Wonder Woman: What happened and why she is wearing shorts

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Since the announcement that Wonder Woman pilot had not made NBC’s schedule, there has been no dearth of analysis about what it says about Wonder Woman, about us, about women, about…EVERYTHING, dammit. The Wonder Woman pilot getting dropped may just be the most significant event of our time!

First off, a picture of the variant “shorts” costume has been making the rounds. Would showing a bit more thigh have tipped the balance for the show? Probably not. With Wonder Woman nothing can ever, ever be simple.

A particularly annoying (to fans of Wonder Woman) piece in EW, exemplified this, by conflating her with everything:

She is the most famous female superhero, and there is every reason to be proud of the fact that she is considered an equal to Superman and Batman. But she also perfectly represents a whole assortment of fundamental problems with the treatment of women in comic books. Let’s not forget: The mainstream comic world is dominated, in readership and authorship, by men.


DC Women Kicking Ass, has pretty much fisked this entire piece.

And the idea that Wonder Woman’s story can’t be compelling? The number one movie at the box office this weekend was a superhero who is a God. A superhero who walks around with a giant hammer (as opposed to, say a lasso) that spends time in both “man’s world” and in the the world of the Gods.

Why is Thor so easy to get to screen, but Wonder Woman is reduced to a television drama by David E. Kelley where she’s a superhero but also a female who worries about her body and pines for her boyfriend? Why when that treatment fails do the stories focus not on the execution but on the character?
[snip]
Every time a male centric film fails, there’s another one right behind it. Superman Returns was a failure. You don’t read Entertainment Weekly writing about how his costume was the reason. The Hulk failed twice and is on its third take. You don’t see them writing about how his torn green pants are the problem or a metaphor? Of course not.


Or as Michael May put it so clearly yesterday:

If there’s a curse, it’s the tendency of writers to “figure out” Wonder Woman to death. Why can’t she just be a strong, confident woman who beats the crap out of bad guys?


Why indeed. Would is be painting with too broad a brush to suggest that WB’s long-term “Wonder Woman” problem has at its root the fact that a super-strong, noble female superhero is just not an idea most studio execs are conformtable with or confident in? Jill Pantozzi analyses WB exec comments on the failed pilot, and it’s mostly a vague sense of dissatisfaction.

When it came to the most talked about pilot they were shopping around, Roth said he thought Wonder Woman was a very “well crafted” pilot. “But after seeing the announcement of the NBC schedule, I now understand and agree with [NBC Entertainment Chairman] Bob [Greenblatt] that it doesn’t necessarily fit particularly well with their schedule,” said Roth, “As well crafted and contemporized as it was, it was a big and radical shift for viewers to embrace this new idea — and that may, to some degree, have had to do with why it didn’t make it.”


Of course it’s not just a star spangled Amazon who is baffling the boys of Hollywood. It’s female-centered movies in general, as this piece on the comedy BRIDESMAIDS points out — the movie, starring and written by Kristen Wiig, became something of a crusade for those who wanted to see more movies where women Do Things.

What’s motivating this campaign is simple: Hollywood studios do not make comedies for or about women anymore. Yes, they used to. As recently as a few decades ago, when comedy stars like Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn stalked through theaters alongside supporting players like Teri Garr, Carol Kane and Madeline Kahn, bringing us movies that were sometimes sublime and sometimes disposable, but which had women at their heart. Think “Private Benjamin,” “9 to 5,” “Outrageous Fortune,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”…


It’s hard to think of the 80s and 90s as an enlightened time, but they sure weren’t as uptight about just letting women do things on screen. Even for Bridesmaids — which has thus far grossed a respectable $59,5 million at the box office — producer Judd Apatow has to add his own signature: a scene where the stars poops their pants.

Mumolo tells her that Apatow didn’t want any scenes where the characters just “sit and talk.” And both writers needed convincing to include a drawn-out, filthy scene that (spoiler) involves food poisoning and lots of poop.


When discussing Wonder Woman’s failure to launch, one other element must be mentioned: how it affects the budding DC Entertainment West Coast Wing, led by Geoff Johns. We’ve heard different takes on this: some say it was a little blow to his regime; others say he was unaffected, as he’s more hands on with Green Lantern.

Whatever the blowback, it looks like it will be a long, long time before Wonder Woman gets her own filmed spin-off. Luckily we’ve got some books by Greg Rucka, Gail Simone and George Perez to last us until hell freezes over.

Comments

  1. Agreed. It’s pretty mind-boggling how much difficulty Hollywood has wrapping their heads around this character. Maybe we need Allen Heinberg to write the script…despite all the egregious schedule delays that ultimately killed its momentum, I thought his 2006 relaunch “got” the character and offered up a very accessible take on her.

    Re: Bridesmaids: I can shamefully admit that I laughed at the poop scene, though I certainly think the movie would have been perfectly hilarious without it.

  2. Thor is the male Wonder Woman, HA!

  3. Richard Adler says:

    Oh, please.

    As someone who remembers the 80s more than he would like, the ‘problem of the woman-centered movie’ was, if anything, MORE of an issue back then than it is now. It’s been a perennial topic for decades. It’s always been an issue, and it will remain an issue so long as the current status quo remains in place in Hollywood.

    The notion that something has somehow ‘changed’ since the 80s is absurd. I swear, people have the memories of mayflies about this sort of thing.

    ‘Private Benjamin’ got made then, ‘Bridesmaids’ got made now. The issue is not whether the films get made, but the fact that each time one is successful, the execs dismiss it as an anomaly so they can continue with their preferred worldview. And this has been going on for a long, long time.

    (And, by the way, as I recall the promotion of ‘Down & Out in Beverly Hills’ was entirely about Nolte and Dreyfuss. Since when was that film ‘woman-centered’?)

  4. Silver lining – I would rather see no Wonder Woman at all than a badly-done Wonder Woman, and this Kelley thing had “train wreck” written all over it.

