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July 31 2013

Icky, tricky Wonder Woman. Joss mentioned briefly in a rather decent article on the perceptual problems involved in bringing WW to the big screen.

"Wonder Woman is there, and she's tricky, and she's iconic; and thus branded, she doesn't ever have to be solved, and by extension, neither do any of the others. The best female superhero portrayal, maybe ever - Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow - gets to remain comfortably supporting-role; and that one was personally architected by Joss freakin' Whedon, who wrote the book on female superheroes and thinks, rightly, that quim is a lovely word. The same Joss Whedon, of course, whose Wonder Woman project fell apart at DC six years ago."

I've said before that Joss, despite his flaws (gasp!) is one of the few people I'd trust to make a She-Hulk worth seeing. Though of course I'd rather have a [mini]series...

I also think the WW problems are somewhat exaggerated in that anything can be a hit if it's done well and marketed well; see the author's point regarding the animated Wonder Woman feature, and how well that argument applies to the recent Dark Knight Returns two-part movie, which was much better than I'd been hoping for or would have ever predicted. And ultimately I'd prefer to see Joss writing more of his own characters. But after all the complaints about Avengers being a sausage fest, it certainly would be nice for a classic female hero to get the full Whedon spotlight.
I maintain that there's no Wonder Woman movie because Hollywood is afraid.
That's a good writeup in the original post, and some good insights as well, b!x. Probably a little bit of both, though I imagine that even the slightest complexity terrifies Hollywood today.

It's interesting to look at our run of superhero movies, though, and see how they're tailored to at least appear appealing to conservative audiences: Batman and Iron Man are billionaire philanthropists who fight crime and/or terrorism. Superman is practically Jesus, and at least some on the Religious Right tried to use "Man of Steel" as a sermon topic. Captain America has America right in his name. Thor is... well, he's pretty Aryan.

Yup. They're really thinking about how it'll play in Peoria...
Aren't the Hunger Games films a kind of one-line refutation of the notion that you can't build a successful summer franchise around a young, kickass female heroine?
There have been lots of successful women-led franchises. Which is why I still think the point is they are afraid of Wonder Woman specifically. Many (most?) of the characters in those other movies just exist as strong and interesting women, with little to no specific or overt symbology being invoked. Wonder Woman carries feminist "baggage" that, I think, they fear is alienating even if they don't overtly embrace it.
Wonder Woman carries feminist "baggage"

Having grown up watching Linda Carter in the role I always find that a bit of an odd notion. I mean, the original comic was decidedly male fantasy fodder (specifically angled towards the bondage-fantasy market) and it has never really definitively broken with that legacy. Linda Carter really slotted perfectly happily into the "jiggle TV" category occupied by such "feminist" icons as Charlie's Angels.

Perhaps the thing that really makes Wonder Woman difficult is that there's this abstract discourse of her as a "feminist icon" floating around which makes producers nervous because they know perfectly well that any film adaptation that's remotely faithful to the bulk of the comic legacy will also be pilloried as a "betrayal" of a feminist message those comics really aren't all that interested in. In other words, the problem is not so much "Wonder Woman is all feminist; how do we do that?" as "Wonder Woman has to meet two not-very-easily integrated sets of expectations."

Of course, if anyone could have squared that circle happily it would be a certain Mr. Sweden. I wonder what became of him?
I actually watched the DC Universe Animated Wonder Woman for the first time just yesterday. Fillion was funny, the action was great, but I still felt it was very lacking. The male/female stuff was pushed so hard, it was one of those movies where there is no subtext, just a lot of text.

After I watched it, I realized something. I love Wonder Woman, but in the way you love those Aunts and Uncles you don't actually care about very much. They've been a part of your life since you can remember, so you know you're supposed to love them, but you actually have nothing in common with them and don't notice when they're not around.

We say that Wonder Woman is "iconic", but that just means she has a recognizable costume and has been around a long time. What's her personality, other than "Amazon"? Describe Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, Captain Mal, or Buffy and they sound like interesting people. With Wonder Woman I can easily rattle off her origin story, but it's just a list of stuff that happened to her. I don't have much sense to her personality.

