The problem with Wonder Woman and the solution: Melissa McCarthy

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201307011652 The problem with Wonder Woman and the solution: Melissa McCarthy
Here’s the latest version of the “What the hell can we do with Wonder Woman?” piece by Shoshana Kessock but it’s a really excellent one that looks at the context of the problems of putting a female action hero on the screen:

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.


But you know what? There is one unavoidable fact about this matter: WONDER WOMAN IS COMING. Do you hear me? it will be impossible to make a Justice League movie without Wonder Woman so no matter how many cooties she has, WONDER WOMAN IS COMING.

Wonder Woman Is Coming

Kessock suggests that the solution to how to handle a female hero would be looking at the successful cartoon versions, including the direct to dvd movie starring Keri Russell as the voice of Wonder Woman.

Well that is surely one solution. And we have another, thanks to Twitter.


See how easy it is? This weekend THE HEAT, a raunchy cop buddy movie starring Sandra Bullock and Meslissa MCCarthy was a surprise #2 at the box office, pulling in $40 million while the more traditional buddy movie White House Down starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx was a disappointing 4th. The Heat showed that McCarthy is a genuine box office draw, so the way to make Wonder Woman — cast a tall likable athletic Wonder Woman and pair her with McCarthy as the ribald, hilarious sidekick Etta Candy.

melissa mccarthy new york premiere of the 3731953 The problem with Wonder Woman and the solution: Melissa McCarthy
etta candy 1 The problem with Wonder Woman and the solution: Melissa McCarthy
etta candy 2 The problem with Wonder Woman and the solution: Melissa McCarthy

See, Hollywood? We’ve just solved your problem for you.

Comments

  1. Wonder Woman would work fantastically if given the chance. You put talented people behind the project with a respect for the character and her abilities then it would totally translate to audiences. They don’t give people enough credit. They just better do it before Marvel make Captain Marvel movie. (also the New 52 WW is great and on my pull-list for the first time ever)

  2. I don’t think the problem is that she’s a feminist icon, that’s kind of a cop out, it’s like saying the character is too high minded for modern audiences which is bull, the issue is that a greek mythology stuff makes for a pretty dull backstory and wonder woman has never done anything to make her version of those characters stand out amongst others. Her main antagonist is basically a bad guy for the sake of being a bad guy and has never exibited any other motive other than he was born that way. Ditch the ancient greek mythology, make Vandal Savage the main villain and a wonder woman movie flows pretty easy.

  3. I still ask if a guy from Norse mythology can be done, why not a woman from Greek mythology? They are both obscure mythologies. Just make her the last of her race / kind / thrown out of time (ala Capt. America) and simply have her evolve to modern day on the screen.

    The suit shouldn’t be a problem. The studios always redesign them anyway.

    And yes… give her a sidekick like Meslissa MCCarthy. Or better yet, a villain like Meslissa MCCarthy, haha!

  4. I am one of the few people in my circle of friends that dislikes the New 52 Wonder Woman. Changing her origin so that she is no longer had an all female “birth” but to saddle her with the “My daddy is Zeus” made her less iconic to me. But I have a sneaky feeling they will be using the New 52 origin for any WW project.

    To me Wonder Woman isn’t the issue, never was, it was the people who make the calls that get the movie made, their lack of vision is what is her greatest enemy. Crafted by her mother Hippolyta, given life by the gods of Olympus bestowing her gifts that she would use to make the world a better place. She doesn’t fight for a city(Batman), or a country(Superman), she fights for the world. A woman of peace, of love, but a warrior through, and through. When peace breaks down, she doesn’t walk away, she fights.

    Azzarello tied her to the patriarchy in this current incarnation, but unlike any other bondage she suffered through, and persevered in the past. I don’t think she will be let loose any time soon. Etta Candy notwithstanding.

  5. Uh…how would a 40 million opening accomplish anything? Superhero movies need to open to massive numbers to recoup their massive production/marketing budgets. While it’s nice that Ms. McCarthy’s name can help a movie have a bit of success, it’s not enough to get a WW movie made.

  6. Mikael says:

    Wow. I actually like that idea. It might turn the movie into a buddy comedy, but if given the right oomph, it could work. Besides – it’s no different than Favreau playing Happy in Iron Man. See? I’m not all cynical. :)

  7. Zach: 40 million for a generic buddy cop style movie is huge, considering that it’s a buddy cop movie; putting McCarthy in Wonder Woman would *add* to the Super Hero Box Office.

