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Why Can’t Wonder Woman Get Her Own Movie?

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I think that Marvel’s Black Widow is the most important female super-hero out there right now. It’s not because of her powers, or because of her history, but because she’s looking like the most likely candidate for first female super-hero to get her own movie anytime soon, now that DC has seemingly relegated Wonder Woman to television. Is it just me, or is something wrong with this picture?

Don’t take that as a diss on Black Widow – Although I wouldn’t complain that loudly if you did, because I’m not the largest fan of either the character or Scarlet Johannson’s performance in Iron Man 2 – but… if mainstream audiences are ready for a Captain America movie, how hard would it really be to make a Wonder Woman movie work? She’s a more famous character, for one thing (Not to mention, even more patriotic, if the number of stars on her outfit is anything to go by), and she has the novelty of – gasp! – being a woman theoretically going for her, as well. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Being a female action hero isn’t a novelty as much as a drawback when it comes to movies these days, and for some reason, DC doesn’t seem to want to risk breaking that spell with one of its most iconic characters.

(To be fair to DC Entertainment, it’s not like Wonder Woman movies have been easy to create; it feels as if the property has been in development for at least a decade, and nothing has worked out for whatever reason, including the now-mythical Joss Whedon version which, if DC Comics was being smart about these things, they’d tap him to adapt into comics for the inevitable Wonder Woman: Earth One graphic novel.)

The thing is, while I think that a Wonder Woman television series has the potential to be great dependent on the people working on it (David E. Kelley makes me nervous, I admit), I can’t help but feel that it leaves the movie side of things a bit bereft of potential female leads. Outside of Wonder Woman, which DC super-heroines have the ability to successfully carry their own movies? Zatanna and Madame Xanadu could both rock variations on the Spooky Chick idea, perhaps, and on the straightforward superhero that isn’t tied to another franchise too much, probably Vixen – if given the opportunity, and that’s unlikely considering I doubt DC or mainstream audiences are ready to give a black woman her own action movie just yet – but otherwise… who? Power Girl, with her convoluted backstory, is out for the same reason that Supergirl is (Too related to Superman to really be able to stand out on her own). Batgirl, Oracle and the majority of the Birds of Prey are out for their ties to Batman and/or the Blackhawks – Black Canary, maybe, could stand on her own characterwise, but that name… I’m not sure (Sorry, Dinah).

And even if a character can survive the selection process, who’s to say that their movie wouldn’t be another Elektra – which softened the character to make her fit a mainstream idea of what a female hero should be – or, worse still, another Catwoman – a fate worse than no movie at all, let’s be honest? Something I read in relation to this summer’s Salt (Hi, another movie to reinforce the idea that audiences would rather watch male heroes in crap than female heroes in – admittedly only just – superior movies) sticks with me, about there being a concern that Salt’s husband not be saved by her during the film because it makes him seem less manly. To make him an equal to Salt – or, at least, not need her help – reduces the hero of the piece, though, because… isn’t the point of the hero in this kind of thing to save the day, or at least their partner?

Maybe it’s a good thing that Wonder Woman won’t go into movies, after all. Perhaps, just as moviemakers seem suspicious about the audience being ready for female heroes, it’s the case that movies aren’t ready for them, either. Television offers a chance to get into character complexity more, and let them save the day at least once, if only because the menfolk can get their chance to redress the balance later. And at least shows like Buffy, Alias, Nikita and the like demonstrate that television audiences are more than willing to accept women kicking ass without too much trouble. Good luck, Black Widow. I have a sneaking suspicion you just might need it.

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Comments

  • bugmenot32

    Because no one cares about her as a character, because there's no character there to care about. She's a blank slate, and not in a good way — there's no classic Wonder Woman era, there's no standard-issue set of tropes that come along with the character, just a name and occasional less-than-usually-awful runs on her comic.

  • Katykaboom10452

    I think it will work if they keep the movie true to the animated one the was recently release…All the guys I know who watched it loved it!..we all agree that if that very movie was live action with all the graphics we can add on..it will be a huge hit!…It had our attention from beginning to end. A T.V. series of Wonder Woman will be worse than the actually T.V. series which only lasted 3 seasons…A movie in my opinion (shared with others) is the only way to go.

  • Summer

    Honestly, if someone took a back to basics approach – looked at Perez's reboot, added in some classic Marston ideas with a nod and a wink – it wouldn't be that difficult. There's a lot that can be done with the characters – the studio just needs to find someone who knows Wonder Woman history and has a love for the character. I mean, Abram's Star Trek was so near perfect because the movie was clearly written by a fanboy who's also a consummate professional.

    Having said that, I think that a Black Canary movie would definitely work – name and all. Manhunter would work as well, as would Stargirl or Zatanna. Granted, DC would have a lot more to work with if most of their characters weren't distaff counterparts of male heroes.