I also think it's right to say that she's "tricky". You can go back to what made Iron-Man and you find that Stan Lee based him on Howard Hughes. No problem, that kind of guy still exists in people like Richard Branson, so it's easy to see how that still works today. Go back to the origins of the Wonder Woman character and you get a lot of stuff about bondage, spankings, and the original author's thoughts on how awesome a female dominated world would be. So yes, that's tricky.

I guess I'm just not that interested in trying to present Wonder Woman for a new generation. I think we'd be better off creating new female heroes that fit the world as it is now.
I'm having a visceral reaction to all of this .... nonsense.

I think of myself as somewhat intelligent person who works hard to understand the puzzles that pop up in life.

And I simply cannot wrap my head around why the studios are having problems with Wonder Woman. I've read alot of the arguements that she's tricky - i.e. identified with feminism, bondage, lesbianism, male fetishes, changable modes of transports, skimpy clothes, conflicting hertiages, and bad jewelry.

None of this "trickiness" resonates as a good enough reason to NOT put her on the screen. My Wonder Woman, is not whatever her creator wrote back in the 40s and 50s. My Wonder Woman is the "jiggle TV's" Linda Carter (thank you Yoink) and the cool animated character of Saturday morning Super Friends. If there was bondage and fetish themes in those Wonder Women of the 70s, I didn't know it. I spun and desperately wanted metal bullet reflecting bracelets. I had NO IDEA that her outfit was sexual, I thought it was a handy dandy bathing suit/day wear for a super heroine.

I can tell you how I remember her personality. She was caring and loving and smart and wanted to right the wrongs of the world. She also wanted to understand who she was helping and why there was so much awful in the world. She wanted to be loved and accepted, like oh so many people I know. Is that too bland? Not dark enough? Well then expand her back story! Throw in some blasting of the Amazon Rainforest that kills off all her relatives. Add the angst.

She also, at least in Super Friends, often rescued the other Super Friends with her cool invisible jet. I wanted that plane too.

If the Wonder Women of the 70s could be a hit without paying heed to what reportedly are a strange comic themes, then I see no reason why we can't do it now. And I sincerely doubt that the comic book fans will be so aggravated that they won't go watch or follow an adaptation.

And I also loved Charlie's Angels. I was Sabrina. To borrow a Whedon phrase, I saved the day a lot in my little imaginary SoCal.
"I can tell you how I remember her personality. She was caring and loving and smart and wanted to right the wrongs of the world."

That's also true of Tony Stark, but he didn't start that way. He started out as a weapons dealer. A personal tragedy drove him to re-examine his life. Even after he started caring about the world, he still struggled with addictive parts of his personality.

It's also true of Captain Mal, except that losing the war made him cynical, causing him to try to hide from his good nature.

Basically, being good and caring about the world is true for pretty much every hero. It's not much of a personality.

I loved the 70s Wonder Woman also, but did we love the character or Lynda Carter? If she'd been cast in a different show as a government agent who wore pants when she worked, is it possible we would have loved that show instead?

I mention the bondage stuff not to say that it defines the character, just to point out that you can't do a "back to basics" approach with Wonder Woman the way you can with some characters. Really, since those early days the character has always struggled to get away those roots, and other than being an Amazon has never really found anything that has lasted as being the "iconic" interpretation. There have been good runs on her comic, like the George Perez era, but that didn't reinvent her for our time, it was just a good run.

Do we really need a Wonder Woman movie, or do we need new female icons? Personally, I think time would be better spent on something new.
I'll just go ahead and say it: Wonder Woman is tricky. She isn't not tricky. She's very much of her time, and while she was awesome back then because she was such a fresh concept, she desperately needs an update in order to not become obsolete. And that's the tricky part. How do you update Wonder Woman without losing Wonder Woman? David E. Kelley tried it, and that was a catastrophe (I saw the pilot, and it was absolutely atrocious). Yes, she has a clearly defined backstory, but does it work in live action in this decade? I'm not so sure. And that's not a gender thing. I don't think an adaptation of the Wonder Woman origin story with a male character in place of Wonder Woman would easily work either.

