Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wonder Woman Movie Outline - Written in 30 minutes.

Yesterday: I ran my mouth about people saying there can't be a good Wonder Woman movie. They've taken years to produce nothing. I have myself half an hour to write how one might go and had to stop when the alarm clock rang.

Today: I'm sharing what I wrote, no editing, exposing my typos, my stream of consciousness, and some hackneyed writing. At worst, I'm showing the earliest thing in any of my creative processes I've ever put out there. I'm a little scared.

Tomorrow: I'm going to unpack my reasons for trying this, the offense of being told there's no chance of a good Wonder Woman movie when they're trying to reboot Green Lantern and Flash, and perhaps field some comments/hatemail.

We start with two points of view. Our first is Steve Trevor, grounding us in the present United States, post-Man of Steel. Our government is paranoid about what else is out there. The Fortress of Solitude was just hiding in ice? So drones and stealth pilots are sweeping as much space as possible. Trevor is piloting the most advanced human machine out there scanning for suspicious signs and jaw-jacking with friend Hal Jordan.

Our second (and main) point of view is through the island of Themyscira, removed from modern culture. Their sky shimmers with the magical barriers that keep the world ignorant to their presence; the Amazons have been hiding for a long time, and there's mention that they've refused reconciliation even with the king of Atlantis. Something awful and unspoken once happened here, but Queen Hippolyta has decreed silence and progress. She sometimes watches the modern world through a pool, ala the original Clash of the Titans, but forbids others to view of it. The Amazons do not speak of the prison of Hades that exists beneath their palace. The Amazons want to be alone, all except one. Guess who.

The only daughter of Themyscira is Diana, our Wonder Woman, and she is crazy to see the outside world. She was born near the beginning of Themyscira's isolation. We probably open the movie with a little montage of her youth and ambition, but I'd rather ground it in who she is now. Enough movies go through the cycle of growing up. Wonder Woman is already an adult, smart, shrewd, trying to sneak access to the viewing pool or find ways off the island stealthily. Hippolyta's not just her queen but also her mother. Her mother has to use the Lasso of Truth to get her to be honest about all these attempts – WW/Diana feels like she's suffocating in this alleged utopia. It's a utopia founded on not discussing the past; the war, the secession, whatever happened. Like any strongly guided country, it's too tight about what came before.

While she has friends on the island, Diana has one confidant. He's the only man on the island, old in a John Hurt way, sometimes entertaining her by conjuring little monsters out of clay. He's fostering her to desire to get off the island, and together, they set off a signal that pierces the sky barrier – and pierces Steve Trevor's plane. It crashes inside the punctured barrier, and Diana dives into the surf to rescue him.
I will say it's not him.

During the breach, our old man smirks and disappears. No, I'm not going to say who he is – for this experiment, let's call him ???.  Depending on our visual style, we may show him transubstantiating and zapping through the breach in the barrier.

The Amazons are in a bind: the military knows where Trevor crashed, and will be on this location soon. Killing or keeping him will spark far more conflict than xenophobes want. WW offers to take him back to land. Classic origin story stuff, though Hippolyta is going to return the island to the shroud after she leaves. This is goodbye for a while. It's dangerous to go alone – take this lasso. And tiara. Why not?

Our buddy ??? touches down on land first, and after breathing free air, begins sculpting something that looks like a snake.

A pretty surprised navy greets Diana and Trevor, but they're more surprised by an emergency call on the coastline. This isn't another downed plane. It's a gosh-darned giant hydra. WW recognizes it, and says ones of this size should only be native to Lerna. The navy seems pretty surprised, too.

The military does badly; it takes massive payloads to destroy one head, and you know what happens when you destroy a hydra's head. Wonder Woman has to brush the tanks aside to save the lives of overwhelmed soldiers. Think Pacific Rim, but instead of us being defended by a robot, it's by a human-sized female who can rock that giant monster. She knows to scorch them down to the nape, and with Trevor liasing with infantry, we get to win our giant monster battle, and when it is damaged enough, rather than die, it turns into a mass of sand. We win right in front of the cameras. She's more out than the Man of Steel ever was, and perhaps a little giddy at all the attention.

