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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

“why doesn’t Hollywood want a Wonder Woman film?”


Basically, girls are strange and mysterious and it’s just too hard to tell stories about them. Also: cooties. Wah! From FoxNews.com:

“She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes,” Nelson told the Hollywood Reporter. “There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium? What you do in TV has to be different than what you do in features…We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.”

“A Wonder Woman movie has the potential to be huge thanks to the comic books and a deep, nostalgic fondness generated by the Lynda Carter TV show,” said entertainment and pop culture expert Scott Huver. “But the wrong approach could be disastrous. The character carries a lot of goodwill, and is more than just a super hero property – she brings with her feelings about female empowerment and even feminism, which become even more difficult given the conflicted issues regarding her highly-sexualized visual image.”

“Her costume is dated in a way that makes new audiences reject her ,and traditional audiences get angry if it is changed. DC tried to change it with one of its top creator/artists, Jim Lee, but fans had mixed feelings… She just doesn’t have a fresh coolness,” said film producer Madison Jones.

Some say its misogyny that is stopping her release, others claim its laziness, but DC Comics writer Grant Morrison said people “have just convinced themselves” that she’s too hard to develop.

Blah blah bullshit. Male superheroes with dated costumes? Not a problem. Male superheroes without clear, compelling backstories? Not a problem. Superhero without a penis? Impossible! Can’t be done!

  • Nightxade

    So many excuses. My first big problem: No one involved in the decision making process appears to be female. Lots of males deciding/concerned about how women will take it. How about we actually ask and involve women?

  • RogerBW

    As far as people outside the comics fanbase were concerned, nobody knew a single compelling story about Green Lantern either. But that one still got a film.

    Don’t know if other people here have seen the leaked David Kelley/Adrianne Palicki pilot, but… it’s impressively bad. Pretty much Generic David Kelley Series, with all the usual implications that carries for female roles, with some minor superpowers. And yet I’m sure the people making it didn’t realise how bad it was, or they’d never have let it out to critics or NBC.

    (And at least Wonder Woman exists to have this argument about. Where’s the female Marvel hero who might plausibly get her own film or series?)

  • singlestick

    They tried to do a new “Wonder Woman” tv show and the results were so awful, it was halted in mid-production. But DC and the movie studios have to re-think their approach to all their characters. I hear they might bring the Flash to tv, but truth to tell, many DC characters, notably Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman, seem not just quaint, but stupid.

    I don’t know that Wonder Woman necessarily “deserves” a reboot (and the character was originally the bondage fetish dream of her creator, not a feminist icon).

    That said, the excuses of the movie executives are typically dumb. Maybe it takes a Joss Whedon or a Christopher Nolan to see the potential in the character. And from some of the Youtube clips I’ve seen, the animated Wonder Woman ranks with the best of any of the other super heroes.

    Note. Joss Whedon had ideas for a Wonder Woman series, but some of his approach, while unorthodox, seems kinda lame to me.


  • Matt Clayton

    I think it’s a mixture of studio misogny and the thinking of, “it can’t be done well.” That’s bullshit. My thinking is that once Marvel/Disney starts production on a Ms. Marvel film or something, that’s when WB will get cracking on the Wonder Woman film.

    Warner Premiere did a stellar DTV animated movie back in March 2009, with Keri Russell voicing the heroine. It makes me go “If it’s that easy, why haven’t they done it already?” It’s even available to stream on Amazon Prime.


  • Matt Clayton

    I’m thinking WB saw the success of The Avengers and thought, “Maybe we should’ve let him make that Wonder Woman film.”

  • Tonio Kruger

    Six seasons of Xena and seven seasons of Buffy would seem to argue that there are plenty of potential fans for a female superhero. Hollywood just isn’t interested in going after that audience as long as it can still make money playing it safe with more conventional heroes.

    No doubt this might explain why there also has been no big hurray about a Luke Cage: Powerman movie or even an Alpha Flight project. It’s just not female superheroes who have been put on the back burner by corporate Hollywood. They’re just the most obvious target.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    From the article:

    on the DC Universe Animation side, a critically-acclaimed, straight-to-DVD Wonder Woman movie voiced by Keri Russell was released in 2009. But despite critical acclaim, it ended up faring poorly in the sales department.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Also, that’s Amazon Instant Video, not Amazon Prime Instant Video. If it was on Prime, I wouldn’t have to rent it. :)

  • singlestick

    The Wonder Woman animated movie appears to be available for free streaming on Amazon Prime. I may check it out later today.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Oh, look at that. Weird, usually it tells me very prominently that I can watch for “free”, and doesn’t bother showing me the rental price. My bad.

