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March 17 2005

An Open Letter To 'Wonder Woman' Director Joss Whedon - "Just a few words of advice ... from a fan."

Personally, I don't think Joss even needs to read this letter because Joss already knows what it takes to make a believable, female super hero. This mostly seems to be an article that takes digs at all the other superhero movies with female lead characters and how wrong they went.

One question - does this guy know who he's talking too????
I was wondering that myself as I read this. He calls himself a "fan" but if he was a real fan wouldn't he realize that Joss knows what he's doing? I think Joss knows how to write a story and knows how to cast the right people for the right roles.
That guy was rather annoying, I sure as hell know I would rather be directing television than film if I ever got the chance - I find it a much more fulfilling medium
I too found myself wondering if he knew of Joss's complete and utter fanboydom. (We won't mention his preference for Marvel over DC...) But I do love this quote, so much that I want it on merchandise or in a sig or something:

Comic books are our modern-day mythologies, permitting us to dream about powerful derivations of ourselves who will protect, amaze and point us in the direction of virtue most of the time.

That columnist really wants to come off more knowledgeable than a talented, working writer and director, but instead has made a bit of a fool of himself. :/
I agree with everyone about the writer not knowing his audience very well. Aside from Joss taking characterization and casting very seriously...

"There are at least two comic book shops on the same street as the Warner Bros. lot let me know if you want me to MapQuest directions for you."

This written to the man who goes to San Diego Comic Con not only to speak but to buy comics.

I do, however, understand his frustration. The consensus among comic book fans seems to be that Catwoman and Elektra were huge disappointments. I don't think that will be the case for a Whedon Wonder Woman ("W3").

ADDED: "...if somebody suggests hiring the writer of "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" to do a script polish, run away as fast as you can."

I get his point, but I doubt Joss will be getting any script polishes--discussions with writer collegues, perhaps. I'm not sure the writer even knows that Joss is WRITING this film as well as directing.

[ edited by Ying on 2005-03-18 06:22 ]
Has this guy ever seen Buffy? A lot of the things he was requesting from Joss are things he's already shown us he can do better than anyone else. I think Joss can be trusted with being true to Wonder Woman. And if she happens to just be a brunette Buffy with a leotard and killer boots, it'll still be one hell of a flick.

That's my opinion anyway.

[shameless plug] And Joss, if you do want to cast an unknown-waiting-to-be-discovered actress, read my name, and send me an e-mail ;) although it wouldn't work, since I'm too short *cries*[/plug].
This letter wasn't to Joss, it was just venting about all the sucky chick super heroe flicks. Like you guys said, if he really IS a fan of Joss's he would know that he doesn't have to request these things. Joss knows what he's doing. Kiba, I liked that comic quote as well.
I got the impression that he meant he's a fan of comics, not Joss Whedon. This guy doesn't know Joss at all.
Larry Carroll said:
"producer Joel Silver took one last look at your "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly"
genre credentials and decided to make you his date for the prom."
but in fact it is Mr. Carroll who has to buy a clue.
I'm pretty sure that Joel Silver is aware of Joss' considerable credentials.

Anyone who has troubled to read 'Astonishing X-men' knows that Joss understands the genre and knows how to tell a character driven story that is exciting, funny, and true to the comic's considerable history.
Through the entire 'letter', all I could think was, "Does he KNOW who he's writing to???"

I see I wasn't alone.
I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought this guy was a flaming idiot. Gosh, thanks Larry. I'm sure that thanks to your brilliant insights, Joss finally feels prepared to write a female superhero. *insert eyeroll here*
He does make many good points; however, I believe he is short-changing Joss. Bigtime.

Let's make at least one Super-heroine that doesn't flop. I trust that Joss will do a wonderful job; although, I am sad it's not X-men.

I personally enjoy Marvel much, much more than DC.
Add me to the list of people who questioned if this guy knows anything of Joss other than he's "the Buffy guy."