  8. Well, Sandra Bullock WAS attached to a remake of Wonder Woman when Joel Silver had the rights so … (Here’s a look at that treatment which is just makes you think what the hell Hollywood is thinking sometimes http://www.ign.com/articles/2001/09/03/ign-filmforce-exclusive-the-stax-report-script-review-of-wonder-woman)
    The “excuses” that are given as to why Wonder Woman “is difficult” to make into a movie all boil down to the same thing – She’s a chick in an industry that will throw money at two movies in six months that have the White House being attacked by terrorists but still bring up two crappy movies that bombed last century ago to justify why “female superhero movies don’t work”.

  9. It doesn’t seem as though it’d be that difficult to make a Wonder Woman movie where she’s from Paradise Island or whatever without explaining no men, or gods, or anything else.

    First movie in the realm of men where she’s starting out, you could even just show her leaving the island, and build something that an audience can get behind without having to question it or wonder why it makes no sense. Sucker them in for the sequel where you can get down and dirty if you want on the back of a hopefully already successful first movie.

  10. Mark Engblom says:

    As long as Lynda Cartner plays Hippolyta, I’m good with just about anything. I think you’re on to something with McCarthy as Etta Candy, Heidi.

  11. Thomas Wayne says:

    From the article text:
    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 doesn’t have to be any of these things…what it takes is a solid creative vision willing to embodied what is great about the character but not use what is great about the character as a crutch.

    An unapologetic feminist will simple not work, nor should she be relegated to damsel or girlfriend status…

    Get this…and keep it in mind….why not approach Wonder Woman as if she was…..(DRUM ROLL PLEASE)….A SUPER HERO…or just a HERO…but HERO status should be first and foremost….not any agenda to make her a feminist icon or dumb her down as a second tier female Superman knock off….make her what she is…ONE OF THE WORLD’s GREATEST SUPER HEROES…embrace that and run with it…its what has made her great from the beginning….its what makes all super heroes great….because they ARE super heroes…

    And anyone who thinks its not that simple clearly misses the point of Super Heroes in the first place….

  12. Thomas Wayne says:

    And one last thing…

    Melissa McCarthy in Wonder Woman equals Richard Pryor in Superman 3….do the math kids…it doesn’t add up….

  13. Mike Morris says:

    What’s disheartening to me is that I can’t think of anyone better to make a Wonder Woman movie than Joss Whedon, and he’s already tried and couldn’t get it off the ground.

  14. There is no excuse not to have a good wonder woman movie. Why is it that marvel can make a movie out of guardians of the galaxy? Or how iron man can leap frog captain America and the hulk as an iconic character? Yet nearly every dc character sans batman has ‘baggage’. Questions about superman’s place in the modern world or how to not make WW silly are over-thought, utter nonsense. Just make a fun adventurous movie and not green lantern.

  15. Dan – you have no guarantee of that.

  16. Rob J. says:

    Speaking as a Gilmore Girls fan, if you’re going to cast Melissa McCarthy as Etta Candy, you *have* to cast Lauren Graham as Wonder Woman. Word. (drops mic)

  17. Nick Jones says:

    I find it hard to believe either that the Wonder Woman direct-to-DVD movie was a success or that following its lead would make for a good live action film. The people making the animated movie had so little faith in Wonder Woman as the lead that they effectively made it an ensemble cast with Steve Trevor, Ares, and assorted amazons being just as front-and-center as the titular character. In fact, Steve Trevor probably got more screen time than Wonder Woman did. I suspect that anybody who sees Diana as a “feminist icon” or simply an interesting character in her own right wouldn’t be pleased to see that same thing happening on the big screen.

    Really, how bloody hard is it to just write a script where an amazon from an all-female island has to fight to save the world from the threat of (insert villain here) while trying to fit into an unfamiliar society?

  18. I think the biggest problem with making a Wonder Woman movie is simply Warner Brothers trusting someone, anyone in letting it happen. I mean they had Joss Whedon working on it and they wouldn’t green light it.

    This is the studio that took around 15 years to make a new Superman movie finally ending up with Superman Returns with a crazy number of script and directors involved over time.

    Along with Wonder Woman, they have also had a Flash movie in production hell for a very long time. They even had David Goyer, one of the co-writers of Batman Begins and now Man of Steel working on a script to direct, before cutting him loose at the same time they cut Joss Whedon from Wonder Woman.

