Since the announcement that Wonder Woman pilot had not made NBC’s schedule, there has been no dearth of analysis about what it says about Wonder Woman, about us, about women, about…EVERYTHING, dammit. The Wonder Woman pilot getting dropped may just be the most significant event of our time!
First off, a picture of the variant “shorts” costume has been making the rounds. Would showing a bit more thigh have tipped the balance for the show? Probably not. With Wonder Woman nothing can ever, ever be simple.
A particularly annoying (to fans of Wonder Woman) piece in EW, exemplified this, by conflating her with everything:
She is the most famous female superhero, and there is every reason to be proud of the fact that she is considered an equal to Superman and Batman. But she also perfectly represents a whole assortment of fundamental problems with the treatment of women in comic books. Let’s not forget: The mainstream comic world is dominated, in readership and authorship, by men.
DC Women Kicking Ass, has pretty much fisked this entire piece.
And the idea that Wonder Woman’s story can’t be compelling? The number one movie at the box office this weekend was a superhero who is a God. A superhero who walks around with a giant hammer (as opposed to, say a lasso) that spends time in both “man’s world” and in the the world of the Gods.
Why is Thor so easy to get to screen, but Wonder Woman is reduced to a television drama by David E. Kelley where she’s a superhero but also a female who worries about her body and pines for her boyfriend? Why when that treatment fails do the stories focus not on the execution but on the character?
Every time a male centric film fails, there’s another one right behind it. Superman Returns was a failure. You don’t read Entertainment Weekly writing about how his costume was the reason. The Hulk failed twice and is on its third take. You don’t see them writing about how his torn green pants are the problem or a metaphor? Of course not.
Or as Michael May put it so clearly yesterday:
If there’s a curse, it’s the tendency of writers to “figure out” Wonder Woman to death. Why can’t she just be a strong, confident woman who beats the crap out of bad guys?
Why indeed. Would is be painting with too broad a brush to suggest that WB’s long-term “Wonder Woman” problem has at its root the fact that a super-strong, noble female superhero is just not an idea most studio execs are conformtable with or confident in? Jill Pantozzi analyses WB exec comments on the failed pilot, and it’s mostly a vague sense of dissatisfaction.
When it came to the most talked about pilot they were shopping around, Roth said he thought Wonder Woman was a very “well crafted” pilot. “But after seeing the announcement of the NBC schedule, I now understand and agree with [NBC Entertainment Chairman] Bob [Greenblatt] that it doesn’t necessarily fit particularly well with their schedule,” said Roth, “As well crafted and contemporized as it was, it was a big and radical shift for viewers to embrace this new idea — and that may, to some degree, have had to do with why it didn’t make it.”
Of course it’s not just a star spangled Amazon who is baffling the boys of Hollywood. It’s female-centered movies in general, as this piece on the comedy BRIDESMAIDS points out — the movie, starring and written by Kristen Wiig, became something of a crusade for those who wanted to see more movies where women Do Things.
What’s motivating this campaign is simple: Hollywood studios do not make comedies for or about women anymore. Yes, they used to. As recently as a few decades ago, when comedy stars like Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn stalked through theaters alongside supporting players like Teri Garr, Carol Kane and Madeline Kahn, bringing us movies that were sometimes sublime and sometimes disposable, but which had women at their heart. Think “Private Benjamin,” “9 to 5,” “Outrageous Fortune,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”…
It’s hard to think of the 80s and 90s as an enlightened time, but they sure weren’t as uptight about just letting women do things on screen. Even for Bridesmaids — which has thus far grossed a respectable $59,5 million at the box office — producer Judd Apatow has to add his own signature: a scene where the stars poops their pants.
Mumolo tells her that Apatow didn’t want any scenes where the characters just “sit and talk.” And both writers needed convincing to include a drawn-out, filthy scene that (spoiler) involves food poisoning and lots of poop.
When discussing Wonder Woman’s failure to launch, one other element must be mentioned: how it affects the budding DC Entertainment West Coast Wing, led by Geoff Johns. We’ve heard different takes on this: some say it was a little blow to his regime; others say he was unaffected, as he’s more hands on with Green Lantern.
Whatever the blowback, it looks like it will be a long, long time before Wonder Woman gets her own filmed spin-off. Luckily we’ve got some books by Greg Rucka, Gail Simone and George Perez to last us until hell freezes over.
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.