As far as suggestions, I tend to agree but I'd bet cash money Joss is well awareof all those issues and more.
This Carroll guy is a moron...who let him out of his cage!!...
If Joss does what he does, he will handle this project like a champ. I'm eagerly waiting to see this movie come together and just blow up. It should be at a level that should be the standard and keep movie studios from releasing other lame comic movies--Punisher, Electra, Catwoman, I'm looking in your direction.
Joss wil OWN Wonder Woman!!!
It seems clear that this guy isn't writing to Joss or fans of Joss. He's writing to the people who get their news from

People who say, "Oh, Josh Wheden, the Buffy guy, I've heard of him."
Joss does have quite a job before him in creating a successful movie. However, he has several points in his favor. Unlike most female superheros that were created as offshoots of their male counterparts (Super Girl from Super Man, Cat Woman from Batman,ect), WW was created in her own right. She was created because there were no female superheros at the time. Second, because she was created nearly 60 years ago, I believe this character is more widely known. Finally, Joss is at the helm and he has proven time and again that he knows a thing or two about female superheros.
Most of the time the writers of open letters aren't actually addressing the people the letter is to; they're addressing their readers through the device of a letter. This is (the way I read it at least), purely and simply, a column about why so many female superhero movies have failed and how he hopes Wonder Woman could be different. He just chose the rather formal structure of a letter to frame his comments. So, I wouldn't take any of this as a dig at Joss, or a suggestion that he doesn't think joss knows this already if anything, the item on "stick to your roots," that talked about how well Joss had balanced camp and drama in buffy, was an acknowledgement that Joss DOES already know most of this.
I didn't find the letter particularly note-worthy or well-written it was all fairly obvious points - but I certainly didn't take it as a dig at Joss. And for this guy's audience, Joss really isn't anyone out of the ordinary he's just the newly hired director of the Wonder Woman movie.
He makes decent enough points...but honestly speaking? Joss KNOWS what he's doing. He respects continuity, and at the end of the day, he OWNS whatever character it is he writes. He really doesn't need these tips, IMHO...
Well, good thing this guy 'warned' Joss from mistakes like not have crappy writers rewrite his script. Or putting Rob Schneider in as a funny sidekick with slapstick jokes. Cuz I'm sure it was JUST the kind of stuff that Joss was planning to do.....oy.

Pfff, I do agree with a lot of his points, but really, it's a lot of 'well duh', isn't it? May as well call it 'statements-of-the-bleeding-obvious'. You can find this 'wisdom' on about every single comic/movie site-forum-board-whatever, and it all has been said for the past 10 years. What's next, telling me 'Ishtar' stunk??

Btw, he hated Once More With Feeling? Not really listening anymore.

And Sandra Bullock?? As Wonder Woman??? Hey, nice quotes from her, don't get me wrong but as to casting her as not see it.
Wonder Woman=Gina Torres. period.
Btw thought I'd mention it, I don't know how reliable, but some guy on AICN claims to know that Joss has promised Eliza a try-out on this. But I have no idea who this guy is so he could be full of it.

(Btw I love her to death but I think she's a little too tiny to play an amazonian goddess. But who knows. I won't complain.)
Just a few words of advice.... from an admin.

Don't slag off the writer personally. It's not what we do here. Criticise the article, not the writer.

Regarding what he wrote, he raises some interesting points . That's about it.
I don't see Eliza as Wonder Woman...but I can see her pulling off Troia.
If someone did know these things, what type of TV series would they produce?

"Cast Wonder Woman, Not Just A Famous Woman" - you would cast some very talented, but relatively unknown actors, ones who had a good work ethic and who could portray a range of emotions

"Don't Waste All Your Creativity On The Uniform" - you would probably set the main events in an "ordinary" world but have extraordinary events set within a coherent narrative

"Take The Legend Seriously" - you would respect continuity, have characters respond in ways that were consistent with their past histories (and when they didn't, that would be an event of significance)

"Keep Your Wits (And Your Roots) About You" - you would write something that was funny, dramatic, romantic, frightening, all in the space of moments without being sentimental or melodramatic

"Treat Your Woman Like A Man" - you would treat every character with respect and allow them to develop, sometimes in unexpected directions but you would never have cardboard cut-out characters

"Listen To The Woman Who Nearly Was Wonder Woman" - you would listen and then take the best of every previous version of your creation, set your own stamp on it and blend them into a seamless whole

"When In Doubt, Go To The Source" - see above - go to the sources but don't be bound by them - after all some of those sources are fairly dodgy themselves

Hang on, something's ringing a bell here - that's it, you would make BtVS, AtS and Firefly!