    The animated Wonder Woman movie was great, but then again so are the majority of the animated DC movies. They seemed to have nailed down a great process that they are unable to reproduce for live-action. Either way, I think the animated Wonder Woman movie shows that there isn’t a problem with the character, but a problem with Warner Brothers simply making a Wonder Woman movie happen.

  19. I’ve been a wonder woman fan since the 70s and would like to see the character in theaters, but the movie has to be done a certain way or it would be a disaster for the character and Warner bros. And if a justice league movie is coming then a wonder woman movie needs to come first, they can’t just throw her in an ensemble film ala black widow in the avengers. With that said the studio has obstacles to over come, her uniform, her back story, the Winona only island, her relevance in modern society, etc. this will be a a challenge.

  20. jonboy says:

    I find it unfortunate (and telling) that the only roll that McCarthy is considered for would be the fat comedic relief. And this is an article by a woman no less. Why couldn’t McCarthy play a fellow Amazon? Surely in a society such as theirs, larger women would not be ostracized (does Paradise Island have Cosmo?).

  21. Synsidar says:

    The biggest problem with the classical Wonder Woman is her origin. The “fashioned from clay” origin sets her up as a feminist symbol but has no other positive aspects, and discourages writing her as a person.

    The second biggest problem is the Greek mythology aspect–asking an audience to believe that Greek deities exist in the modern world.

    If those two aspects were scrapped, writing Wonder Woman as a modern-day action heroine would be fairly easy, but she wouldn’t be the comic book heroine anymore.

    SRS

  22. MattComix says:

    I think it can be said that WW has had a very inconsistent supporting cast in the modern era. If the movie could pull of a likable Steve Trevor along with an also charming and funny Etta that could help a lot.

    The main thing about Steve should be that he’s a man’s man but one who simply does not feel emasculated by Wonder Woman in the least. Quite the opposite. He completely admires who she is and what she can do. Not just simply because she’s attractive, but he just gets what she’s about and thinks it’s awesome. He’s willing to fight by her side even if he knows he might be in over his head facing down gods or demons.

  23. Gianni says:

    Two things:
    1 ) Male superheroes also are prone to be badly done: it took a while to get Spider-Man, Captain America or Batman rigth. Green Lantern came last year and it was shit. It´s not female restrictive not getting a superheroe film done rigth.
    2 ) Thomas Wayne nails it:
    “Get this…and keep it in mind….why not approach Wonder Woman as if she was…..(DRUM ROLL PLEASE)….A SUPER HERO…or just a HERO…but HERO status should be first and foremost….not any agenda to make her a feminist icon or dumb her down as a second tier female Superman knock off….make her what she is…ONE OF THE WORLD’s GREATEST SUPER HEROES…embrace that and run with it…its what has made her great from the beginning….its what makes all super heroes great….because they ARE super heroes…”

    He just missed in giving some examples, because this has been done: Buffy, Alien, Salt, Kill Bill, Haywire… the Linda Carter Wonder Woman series, anyone? Bionic Woman? A modern aproach to a female hero rooted in mythology? I remember Xena: Warrior Princess being succesfull. On the other hand Elektra or Supergirl or My Super Ex-girlfriend where shit, but at least they got made, somebody gave them a chance.

    Just get a scriptwriter comitted in doing a GOOD STORY. Jeez…

  24. If they made Billy Crudup into Dr. Manhattan, why can’t they turn Melissa McCarthy into Wonder Woman herself? Now SHE would kick ass without any sidekick. Etta Candy? Kind of demeaning to the actor don’t you think?

  25. Chris Hero says:

    I’m pushing all my chips into the table and saying make McCarthy Wonder Woman. She’s a strong female lead and can both act and bring the funny. She’s really the perfect option with no changes required.

  26. Gina Carano. ‘Nuff said.

  27. Some of the people insisting Wonder Woman’s history is too complicated/muddled to make into a movie just spent the past 2 weeks arguing with the entire Internet over why a Superman half of us don’t even recognize is totally cool and modern and wonderful. We all agree on what it is writers actually do for a living, yes?

    Anyone capable of stringing two sentences together should be smart enough to know that saying Wonder Woman is a feminist icon is NOT the same thing as saying a movie/show/game/lunchbox/beach towel featuring the character has to be a polemic. You people are tired. I find it hard to believe no one’s drawn up a Wonder Woman Bingo card yet.

    And I will admit to not knowing Etta Candy started out so awesome. Dig those boots.