  5. Synsidar says:

    Michael May might have identified the problem, but not the solution. He wrote:

    If there’s a curse, it’s the tendency of writers to “figure out” Wonder Woman to death. Why can’t she just be a strong, confident woman who beats the crap out of bad guys?

    Wonder Woman isn’t just a character. She’s a package. If a writer looks at her, decides that her (comic book) history and background won’t appeal to a general audience, and that the concept would have to be reworked, then why write a story about her? Why wouldn’t the writer use someone else, or create a character that he felt more comfortable with?

    If a writer who had worked only in mainstream fiction, or even had done thrillers, looked at Wonder Woman, he probably wouldn’t see any natural hooks. Writing one story that summed up the character would be practically impossible, unless it ended with her mating with a man and scrapping her WW identity, or finding that Man’s world was intolerable and retreating back to her island paradise. Yes, she can kick bad guys’ asses, but all superheroines do that.

    SRS

  6. john layman says:

    I want a TV show starring the sad bald guy!

  7. Frankly, part of the problem with the pilot is that it was shopped to perennial ratings loser NBC, whose execs subsequently has made all sorts of boilerplate excuses rather than simply admit that they’d rather green-light a cheaper show. Sometimes the simplest answer is the one that the suits are most desperately trying to avoid.

  8. “When discussing Wonder Woman’s failure to launch, one other element must be mentioned: how it affects the budding DC Entertainment West Coast Wing, led by Geoff Johns.”

    Probably not at all, since his Hollywood baby is obviously Green Lantern. Heck, DC Comics people aren’t involved with the upcoming Batman and Superman movie productions either, as Chris Nolan is being left alone to do his own thing. So much for ‘corporate synergy’.

  9. I agree with all this stuff, of course, and I think the point that there was once more cool lady movies is a good point,
    but I don’t think it’s so crazy to be nervous about Wonder Woman.

    She doesn’t even sell comic books, right?

    I mean, the title has not been a money maker since forever, right? I remember Heidi once writing something like: “If all the people kvetching about Wonder Woman getting cancelled would have bought the book there would not have been a problem.”

    Right? I mean, if she can’t sell comics…

    To me, Wonder Woman seems to be the most loved character that no one spends any money on. I know lots of girls who say they “love” wonder woman, but other than making a picture of her the wallpaper on their computers desktop, that’s all the more their really is to their investment in Wonder Woman.

    Which is not enough to make a major media project, pay, no?

    P.S. I’ll dissent a bit from folks on here who say that a TV show is less than a movie. Sure, it’s the small screen, but a show would give folks a lot more time to invest in a character and see their relationship with a character grow. And TV is getting pretty awesome these days. So awesome that I’m thinking about buying one. I just think it’s ironic that a community that defends a medium (comic books) against the infantilization it is always facing is willing to do the same thing to TV versus movies. They are just different mediums and they do different things (tho, increasingly, the difference is getting harder and harder to figure out).

  10. Martha says:

    It would be lovely if anyone writing about the WW pilot not getting picked up pointed out that the overwhelming majority of pilots don’t get picked up.

  11. Charles Knight says:

    “She doesn’t even sell comic books, right?

    I mean, the title has not been a money maker since forever, right? I remember Heidi once writing something like: “If all the people kvetching about Wonder Woman getting cancelled would have bought the book there would not have been a problem.”

    This is the bit I struggle with – the vast majority of comic fans don’t give a crap about Wonder woman so why would anyone else?

  12. “This is the bit I struggle with – the vast majority of comic fans don’t give a crap about Wonder woman so why would anyone else?”

    ..which is kind of the wrong question, since Blade has had even less success selling as a comic book character. Yet in outside media, that’s an entirely different story, isn’t it?

  13. I wonder if Adrienne Palicki will now instead be cast as Wonder Woman in the rumored JLA movie?

    Whoever the actress ends up being, introducing Wonder Woman in a movie with a larger cast of heroes might be something the execs would feel more comfortable with, since the whole project wouldn’t be riding on her portrayal but she would still stand out amongst the mostly male cast.

  14. Synsidar says:

    ..which is kind of the wrong question, since Blade has had even less success selling as a comic book character.

    Blade fought vampires. There’s an existing audience for vampire hunters. There’s not one for an Amazonian superheroine.

    SRS

  15. Kid Kyoto says:

    I think part of the problem is 75 years of history and expectations.

    Xena is in many ways a Wonder Woman take, even down to a similar costume and managed a 7 seasons of butt-kicking on a much lower budget than this show would have been. Part of her success is she was a blank slate.

    Sailor Moon was another story of a magical princess balancing real life and superheroing, it was a huge hit in Japan and a modest hit here.

    Kim Possible, Lara Croft, even Dora the Exporer, all hits.

    Maybe we need to stop putting such expectations on character older than my grandma and creating new ones.

  16. “Blade fought vampires. There’s an existing audience for vampire hunters. There’s not one for an Amazonian superheroine.”

    Sure there is, Xena was very successful on TV, (more successful then the male led show she spun off of) and she was pretty much just mashup of WW and Red Sonja.

  17. Snikt Snakt says:

    “Blade fought vampires. There’s an existing audience for vampire hunters. There’s not one for an Amazonian superheroine.

    SRS”

    It also helped that even most comic fans forgot that Blade was a (minor) comic book character.

  18. Synsidar says:

    Sure there is, Xena was very successful on TV, (more successful then the male led show she spun off of) and she was pretty much just mashup of WW and Red Sonja.

    The audiences for feature films and TV shows are too different. If someone wanted to revive Xena for a new series or a one-shot TV movie, there’d be no apparent obstacles — but no one has done that. Xena in a feature film would have to be written to appeal to people unfamiliar with the character, and that would result in problems similar to the ones facing someone trying to write Wonder Woman. A screenwriter can’t just assume that there will be sequels in which the heroine’s background will be filled in.

