Despite the embarrassing cinema outings for female superheaters such as Catwoman, Elektra and Aeon Flux, hope springs eternal that someone someday will make a movie about a heroic female that isn’t utterly cringeworthy. Of course, TV is a lot more heroic woman friendly, so it’s there that we find Wonder Woman — whose movie version stalled long ago — currently trying to find a home.
The story goes like this: David E. Kelley, the famed TV producer behind such shows as Boston Legal and the “groundbreaking female dramedy” Ally McBeal, was tasked by the WB to develop a Wonder Woman pilot. He wrote that pilot. It was passed around all the networks and no one picked it up. Sad face. But then, SURPRISE, NBC decided they would put it on this fall! Happy face!
Rebooting Wonder Woman is a task that has vexed many a man and woman in the comics, let alone TV. The Lynda Carter original was ’70s campy, a take that no one would take seriously any more. No, you need to have some kind of faith and belief in the background and motivation of your hero for audiences to do the same.
Kelley’s pilot script is now making the rounds in Hollywood — it’s apparently very easy to come by, so if anyone wants to send it our way, we won’t object — but from all reports it is…sort of like Ally McBeal with bracelets:
Pages 8-14: The first of many lengthy heart-to-hearts between Diana and her press secretary, Myndi [sic], that’s meant to play as though the two are long-lost sisters who gab about boys in between high-powered meetings. Here, there’s the additional opportunity for gratuitous skin, as Diana takes a long, hot shower before she opens up about long-lost love Steve Trevor, now a lawyer in the Justice Department. (Wait, really?) Despite the alleged feminist undertones, Kelley uses the scene as an opportunity to dissect Diana’s love life and engage in some stereotypical banter about much-needed makeovers (alter ego Diana Prince is rather mousy because she has brown eyes, apparently, and doesn’t style her hair well) and Myndi asks her how the women of Themyscira have babies. No surprise that war hero Steve Trevor has been redesigned as a lawyer here. You didn’t really think Kelley would do a show without a single member of the legal profession in the mix, did you?
The rest of this report is equally dire with ice cream sleepovers, Wonder Woman’s three identities, Beyoncé songs, and Diana swooning for Steve Trevor like a lovesick teen.
If you want a more comic-book knowledgable review, Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass also had a peek and was unimpressed:
If this were a show about a generic female crime fighter, it wouldn’t be bad. But it’s not. It’s about Wonder Woman and what Kelley has done, despite the character’s love of flying, is to bring her down to earth and not in a good way. He underplays her origin, reduces her scope and waters down her motivation. Wonder Woman is a bigger than life character who should inspire awe. And there are moments where he writes her that way but for the most part it just feels like Diana Themyscira is a wonderful woman but hardly a Wonder.
Remember, it’s just a pilot script — there will be much tinkering between now and when the show debuts as the leaves drift to ground. Maybe Kelley will break his leg or have a lizard bite off his toe or something.
As for casting…that is all still up in the air.
§ However Wonder Woman is not the only woman in a superhero movie we’re hearing a lot about of late. There’s Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot which, we’re told, will not include Lois Lane. If Lois was going to be another 22 year old ingenue like Kate Bosworth, maybe it’s just as well. But even in that version Lois was a smart, capable professional who brought a lot to the mythos. We’ll miss you, you maniac.
You can do Superman without Lois but you still need a character with tits to play opposite Henry Cavill. And so, Variety tells us, there are three actresses up for the leading lady role:
and Diane Kruger.
It’s a blond then. Not Lana Lang?
§ Further meanwhile, we turn to the Avengers film, which is being written and directed by Joss Whedon, the man who loved to write strong women (who once took on Wonder Woman, even.) If there is one writer you can depend on to try to pass the Bechdel Test, it’s Whedon, but in AVENGERS thus far we have only Scarlet Johannson as the Black Widow. But Whedon hinted he’d sneak in another girl and now Samuel L. Jackson, who is playing Nick Fury, has confirmed:
“I gotta screen test like five actresses on Friday. They have this new character who I guess is like my sidekick, or something that’s like with me all the time. So, they’re auditioning girls for it.”
But who…who??? The Hollywood Reporter to the rescue, with a short list consisting of
Morena Baccarin (“V”)
Jessica Lucas (“Melrose Place”)
Cobie Smulders (“How I Met Your Mother”) and reportedly Whedon’s choice for Wonder Woman back in the day.
and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim, The Thing)
So…it’s a brunette, then. Baccarin is said to be the front runner, but these kinds of rumors are often unreliable, so just hold on to your hats.
No one knows who this character will be, but will she and the Black Widow do more than just scowl at each other, as the Black Widow did with Pepper Potts in IRON MAN 2? Or will they…talk? We’re counting on you, Joss!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.