If there was anybody in the world who didn't need those particular bits of advice, it would be Joss!
I didn't think Buffy's humor was 'camp'...*frown*
Well, first of all, a few comments aside, i don't think this was written as a specific letter to Joss. I get the feeling that this writer had these thoughts in his head long before he knew Joss was onboard. All he did was personalise things a little once the confirmation was there.

That said, don't let the fact that Joss's name is in this article sway your opinions on it too much. The fact is that this guy is pretty much spot on. Nothing he says about past attempts at female superhero movies is untrue, in fact i think in certain cases he is being extremely fair. None of the advice he gives to avoid making the same mistakes is particularly wrong either.

We, here at Whedonesque, tend to jump down the throat of anyone who doesn't think Joss walks on water. Many of the comments above prove that. It should be noted though that, just because the writer doesn't think this article no longer needed to see the light of day just because Joss is involved now, doesn't mean he is slagging Joss off. He obviously has an awareness of Joss and his previous work, maybe he just isn't quite as addicted to the guy as we all are. There is no harm in that.

We know Joss knows what he is doing and we trust him to get this right. I get the feeling that the writer of this article probably feels the same way, just without the absolute devotion we show. This isn't an insult to Joss though, it's a few thoughts from a guy who doesn't want Wonder Woman to suck. That's all it is.
Exactly, Warlock. I think this article was intended for the benefit of his readers explaining why this string of movies were box office failures. And he is correct. I'm sure he wasn't making his comments towards Joss directly, he was only listing the pitfalls in this line of movie making. May even be a congrats in a tongue-in-cheek way.
Btw, he hated Once More With Feeling? Not really listening anymore.

I didn't get the sense that he hated it. I think he was just saying that while all the other episodes would be good models for how to go about writing the Wonder Woman story, that one didn't quite fit the mold. (I would've included "Restless" in my list of things Joss shouldn't try in Wonder Woman - at least, not for the whole film.)
I didn't take the article at all negatively. As others have pointed out, this isn't really a letter to Joss. Anyone who says
Give the character a soul-baring monologue, a revealing moment of self-doubt, maybe some clashes with the everyday world that surrounds us
is describing Buffy and he knows it. That is also why he said modeling the movie after OMWF wouldn't work. Gotta agree with that! In fact, I took the whole article for a praise of Joss' work and yes, a dig at the failed movies.
Of course this is NOT a letter to Whedon: that's just a well known rhetorical device (I'm not sure this is the right word, sorry English speaking people).
Nice article, it points out a lot of big mistakes in previous female superhero movies.
I've got your Wonder Woman RIGHT HERE.

Perfect for the role.
Btw, he hated Once More With Feeling? Not really listening anymore.

Yeah, I think he just meant avoid a musical Wonder Woman there, and not that OMWF didn't work as a show/idea. More that it wouldn't work for a superhero(ine) movie.

And Sandra Bullock?? As Wonder Woman??? Hey, nice quotes from her, don't get me wrong but as to casting her as not see it.

I don't think he was suggesting that Joss cast Ms. Bullock either, think it was all about her very cool quote on the matter. People are giving this guy way more grief than the article deserved. I thought it was a fairly apt wording of the frustrations of a lot of comic geeks. He seems to be familiar with Joss while not being a fanboy of Joss -- let's cut him a little slack, eh?

It wasn't high art, but it was a decent rundown.
I know that this is not literally aimed at Joss, but I find the line about "two comic shops, want Mapquest map" rather condescending. If this is aimed at the readers of MTV News, and not Joss, this writer could've put some fans at ease by assuring them that Joss is a fan of the comic book medium, not just the "BUFFY writer". Instead, he implies that Joss is just another writer/director who could get it all wrong.
Perhaps a newswriter for MTV ought look inward before wielding condescension outward. I'm guessing he's familiar with the BTVS MOVIE, not series, and he's heard of Serenity. Having done little to no background research on Joss, but knowing a bit about failed female-centric superhero movies, he wrote this letter.