    SRS

  19. I can’t help but think that BLADE was an anomaly on all kinds of levels, but yeah…
    playing this one example against another game just goes to show you how subjective this whole gambit is.

    As @Martha said, most pilots don’t get picked up. I watched most of the first episode of THE CAPE last night. I really, really wanted to like it, but… good God. I’m glad it got cancelled. How did that ever make it to TV?

    Anyway, it’s a bummer. We all like Diana, you know: in theory. I did buy WAR OF THE GODS lo’ those many aeons ago, tho I don’t really remember anything about it.

  20. DanielT says:

    Yes, dwiff!

    I think Batman: The Brave and the Bold is the single best adaptation of DC characters to TV/movies ever.

  21. The animated Wonder Woman straight-to-DVD movie was really quite awesome. As someone else said earlier in the thread, I rather see the character done right than badly done tv shows.

    I’m also really curious about Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman movie script. Perhaps one day that DC might put that out as a mini-series.

  22. Brady Dale: “Right? I mean, if she can’t sell comics…”

    If she can’t sell comics, that means comic fans aren’t interested. The same arguement could be made for BLADE, which earned barrels of cash at the box office. The same arguements could be made for Batman and Superman — all throughout the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, their comics sales were not spectacular, all the while they were the subjects of animated shows, toys, movies, etc.

    What interests comics fans is not always what interests the rest of the world, and vice versa.

  23. RockPaperNukes says:

    I have to agree with the EW article completely. There is decades of baggage connected to the character, real, imagined, fair, unfair or self imposed by DC/Warners with regards to the whole “feminist icon” thing and audience expectations. Saying “why can’t she just be like the guys, fight bad guys, be a strong hero” ignores reality. It would be nice, but she can’t be like the other heroes and never will be. It actually is a problem that is specific to this character. If it wasn’t then you wouldn’t have seen other action films with female characters all these years. You wouldn‘t have seen Black Canary or Amanda Waller on Smallville. Ripley is not Wonder Woman. Lara Croft is not Wonder Woman. And yes, even the toon versions of WW are not WW. At least not to a studio investing big money on a live action film/television project.

    With regards to Hulk getting a “third chance”, this is incorrect. Hulk was rebooted after the Ang Lee disaster to bring it into the continuity of the upcoming Avengers project. The Norton film was successful. Not as successful as Iron Man or Spider-Man, but it was a ratings and box office success on par with Thor. Hulk will be in the Avengers movie as planned, not because he’s getting a “third chance”. Sequels aren‘t chances and Avengers and future Hulk movies are sequels. The tone of the Norton Hulk movie will be the tone of future Hulk movies because that’s the new formula. I won’t even get into the ludicrous comparison of Hulk and WW as that comparison is a non sequitur.

    A better example would be second chances for Ghost Rider and Daredevil, both of which were dismal failures and are getting another shot. But future sequels with those characters isn’t so much about giving a character a second chance as it is making sure that the studios that release them continue to hold the rights. This is the same reason there was a plan B to reboot Spider-Man after the Raimi sequel fell through and it’s the same reason that you will continue to see more Xmen films by Fox and not Disney.

    People need to get their heads around the simple fact that this isn’t about fans (male or female) or a referendum on the WW character. It’s a business decision. If WW was in the same boat as the Xmen and Spider-Man franchises, then you would see a mad scramble to make as many Wonder Woman movies as possible. Since DC/Warners already has the rights, and since there is no pressure by the heirs of the characters creator to release a film for whatever legal reasons as is the case with superman, then you won’t be seeing a big rush to make a WW film until the stars align and the perfect project comes along that they think will be a huge financial success. It should also be noted that there’s been no rush to bring Shazam to the screen either. An iconic character (far more iconic than Green Lantern and Jonah Hex) that has had problems getting to the big screen and has languished after several failed attempts.

    KET raises a good point about shopping it at NBC, a network in decline and probably the least likely to take risks.

    But I think Martha hits the nail on the head. It’s not the death of Mozart. It’s just another pilot among hundreds that didn’t get picked up. There are no second shooters or grassy knolls here.

  24. @RockPaperNukes:

    Ang Lee’s Hulk had a domestic gross of $132,177,234 and cost $137 million.

    Norton’s Hulk had a domestic gross of $134,806,913 and cost $150 million.

    If you count the worldwide, Norton’s made $20 million more but still cost $20 million more.

    It seems to me the Norton version performed financially almost identically to the Ang Lee version.

  25. Was the old Linda Carter show was a stumbling block, the people working on this show trying to make it more like that than the comics? I think the general TV audience would at least be familiar with an episode or two but have never read a single issue.

    I didn’t really read Wonder Woman until Gail Simone began writing it and those comics were awesome!!! I have a feeling that they weren’t well-received as she didn’t stay that long… but if I ruled the world, I would get her to write for the show. I don’t read that many superhero books, but that was one that I always looked forward to.

    Tank Girl could be added to the list of movies, if not necessarily a movie made specifically with women in mind as the audience (or a good movie) but a comic turned film that had a woman kicking ass that wasn’t about the costumes (although I barely remember it, so who knows).

    It is really sad that all anyone talked about was her costume, and even sadder that I wasn’t surprised when it happened.

    But it could have been worse… say, Wonder Woman; Turn Off the Dark!

  26. @Rich The Blade point was covered above. Anyway, all I’m saying is there is a certain logic. I mean, if you start saying that comics sales aren’t something that studios should take into consideration, then where does it stop?

    Is there going to be a SPEEDBALL movie?

    OK, seriously, I’d love a Speedball movie, but only if he were really emo in his normal kid form like Fabian Nicieza wrote him.

  27. Matthew Southworth says:

    It seems to me that there are a lot of people who want films and TV shows of their favorite characters just so they can bitch about how “Hollywood always gets it wrong”.

