding Diana's presence from the rest of the world until "the proper time". That proper time being the end of the first film (or the beginning of the second film) when #EvilMenace strikes at the USA and only someone superpowered can stop them.

And there ya go. You can have her in a proper Amazonian outfit in her island, and have her in a modern-looking costume in the present time.
Chris L
33. sofrina
d'oh, costume! a complete non-issue: see silk spectre 2 in the watchmen. addressed most of wonder woman's issues just fine. professional costumers are more than up to the task:

and paula patton would make an excellent wonder woman. acting and action cred, a bold choice and someone who - unlike berry and hathaway - does not have a bevy of detractors:
Todd Hicks
36. toddhicks209
I used to love watching and reading Wonder Woman. My one suggestion to improve her would be to put her in a full outfit.
Peter Erwin
37. PeterErwin
Even outside of comic book films, fewer movies feature women as their lead characters every year.

Is that actually the case?

A quick look at the lists of top-grossing (US) movies at IMDB suggests that the fraction of successful movies (say, the top 20 each year) with female leads has remained depressingly constant over the last 20 years or so; it's a little higher for the last 5 years than for the previous 5.

("Depressingly constant" = an average of 2 to 3 of the top 20 movies each year. Which is pathetically low -- and it ought to be increasing over time, not staying flat -- but at least not declining year after year.)

(As for the problems of Wonder Woman's mythology -- I guess my feeling is that if people can make a big-budget movie about a Norse god wandering around in today's world, I'm not sure her mythology should really be a problem...)
Chris L
38. KF
The comment @35 was written by someone pretending to be Sue from the DC Women Kicking Ass blog (which is worth checking out if you're interested in both superheroes and feminism). I don't imagine she'd actually write something as jerky as what is in that comment, and she just posted on Twitter that this wasn't her:
Chris L
40. jonathan inge
I think some folks are not realizing what it means to be an icon ( Simply put, an icon can be a symbol. Some superheroes have become more than just popular comic book characters. For example, Superman and Wonder Woman are symbols of American patriotism. Others, though popular and recognizable, are not iconic. These would include Hulk, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Thor, and Ghost Rider.

The films of non-iconic superheros are basically action/adventure movies with a little drama about how difficult it is to be a hero. The films about icons have to be about something more than saving people and doing good.

Wonder Woman is trapped by her iconic status, more so than say Spiderman, Batman, and Superman, because she is also a feminist icon. Feminism is a volatile subject in the United States. Sure, a Wonder Woman film done as a simple action/adventure movie would be easily accepted internationally, but in the United States we would have to dissect everything according to our socio-political leanings.

I would be much more happier to see WW in a new TV series rather than a film. Why? We put less cultural stock into TV shows than films. Television programming already caters to the tastes of wider female audiences. (In most cases, female viewers age 18-35 are biggest demographic and thus the primary target market.) A TV series allows for more stories, character development, and opportunities to be transgressive.
Irene Gallo
41. Irene

Thanks! (Sorry about your first comment, it got caught in our spam filter. Comments that end in links often do.) The fake post has now been removed.
Chris L
43. dalgoda
This brings to mind the Lara Croft conundrum. How to take that kind of character and make her real and meaningful? Well they did it with the last Tomb Raider game. Go take a look at it and you will see how to make a character that had basically became known as "Indiana Jones with boobs" and make her a whole person.
Also, what I cannot figure out for the life of me is why can DC make just awesome animated films of their characters and not translate that same writing to live action. I mean yes, Nolan's Batman movies WERE Batman totally. And I proudly have them in my collection. MAN OF STEEL was Superman in a beautifully made nutshell. I loved it and I cannot wait to buy the Blu-Ray of it.
So, why is it so difficult to make a Flash film that means something, or Wonder Woman, or Aquaman (can you imagine what an Aquaman movie would look like with todays techniques)?
Are DC's characters harder to translate to the big screen? I have always felt DC's characters had much more depth and humanity than Marvel's and were much bigger in scope.
Maybe, don't think of Wonder Woman as a beautiful amazon queen with wearing a skimpy gold and red outfit with a lasso.
Think of her as a real living person (ok who happens to come from an Island of Amazons). Go the Nolan/Snyder route and hire some of the DC Animated writers to do it right.
Chris L
44. Colin R
It's sort of ironic that DC comics has in Wonder Woman a character who is not well-defined (at least to the public eye probably) and yet is iconic--a major character basically begging to be strongly redefined--and instead they choose to give us mopey, violent interpretations of Superman, a character who doesn't really need redefinition at all.
Chris L
45. sofrina
@40 - "Sure, a Wonder Woman film done as a simple action/adventure movie would be easily accepted internationally, but in the United States we would have to dissect everything according to our socio-political leanings."