I'd like to see Joss say: "Dude, did you know those two comic shops you Mapquested for me? They SELL MY COMIC BOOKS."
Add me to the list of people who don't think this writer was addressing Joss.

He might very well have been saying something to Joss loudly enough for the movie's backers and producers to overhear, though...
Joss?Joss? Where are you Joss?? I wish Joss would comment back to this guy.
I would be very surprised if Joss bothered. What would he say, "Yeah, thanks. I kinda knew that already?"
You know what would be funny, if in those comic shops the top selling montly title was, a certain title named "Astonishing X-men", that we might've heard of, written by a certain writer, that we might've just mentioned by chance in this thread.
Instead, he implies that Joss is just another writer/director who could get it all wrong.

Okay, not wanting to walk the thin line of blasphemy here at Whedonesque, but quite honestly, Joss could get it wrong. I have a great deal of faith in the guy and i don't particularly believe he will, but he very easily could. No writer, producer, director or actor for that matter, is beyond making an error of judgment and screwing a project up, not even our Mr Whedon, and i'm one hundred percent certain he would admit the same himself.

Again, we need to stop assuming that everyone in the world looks at Joss through the rose tinted glasses that we tend to. The writer of the article is in no way suggesting that Joss will screw this up so why is everyone getting on the defensive? This article is a very generalised observation of all the pitfalls and problems that could occur in the making of Wonder Woman, written by a guy who simply doesn't assume that Joss is beyond making a mistake. I doubt he intended it to be more than an entertaining read and certainly not as a set of guidelines that Joss had to follow.
You know, the writer does make valid points. However, what irks me is that by making it an "open letter to Joss", he seems to show a lack of faith in what Joss can do. He telegraphs that point to the readers of the story. I might have stomached this better had it been "an open letter to the people behind the new WONDER WOMAN movie" or just a comment on why female superhero movies haven't worked in the past. By invoking Joss' name, though, he is making it sound as though Joss might actually be considering some of these missteps. The average, non-fanboy might conclude that WONDER WOMAN is already in trouble, and that is the farthest thing from the truth.

I might also add that there are many people who answer such "open letters". J.K. Rowling, for one, has been answering questions put to her though an open letter at Sometimes it's the only way for people to reach such unreachable people. So it's not always just a journalistic device.
Perhaps a newswriter for MTV ought look inward before wielding condescension outward. I'm guessing he's familiar with the BTVS MOVIE, not series, and he's heard of Serenity.

I don't see anything wrong with being a newswriter for MTV...he actually seemed to truly care more about the film and comics than I might have expected. And to be fair, he did mention the "seven memorable seasons" of Buffy.

As some have already mentioned, only we probably see this as a lack of faith in Joss. Heck, before I read the comments here, I was just happy that Joss's name was out there on a mainstream site. Most people who read this will probably just see it as some friendly suggestions from somebody who doesn't want yet another terrible movie made out of a memorable (female) comic book character. That is, if they choose to believe that this is intended as an actual letter to Joss in the first place.

But again--I understand how it hurts when somebody seemingly sells our guy short.

[ edited by VampiresSuckLOLOLGetIt on 2005-03-18 19:42 ]

[ edited by VampiresSuckLOLOLGetIt on 2005-03-18 19:44 ]
Have you ever considered the fact that the writer of the article really might have a lack of faith in Joss? I personally don't think that is the case from what i've read but let us imagine that this is true.

If he does really think Joss is likely to make one or more of these mistakes then he is perfectly entitled to voice his opinion. Freedom of speech can be a bitch when it extends to people who don't agree with us Whedonesquers, but that's just the way it is. He may actually dare to think Joss could screw up, in which case he is allowed to say so.