  28. Wesley Smith says:

    “Every time a male centric film fails, there’s another one right behind it. Superman Returns was a failure. You don’t read Entertainment Weekly writing about how his costume was the reason.”

    EW may not have complained about it, but the rest of us did, because that costume was a symptom, if nothing else, of the larger problem of vision in Superman Returns.

    I would imagine that it’s was a similar problem with this. WW’s costume isn’t the reason the project failed, but–and this may sound weird–the lack of respect shown for the design of the costume revealed a deeper misunderstanding of Wonder Woman as a whole.

  29. I just keep wondering when Time-Warner is going to realize that Disney is making money hand over fist with their Princesses, and that they have a very well-known princess of their own who also happens to be a superhero? Best of all, she doesn’t actually need rescuing, she’s the one who rescues her boyfriend. Am I alone in thinking that might just appeal to both princess-mad little girls and their parents who would prefer a more proactive role model? Seems to me like money just waiting to be made.

  30. Matthew Southworth says:

    I think some of the problem with the fan reaction here is also that people are assuming that a pilot represents the sum total of what the character is going to be about.

    I haven’t read the pilot script, though.

    But let’s assume that Diana is having sleepovers and is worried about her weight and etc., etc. All stereotypical “girlish” behavior that represents her in a one-dimensional light. . .are we sure that that might not be the beginning of her character arc? Might she not develop into someone fully-three-dimensional and self-assured over the course of the series?

    Think about THE WIRE–those characters all change significantly over the course of the show, which is why it’s one of the best shows ever. Couldn’t Wonder Woman have changed as well?

  31. Tony Bedard says:

    For what it’s worth, that pants-pooping scene in Bridesmaids was hilarious. My wife and I were both about to fall out of our seats. GREAT movie, start to finish — don’t miss it.

  32. brady dale:
    “@Rich The Blade point was covered above.”

    That doesn’t make it less valid. Besides, that’s what happens when we you start reading the thread and there’s already nearly thirty posts in the topic.

  33. “The audiences for feature films and TV shows are too different. If someone wanted to revive Xena for a new series or a one-shot TV movie, there’d be no apparent obstacles — but no one has done that. Xena in a feature film would have to be written to appeal to people unfamiliar with the character, and that would result in problems similar to the ones facing someone trying to write Wonder Woman. A screenwriter can’t just assume that there will be sequels in which the heroine’s background will be filled in.”

    So let me get this straight, audiences had no problem with the backstory of Blade and vampires, (even the parts that differed from every other vampire story out there) and that could be filled in simply and quickly in a single screenplay, but an island of immortal super powered women, one of whom leaves to go to the real world after a man crashes his plane on her island would somehow take 6 sequels for a screenwriter to properly explain to the movie going public, (even though the Linda Carter TV series somehow did this impossible to explain story in about 30 minutes of screen time and a way cheaper budget then any TV show or movie would have today). OK.

    Also the popularity of other vampire hunter properties, (of which there really weren’t any other hot ones when Blade was released BTW, Buffy had started at about the same time and had just barley made a blip on the pop culture radar), indicates an existing audience for such fare and why Blade, a virtually unknown property was ultimately successful.

    OTOH the existence of successful properties with Super-heros, mythology and kick ass women in no way means an audience would accept a character who’s been a household name in popular culture for almost 60 years.

    As a certain Vulcan would say, “Fascinating”

  34. The Beat says:

    >>>It would be nice, but she can’t be like the other heroes and never will be.

    Just because she’s female?

    There you have the Case Against, in a nutshell.

  35. Justin H. says:

    I don’t suppose that the reason the pilot wasn’t picked up is because the take they presented on Wonder Woman wasn’t very good, was it? Does that seem reasonable? It wasn’t necessarily because the small screen isn’t ready for strong female characters or comic fans don’t care about her or because the costume was kind of poor or anything like that… maybe it was simply because Wonder Woman sitting in a boardroom, not being, well, wonderous wasn’t particularly enticing to the powers that be at NBC.

    I, for one, would love to see a Wonder Woman movie or, better yet, a TV show that used the best bits from Geroge Perez’s stuff, or Gail’s stuff, without the need to reinvent her somehow so she makes sense to a focus group. I don’t think this take not making it to air can be considered any kind of loss.

  36. RockPaperNukes says:

    RE: “Just because she’s female?

    There you have the Case Against, in a nutshell.”

    No, not because she’s female, because she’s Wonder Woman. Was i not clear when I said other “female heroes” do not have the same baggage, real or perceived, and then listed a bunch of female heroes that studios didn’t think twice about before putting them on film and television? Was I not clear when I said that this is a problem “specific to this character”? C’mon.

    I know this is the internet and all, but can people please pretend to read the comment before misrepresenting it? For the record, I want to see a WW tv show AND movie. I own the lynda carter series and love it. So lets not turn my comment into some anti female thing. That was not my intention and I don’t see how what I wrote can possibly be perceived that way by any clear thinking and fair individual. Thanks.

  37. The reason why Wonder Woman can’t work these days is because she is dressed like a prostitute.
    The audience wouldn’t respect such a female.

  38. Maybe it’s just because I don’t hang out with prostitutes, but I’ve yet to see one wearing a star spangled bathing suit.

  39. Clearly you’ve never been to a brothel on the fourth of july then :)

  40. @RockPaperNukes I have a set of children’s books that lay out Wonder Womans’ origin and mission in about 5 pages. Any baggage you perceive boils down to one thing – Hollywood does not like to do big budget movies that center on females. The article that EW did on the challenges of getting her to film last brought up other issues (both of which seem to have been solved by Captain America and Thor), but the female one is the main obstacle.
    @Matthew Southworth I read the script and reviewed it for Rich Johnson’s site. I think I was balanced in my take on it. You make a good point that the character could grow. The character, however, was presented as fully formed hero with the growth mainly coming in personal life. I was torn on the project. On one hand, “Wonder Woman! TV! At last!” On the other hand. “DEK, Ally McWonder!”It would have taken a lot to make it the project she deserves.