but we'd have to see it in order to dissect it and that means ticket sales.
Liz J
46. Ellisande
@45 haha. "have to see it first" - when has that ever stopped anyone on the internet? People are dissecting it already.

I think WB needs to just realize there's no way they're going to please everyone and move forward. One of their main problems is that the movie division is entirely too beholden to their board and various other corporate interests which makes them extremely risk averse (Green Lantern had a lot of problems but one of them clearly was executive meddling. you can practically see someone's note about 'we should go back to Earth - nobody's gonna care about all this space stuff'). If you look at their all-time box office list it's full of movies that were popular at one time/well promoted, but are pretty weak. It's also fairly instructive to note that The Blind Side is their only bonafide, female-driven box office hit - there are no others until the list drops to the first Sex and the City movie at 39. And only a couple of others in the top 100 (of WB all-time box office) with female leads at all - there are also several strong women costars as in films like Harry Potter, but still.

And they can't really look to other studios to make them less queasy. There are so few women-led action franchises in general, and not many in recent years that aren't Underworld or Resident Evil. Those franchises make money but not the kind of money WW needs to make. (arguably the success of Twilight and Hunger Games should also apply here but they seem to be put in the YA box, not the Leading Women box. But maybe that'll change if Catching Fire continues to do well).

So take a generally risk averse corporate situation and what looks like an inherently risky proposition and it's really no wonder they've been dragging their feet. Which is a pity for all sorts of reasons, but especially because I think Man of Steel opened a door for Wonder Woman that I wish they'd take advantage of quickly.
Chris L
47. chaosprime
Agreed that Scott Lynch has the treatment all sewn up.

I really hope we can keep some of the stuff the New 52 did. Having her be Zeus's daughter finally made a lot of things about her make sense in a way that having her be an Amazon princess didn't, and having her be an animated clay statue that thinks she's an Amazon princess really didn't. And in the early issues of Justice League, having her be the one of the bunch with the knowledge and equipment for fighting gods gave her something to do other than be a lone feminist icon, i.e. a token.
Chris L
48. jpg0002
This just in: Henry Cavill (the new Superman) just dumped Gina Carano (recently retired MMA contestant and noted in the article as a potential WW). Awkward Moments abound if they cast her (and him) in a Justice League movie with romance between Supes and WW...
Chris L
49. Steve L
Who says a Wonder Woman movie can only use villains from the comic books or needs to stick strictly to comic book canon?

If you want a trilogy, set the first one on Themyscera. Steve Trevor washes ashore and triggers a crisis among the leaders of the Amazons. One faction, led by Diana and her mother Hippolyta, want to use this as motivation to end their solitude, reach out, and explore the outside world. A different faction sticks strictly to the old rules; he must die. Cue some attempts to assassinate Trevor, some Amazon-versus-Amazon combat, some musings on tradition versus adaptation in a society, and a fight to the death between Diana and the leader of the other faction.

At the end, Wonder Woman leaves to escort Trevor back to the United States and be presented to the President as Themyscera's ambassador. But some members of the rebel Amazon faction steal a magical Macguffin and head to Man's World to do something to kill off all men or enslave them or something. WW needs to confront them ... in movie 2.