  • Sijo

    Yeah, people expect different things from different media: comics are for kids, TV is for comedies and dramas, movies are for Big Action scenes. I'm not saying any of this is true, only that *most* people think it is. So Tv shows, in my opinion, help comics characters “bridge” the distance into getting their own movies. In that sense, a new WW show can only help (if it doesn't flop.)

  • comic relief

    She’s more popular with fans than you account for.

    I must admit, part of me is disappointed that there isn’t a feature film planned for the character. DC is far more cautious than Marvel so why should we expect any bold new steps from the company. In their heyday, Marvel/Fox equated survival with visibility so we aren't likely to see that performance repeated by DC/Warners.

    Lasting for more than one season on TV is a really big accomplishment and Linda Carter's TV show did just that. Though I am not sure about David E. Kelly he is far more able than most so I think we should be patient and hope for the best.

    Maybe you missed all of the supportive eulogies expressed a while ago after her character’s costume change. The character is really popular despite her some sometimes semi-lack luster support from DC. So I would not count out how far her fans may stretch for her. Look at SMALLVILLE's run and most would agree the show is afraid of much of iconic material that makes comic fans committed to the character.

  • Sageshinigami

    Who cares? Movies suck. Comics are a serial medium, these are serial characters, they should be in serial stories–give me a television show and Hollywood's big screen crap can go screw off.

  • Mr. M

    I think the problem isn't in the projected audience for the film, the problem is on the creative side. It seem like WW is rebooted every 24-36 months and headed toward a BOLD! NEW! direction. If the owners of the property haven't been able to get a handle on the character for decades, it make is pretty difficult to tell a cohesive, entertaining story for 2 hours.

  • demoncat_4

    the one reason wonder woman can not seem to get her own movie is that mostly due to the character being such a hard sell to some movie goers who do not read her comic. plus Linda Carter leaving such a mark playing her. but mostly due to her being a female hero and such a hard sell is the main reason warner brothers can not seem to give the female version of batman and superman her own much deserved movie. besides the thinking female heroes do not pack seats

  • comic relief

    You make some very good points about sequential media; this is why so many productions aren’t likely to be green lit unless sequels are a possibility.

    Do you think that sequel promoting films like X-men, Ironman, and Batman unimportant to the comic’s culture?

  • comic relief

    The whole notion that women do not fill seats was challenged by Twilight. Before the year’s out other productions (“Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, etc.) will attempt to force that notion further into ancient history.

    Obviously there will be a lot of talk about the acting talent of the principal and supporting cast. I know David E. Kelley is considered the flag ship production head but that does not mean he will exclusively make all directing decisions. Do you think a female directing contribution or more women behind the scenes would make a difference?

  • Lion_okitkat

    I think the idea of a Wonder Woman TV series is a great idea. Look at the success of Smallville. Maybe DC is setting the stage to garner more interest in the character by having her start off on television first. I feel DC truly does want to get its characters out there to be seen. The amount of television projects and straight to DVD content is plentiful. I feel they are trying to be cautious especially now with this economic climate. I hope DC continues to look at there more obscure characters like those from Vertigo/Wildstorm/etc. They should take notice of the success Marvel had with Kick-Ass. Superhero movies are a hard sale and Marvel has the market cornered right now. DC needs to continue to take risks and offer movie goers original stories.

  • Lion_okitkat

    You make a good point comic relief. I think having more women working on the project would be a good thing. I wonder if DC would consider making a LEGION movie, the cast of characters are interesting. They could even have one of the female characters be the leader of the team. I don't know much about Legion but the characters have always interested me, especially that green guy.