    @Wesley Smith you may have complained about the costume but that’s just fandom. EW called it a “stripper outfit” and made it a metaphor for her problems as a feminist icon.

    @marioboom Beyond the fact I don’t know where you hang out to see prostitutes who dress like Wonder Woman is that she has been wearing the same costume for years and moved a lot of product wearing it. As a matter of fact she just sold a load of make-up for the Estee Lauder/MAC wearing it. Your comment doesn’t just smack of misogyny it’s full of crap.
    Everybody go watch the intro to the Batman Brave and the Bold with Wonder Woman. Two and half minutes and you see why she’s great.
    http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/5798893975/wwb-theb

  41. zodcomplex says:

    I think it’s hilarious that the dominant topic of conversation re: Wonder Woman over the course of the past what, six months, has been about her outfit. No one gives a shit about her personality, all the neckbeards want to rage about is she isn’t dressed like USO-Ho anymore.

    The Wonder Woman show didn’t fail because of her costume, it failed because it was a crappy take on the character. I read the script – it sucked. It wasn’t Wonder Woman.

    A Wonder Woman movie COULD kick ass, but only if the writers worried less about WTF she was wearing & more about giving her a personality beyond “Yay women, boo men, cut their balls off, wash rinse repeat.”

  42. “She doesn’t even sell comic books, right?”

    I just skimmed the other comments after this, but somehow I seem to be the first to point out that the market for comic books as a medium is a population of about 100K comic-book-reading males ages 25-50, and the audience for television shows and movies is… let’s just call it “very different and bigger”.

  43. RockPaperNukes says:

    dcwomenkickingass

    re: “Any baggage you perceive boils down to one thing – Hollywood does not like to do big budget movies that center on females.”

    It’s not my perception (see above where I say I am a WW fan who wants to see many many WW projects). It’s what the studio perceives that’s the problem. As I said in my post “fair or unfair, real or imagined”, their perception of the difficulties involved in getting a WW project off the ground, their fear is ultimatley what counts. I wish they took our advice, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    And Hollywood doesn’t like to do projects centered on women? The Aliens franchise, Tomb Raider franchise, the Kill Bill movies, Charlies Angels movies, Xena, Buffy, Alias, la femme nikita, the Closer, Veronica Mars. It seems like there have been lots of critical and financially successful projects for women.

    But the one thing that all of the above has in common is that they aren’t Wonder Woman. They’re all new female characters with no baggage or unrealistic expectations attatched. They were good to go from the time of inception. I think Hollywood is willing to do projects for women if it’s safe. For whatever reasons, they seem to think a WW project isn’t safe.

    But then they are willing to take the chance on a female character who dresses in white lingerie and matching furry cape. Hmm. Okay, maybe that’s not such a big risk after all. ;)

  44. Synsidar says:

    People shouldn’t take it for granted that a movie would be about the comic book version of Wonder Woman with fairly minor changes. Would the movie be set in the DC universe, or would WW be the only superheroine on Earth? If they went with the latter setting, explaining the island’s existence would be problematic, and WW and her opponent(s) would be out of their natural settings. Setting the movie in the DC universe wouldn’t help the movie reach non-fans of comics.

    Then there’s the Amazonian angle. If WW and the rest of the Amazons don’t hate men,or at least find them strange, and the plot doesn’t have WW go up against a man or men, then the Amazonian background is practically irrelevant. There’s no reason to use WW in the story.

    If you research Whedon’s involvement with WW, you’ll find that he didn’t do any better than other writers at producing a satisfactory script. Instead of insisting that “n” writers have failed to recognize the essence of the character and show people how wonderful she is, it’s possible that all those writers simply can’t think of a way to depict the comic book WW without making her look ridiculous to the general public.

    SRS

  45. @RockPaperNukes I said big budget movies. Half your examples were television. And the movies you name have taken place over two decades. And I don’t know why you say Lara Croft and Charlies Angels are “new female characters” when, well, they weren’t.

    For every big budget film that gets the greenlight with a woman as a star about 20 get the greenlight with a man. Hollywood are a bunch of unimaginative people who only know what they know. Wash, rinse, repeat. The problem isn’t Wonder Woman. The problem is Hollywood.

  46. How would explaining Paradise Island be problematic? Was explaining Hogwarts problematic? Asgard? The concept of super powered mutants who have their own school? Teenage Vampire who are at war with teenage werewolves?

    Paradise Island would require maybe all of 3 minutes of exposition. It’s a magic island populated by immortal women who have reason to distrust the man’s world. There, Done, move on.

    These things are only problematic when people over think them. If movie audiences can accept a school for wizards they can accept the concept of Paradise Island.

  47. Darren:

    “As a certain Vulcan would say, “Fascinating””

    Except … we’re not certain what you’re driving at …

  48. Thomas says:

    I am 30. I have no memory of the Lynda Carter series. I have no sense that Wonder Woman is a feminist icon for anyone my age, much less younger. The problem with Wonder Woman isn’t that she’s a woman; it’s that when she was created, the only thing special about her was that she was a woman. I have read these supposedly great Perez and Simone comics, and I have to say, Wonder Woman has no personality. The David Kelley series was on the right track in A. giving her problems that only a human being, and not a robot, could have (most Wonder Woman stories could be told with a lasso-wielding robot in the starring role) and B. embracing the inherent goofiness that the early Wonder Woman comics apparently had.

  49. RockPaperNukes says:

    dcwomenkickingass

    re: “I don’t know why you say Lara Croft and Charlies Angels are “new female characters” when, well, they weren’t.”

    You’re right. My mistake. I should have said they’re “mostly” new female characters with no baggage or unrealistic expectations attatched.

    re: “I said big budget movies. Half your examples were television. And the movies you name have taken place over two decades.”