  • Matt Clayton

    I didn’t say whether it did boffo sale numbers, but it was a very enjoyable animated movie. I thought it did justice to the mythos and the character herself.

    And the fact that Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion played off each other well in “Waitress” earlier helped with the Diana/Steve relationship.

  • Matt Clayton

    The immense success of The Hunger Games says there IS a demand for more movies featuring a strong female lead. However, WB would argue that Lionsgate is capitalizing on the YA book-to-movie craze AND that Katniss isn’t a true superhero. That’s true as well, but they’re not looking at potential to raise awareness to get a Wonder Woman movie going.

    Wonder Woman’s origin is deceptively simple, like her male rival Thor is. You need a talented someone like Kenneth Branagh with passion for the source material (or Joss Whedon, but he’s out) and can see eye to eye with the studio on what he/she wants to do. And there are numerous actresses out there who can play Diana.

    It is frustrating, since there’s so much cinematic potential Wonder Woman has story-wise and theme-wise.

  • MisterAntrobus

    . . . she brings with her feelings about female empowerment and even feminism (emphasis mine) . . .

    I suppose it hasn’t occurred to this guy that feminism is female empowerment? He says the word like it’s a taboo subject.

  • englerp

    [quote] I hear they might bring the Flash to tv, but truth to tell, many DC
    characters, notably Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman, seem not just
    quaint, but stupid.[/quote]

    Depends how they are written
    They work pretty well in the DCAU and Batman:TBATB.

  • englerp

    The WW-Pilot would have maybe worked a bit better if it was about a darker character like the Huntress. Granted, it probably would still not be good, but at least it would not be totally OOC.

  • RogerBW

    I’m not particularly a comics fan, but I thought the main problem with the pilot was that it reduced the character to a generic soap-opera stereotype of woman juggling conflicting interests. I don’t see that being any better with any other character that people care about.

  • englerp

    Indeed. That’s why it would still not be good.

  • bronxbee

    and just because a character was supposedly a “bondage fetish dream of her creator” (do you have a citation for that) does it mean the character can’t be reimagined? i don’t get it: everyone else gets a “re-boot” or an upgraded origin story, Batman has had three, i believe, Superman (the most boring superhero) has had many, many… but poor Wonder Woman… no one likes her backstory, so she doesn’t get a reboot? there’s no reason why this character couldn’t be as interesting as any other “superhero” (male). as someone pointed out: Xena, Buffy… huge successes. Zoe on Firefly — a warrior woman — is one of the most popular characters. it’s all a matter of imagination and will. hollywood don’t got any.

  • singlestick

    RE: and just because a character was supposedly a “bondage fetish dream of her creator” (do you have a citation for that)

    Uh, most easily available references to William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, admit the bondage themes. For example,

    Marston’s “Wonder Woman” is an early example of bondage themes that were entering popular culture in the 1930s. Physical submission appears again and again throughout Marston’s comics work, with Wonder Woman and her criminal opponents frequently being tied up or otherwise restrained, and her Amazonian friends engaging in frequent wrestling and bondage play.


    And note that I totally agree that there is no reason that Wonder Woman could not be re-booted, apart from the stupidity of Hollywood executives. Heck, after watching “Man of Steel,” I easily imagined a way that a cameo and a hint of a new Wonder Woman story, could have been a part of that film, and working neatly with the new revisions to the Superman mythology.

  • singlestick

    Yep. Good point. And when it comes to tv and movies, for example, even though I am not a die-hard viewer of the show, I can understand why some viewers enjoy the new Arrow re-boot.

  • englerp

    I’m one of them. It could be a bit less soapy, but that’s the CW four you. ;) Then again, i’m in the minority that actually enjoyed the last few seasons of Smallville.