However, i really don't believe for one second that this was his intention. The article would most likely have read almost exactly the same regardless of who had been given the Wonder Woman movie to make. The comments are very general with a couple of exceptions and the ones that refer to Joss and his work personally are quite complimentary. I really think that this is being blown out of proportion. If the article title was "How Joss Whedon is Going to Screw Up Wonder Woman" i could see your points but that is really not the case at all.
I didn't see it as a lack of faith in Joss and I also figured it was basically a means of saying what went wrong with those other movies. The thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the things he "warned" JW about were things that I doubt JW would screw up on. I do agree that this letter most likely would've been the same if another person was at the helm but he should've adjusted it to fit the director who actually got the job and Joss isn't just the director, he is also the writer.

I thought he made some very valid points regarding the other movies he mentioned but the way I read it, he seemed to think that Joss could make the same mistakes, which I highly doubt considering his history with his own creation being mangled and his passion for the comics anyway. He didn't seem to take into consideration Joss' own past with his problems with BtVS movie being changed from the way he wrote it and what he then did to redeem the character with the television show.

I think there were some compliments in there for Joss but I think what a lot of us took issue with was he seemed to lump Joss in with all these other directors who have failed and why they failed without considering Joss own experiences with having things taken out of his hands and changed. And his comments about giving him a map to a comic store would've made sense if Joss was someone who was clueless to comics but the guy is writing his own very successful version of X-men and has proved time and time again his passion for that genre.
I am actually not all that riled up. I think it was the "comic book/Mapquest" line that really peeved me. Hello? Mister Journalist? Joss. Writes. Comics.

And sure, he could screw WONDER WOMAN up. He's human. But the movie is in about as good hands as it could get, and I'd rather see that spin than the one he choose to take.

Joss on WONDER WOMAN is a good thing. I doubt anyone needs to worry that he'll put her in a ripped up, over-sexed costume and treat her like a bimbo.
I think everyone was already aware that this isn't actually directed at Joss. The point though, is that if this guy had bothered to look into Joss's work (which he claims to have, but I don't believe him), he would have realized that it's framed inappropriately and just makes him sound like he's completely out of the loop. There's nothing wrong with the content--obviously he has some good points in regard to what goes wrong with these sorts of films. But to frame the article as advice on how to write a female superhero or a mythological comic hero, advice to someone who clearly already has a world of experience and success in these areas, is a poor, poor choice.
Very well stated Samantha! You said everything I was trying to say in a great manner (and less words)!
If Larry's dubious slight of the Buffy musical was intended to mean "Joss... don't make Wonder Woman a musical!" I would have to agree. However I get the feeling this guy was dissing the beloved Buffy musical as if his opinion of this fantastic episode somehow reflects the mainstream opinion of it. Thankfully it doesn't! :)

Perhaps he was confusing the Buffy musical with the Xena musical.
or confusing it w/the 7th Heaven musical
(because most people on MTV couldn't remember back to Xena)
because I really doubt if this guy watched BtVS,
or frequents comic book stores.
He only wants to sound hip...

He does make good points, and they would have been useful
if he had made them two years ago, before the Catwoman failure.
Why would somebody tell a movie director/writer not to make his new movie like a musical episode of a TV show? It just doesn't make sense. I think he is implying that OMWF is campy or some other bad thing.

The thing is, we here at Whedonesque don't just have faith in Joss to do a good job, we have evidence that supports us. Joss's quality has been consistently high on his television shows (if you enjoy his style, I understand that it's not for everyone). If Joss gives WW a cheesy slapstick sidekick, then I will respectfully retreat into the corner with my Firefly DVDs to cry.

By the way, Joss can fly, not walk on water. Flying is much more cool!
I thought the letter was amusing and to the point. As someone mentioned above, it's simply a rhetorical device not a slur on Joss Whedon's abilities. You also have to consider that the audience for this letter was not Whedonesquers but MTV watchers. There's probably some overlap but maybe not that much. Even the comment about the comics store I took to be very facetious and maybe an inside joke to those who are more familiar with Joss Whedon's oeuvre. JMHO

I got some advice for ya Joss. There's gonna be fans of Wonder Woman and fans of your stuff and fans of cinema in general and fans of all kindsa things in the next few years, each of which have what they believe to be the perfect advice on how to get a great director like you and a great subject for a film like Wonder Woman to be great together.