    Since the part of the subject was the canceled WW pilot, I thought I’d throw in the TV stuff for free.

    But Kill Bill was 2 decades ago? No. The Charlies Angels movies were 2 decades ago? No. I can name more. The Aeon Flux movie, Ultra Violet, Domino, the Resident Evil films, the Underworld films. Most of those are from the last few years. And the ones that were two decades ago were made, weren’t they? They could have easily stopped after the first Alien film but they didn’t. Since Ripley is one of the most iconic and successful action heroes in movie history, I figured she warranted mention.

    I never made the claim that there are just as many female centric big budget film projects. Of course there aren’t. But sweeping generalizations that Hollywood never makes big budget action films staring women are disengenuous no matter how justified the anger is that bore them. Rational discussion means acknowledging facts, no? There’s plenty of reasons to hate hollywood. Ignoring the positives because they don’t support a point doesn’t gain anyone anything.

  50. I always love to see guys so passionate about why they don’t like WW. Guys – at least I think they’re guys – like “Synsidar,” who has no problem accepting the “goofiness” of male-centric properties (Batman and Robin in his green-scalloped Speedo and pixie boots can be as uber-goofy as they come; ANY X-men character defines goofy) and 30-year-old “been there, done that, ever-so-wise” Thomas, who has read a few comics and determined WW has “no personality.”

    Question: why does she threaten you so much and inspire so many contrarian posts from you?

    Seriously. You all post multiple times about how boring, robotic and goofy she is. Why is it so important to brand your opinion, and make no mistake, it is only an opinion, over and over with such relish? If she’s so boring, why do you care so much?

    I hate the “M” word. I really do. So overused and, even worse, improperly used. But misogyny is truly the only word that’s applicable here. Too many otherwise “goofy” and “robotic” characters get a free pass solely because of their plumbing. No surprise, really. Too many comic book fans are man-children living out power fantasies where they’re the hero and the girl swoons over their every breath.

    WW sort of kicks that fantasy in the ass, doesn’t she?

    Want to get really pissed? Go read Marston’s original WW comics. Oh, everyone loves to discuss the bondage elements, and those are indeed present. But the character of WW would drive you nuts: assertive, adventurous, she’d F with people constantly and couldn’t stand stupid, ignorant people and had no problem telling them so. She was an intensely curious thrill seeker and a wild woman; amazingly liberal and unapologetic. DC has watered down this version of the character for decades, which is a major, major part of the problem.

    Look at Batman, Superman and WW in the 1940s and today. Character-wise, the former two are pretty solidly the same. Continuity hasn’t changed their core. WW, on the other hand, became meeker and meeker, more and more vanilla and non-threatening. The fire, the crackle and character constantly diluted for something “safe.” Even Perez’s reboot, while powering her up admirably, still portrayed her as Bambi with superpowers, naive and doe eyed even as she tossed around trucks and went one-on-one with Ares. Marston’s WW would have smacked her upside the head (and probably spanked her for myriad reasons).

    DC is far too afraid to go back to that version. But they would be wise to do so. Because, yes, Marston’s WW was dangerous, exciting and boiling over with personality. Yes, it got out of hand some times. But it was a fantastic ride.

    Because as “boring” or “goofy” as she gets, that’s not the problem. The problem is if the original WW, her creator’s original intention, were again unleashed, she would be more dangerous and potent today than she was 70 years ago.

    Settling for the vanilla, though, seems to be DC’s default. And that’s a shame.

    Thankfully, the Wonder Woman Chronicles exist, and the wild, awesomeness that is WW can continue for all to read.

  51. OtisTFirefly says:

    >>>@marioboom Beyond the fact I don’t know where you hang out to see prostitutes who dress like Wonder Woman is that she has been wearing the same costume for years and moved a lot of product wearing it. As a matter of fact she just sold a load of make-up for the Estee Lauder/MAC wearing it. Your comment doesn’t just smack of misogyny it’s full of crap.>>>
    >>>>For every big budget film that gets the greenlight with a woman as a star about 20 get the greenlight with a man. Hollywood are a bunch of unimaginative people who only know what they know. >>>

    Cheez… LIGHTEN UP FRANCIS! Mario made obviously a joke there… that’s what the ” : ) ” signifies, even from an evil human encumbered with a penis. Not EVERYTHING you see as an insult to womanhood makes a man a misogynist. Do you also see skyscrapers as giant phallic symbols meant to keep women reminded they are inferior to the penis bearer? (Believe it or not, YES, that was almost a direct quote from a Women in Film class I took in college)

    I find amusing all of the ‘empowered strong woman men/studios/executives are afraid of and try to keep down/hidden/invisible’ variations here. This goes back to the ‘take us seriously when we want you too but buy us drinks and dinner and punch out that annoying guy when we’re in the bars wearing Victoria’s Secret and not much else’ dichotomy that exists in America. We’re still in that lovely transition phase from “man rule world beat you with club” of most of the 20th century and earlier and “men and women are total equals and should be treated as such” that will invariably come about (should the USA exist as a country throughout this century and beyond). Try to give us feeble minded males a break, huh? We’re still confused because we live in the “you’re the man, hold the door open for me / i am perfectly damn capable of opening my own door you misogynistic pig” times that keep chauvinistic pigs happy/pissed and bitter uber-feminists happy/pissed and the rest of us in a position of not being able to win for losing.

    And let me beat you to it… “You’re a misogynistic pig OTis!! and you’re probably racist and homophobic too!” None of which is true, but no doubt will be showered upon me for bringing sex into the equation.

  52. Also, make up? Have you seen the campaign? They used a stylized drawing. It’s a heap of difference.

    Does one remember the other time a big budget hollywood movie starring a A-list actress playing a superhero? And how she was dressed? And how people reacted to that look? Halle Berry?
    I don’t mind a bit that female crimefighters look sexy: it IS a weapon in their arsenal but when you have to walk wearing less than a bathing suit, you’ve lost the woman segment of your potential moviegoing audience.