    Maybe i’m just a sucker for Superhero-Nakama http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TrueCompanions?from=Main.Nakama


  • Jim Mann

    I think the quote that actually raises the biggest issue is this one: “Her costume is dated in a way that makes new audiences reject her ,and traditional audiences get angry if it is changed. DC tried to change it with one of its top creator/artists, Jim Lee, but fans had mixed feelings…”

    Wonder Woman’s costume, like that of many female comic book heroes, is quite skimpy. (This is a huge issue in itself, and many of us wish comics would stop drawing female super heroes to simply appeal to your average 12-year-old boy.) But the movie studio has a difficult choice. If they use the traditional costume, they’ll get complaints from those who think it over-sexualizes her, in a way that male superheroes aren’t treated. (And they’d be right.) But if they change the costume to something more reasonable, they’ll get massive complaints from another group, who want the traditional costume or something at least close. DC faced a lot of complaints a few years ago, during J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Wonder Woman, when the character was wearing a much more reasonable costume.

  • RogerBW

    The decision is: do you have more fans who are twelve (at least mentally) than fans who are vaguely sensible? For the comics themselves it’s clearly the former. For films and TV it’s less obvious.

  • singlestick

    This may not be as big an issue as some might think. There are many die-hard comic fans who acknowledge that a costume that was fine in a comic book needs to be rendered more realistically for the movies. In the “Avengers,” adjustments were made to Captain America’s costume, and most took it in stride.

    And of course, Superman’s iconic costume was modified for “Man of Steel.”

    People forget, or want to pretend, that fans wailed like dogs when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman. He was too small. His chin was too weak. Then they saw the first trailers for the film. And went nuts.

    Fans always find something to complain about. The solution is always to deliver a good movie, not to simply cave in to what they think they might want.

    As an aside, I think that the fantasies of 12 year old boys, and those of 12 year old girls, should be accommodated in comics and in the movies.

  • singlestick

    Actually, I think sometimes people assume too much about fans and their influence, and clearly project much onto prototypical 12 year olds (chronological and mental adolescents). Some comic book fans screamed loudly about the Mandarin’s portrayal in Iron Man 3. The movie still made a billion bucks. Some fans complained that Viper in Wolverine wasn’t the same ethnicity as the character in the comic, and that she didn’t have her hair dangling over one side of her face. Nobody else remotely cared about any of this.

    Bottom line is that I don’t think the movie execs who cannot come up with a good Wonder Woman movie (or TV show) give much of a rat’s ass about fan concerns, and would be using them as a feeble excuse if they did voice any concerns about fan sensibility.

  • RogerBW

    I don’t think hardcore fans are numerically significant, but it’s possible that they might sink a film if they got annoyed enough. (I’m curious to see what happens about Ender’s Game; I suspect the outrage may have peaked and gone by the time it opens.)

  • singlestick

    I’m not sure that hardcore fans have ever been able to sink a film that has been embraced by mainstream audiences. They may have some impact on whether a film gets a green light, maybe.

    I don’t know anyone who is NOT a diehard SF fan who even knows what “Ender’s Game” is about, or who cares one way or another. There is no buzz, no hot expectation, barely even a mild curiosity. I hear more curiosity about “Gravity,” but that is more because it stars Bullock and Clooney and the drama in the trailer is immediate and easy to follow. Some of this may change, of course, as the movies get closer to release.

    And in a sad, strange way, I think the slow death of newspapers has some impact here. Conversations about fan reaction was often covered in the press. And now, it still is mentioned on TV and radio, but in smaller bites. Controversies can rage on the Internet, but unless you specifically go to a movie or SF blog site, you can remain blissfully unaware of what diehard fans might think about anything. When it was covered in the newspaper, you might see the headline and at least glace over the article, and at have at least some awareness of fan opinion.

    So, again, fan reaction can be useful if filmmakers offer something truly stupid with respect to a planned Wonder Woman film, but elsewhere fans are on the same footing as any other viewer with money to buy a ticket.

  • Bluejay

    There are many die-hard comic fans who acknowledge that a costume that was fine in a comic book needs to be rendered more realistically for the movies.

    Agreed. And further, Wonder Woman *has* worn some non-skimpy, totally badass warrior outfits in the comics, which would translate wonderfully to the screen with minimal revision:



    I can see a Wonder Woman thus clad in a film that focused more on, say, her more mythological adventures involving gods and monsters, rather than her everyday city crime-fighting. If Hollywood wishes to put WW in a less bikini-like, more “reasonable” costume *and* respect comic-book sources at the same time, it’s not impossible to do so.

