How to Not Screw Up a Wonder Woman Film
Okay folks. No more lists. I (semi) promise. I’m writing this post because I’m getting rather sick of the “no women, no people of color as leads in superhero films” stance Hollywood has taken. The scuttlebutt is that these films are not viable and won’t make money overseas. Of course they aren’t viable — if you make crap films. See Halle Berry’s Catwoman for what not to do. They had to have known it was going to be crap, so why did they make it? Was the option running out?
Wonder Woman is especially near and dear to me as she is the first superhero my daughter really got into (then came Storm, and on to her current favorite, Vixen) and ignited her love for all things super-heroic. I was a fan of the 1970s Linda Carter television show, but it does not hold up — not in any way. A contemporary version is needed. A contemporary film is needed. Diana is too big for the small screen. All of the young girls who love this stuff, but are routinely left out in the cinema, will thank you when this film is done correctly. Hell, even Kevin Tsujihara — the CEO of Warner Bros. (y’know, the company that owns the property) knows what time it is.
Well, let’s get to it.
Wonder Woman is not American. Let’s bin the red white and blue uniform. I’ve heard the argument that since an American psychologist, William Moulton Marston, created her she should be portrayed as such. No. She is linked to ancient Greek mythology and culture and this should be reflected in her presentation. Let her be the warrior she is rather than a symbol of misogynist American propaganda. And as she hails from a purely fictional ancient/future Greek society, some liberties can be taken, but her current uniform is not the business. Try the image below as a baseline and evolve/modernize from there:
No love interest. Damn a Steve Trevor. Wonder Woman is fly by herself and does not need a man to enhance her in any way. And as much as I love Justice League Unlimited, when I saw Wonder Woman pining all googly-eyed over Batman, I was pissed. One of the baddest warriors in the DCU — one of the trinity — all butt hurt because of an unrequited crush? Hell no. You can have men (and women) fall all over her…who wouldn’t? But a love interest (especially a human one) would only slow her down. What were the two worst parts about Thor? Every time Natalie Portman showed up and every time she and Chris Hemsworth interacted. How are you going to have Sif — who wants the hammer — right there but ignore her in favor of the frail human who drags the film down whenever the camera rests on her? That shit was truly fantasy.
Pick an origin story and stick to it. Things to keep? The Modern Age origin stays. Everything else is tossed. For her to be an ambassador AND a warrior provides tons of interesting story directions.
Bring on the myth. I’m talking the hydra, Minotaur, Ares, harpies, Hades, all of them. Let’s all take a moment to clear our cinematic palettes of the absolute turd-fests that are the modern Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson films. Here’s a mint. Now, imagine a portal opening up in the middle of Diana’s address to the United Nations and a Manticore creeps out and attacks. From underneath her robe, she unsheathes her kopis and engages. Two things happen in this moment: her “peacekeeper” image is shattered as she is savage in battle, and the world has to contend with the idea that Greek mythology is real. If this is real, how many other cultures’ myths are ready to invade our reality? Sequels. Sequels. Sequels.
Have Coleen Doran write it. If you haven’t read A Distant Soil, you need to. She’s brilliant. Plus, she has a history with the character. Two years ago, the internet exploded over her [ultimately rejected] Wonder Woman concept sketches for J. Michael Straczynski’s brief run on the title.
She elaborates on the story behind this Wonder Woman concept here.
No invisible jet. She can fly. Keep the lasso, the bracelets, but ditch the invisible jet. It is the corniest thing in life.
And speaking of flying — give her a signature flying maneuver and a signature wake. No fist in front, heading towards the camera. Superman has that covered. No crouching down with everything shaking as she shoots into the air — nor should the pavement split when she lands. Have enough respect for her to invest in this detail.
Wonder Woman isn’t white. She’s Greek. Can we cast a woman with real melanin and less tanning booth? A natural brunette, who is tall, fit, has control of her body and is believable in a brawl — that’s the shit I do like. While that fan film that went viral is great — and kudos to the folks involved in making it — the actress was about as believable as Steven Seagal running a marathon.
Circe has to be the villain. We can get to Hades and Ares, but the primary villain must be Circe. Just don’t destroy her like they destroyed Magneto in the X films. They did him too cold and ruined any ounce of his integrity as a reliable (or interesting villain). I can’t front though, Michael Fassbender did him justice in X-Men: First Class. I’d watch a film about Magneto hunting Nazis — I’d watch that all day, every day. Oh yeah, don’t make Wonder Woman versus Circe into a magical catfight. Let there be some real stakes involved and not just barely clothed women rolling around for male enjoyment.
Remove the overt politics of the film. None of this: “We will make sure that a female superhero lead is viable by hitting all of these ridiculous political (i.e. pseudo-female empowerment) points.” If the story is good, there would be no need to be heavy handed. Let the story breathe and trust that the characters will drive and reveal a compelling narrative. Do this and all should be fine. Do not try and template Wonder Woman from other action films starring women, i.e. the Tomb Raider series, or The Black Widow from The Avengers, or Ripley from the Alien franchise — give us something wonderful and new. Also, just make the fucking film already. No more excuses.
- We Do Not Need a Wonder Woman Movie (thenerdsofcolor.org)