??? watches on from a distance. He looks healthier, almost younger.

Begin Wonder Woman's big old tour of the modern world. Try a hot dog. Try a metropolis. Wonder Woman may find Youtube cute, but she's dismayed at the absence of the gods she presumed must live out here, and for our wonders, our civilization has issues. Steve Trevor rapidly becomes her liaison, as they're getting along in meetcute fashion and he's got an 'in.' Droves barrage him for access to this goddess-person.

Trevor: The President. Every five-star general. Prime Minister of every country that has one of those. Superman. Oprah.
WW: Who's Oprah?
Trevor: I love you.

I'd really like to avoid this.
If she's going to be ambassador to the modern world, she'll hit the U.N. eventually. ??? is also there, looking nervous and reporting to a larger and very well-dressed man eating a mars bar. Because that's how I roll. Diana thinks she recognizes ???, but is drawn away by human rights discussions, and she's pretty fascinated by what's happening in the Arab world. No one on Themyscira would allow women to be treated that way, and Steve Trevor certainly has his biases. Adrianna Tomaz interjects – wife of the monarch of Kahndaq – who has a very different point of view on the Arab world, and pushes Diana to not accept this American view just because its her first. She gives us a shot to actually crack open that discussion. Plus, some people will recognize Tomaz, and we get to joke about her finding the hydra fight stirring – they get badly dubbed Godzilla movies in Kahndaq, too.

In the background, ??? tells the mars-eating man to watch this one. He shapes ash into figure. Diana awkwardly breaks her conversation in seeing this – she definitely recognizes this, but ??? doesn't realize he's been caught. By the appropriate beat, a cyclops tears the roof off the building.

Diana largely fights this cyclops alone, trying to minimize the cost of life and property. She's skilled, though when she tries lasso tricks that worked on the cyclopes of her youth, this one counters them. After one counter, she spies ??? manipulating the cyclops. He looks even younger, as though drinking in the chaos. When she confronts him, he's distracted and the cyclops turns on him. Yet when it touches him, it turns to ash and falls apart. He tries to leave and Diana grabs him – only for her arm to begin turning into clay. ??? smirks and vanishes, while Diana is understandably shaken.

So that's all I got to flesh out before the buzzer went off. I had bullet points and loose ideas for the rest. I'm including them below. What do you think? Plenty to revise, and there's much to be said for the handling, but I don't see why this couldn't be the start of something in the way blockbusters work.

And no, it's not the Wonder Woman movie I want, but I think it's a prototype of the kind they say can't be made. For the Wonder Woman movie I want, check in tomorrow.

-Back in Themyscira, Hippolyta sees the second attack in her pool. The gods don't behave this way anymore. These attacks seem too familiar. She visits the prison below her palace; the gate keeper will not let her in, but there's a crack in the walls. She's able to trace it to a cave – the one ??? always met Diana in. If it's who Hippolyta thinks, the outside world is doomed. And worse is coming to her daughter.
-Scenes of ??? drinking in chaos and summoning more creatures. He's clearly having a blast, now looking like a young man. Makes some interesting sculptures – at least one of a half-cheetah woman.

-Hippolyta breaks her own laws to save her daughter. Info dump! Lasso of Truth! Your secret origin! Does Tomaz and Trevor's modern world have another way to contain ??? given that Hades failed? If he dies, Diana will be returned to the clay her mother fashioned her from. But how else do you stop the craftsman of titans?

-Ancient magical Amazons and world military joining forces to punch a dragon! Aquaman cameo? Flash? Red-and-blue streak that could be a bird or a plane? Whatever they'll let us do.

-As the climax mounts, that large well-dressed man with the mars bar watches alongside Adrianna Tomaz. They seem to know each other, and Mr. Mars Bar doesn't like her "disguise." Hmmm.