  • mdm

    So here’s my favorite thing on the subject. Granted, Marvel hasn’t put out a Captain Marvel film yet (Captain Marvel being one of their most prominent solo female heroines atm), and Black Widow, despite having nearly as much time on screen as Cap in Captain America 2, doesn’t get title billing, but on the other hand they do have Black Widow, and Pepper Potts (who got suit time in Iron Man 3), and Jane Foster (who looks to have a more active role in Thor 2)…

    In Guardians of the Galaxy, part of Marvel’s “phase 2”, there will be a character named Rocket Raccoon. Who is an actual, walking, talking, gun-toting *space-raccoon*.

    Brett White has choice words on the disparity: http://cdn.uproxx.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/guardians-of-the-galaxy-tweet-brett-white-wonderwoman.jpg

  • LaSargenta

    How does WW not have a compelling backstory?

    I call bullshit right there. Of course, I love ancient Mediterranean mythology.

  • Kirk Aplin

    Basically, the guys doing Marvel universe movies do it well, the guys doing DC universe movies – not so well. (note: “guys” as used here is generic and is not intended to indicate one sex or the other)

  • Matt Clayton

    I don’t think it’s that factor that’s keeping WB from moving forward on the project. More like waning studio interest… and more importantly, the fact that DC Comics doesn’t have its own independent production (separate from the main film studio) like Marvel does. If Wonder Woman was owned by Marvel, they’d already have a movie out.

    In terms of backstory, I think Diana Prince’s Amazon history has immense cinematic potential. If it was done right, it could be as ingrained in pop culture as Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man’s origin stories.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    If Wonder Woman was owned by Marvel, they’d already have a movie out.

    Yeah, like their Captain Marvel movie!

    Oh, wait, no…

    Like “X-Men Origins: Storm”!

    Um, no, hang on…

    Like how Black Widow got her own movie to lead in to The Avengers!!

    Shit, not that either…

    I’m not seeing any evidence that this would be the case. Hell, Marvel didn’t even bother to make Jean Grey more than a secondary villain in a movie that should have been about her return. (Granted, that movie had quaternary villains, but still.)

  • Danielm80

    I had a thought.

    If Zack Snyder’s Superman vs. Batman film is a success, the studio will want to make a follow-up movie. It would be easy enough to add Wonder Woman as a third main character. It would even satisfy studio executives who think that a female lead can’t carry a movie.

    I would be happier, of course, if Time Warner had the confidence to make a tentpole film about a super-heroine. And I would prefer not to put Wonder Woman in the hands of the person who made Sucker Punch. But it is a plausible way to get Wonder Woman onscreen before the end of the decade.

    On the other hand, after the Ben Affleck announcement, there’s no way to guarantee that Snyder wouldn’t cast Hilary Duff as Wonder Woman.

  • cal

    “As an aside, I think that the fantasies of 12 year old boys, and those of 12 year old girls, should be accommodated in comics and in the movies.”

    I like that. It makes good business sense: get both boys and girls invested in hero movies as youth, so whether they are about supermen, superwomen or ensembles, everyone who likes the genre will want to see them.

  • BrianJKelly

    Hey! Don’t you be dissin’ Rocket Raccoon! It’s not like he’s getting his own movie yet, either. ;)

  • BrianJKelly

    Nathan Fillion is Steve? OK – I need to move this higher on my Watch list. =)

  • BrianJKelly

    Just because Marston enjoyed bondage themes doesn’t mean he didn’t intend Wonder Woman to be a proto-feminist icon. He was all about female empowerment along with the fetishism. =)

  • BrianJKelly

    The old Flash TV show was pretty awesome. =)

  • BrianJKelly

    I do hope some executive is slapping himself daily.

  • singlestick

    Marston’s own personal life was very complex (he lived with his wife and another woman, and had children with both of them). In the comics, even when Wonder Woman was tied up by another woman, she would lose all her powers. I agree with you that he may have intended an idea of empowerment, but I’m not sure that it was really proto-feminist. However, I think that Wonder Woman transcends Marston’s intentions and his fantasy connections with his creation, which happens often in comics (and a good thing, too!)

  • Tonio Kruger

    Of course, if you believe Herodotus, the Amazons are not really part of Mediterranean mythology, giving their origins in the Black Sea area and their relationship to the Scythians. But that’s just nitpicking. After all, it’s not like many people mention the Arimaspi nowadays.

  • Tonio Kruger

    “Rocket Raccoon
    Flew up to the moon,
    Only to find Gideon’s Bible…”

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