  • Joecooler2u

    I loved the TV show as a kid starring Linda Carter, but let's face it. Wonder Woman doesn't have the kind of rogues gallery that many of the male characters have in comics. Even as a comic book fan, who enough WW comics, I can't name one villain from memory. Look at Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America and some other heroes, you can pretty much name their rogues off the top of your head. WW I can't name one without looking it up. Plus her character is pretty bland outside her superhuman identity. She just don't translate well to the bigscreen. I'm a big Black Widow fan and feel her character can easily translate to movies as a reverse sort of Bond, a female spy who can kick butt and sleep around. Just James Bond as a female, her villains can be regular people whereas WW needs superhuman villains cause humans would be too easy for her. A lot of people mentioned it here that there is no basic lore to WW that you can base a movie off of. Everything relies off of mythology which with WW isn't as interesting as other fantasy type movies. George Perez did the best WW and even his couldn't be used for a movie. What is there to relate to, for men or women? I just don't see WW having mass apeal for movie fans. A straight to DVD cartoon? Yes, that works because it has a fanbase, a movie for her? Not so much. The simple fact is if I don't know her villains as a comic book collector who liked Perez and Byrne's work on the title, how is a mainstream fan going to know the villains? I think instead of introducing Wonder Woman on her own like Marvel is doing with the Avengers heroes to build towards Avengers is the wrong move. Introduce WW to the movie world via JLA where she can play off Batman and Superman and maybe steal the movie. Build her a movie villain of her own for JLA, either based from the comics or created brand-new for the movie. (Just don't go so far from the character's appeal like Catwoman did) If that happens you can bet WW gets her own movie. I always felt a supervillain ala Ursa (bland example) who had no mythology background but a simple explanation, possibly even make her a Kryptonian maybe escaped from the Phantom Zone, a kick-ass woman with Superman's powers thus making WW an underdog. WW is too powerful for her own good, for her to work right in a movie she needs to be an underdog you can root for and give her character some humanity to relate to. Right there fans, even mainstream ones will know – Kryptonian = Superman's world, no need for us to learn too much stuff that would weigh a movie's action and storyline down. Just give basic motivation to fight WW and background story. If done after a JLA movie (which you can spin the female villain off of) the villan could even play off of WW's connection to Superman, maybe jealousy or something to make her hate WW right away. If they went with mythology right away you can kiss a lot of mainstream fans goodbye. Hell even I wouldn't want to sit through it. WW needs more you can relate to. Don't spice up her WW character, make her human identity more relateable or interesting. Changing WW the superheroine in the comics hasn't worked so try working on her other half. Then if the movie works you can work in her main rogues from the comics for sequels.

  • comic relief

    Demoncat seemed to believe that Wonder Woman’s trouble getting a feature film was nearly a forgone conclusion. I was wondering why?

    The very first of the Twilight series made use of a female novelist, female screenplay writer, female director and of course a very prominent female lead? Later on the director was discontinued, yet the series has sustained a substantial following.

    Yes, we know the original Wonder Woman comic was written by a man, but would greater gender diversity change anything about Wonder Woman’s chances of getting a feature film green lit?

    When Joss Whedon wrote the last screenplay, DC passed when the work was completed. We know from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” he does an at least decent job writing for women characters.

    Demoncat may answer, but if not is DC way too cautious for anyone to create a Wonder Woman feature film? This overall topic may be suggesting that.

    P.S.: I’m a Legion fan also.

  • demoncat_4

    i ment so far when it comes to female super heroes on the screen the box office seems to not show the numbers their male counter parts the studioes have hope for.. for i have been waiting for wonder woman to be on the big screen for so long .and David will not have all the say for warners brothers will have the final say since they own wonder woman .hopefuly the show does so well it causes the film to happen for its long over due.

  • demoncat_4

    just like when it comes to bats and supes. Warners and dc has proven to be reall sticklers of how their properties are handled since supes and bats and wonder woman are their big cash cows their first three hero's so i would say dc is really caustious when it comes to wonder woman on film since they do not want to do any thing that would wind up destroying her and her potential as a key franchise. Legion as tv series it could happen with small vile ending one never knows now with dc.

  • comic relief

    Thanks for the clarification,

    I honestly think Marvel will get the Electra response with Black Widow as their female super hero standard bearer. She made a great supporting character in Ironman but a female secret agent acrobat in a cat suit doesn’t seem to me to be the stuff of multiple sequels. She's only had a book for 10 minutes. What are they on issue 4?

    Too bad Ms. Marvel wasn’t in the pipeline. That at least sounds like an event.

  • Tedly

    Choice of seeing WW *once* in a movie, versus seeing her every WEEK on TV…c'mon man, that's a win right there. TV series all the way.

  • Otaku-sempai

    As far as I know, the WONDER WOMAN movie is still in development. Doesn't mean that it will get made, but I think that you are writing it off prematurely.

  • mars

    This is the company who wouldn't put Supergirl in a title next to Superman and Batman for fear of losing sales. They don't mention her in the synopsis and don't put her in a recognisable form on the cover. The producers had to fight to even get her on the cover in S&M wear! Thanks Diane Nelson, you do your gender proud.

  • mars

    Also, Supergirl and Batgirl are easy to do in movies even without their male counterparts. Have Babs evade Batman across Gotham as she does her thing, always having his presence felt. You could even get Robin in that movie and end with Batgirl reacting to getting caught. (a shadow looming over her in bat ears) Supergirl is even easier because Superman is barely in her stories to begin with.Don't do an origin story, people know who she is. Even better than Supergirl solo though, is Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Take advantage of the fact people know Supergirl and put her in the role Rogue had in X Men. Take a bit from Waid, a bit from 80's Levitz and you are done.