    For teevee the same: Baywatch worked because the women there -let’s face it- were nothing more than eye candy.

    Xena: wasn’t very in your face with the sexy costume.

    Wonder Woman’s uniform just looks incredible tacky in a live version. Surely you don’t need a MAN explaining that to you? Just ask your mother.

  53. @RockPaperNukes It think you misread my comment. I said “And the movies you name have taken place over two decades.” I didn’t say they were two decades old. I was saying that films you name have been released OVER the last 20 years (Aliens was actually 25 years ago, Charlie’s Angels 11 years ago). I’m not saying they don’t do them, but as I said they are the anomaly rather than a regular thing. So maybe not quite “sweeping generalizations” and lack lack of “rational thoughts”, huh? Jeesh.

    @OtisTFirefly I said HIS COMMENT smacked of mysogyny. I didn’t call him a “misogynist”. To use you words, “Hardly the kind of comment that drives a response like yours.” And the rest of your comment? Yikes!
    @mario boon I agree the costume can look tacky, no question. It depends on the artist. What I object to is the classification of it as something a prostitute would wear. That’s loaded language.

  54. I think part of the problem is that the studio executives know that “comic book” movies are hot right now, so they’re in a rush to pump out comic book stuff. Quality, it seems, is an afterthought.

  55. Synsidar says:

    Paradise Island would require maybe all of 3 minutes of exposition. It’s a magic island populated by immortal women who have reason to distrust the man’s world. There, Done, move on.

    Spending three minutes on Paradise Island in a 98 minute movie would leave 95 minutes for — what? WW kicking bad guys’ asses and other fun stuff?

    Back years ago, when series were the standard for comic books, editors and fans would talk about the virtues of character-driven stories. They don’t do that now, since the events are generally plot-driven things. If WW is an Amazon, being an Amazon is central to her character. Dismissing that in the space of a few minutes so that she can be seen doing superheroic stuff turns the story into one about a generic superhero. All superheroes hit things hard, fly, shoot beams from their eyes, etc. Going to a movie to see that is like going to a movie for the thrill of seeing explosions, a car flipping end over end, etc. A writer who cares about character will be more interested in writing about that than he will be about the action scenes. In a WW movie, there should be a balance between action and character scenes, but the character scenes are necessary, and they make writing an ending hard. An ending that just implies she’s going to be running around in “Man’s world” forever isn’t a real ending, and just makes a movie a filmed version of a comic book. Whether she takes down a villain isn’t a real issue either. Writing a real ending about her Amazonian nature that leaves room for a sequel isn’t easy.

    SRS

  56. so somehow I am lucky and I teach a college comics class. so a student (a woman) does her final paper on the ‘new’ JMS/not-JMS Wonder Woman. as much as I expect her to dislike it, she says it is great and is much more palatable as a feminist icon (her argument) and that personally, though she is a huge comics fan, she never liked the original Wonder Woman because she “couldn’t take her seriously in a swimsuit.” Direct quote.

    To further make her point in her final presentation, she made/sewed/constructed her own ‘new’ WW costume just to prove that it could work — and it looked so good it made me wonder if they did model this as a real costume before approving it. This is a college kid and it looked better than the photo above. Her argument was that a costume means everything: a WW of unearthly ideals and costume doesn’t make much sense as a practical role model/super-hero. it was really interesting.

  57. Eric H. says:

    “Total Failure” Daredevil

    – Domestic Gross $102,543,518
    – Production Budget $78 Million

    Difference: $24,543,518

    “Exemplary Success” Blade

    – Domestic Gross $70,141,087
    – Production Budget $45,000,000

    Difference: $25,141,087

    Difference between “exemplary success” and “total failure” $597,569. That’s probably Edward Norton’s latte budget.

    Though unlike either Hulk both of these were profitable on domestic gross alone (as was Ghost Rider – $115,802,596 domestic box office vs. 110 million budget).

  58. RockPaperNukes says:

    dcwomenkickingass

    Actually, the last Charlies Angels film was 8 years ago and the last Aliens film with Sigourney Weaver was 13 years ago.

    >>>>>>

    Personally, I’d rather see a WW series or mini series on HBO. I really loved what they did with Mildred Pierce. I think it’d be cool to see WW start in the 40s and see her in all the different time periods, going up to present day. Kind of like what they did with Highlander. I think a HBO series could do something like that better than a movie could. I mean, if they can do something as awesome as Game of Thrones, then WW should be a breeze.

    with regards to the costume, I was watching the pilot movie for the Carter series last night and saw her in the old 40s era skirt that wrapped around her shorts. That actually looked pretty cool.

  59. Steve says:

    >>>“Total Failure” Daredevil
    – Domestic Gross $102,543,518
    – Production Budget $78 Million
    Difference: $24,543,518
    “Exemplary Success” Blade
    – Domestic Gross $70,141,087
    – Production Budget $45,000,000
    Difference: $25,141,087
    Difference between “exemplary success” and “total failure” $597,569. That’s probably Edward Norton’s latte budget.
    ————————————
    You are not thinking like a studio exec.
    Daredevil: 31% return on its investment.
    Blade: 180% return on its investment.
    (ignoring for the moment foreign sales, DVD sales, etc)
    That’s why there are Blade sequels and not DD sequels.

  60. @ Brad – “she is a huge comics fan, she never liked the original Wonder Woman because she “couldn’t take her seriously in a swimsuit.”

    A lot of people thought the same thing about a guy who dresses up like a bat and fights clowns and people who dress up as penguins and cats. Really, ALL iconic superheroes can’t stand up to the standards of reality, so to dismiss one and not the other is a tough position to be in. The key difference is how it is executed on the screen. Clear evidence is seen in the early Batman films vs. the more recent Dark Knight movies.