-Obviously the denouement is Destroy All Monsters. ??? riding a clay-formed kraken? Let's talk it over. We've got spectacle, but we know the real drama is between Wonder Woman and ???, especially now that we know he's…

And that's all he wrote.


  1. Works for me but what do I know? :)

    (Not qualified! Other than Watchmen I haven't read graphic novels. I read the Action Force comics as a kid which as you know was the British GI Joe. It was a middle/inside supplement of an older comic, Battle. Learned a lot of my WW1 and 2 history from Battle.)

    I like the Mars Confectionery product placement - but I'm particularly stoked by the idea of bringing it into the Man of Steel world. It sits much better with me than the Marvel Avengers. I dunno how I'll take to Batman and Superman (if that actually happens). For instance, I sort of feel that Iron Man is hard sci fi and Thor is fantastical, and to bring Loki into Iron Man's world was a let down. Same might go for Batman and Superman IMO. But Superman and Wonder Woman in the same world fit extremely well.

    Great idea with the monsters - not many monsters to be fought in the superhero movies.

    1. I've never had trouble reconciling technology, science fiction and fantasy sharing the same universe, which is probably in part because I grew up on comic books like Thor and X-Men. I was actually disappointed in the Thor's movie Carl Sagan approach and pushing that all of the Norse magic was really just incredibly silly science with a hammer aesthetic.

      I could imagine the magic/science barrier being a problem for many people in expanding the Man of Steel universe, and it's something I didn't brainstorm much of here because... well, I had half an hour! But I think rooting the magic in earth's history might be part of the way to go about it. If the Amazons have a long history, if they have a knowing but secret tie to our world, then it might become a little easier. I definitely want a joke about Superman being Helios.

    2. Well, there were echoes of Thor in the machinations of Krypton's domestic politics for me, but I found myself accepting it more. I had never encountered Thor outside of the movies - neither the Norse mythology nor the comics. I dunno who this ??? character is, but is the manufacturing of creatures out of clay central to his powers? With respect to the Helios reference, it'd be great to see the actual Hydra, and Poly-phwackin'-phemos, and whatever else, summoned. But if the conceit about clay/sand is central to things, maybe not.

    3. Maybe not Polyphemos, as he's blind. But you get my meaning.

    4. Certainly not Polyphemos himself, but a construct that looks like a relative. I certainly perceive you wave there! I'd want to bring certain genuine members of those histories in for sequels. There are great Wonder Woman/Medusa stories.

  2. I have no emotional investment in Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, as rough and tough a fighter as she could be, the temptation to do a star-spangled spandex bondage babe will, I fear, overwhelm any Hollywood efforts.

    1. I suspect the fear of making her just a babe is one thing that's slowed production. And, well, that's kind of good, if producers or writers are fighting to not make her just eye-candy.

      I didn't have an emotional investment in her as a kid, but then I also grew up hating Superman and Iron Man. It's been more in my adult life that certain characters have sprung up for me, and the desire for such an iconic female to get the mainstream due is something I respect and would back. Plus, when you think about her for all of sixty seconds, she's got all the basics for really fun movies.

  3. Sex usually wins in Hollywood. I've seen mock-up's with Megan Fox as Wonder Woman -- but it will take an intelligent script with an actress with skill to not make it come off looking and sounding hokey. Having Ares as your manipulator and actual villain is a good idea. Thanks for visiting my blog and staying to chat awhile.

  4. I am not well versed in the world of DC comics. Everything I know about them I know from Dave- stuff he's told me from the comic books, a few of the more recent animation movies they've made, stuff like that. SO, I can only speak to this on a general level.

    I also don't know what the article that claimed that a Wonder Woman movie was impossible said. I have to assume they were wrong simply because I know they're looking- officially- to do a Justice League movie and there is no Justice League without WW. So here's what I anticipate that article said: Green Lantern sucked and broke a lot of hearts (fans of all the great comics that have been on the boom in recent years). A WW movie would make the same mistakes and therefore a "good" one can't be done. Something like that, maybe?