  • mars

    I really think Warner should consider making 52, showing it over 52 weeks. Its a commitment but it could bring so many rewards and spin offs if successful. Also, if planned right it could boast Superman and Batman while focusing on smaller heroes. You have to admit, the bat signal becoming a ? on Renee's door is a hell of a way to end a pilot.

  • AndrewUnited

    Id love a WW movie…shes the only one who could actually carry a female hero movie.

  • Agent TorporKarld1094

    so long as there are no queers or black people in the film i dont mind at all.

    I think the whole idea of Wonder Woman needs to fucking change. Stop making her such a pussy and turn her into a hardciore nazi bitch, kicking the living shiits out of men and instigating a Amazons versus Men civil war. Now thatd id watch.

  • http://khiaao.blogspot.com Khiaao

    Interesting,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • ranchdressing

    I would have to think a bit on who would play a good Wonder Woman but I'm positive if they got Gail Simone involved in it that it wouldn't suck. They could even base it on her recent run.

  • demoncat_4

    your Welcome. I agree. sadly Black widow will wind up like Elektra did . for when it comes to their female characters Marvel comes up short in doing them on film . as for Ms. Marvel she will no doubt wind up in a future avengers film hope fully the same time as scarlet witch shows up on film.

  • Magicmgb

    Remember Elektra? or Catwoman? true both of those movies were terrible.. but they are both female comic book characters with their own movies..

  • Alex

    Wonder Woman is the best comic book character ever. She's the female equivalent of Superman, but she's better than Superman, because she's hotter. Lynda Carter should play Wonder Woman's mother.

  • multispaz

    One more verification that comics fans deserve so little respect…

  • Stath

    More people watched Iron Man 2 than Daredevil, and it's arguable Black Widow (and Scarlett Johansson) have more pull than Elektra and Jennifer Garner.

    Also, Black Widow's been about way longer than just '10 minutes' and has had multiple miniseries and tenures as team leader in the past. She has a good twenty years more history than Elektra to draw from. And a female secret agent who looks like Johansson in a skin-tight catsuit doesn't seem like a draw to you? If they can build her up more in the Avengers and give her a good story to work from, it'll easily be better than Elektra.

  • Stath

    Dude, don't tar us all with the same brush just because there's one dicktard on here talking absolute crap.

  • multispaz

    Stath, you are absolutely right. I'm sorry.

  • jack!

    The problem with this character is casting. It is very difficult to pull off. It is easy to act like the character but it is very difficult to look like the character.

    Linda Carter did not really pull it off.

    The Bruce Timm animation gave a good template that should be used.

    Get someone who looks like the part, for example:

    http://www.fivb.org/visasp/ShowImage.aspx?No=200628272

    The typical actress, while classically attractive, does not fit the template.

  • http://www.facebook.com/strivearth Zen Strive

    She's too iconic too mess up. If not done right, people could cry foul of discrimination. If done right, some men with bloated ego will cry foul to WB and ask for more chauvinistic superman. If done like Lara Croft, fans will cry foul. If done like an icon, it will risk boredom.

  • comic relief

    Stath,

    You are definitely right; beginning in the sixties, Black widow’s actual history is decades long. And please don’t get me wrong she’s a great character and I don’t mean her or Scarlet (who I think did a great job) any disrespect. But as much as female super heroes have difficulty prospering; she has many of the same problems.

    • Up until now she could not sustain her own book.

    • Her originality is fairly slight. For much of her history she was seen as a Spiderman/Daredevil/(and now) Iron man family member.

    • She has no real name recognition.

    Honestly, I would go see her movie but there haven’t been many if any successful female secret agents other than (Nikita and Salt). And I really don’t think these characters represent the super hero genre anyway. Sorry if that sounds narrow.

    But I’m up for anything; I’m not sure about the rest of the general public feels the same way. On the other hand maybe if this movie was tricked out with a lot of Shield technology….. hmmmm?

  • comic relief

    “…easily be better than Elektra”. Can't argue with you on that point either.

  • Slique

    I'll be very disappointed if they don't make WW into a movie. WW is extremely popular and for WB to say otherwise is very confusing. There is some talk about changing WW costume. I personally hate the new look. If WB needs to change WW costume they should consider a look similar to Zena the Warrior Princess, though the change should be minimal as possible. Personally, I figure the main reason for the delay is finding the RIGHT individual to play WW. Putting WW in the small screen is just an insult to the fans who are demanding to see WW on the big screen.

  • jayessell

    It would be difficult to cast anyone as Wonder Woman.
    Impossible for She-Hulk.
    Except… it’s the 21st century!
    They didn’t build Pandora on the back lot!
    See this:
    http://davidszondy.blogspot.com/2010/10/movieshape.html
    Now imagine it is set to ‘swimsuit model x weightlifter’.
    Admittedly, probably too expensive to do for the
    entire movie, but Roger Rabbit had animation in
    almost every scene.