Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why I tried writing a Wonder Woman movie no one will make.

TV series cancelled because a DC main character smiled.
So yesterday I posted the synopsis for a Wonder Woman movie that I tried to write in thirty minutes. It's rough as heck, but seemed worth trying when many people have spent years on adapting the character to film and came out of it saying she's an impossible character. At Comic-Con last weekend they announced a Flash and a Batman/Superman movie, and Twitter rightly got upset about the lack of such a famous character getting her screen time.

I wasn't offended until the old arguments that she's uninteresting or not fit for motion pictures resurfaced. These arguments are nonsense, and given that she is the most iconic female superhero, and the current glut of superhero movies are already decidedly light on ladies, it reads gross.
First and foremost: there is an excellent Wonder Woman movie. It's animated, free to stream if you have Amazon Prime and cheap on DVD, and could be remade live action shot-for-shot into a splendid blockbuster. And it'd be an empowering, fun action flick that happened to star an iconic woman. Please don't tell me that's the reason why you can't make it.

Second and possibly foremoster: Wonder Woman is a sexy warrior from a familiar but different culture who engages critically with ours and gets to fight anything from the Grecko-Roman bestiary or pantheon you want. She has a history of punching Nazis, robots, aliens and dragons - the untouchable holy quartet of ass-kicking. From a writing and promotional perspective, there is no reason she's not a franchise. Probably a really explodey dumb one that grosses embarrassingly well.

And my synopsis was for that kind of blockbuster. It's honestly not the Wonder Woman I'd like to make, rather the kind that seems like every producer deems unfeasible, a message I deem harmful.

If Smallville adapts the costume well as a gag,
then costume design isn't a valid excuse anymore.
The Wonder Woman movie I'd rather make is of a superhero who bridged to our culture in World War II against the worst of all possible enemies, then grew up with us for decades, with the moral decay of wars in Korea and Vietnam and Iraq, who is a crucible for our shortcomings and an agent against them. If it's too much like the Superman I'd write, well, tough. We deserve heroes we can’t relate to when we suck.

Also, the superhero movie I really want to make is actually Daredevil & She-Hulk: Attorneys at Law, but that's another story and another company.

There's a Wired column I won't waste your clicks linking to that asserts a Wonder Woman movie has to be uncomfortably feminist and bondage-themed. That's needless clickbait writing, something encroaching more and more of Wired. The truth is that a WW film can be about uncomfortable feminist issues and bondage, or about other facets of her character. The bondage baggage, in particular, is something I couldn't think to incorporate in my half hour and probably wouldn't in my final draft. It ain't essential, but it's out there and a valid interpretation.

My guess is that the real pitfalls of a Wonder Woman movie aren't that no one has an idea. As many annoying things as Joss Whedon has said about the character, he had a decent idea before Warner Bros shot him down. It's more likely money-backers who don't believe in female leads, testy focus groups, the decreasingly tenable profits blockbusters must bring in turning studios even more conservative. It's enough to make you wonder what we'd get if copyright laws were different and anyone could make a movie about her.
Enough to make you wonder. Get it?


  1. Have none of those people ever watched Xena? That show was successful for years with two female leads. A Wonder Woman movie would be successful, because both men and women would see it.

    1. YES Xena! Her show was a spinoff from Hercules and ended up being more popular and also better. Whoever can't make a Wonder Woman movie needs to hand the reins over to someone who can.

  2. I certainly respect the passion you brought to this thought-experiment.

  3. I adore Wonder Woman. I'd love to see a blockbuster movie series with her in it.


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