Looking Back#3: History of Wonder Woman Undeveloped Projects
Previously I did a piece on Joss Whedon's failed attempt at bringing the iconic Amazon to life. My research on Whedon, unearthed a plethora of attempts to bring Diana to life down the years. Hit the jump to learn more and also learn about David Goyer's involvement with future plans.
Previously, I took a look at Joss Whedon's 2005 attempt to bring Princess Diana of Themyscira to life. Would you believe that there were more attempts..... a lot more..... some by big names in Hollywood circles.First let's start with the 1990 television series.
Warner Bros. announced that a new syndicated Wonder Woman show had been green-lit and a pilot would be produced however, no details, let alone a pilot ever emerged after this announcement. There's not a whole lot of information out there about this one. This attempt never really got off the ground.
A new television project was announced by Warner Bros. for Wonder Woman. With the success of Xena:Warrior Princess, naturally there were plans to re-introduce Diana on the small screen. This attempt made it a lot further than the 1990 one. Deborah Joy Levine, who created Lois&Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, was hired to write the script. The outline for the show had Diana living in modern-day Los Angeles, where she taught Greek mythology at a local college. This series actually progressed to a few casting calls but ultimately the project never moved beyond these early stages and a pilot was never produced. Click here for an interview Levine did with our very own Ed Gross.
This time, attempts were made to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. Producer Joel Silver approached writer, Todd Alcott to write the movie with Silver Pictures set to provide financial backing. Rumors ran rampant with this movie, with everyone form Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé Knowles, Sandra Bullock, Rachel Bilson, Nadia Bjorlin, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all rumored to star at one point. Slowing down the production were numerous script rewrites by the likes of Alcott, Jon Cohen, Becky Johnston, Philip Levens, and Laeta Kalogridis.
You can actually download these scripts and read them here.
In 2005, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures announced that Joss Whedon would be taking over from Kalogridis. According to Joel Silver, the script would cover Wonder Woman's origin and include Steve Trevor: "Trevor crashes on the island and they go back to Man's World." Charisma Carpenter and Morena Baccarin were rumored to be up for the role. See my past article on the 2005 attempt here.
In 2007, the day before Whedon ultimately left the project, a spec script was bought from Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland. Set during World War II, the script impressed executives at Silver Pictures. However, Silver ultimately revealed that he bought the script for dubious reasons. With the overall lack of development by Whedon, Silver's studio was in danger of losing the rights to the character. While the studio was very impressed with Jennison's and Strickland's style of writing, they were dead-set against Wonder Woman being a period piece. Luckily for Jennison and Strickland, following Whedon's departure, the studio tapped them to write a new script, with Diana in a modern setting.
This is it, right. Finally, the Silver Pictures seems to be moving forward. Jennison and Strickland have written a script shying away from any origin story, and instead focused on the character's motivation, and her homeland of Paradise Island. Alas,Strickland gave a pretty cliched description of the script in an interview with Reelz:
We certainly took liberties on our spec Wonder Woman, but we also used a ton of stuff from the comic. My feeling is that ultimately something iconic like Wonder Woman needs to be a hybrid of the source material and the writer's original inspiration. We feel an obligation to the fan base not only to treat the property with respect, but also to make it fresh — to reinvent the story without reinventing the wheel, so to speak.
There should be breathtaking action sequences alongside character beats that allow the audience to relate to this Amazon princess, and moments where they get to laugh but not because it's campy. People have described the spec as Wonder Woman meets Raiders of the Lost Ark. I think that's a pretty good tone.
Even with such a script, the Wachowski Brothers were in directing negotiations early on but dropped out over creative differences. Based on that description above, I'm sure they probably wanted to rewrite the whole thing. Ultimately, the film was put on hold so that the studio could pursue the Justice League: Mortal film. Eventually Silver lost the rights due to a combination of a lack of development and the writer's strike of 2007. The film rights reverted back to DC.
Acclaimed director Nicolas Winding Refn, expressed interest in directing a Wonder Woman film, with a more mythological take than the Strickland and Jennison script. This director is mostly known for the Viking battle flick, Valhalla Rising. Check out this interview Refn did about Valhalla Rising, where he also briefly expresses his enthusiasm for Wonder Woman.
Seems like this guy would be perfect for the job. He'd bring that gritty, bloody, mythological aspect to the film that Wonder Woman needs. Hopefully, this guy is still in the mix. In an interview with Movie Line Refn describes what his take on the movie would be:
"Wonder Woman, I really want to make. That, I’m hoping, will be my $200 million extravaganza — if I even get close to it. That’s why I say, “Well, let me go make Drive [a thriller shooting soon with Ryan Gosling]. Let me start the ball rolling within the system.”