    So the obvious solution would be to look at what sucked about Green Lantern and to not make those mistakes. First off, they blew one of the big arch nemeses right at the beginning, wasted him in a plot hole-filled story. Now this is tricky cause the rule with origin stories, usually, is go big or go home- you want a big villain. You want Lex Luthor, you want Joker, you want the icon. Problem with that is that it's an origin story- they can't fight the most powerful villain when they're just learning how to use their powers for the very first time. Doesn't make any sense. So I would say that whoever ??? is, while a big bad, is NOT WW's arch nemesis. If the first movie is good, there will be a second, and therefore room to grow. (I myself look forward to a Man of Steel 2 in which they tackle the iconic Lex...)

    Second mistake, in my opinion, was separating Hal from the rest of the Lanterns. they start off great- that montage of him training with them, learning how it all works, the brief tour we got of the planet and their culture. But then they had him go off on his own- 100% alone- and face the bad guys. Makes no sense. If he's as green in the gills as he's supposed to be there's no way he's gonna beat one of the most powerful villains (so powerful, in fact, that he didn't actually beat it in the comics!) all on his own. The rest of the Lanterns should have been there with him, we should have seen the team in action. Having WW's mom help her seems like a good way to illustrate that she's not invincible all on her lonesome.

    These are my first thoughts, I'll check in tomorrow to see how it develops.

    1. It's possible to have a big-bad in a first movie: Magneto fit into X-Men 1 and Joker fit into Burton's Batman. But in general I'd rather a huge antagonist be seeded for the long term, which I'd like to do, if not with ???, then with the person who's talking to at the U.N.. It's better for a series, though my plans for ??? would be bigger than just lopping off his head and having him be replaced in the next film, ala the theme of the Iron Man franchise.

  5. Promising, but I think this is missing an important throughline. If WW starts the film under her mother's thumb and leaves the island only with her mother's permission, I'd expect that arc to resolve with WW breaking some of Hippolyta's laws, suffering great consequences (from H) but going forward anyway because she's right, and eventually winning success (against ???) and respect (from H) as a free, awesome woman. H breaking her own laws and then infodumping them on her daughter doesn't seem right.

    1. The breaking of Hippolyta's rules is a very fair criticism. It's something I can definitely see employing, especially as we split her into a third Clash-Zeus-type POV, though I think her being pushed to the point where she breaks her own rules is still something I'd want to play with you. You couldn't see that working?

    2. I'm mostly interested in WW's arc ending with self-obtained autonomy, if she starts out the film lacking it. As long as that happens, whatever H ends up doing is fine with me. H breaking her own laws would be a satisfying way of showing that she admits her daughter can be independent of her, opposed to her, and correct.

    3. That's a totally reasonable desire and where I'd want to wrap it up, too, between Hippolyta, the villain's relationship to them, and how WW brings about a conclusion to the conflict.

  6. I'm liking this so far. I don't know much of the comic history, but I watched the show when I was very tiny and growing up in a mysogynistic home made me love her, and look up to her, all the more. While she's beautiful and sexy as hell, I would hate for her to be just a sex symbol. Boys getting distracted by her boobs is not the way to go.

    I love it when the big baddy stays around for awhile (ala X-Men). I also like the love story kept to a minimum, like in Iron Man it was peripheral. The love story in Thor was ridiculous and forced on the audience. She's a woman, so she's going to have emotions, but she's a fucking Amazon warrior, getting in Steve's pants can't be a top priority. And I agree with the above comments about giving she and her mother's relationship a strong arc.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.

    1. I enjoyed parts of Thor, but I agree that the love story got very cloying. The first trailer for Thor 2 actively worried me with its portrayal of the girl as love interest and weakness. That's not okay. Though I would like to have WW save Trevor just once. Dan-sel in peril.

  7. There are some good points here. Though the scrying pool of the gods comes from Jason and the Argonauts, not Clash of the Titans. Zeus used a playset in the form of a theater.


Counter est. March 2, 2008