EDITORIAL: You Should Stop Asking For A WONDER WOMAN Movie
Princess Diana of Themyscira has not yet received the film treatment and there are currently no plans to give her a solo film in the DC Cinematic Universe, so here's my reason as to why you should stop asking for Wonder Woman to happen...
Whenever we get an article about Warner Bros. and their DC Comics films, some smartass always says “How can Marvel have a talking raccoon yet DC and WB don’t have Wonder Woman?” and to be honest, that isn’t really a joke. I say this with the utmost respect to Wonder Woman and her fans, but she doesn’t have a general appeal to the movie-going audience.
A Wonder Woman solo film has a very slim chance at being a well-written, well-structured and well-directed movie, but also has a very high chance of being a commercial/ financial failure. Wonder Woman toys aren’t the most marketable item out there (which David E. Kelley mocked in his pilot, in a scene I found both funny and awkward) and furthermore, Wonder Woman’s box office potential isn’t anywhere near The Dark Knight trilogy or Man Of Steel’s grosses. In the past, action movies with female leads rarely grossed over 300M$ (something that is considered to be a good thing amongst comic book movies these days especially considering their high budgets.) Not only have female action movies not proven to be commercially successful thus far, but they’ve been tried before in the comic book genre as well and performed poorly at the box office. Wonder Woman is a character with a deep and rich mythology that can’t be covered in a 2 hour film or in multiple sequels despite most people thinking it’s as simple as “I live on Themyscira with hot Amazons and then travel to the human world and become Wonder Woman!”. And, unfortunately for film, mythology-fantasy types aren’t that successful commercially or critically with recent examples being John Carter, Percy Jackson and the Clash of The Titans series. Yes, you could argue that these movies were successful when looking at their production costs and their source material, but they are simpler to adapt. While this genre has some slight profit in the box office department, the aforementioned films have barely gotten over a 50% critical rating Rotten Tomatoes. Something about the fantasy element just doesn’t work whether it’s the effects, the portrayal or the importance to the mythos.
The problem with Wonder Woman, first and foremost, is general audience and commercial appeal. I’m speaking about this as a Wonder Woman fan, too. She’s one of my favorite characters in comics. If we look at the last 10 or so years, which are most memorable for moviegoers, the only recently successful film in terms of box office with a female lead was Snow White And The Huntsman which brought in 396M$ worldwide, but unfortunately only managed to get a 48% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, that film also had Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart’s star-power. Zack Snyder, one of the men behind the current DC Cinematic Universe, directed a female-lead film -- Sucker Punch -- which barely managed to bring in 100M$ worldwide with a 23% Rotten Tomatoes critical rating. There are plenty of female-lead action movies out there that are successful, such as Resident Evil, but those films aren’t quite amazing despite bringing in a lot of money. Hell, we’ve tried this before in the comic book genre and failed miserably (Elektra, Catwoman). These films even sported sex appeal and slutty costumes, so it somewhat confirms that sexual appeal is not a deciding factor when it comes to a lady lead’s costume. Nonetheless, they also had terrible acting, bad scripts/dialogue and horrible direction. It’d be an absolute dream if WB got a screenwriter whose really good with female characters and then passed it on to a comic book author such as J.H Williams or Geoff Johns for polish. I also think it’d be interesting if Alan Taylor directs, but we’ll see after Thor: The Dark World.
Speaking of the costume, I have a feeling that it’s one of the reasons Wonder Woman isn’t happening successfully. In 2013, it’s just somewhat unacceptable in society – Lady Gaga notwithstanding - to go around wearing little more than lingerie. When it comes to Diana's costume you’ll have boycotts or complaints no matter how you manage to do it because she’s an important character in comics. We put shiny Lycra pants on her in Adrianne Palicki’s unaired television pilot and everyone cried foul, but if we were to take the pants off (which they ultimately did in the show’s climax, but not many saw) you’d have those feminist comic “fans” complaining that the costume is too sexually appealing. The only medium I’ve seen it adapted perfectly with no complaints so far, ironically, is an image released from the upcoming Wonder Woman XXX by Axel Braun (see left image) because in a porn parody, you can’t be “too slutty” and it’s a shame and the height of irony that the porn world might be able to adapt Wonder Woman’s costume before anyone else could. However, on television, Wonder Woman’s costume could be similar if they manage to figure out what they want to do with the lower-half of her to make it socially acceptable, even in their fictional universe. But it seems all the studios are forgetting about Xena: Warrior Princess who sported a costume VERY similar to an Amazonian warrior and there were no complaints about her awesome breastplate armor. Now, I’m not saying there are variations of Wonder Woman’s costume that include other aspects like pants that HAVE worked, but it’s going to be tough for whoever is in charge to design a reasonable costume and this dilemma affects male superhero films as well, just not as prominently.
That said, it’s 2013 and we live in an age where female-driven entertainment is becoming more and more prominent and better, such as the new Tomb Raider game which was absolutely fantastic and is receiving the movie treatment... but we also have a lot of great television shows with female leads that have proved to be successful such as Continuum, Nikita, Lost Girl and Scandal. Furthermore, television shows have the budget to be absolutely spectacular these days which is why shows like Person Of Interest, Arrow, Doctor Who and more make some cinematic-type episodes. I honestly feel that Princess Diana has a better place on television that could work up to a solo movie mainly because all of the elements in her story – mythology, adventure, action and romance – all work on television incredibly well, even on The CW network. Think about it, Wonder Woman and her story embodies an element from each popular CW show on the air right now, so that’s why the network is perfect for her not only because of Arrow’s success, but the network has a big draw to the comic and genre audience and this show would only bring them in more viewers. I’m somewhat sad we aren’t getting “Amazon” as soon as I had hoped (I loved Smallville and I love Arrow so I’m open to her island days) however, in Season 3 of Arrow, they could introduce Steve Trevor (the love interest of Wonder Woman) as a member of A.R.G.U.S (since he’s an important part of that team in the comics right now) and whilst he's on his way out of Arrow’s world, Amanda Waller could give him a mission that ultimately ends with Waller getting a message stating that Steve crashed in an uncharted island. We’ve had a Wonder Woman television show before that THRIVED and that was back in the old days, so why is it so impossible to get one up and running now?
Overall, I feel like Wonder Woman is in the same position as The Flash. There’s just SO MUCH origin story to tell, a great amount of background and plenty of characters to show that can’t all be crammed into a 2 hour movie. This is the case for quite a few Justice Leaguers but in the end, I’d rather see Wonder Woman thrive in any sort of medium rather than have a failed movie that kills her reputation. Don’t you agree?
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