Joss? I recommend you have a bomb shelter designed and built at least a hundred feet underneath your home and surrounded by concrete. Then I recommend you have a sensory deprivation booth installed inside the bomb shelter. Then I recommend you have all your phones turned off, your mail delivered to a new address, tell your family to go to DisneyWorld for a couple months, lock all the doors and nail down all the windows, go into the bomb shelter, hid in the sensory deprivation booth, and scream for a long period of time at nothing that this Wonder Woman thing is now your baby and you're going to do whatever the hell you want and the rest of the planet and all their needly little opinions can go haul off and eff themselves!

Oh. And one more thing: Personally I believe that Gina Torres should be considered for the role of Wonder Wom-- *BOOT TO THE HEAD* Oof!
Ever since my wife and I learned that Joss is directing Wonder Woman we've been casting the part. I see we're not alone. :D

Wonder Woman has to be a quiet unsuspecting person who can dash away to become larger than life. The actress must therefore be able to pull off both personality extremes. She has to be tall. She has to be in the prime of her life. She has to be muscular without being ripped. She has to have the classic figure of a woman rather than a super model (I could be more descriptive here, but I'm trying to be polite). Okay, my wife is telling me that Wonder Woman should have not huge, but significant boobs -- adding that a brazier can do a lot for cleavage. I think everybody can agree that we also want an actress who is able to convey both heroism and humanity.

I couldn't think of an actress in Hollywood who fits this description, believing that an unknown would have to come forward, but then I think my wife hit it.

Jennifer Connelly.

Personally, I think Joel and Joss already cast the part. :)

[ edited by Sonofapreacherman on 2005-03-19 02:44 ]
Wonder Woman = Liz Vassey
Go here.
She was Captain Liberty on The Tick.
Zach: I'm pretty sure Joss has already built the shelter,
he's been writing 'Astonishing X-men' for 8 months,
and EVERY SINGLE ONE of the comic book geeks in the world have been anticipating him screwing it up.
They freak out about every spoiler they hear.

I can't imagine the 'Wonder Woman' fans being more fanatical.

(and I agree about Gina...shhhh don't tell anyone)
Jennifer Connelly.

Me likey! And not just because one time someone said I looked like her, though that helps.


And I shall follow this with KIBA'S OPEN LETTER TO JOSS WHEDON:

Dear Joss,

I love you. I know much less about Wonder Woman than I ought. I had a lasso of truth when I was little though. Do you know, about how girls borrow their mom's bras and walk around in their high heels and stuff? Well at the age when I was supposed to be doing that, I was wandering about with my golden lasso of truth. Unfortunately, all the people I knew then were honest, so it wasn't worth much.

Anyway. Mostly, I love you, and I trust you, and IF YOU SCREW THIS UP I WILL HAUNT YOU FOR ALL ETERN- I mean, um, do what you like. Because hey - it's not like she's Kitty Pryde or anything. And besides, you've totally proven yourself on that front.

Love always,
Dear Kiba or Joss' number one fan,

Nice to see you posting here.
Dear Simon,

I am the crappiest number one fan ever, but thanks for the warm welcome.

(I keep being afraid that one of my posts will be horridly obnoxious and I will break some unwritten Whedonesque rule. Yeeka.)
Ooh... KITTY PRYDE THE MOVIE... That'd be cool.
Welcome, Kiba.

As for this thread, I read it as a vicious loop that will never end. Excellent points made and a few that were not. With respect, lets close it.
You are probably right, Madhatter. One final thought though.

With respect to everyone who doesn't think the writer of this article appreciates Joss and his talent and maybe hasn't taken enough time to review his past work prior to writing this "letter" to him. It is possible to fully appreciate somebody's previous works without assuming that everything they will do in the future is going to be equally brilliant.

I absolutely adore Buffy and Angel however i only liked Firefly. Possibly because there wasn't enough of it to draw me in, partly because i prefer supernatural type series to science fiction for the most part. Regardless, the fact remains that, for me at least, Firefly wasn't as good as Buffy or Angel. Hopefully i will like Wonder Woman but i'm not going to assume that it is going to be absolutely perfect until it hits the big screen and i can judge for myself. If i can do that then i don't see any reason why the guy that wrote the article can't be equally cautious.

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