    Wonder Woman can work. I’ll take her in whatever version possible, just as I do with other heroes / villains. I don’t need the *perfect* WW film, I just want to see someone try, and others can follow. How many times have they gone to the wishing well for Superman?

  61. Wonder Woman, like most ideas, is at the most potent when not trying to impress you or meet your expectations or standards.

    My favorite ideas are the original 1940s Wonder Woman, which is about as buckwild insane as any comic book has ever been. Ever since the original, truly inspired madness of the first Wonder Woman, there’s been the problem of growing expectations (first woman superhero and all that) matched by growing timidity of vision.

    Essentially, the only way for Wonder Woman to be popular again is to have a writer willing to throw all that baggage away and try to out-Batman-show the Batman-show.

  62. I don’t think it’s a problem of growing expectations exactly. It’s a problem that the character is really, really weird. The costume is bizarre even by super-hero standards (yes, even by superhero standards); she’s all about bondage; she’s got nutjob accessories like the invisible plane; she’s supposed to be a pacifist who runs around hitting people. She’s goofy. Which I love, love, love about her — those early Marston/Peter comics are basically the best super-hero comics ever, damn it. But the fact that she’s so idiosyncratically weird it makes her much harder to sell than, say, a secret agent with a tragic backstory who shoots people like Salt.

    WW was very popular 70 years ago in comics and for a few years on television back in the 70s. Outside of that, people have really had trouble figuring out what to do with her, even as female action heroes have become really really popular (Buffy, Xena, Angelina Jolie in everything, Kill Bill, La Femme Nikita (recently re-jiggered), there’s like three more female assassin movies just come out or coming out whose titles I can’t remember…there’s just no shortage of examples.)

    I don’t exactly understand the logic of wanting new WW product anyway. The TV show looked like it was going to be dreadful. If you like WW, why not just go reread the old stuff? What’s so validating about having some corporation make some stupid show that uses the character you love in insulting and moronic ways? Why is Thor validated by some stupid movie? Why is Batman validated by being put in a ridiculous styrofoam suit and having a bunch of mediocre to bad films made about him? Why do you need your art to be a pop cultural phenomena for it to matter? Like I said, I don’t get it.

  63. Eric H. says:

    “You are not thinking like a studio exec.

    That’s why there are Blade sequels and not DD sequels.”

    I still think fan rejection of DD has a lot to do with there not being DD sequels. Had the first received rave reviews, I think that it would have been more likely to happen. They greenlit Elektra, after all. And Daredevil is Shakespeare by comparison.

  64. I don’t think Wonder Woman has to be validated via the film medium any more than any other property has to be validated. It just strikes me as odd that every iconic superhero gets a film *except* Wonder Woman when she (on paper) is just as strange a concept as Thor, Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four, X-Men, et.

    Also, film is a different medium than books. They are not synonymous and they reach different audiences. Many people who line up for the Dark Knight movies wouldn’t be caught dead in a comic book store, but there are some converts to be made. But overall, the desire (I assume) by many is not to validate the character in film but to broaden the newly emerging superhero film genre.

  65. OtisTFirefly says:

    @DC women

    >>>>@OtisTFirefly I said HIS COMMENT smacked of mysogyny. I didn’t call him a “misogynist”. To use you words, “Hardly the kind of comment that drives a response like yours.” And the rest of your comment? Yikes!>>>

    WHERE did I use Hardly the kind of comment that drives a response like yours.” You didn’t pick that quote up from me.

    “yikes”… pretty much what I expected response-wise. I’m not sure where you could argue that… I guess you weren’t either!

  66. @NoahB

    I enthusiastically agree and disagree with your opinion.

    I don’t think she’s “weird” at all anymore. She’s become boring. Boring as can be. She’s been declawed and watered down to the point of banality. She was wonderfully unique and spirited and singular back in Marston days. They’ve watered her down so much and removed nearly everything special about her in the process. The only creator who seems to sort of get her is Darwyn Cooke. Her scene in “New Frontier” in the village with the formerly oppressed women and Superman was about as close to Marston-era WW as I’ve seen…maybe ever.

    Creators focus so much on the ambassador aspect or the warrior aspect or the identity aspect. Ugh. Just let WW be WW. Quit trying to crowbar her into contrived “roles.” Let her roll her eyes at how stupid people are while pretending to be knocked out by villans just to see what they’ll do next. Let her do all the wild and entertaining things she once did that made her a singular character and an cultural icon.

    On the other hand, I am in complete agreement that there’s some sort of weird validation for people to have their favorite characters adapted for other mediums. Why would anyone want to see (another) bad Fantastic Four movie when they could read excellent comics (are there any?) with the same characters without the limits and compromises other mediums require? I’d rather read the WW Chronicles several times over then watch a bad WW TV show or movie just for the sake of claiming one was made. Fans of other types of literature often wince when there’s talk of adapting works into films. Fanboys, meanwhile, orgasm as the prospect of any character making it to the big-lights of Hollywood, despite the compromises and abuse of character that is essentially guaranteed to take place. Chalk it up to the continued self loathing of comic book fans desperate for validation.

  67. I like Darwyn Cooke’s version, including his satirical take. I’d agree that his version is probably as good as it gets after Marston…unless you go to once-removed versions like Alan Moore’s Glory or Promethea or Adam Warren’s Empowered.

    I think the boredom is part of not knowing how to deal with the original concept. And the original concept is not going to be redone; you’re not going to see WW in a gimp mask or Amazons hunting each other in deer costumes or entire races of seal men subjugating themselves to women or even giant space-faring kangaroos. It’s just not going to happen. Which is a shame, and I strongly believe that all girls and boys and adults should read the original Marston/Peter run, which is one of the most ridiculously sublime pieces of work the comics medium has to offer. But I don’t need new stories with WW anymore than I especially need some random Hollywood development team to do the brand new adventures of Elizabeth Bennett.

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