Lights, Camera, Wondy!

If only.

There’s some great work being done on television, and there are a number of shows I’d watch gladly before forking over $10 for a paint-by-numbers blockbuster. The big screen isn’t always superior, and lots of comic book characters would be well-served by a thoughtful TV vehicle. Just look at Smallville.

And yet, when the story broke that David E. Kelley was developing a new Wonder Woman TV series, I was somewhere between indifferent and disappointed. And it has very little to do with Kelley or his previous work, though I did hate Ally McBeal.

There have been five major Batman releases since 1988, and the sixth is in the works. Superman’s live-action movie career dates back to the 1970s, and his sixth outing is on the way. That’s not even counting the animated television vehicles and God knows how many major comic book stories — many of them modern classics. But while her fellow DC Trinity teammates are riding high in first class, Wondy’s still flying coach, despite having her own damn plane. To further extend the metaphor, why is one of the best-known comic book heroes ever, male or female, languishing on the runway? I’m sure the Green Lantern movie will be somewhere between workmanlike and very good, but  he gets a film franchise before Diana? Really? (And please don’t tell me that her costume is the problem, because all superhero garb is essentially ridiculous.) For a more detailed version of this rant, click here.

I’m not privy to anything happening behind the scenes at DC-Warner Bros., so this is baldfaced conjecture on my part. However, I think this speaks volumes about the character’s importance, or lack thereof, to her keepers. Joe and Jane Sixpack know who Wonder Woman is, but it’s entirely possible that they’ve never heard of Hal Jordan. However, he, along with Bats and Supes have benefited from a great deal of corporate nurturing. Even in her own $2.99 comic book, Wonder Woman has been diminished for a gimmicky, generic story that, trust me, will not stand alongside Hush 50 years from now.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that a Wonder Woman movie would be good, and the new TV show could turn out to be a winner. Like every other Gen Xer in the late 1970s, I was glued to the screen when Lynda Carter spun and transformed into the Amazon Princess. It’s cool to think that a new generation of kids could be inspired to rip some tinfoil and form it into bracelets. But it would be a lot cooler if Wonder Woman got the respect and attention that a hero of her caliber truly deserves.

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5 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Wondy!

  1. I think part of the problem is the lack of an easy hook… she has inherent contradictions. Batman – grim & gritty avenger, GL- space cop, Superman – is Superman! But WW is both an ambassador for peace and the ultimate warrior… she defeats menaces, but is not a crime-fighter, per se… and any serious attempt would have to examine the mythological and Amazon background – Ideally, to my mind, a whole debut film would be set in Themyscira and features gods & monsters, ending just as she prepared to leave for the outside world. Great introduction and set-up for a sequel. But can you sell it? Her more complicated nature makes for great story potential, IF treated respectfully, but what comes to the screen (eventually) will probably be much ‘dumbed down’, and a great disappointment.

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  2. Hi! True, Wonder Woman’s story isn’t quite as simple or clear-cut as those of her fellow heroes. I also agree that there has to be a lot of emphasis on her Themyscira origin and her introduction to “man’s world.” I have to believe there’s someone out there who could pull it off, assuming the studio didn’t force them to make it stupid.

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  3. Erika,

    I totally agree. I have never read the monthly comic book, but Wonder Woman is one of my favorite characters. So I cringed when I heard about David Kelley doing a Wonder Woman TV series. Oh great, I thought… less on the superheroics, more on the impossibly pithy, smarmy dialogue in some Manhattan brownstone. And what else I’m afraid of is that they will hire a lead just to be a sexpot rather than someone who inspires others to follow her and that quiet strength makes her attractive.

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  4. On the plus side, the Entertainment Tonight footage of Green Lantern I saw looked like a dog turd, so that might hurt its chances of connecting with the public. Maybe DC will retreat to more familiar and proven ground?

    Anyway, I call B.S.– Girl raised on an island of warrior women meets her first man by fate/chance. This occurs during the opening stages of a global conflict. Driven by curiosity, lust, and a drive to prove herself, she enters a contest to take the man back to civilization, as well as to confront the forces of evil threatening the entire world, including her island. The audience gets role model heroines or eye candy & action. How much more simple and essentially appealing do you get?

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  5. I can’t say I’m excited about the GL movie, because Hal Jordan leaves me cold. @Frank: I’ve said before that the notion of a gorgeous woman kicking ass — with dignity — is a surefire hit. While her origin is more nuanced than, say, Batman’s, it’s still cinematic gold.

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