  28. I’ve long said that Etta Candy is the key to Wonder Woman. She’s a great balance and where the pro-women angle really comes together (along with the Holliday Girls, woo woo!). Sadly I’ve not seen her in a comic in a long, long time. Thankfully Morrison is about to change that :D

  29. What about Melissa McCarthy as Wonder Woman and Ellen Degeneris (sp?) as Etta Candy? This breaks Melissa McCarthy out to playing a lead or a strong character in an ensemble work (which WB will love). It also allows a wonderfully funny comedic icon back to the big screen. Provided she’s not surgically attached to Disney.
    Sadly, it’s all about the money. Isn’t it?

  30. hikaru says:

    2 major issues that plague Wonder Woman:

    1) She has never had a definitive/groundbreaking story in the vein of “Batman: Year One” or “All-Star Superman” that even the casual of comic readers/moviegoers have heard of.

    2) Her rouges gallery is seriously weak compared to other A-list superheroes.

    Ironically, if Wonder Woman starred in a movie where she f’d shit up for an hour and a half a la Man of Steel, it would be the greatest and most surprising thing. A movie where the entire Justice League would feel intimidated by her bad-assery and focus on the fact that she is a warrior first and foremost. Goyer played the snapping necks card too quickly since she has already done that in the comics, it suits her far greater than it does Superman.

  31. Synsidar says:

    Some of the people insisting Wonder Woman’s history is too complicated/muddled to make into a movie just spent the past 2 weeks arguing with the entire Internet over why a Superman half of us don’t even recognize is totally cool and modern and wonderful.

    Your perspective is character-based.

    Suppose that Iris Johansen or any other popular writer decided to tackle Wonder Woman. Would your reaction be, “Hmm, I wonder what Johansen is going to say about her?” or “Yay! There’s going to be a new Wonder Woman story!” The first reaction is based on the artist’s treatment of the subject; the second is delight merely at seeing the character.

    If the reader’s primary interest is in the artist, then the characters are subordinate to the story; the artist should use whatever characters work best for the story he intends to write. If, from the reader’s perspective, the story is subordinate to the heroine, then he’ll want to see Wonder Woman, the feminist icon.

    There’s not much point in writing a Wonder Woman story if all it does is tell people what they already know about her. A creative writer would want to tell readers something they don’t know.

    SRS

  32. Torsten Adair says:

    Here’s my pitch:
    Think “Indiana Jones” meets “Dead Poets Society” by way of “Revenge of the Nerds”.

    Wonder Woman arrives on campus at Stanhope University, an all-woman’s school. Diana Prince is a visiting assistant professor from Greece, teaching classical history, while the tenured professor, Julia Kapatelis, is on a research sabbatical.

    The MacGuffin is explained (connected to the University’s founder), the villain appears, the geeky sorority (headed by Etta Candy) gets involved, there’s a big action sequence involving crazy maker tech from the geeky greeks versus the minions of the villain, with a climax at the local gravel pit. (Yup, there’s a kraken at the bottom.)

    Make the villain some third-tier mythological god who is trying to gain power. Maybe s/he’s a business celebrity, using the hero-worship from her followers to prime the pump for a bigger power grab.

    This avoids the origin (which isn’t necessary, but which can be hinted at in flashbacks as Diana chats with a sexy adjunct professor over drinks), allows for the casting of relative unknowns, fulfills the marketing and licensing of the character to geeky women everywhere, while providing enough eye candy and action to keep guys interested.

    Yeah, maybe the beefcake professor is really an undercover agent working for the government.

  33. Shawn Kane says:

    Sadly I’ve not seen her in a comic in a long, long time.

    Etta Candy was in Gail Simone’s run.

  34. MattComix: “The main thing about Steve should be that he’s a man’s man but one who simply does not feel emasculated by Wonder Woman in the least. Quite the opposite. He completely admires who she is and what she can do. Not just simply because she’s attractive, but he just gets what she’s about and thinks it’s awesome. He’s willing to fight by her side even if he knows he might be in over his head facing down gods or demons.”

    Huh…is it too late to go back and change the name of Christopher Meloni’s character in “Man of Steel”?

  35. MattComix says:

    @Jason Green, Get a Tardis and some psychic paper so we can fake our Hollywood credentials.

  36. I’d rather see McCarthy star in Etta Candy: the Motion Picture and leave WW out altogether, rather than find out the hard way what kind of WW movie those finicky WB execs think America wants.

  37. I know I’m late to this party but Google has let me here today while searching for Etta Candy references. I am totally in favor of this idea. Cosplay for ME!

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