My problem with the thinking behind DC movies is this: They seem very hung up on the big names. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern... Batman's a great character, Sherlock Holmes crossed with Zorro and a ninja with some James Bond gadgets and a car, obsessive, kinda weird, dead parents, psychological themes. Easy. Superman is tricky. So powerful that the only way to make him compelling is to focus on restraint rather than external conflict, and that's a tricky rodeo as well. Green Lantern is great for comics and cartoons, but how do you bring that concept to live action without getting completely wacky with it? Wonder Woman's origin story is a bit more complicated than "parents dead, mad at crime, saw a bat" or "planet exploded, baby in a rocket to earth" or even "got a magic ring from a dying space cop", and the costume is especially difficult to modernize (and the stars never really worked in the first place).

Here's my suggestion: Warner should try to look into more obscure characters that would more easily translate, and then build from there. Black Canary comes to mind. Leather jacket, motorcycle, martial arts, makes shockwaves with her voice. Pretty damn easy to translate to live action and do interesting stuff with. And fresh stuff, since the character is kind of underused in the comics as well.

Most people didn't really know Iron Man before that movie came out, and now he's huge. Just sayin'. You don't have to pick the biggest names just because they're the biggest names. Get a good script, a good director, cast well, and make a good movie, and the name will get big.

Wonder Woman is tricky. Not because she's a woman, but because she's Superman. Or, more accurately, Thor in Captain America underoos.
She's Thor with a lasso instead of a hammer and a vagina instead of a penis. This is not complicated or tricky at all. WB and DC execs have no balls. It is shameful.
Ugh, mentioning Thor with Wonder Woman only reminds me of the atrocious Marvel vs. DC fan-voting disaster that forced writers to try to sell the idea that Storm could take out Wonder Woman who was wielding freakin' Mjolnir at the time.

Sigh. Lol. /geek

Also, the answer, IMO, is Stana Katic. To the question that consumed IMDb for a couple years :)

There are plenty of female superheroes that I think could front movies or TV franchises. I think if Nolan/Goyer wanted, they could print money actually spinning Anne Hathaway -- the now definitive Catwoman even if they never used the name -- into her own franchise. I don't think anyone will try Supergirl again, at least not as a motion picture, but the updated version would be suitable for a TV show; "Smallville" is almost a blueprint since it doesn't even have to be a quasi-origin story, you can just drop her in high school or college.

I think "Fathom" would be more likely to work as a movie than anyone ever hoping for Aqua Man or Sub-Mariner to ever have one; Aspen's origin story is more relatable and more interesting in general. And James Cameron actually toyed with making the movie (dovetails well with his fixation on water) at one point.
What exactly was wrong with the way Green Lantern's powers were shown in the Green Lantern movie? I thought that was one of the few things that actually worked really well in that movie, and I'd call it pretty stupid to abandon a popular character out of some idea that his powers are too 'cartoony'. The only reason the existing GL movie didn't work was because WB wimped out on writing a real story and completely screwed up the costume.
Whenever casting comes up, people always gravitate toward known quantities and pick someone at least a decade too old for the role. If and when someone is cast for Wonder Woman she will be 20-25 (at the very oldest) and most likely you will have never heard of her. Stana is beautiful but 10-15 years too old to be cast in the role which will require signing up for 7+ movies over 15 years.

I'm not saying that is optimal, I'm just stating that is how in reality it will work.

[ edited by IrrationaliTV on 2013-08-01 18:02 ]
7+ movies over 15 years is, if literal, an absurdly unrealistic projection. If Warner/EC are even whistling that tune now, it won't last. MCU isn't going to get that out of any of its leads. That is pretty much a benchmark for adapting some other novel series akin to Harry Potter, which isn't a long list of even possible options. Anything done now will have been rebooted at least once over in 15 years. My idea for Stana Katic or actress of like age comes from my bias not toward the actress but because to me, Wonder Woman's most compelling incarnation is as the fully formed, grown woman force of nature she is, and that person is not 20-25. Hell, even if the character would be 20-25, I would guess their unknown would be closer to 30, because casting.
KoC, I'm assuming DC is trying to do what Marvel is doing and all the leads in the Marvel movies are signed that way (Chris Evans is signed for 6 movies and Marvel wanted it to be 9, Ruffalo is signed for 6 as well). It locks them in for a franchise. DC could have the Bat/Superman movie where she shows up then a WW movie, then a Justice League Movie, Bat Movie, WW2, etc. Not at all absurd or unrealistic. Quite likely, in fact.

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