No, it’s not the only way, but I think that would be a starting point for looking at it. You need a great, extravagant, marketable action film — and everything that comes with it. But I think that when Christopher Nolan did the Batman movies, I think he very cleverly went back to the source material and took themes that had maybe not been exercised. And he was able to make very good and successful films with them. So I think the audience is very much out there. It’s just how you do it. And I think that some of the films that have worked over the years have worked for different reasons than people sometimes think they do.
"And where Wonder Woman on one hand is a great female character who can be included in many great fight scenes, she doesn’t have great villains against her. OK, so you create some. She doesn’t have a Joker or those classic Batman kinds of guys. But she does have her whole world that she comes from, which is fascinating. The whole idea of a woman who is basically more powerful than any man — and who will always be that, and comes from a society of women who are more powerful than men — is an interesting theme that I think can be very contemporary."
Hopefully, this guy is still in the mix!
In an interview with LA Times, Warner Bros. President Jeff Robinov announced that director of the Batman franchise, Christopher Nolan would be the overseer if such a film were to be made due to his success at the helm of the Batman series as well as "godfather" of the Superman film series. Robinov later hinted that many actresses's were contacted including Megan Fox and Nicole Kidman. Warner chairman and CEO Barry Meyer also chimed in, saying that a Wonder Woman film is in development. With Megan Fox tanking in Jonah Hex and Passion Play, it's probably safe to say she's no longer in the running.
According to Fox News.com, Warner Bros is indeed developing a Wonder Woman movie which is slated for release in 2013 and according to Warner Bros, the villain of the film will be an entirely new one. X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner is campaigning hard to produce the film. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight co-writer David S. Goyer was rumored to be announced as a director or a writer at the 2010 Comic-Con but no such announcement was made.
By now, we all know that the NBC Wonder Woman show starring Adrian Palicki was not picked up. No need for me to rehash the details but click here for an article by Josh Wilding if you need a refresher.
There is still hope for Wonder Woman though. In an interview with LA Times, back in March Warner Bros. President Jeff Robinov stated that a new Justice League movie is in the works. After, the first attempt stalled out due to the writer's strike back in 2007 Robinov stated that his priority for the DC heroes is a 2013 Justice League movie and a "reinvention" of the Batman franchise, following Christopher Nolan's decision to only act as producer to future installments. Robinov went on to say that if the Justice League performs well, the characters will be spun out into their own individual films. So maybe on of the characters spun out will be Wonder Woman. Obviously, DC is taking a wait and see, then imitate approach to Marvel's plans with The Avengers. Hopefully, Warner Bros. can get Nolan to oversee the JLA becuase they have bombed on every super-hero movie that doesn't have his involvement.
So that's pretty much the history of all the undeveloped Wonder Woman shows and movies. It's actually pretty sad, almost as if the character is cursed to forever hang in limbo. As a female character, you definitely need Wonder Woman to do 3 things, 1.Be Sexy, 2. Fight Mythological Monsters, and 3. Be Hard as Nails. While that seems like a cliched description, it's really who the character is. She doesn't take smack from anyone, not Superman, nor Batman, or even Queen Hippolyta. Some of her most iconic moments are her standing up to Superman and she always get's the better of their verbal exchanges. With Batman, she usually just beats him down. She's a character that acts first, based on her own set of principles and moral code, almost like the "renegade cop" persona in media. This could play itself out well on the big screen, almost as a female version of the recent Will Smith movie, Hancock. There's no need for Wonder Woman to have a secret identity. She's not Clark and she's not Bruce. She hasn't had one for quite some time in the comics.
As previously stated by some of the directors above, Wonder Woman doesn't have a great rogue's gallery. There's no Joker, no Lex Luthor. It's a toss-up between Aries and Cheetara, both character that wouldn't lend itself to tv or film. Aries has seen too many iterations in the media to capture interest and isn't exclusively tied to the Wonder Woman mythos the way Lex and Joker are to their respective counterparts. Cheetara is a character that only works in the comics. I honestly think that in order to make a Wonder Woman movie or tv show work, you need to borrow from Superman or Batman's rogue gallery. You also need them cameo but not to save her but for Diana to show them up and/or dress them down (figuratively speaking). That would effortlessly define Diana as something other than Superman and Batman, while at the same time acknowledging their significance. Wonder Woman is a savage, fierce warrior. Let Superman be the super hero and Batman be the vigilante.
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