Movie 2 would cover WW chasing the rebel Amazons around after the Macguffin. At some point the rebels use the Macguffin, freeing Circe and WW seeks help from some magical super heroes (Zatanna would be a good choice and would allow WW to establish a connection to the Bat-family, or maybe Doctor Fate) to confront her.

At the end of movie 2, Ares appears and reveals that he helped the Amazons steal the Macguffin. He wanted to see a war between the Amazons and the United States or the world; the Amazon's magic makes them more evenly matched for modern armies than you may think. In movie 3, Wonder Woman seeks help from other Olympians (Athena in particular) to power her up enough to fight Ares on his own terms ... and win.
Chris L
50. Dianthus
Wow! I watched the TV series in the 70s, and I'm getting impatient for a big-screen live-action movie, but I haven't put nearly so much thought into it. I've read other articles like this as well.
I think part of the problem is the rise of fascism/corporatism in our society. WW started out fighting Nazis. Nazis = fascists. But that can't be all of it, 'cuz Indiana Jones fought Nazis in two (!) of his movies.
Another problem is the Old Boys' Club in Hollywood. Every so often a movie like A League of Their Own or The Heat will do well at the box office and everybody says "Yay! now Hollywood can see there's money to be made with movies aimed at women." Yet somehow it's still a fight to get movies like that made.
As for Joss Whedon, he's been attached to WW as a writer/director once already. My understanding is he had to be talked into it (since he's Marvel - not DC), wanted no studio interference (fat chance there), and eventually wandered off to do other things - including a seriously awful/embarrassing/maddening BtVS-based comic.
Chris L
51. Salabra
Well said, CainS.Latrani.

And thank you too, Wonderfan!

...although those of us who are gay (and arguably crazy) imagine that Hollywood would be hard-pressed to resist the allure of casting the Amazons as "yet more crazy lesbians"!
Chris L
52. Dustinthe wind
For those of you concerned with the costume, consider this-

When we see her in the Amazon, she is wearing her traditional comic outfit, so we get the iconic look.

However, when she leaves we see her in something similar to her '600 Wonder Woman' skin from the Injustice video games. For your reference, it looks like this- -Woman.png
Chris L
53. Volvagia
I would sum up Wonder Woman as a perfect storm of four problems, none of which involve her gender:

1. You can't take much, if ANY, inspiration from the original stories. They're these vastly perverted tales that at least skirt the edge of "empty sex object." But this is something that could be fixed with work.
2. The only "name" villains of hers that mean much are Circe, Ares and Cheetah. Cheetah is weak for a cinema adventure and, as far as using Circe as a villain? Well, I'd think of it as being dangerously possible to turn a narrative based around her into an at least IMPLICIT anti-furry screed. (Yeah, I'm positing that she'd maybe be able to get gaggles of willing followers due to the furry thing and the step from that to hosts of unfortunate and regressive undertones that go against some of that half accidental "progressive for the 40s and still radical for now" philosophy Marston put into the character.) But, again, this can be smoothed over if carefully handled.
3. Her visual iconograpy just DOES NOT MAKE SENSE unless she starts in WWII. Perez tried and failed to justify it, but, 73 and 74 years on from the creations of her and Cap, it's looking like Wondie probably would have been much better off if she was either ALSO put in an iceberg or locked into her initial period at the start of every reboot. This can't really be smoothed over, even IF carefully handled.
4. But she kind of needs to NOT start in WWII for the idea of this working as a shared Universe and pleasing the fans who want the motherbleeping stupid TRINITY concept to be seen on screen. Yes, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are the three biggest characters of DC, but I'm sorry. I have ALWAYS held that if they want Wonder Woman on-screen, they use HER to build to the 1986-2011 vision of the JSA, where they're WWII heroes and Wonder Woman is their leader. And as far as "female member of 'The Trinity'", Black Canary SHOULD have been permanently slotted in that role after the JLI run. Why? Well, due to being DC's biggest non-distaff character who is, y'know, NOT so oppressively tied in with WWII!?

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment