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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:








 

Whither WONDER WOMAN?

I watched the animated WONDER WOMAN movie this weekend, and overall, I’d call it pretty good. The story was tight, the action was solid, and the movie did a good job of getting Diana’s character right. I wasn’t completely thrilled with Keri Russell’s voice work, and the love story with Steve Trevor was a little rushed, but those qualms are outweighed by the total quality of the movie. Yet it made me wonder: in 75 minutes of animation, the creative team turned out a strong effort that honored the character and her origins.

Why, then, has there been so much long-term failure, then, in producing a live-action WONDER WOMAN that will carry the character forward in the zeitgeist?

For a while, it seemed like we were really going to get just that film. Joss Whedon spent years working on a script that would satisfy Warner Bros. and Joel Silver, but ultimately, that project died on the vine. Since then, there has been basically no movement at all in pushing a film forward. I can’t figure it out.

My best guess boils down to: I think that the suits really don’t have a good grasp on the character of Diana, and thus they don’t know how to make a good film about her.

Diana, who comes to be known as Wonder Woman, is a combination of many things. Strength. Intelligence, Beauty. Cunning. Diana is a warrior without peer, yet comes to man’s world to be an ambassador for peace. It’s an amazing dichotomy, and that’s the exact appeal that Wonder Woman should hold for anyone who wants to make the movie. But I suspect that dichotomy is precisely what holds the film back from being made. A warrior who preaches peace? While punching bad guys through buildings? Hollywood can get a little small-minded, as we know, and it’s things like this that offer up befuddlement.

The animated film offers up plenty of excellent moments of Diana putting her warrior skills to work. Her first battle in man’s world, against a demon sent from Ares to kill her, completely rocks. She smashes the creature through a shopping mall, store-by-store, shaking the foundations to their core before dropping it fifty feet to the street below (with a detour through a parked car). Her goal isn’t to destroy or cause disruption; on the contrary, her only goal is to preserve the peace that the world deserves and the creature mars that path. The entire piece sums up Diana’s character and path perfectly. She’s kind, gentle, and caring- but when the time calls for her to pick up a sword, you don’t want to be the one she’s taking up arms against, because that means your time is over.

Any film is going to have to take this aspect of her character into consideration and play it strongly, or the box office will teach it a harsh lesson. Take SUPERMAN RETURNS for a moment. It’s a lovely, pastoral film, but Bryan Singer forgot to build on the character’s ability to fight for Truth, Justice and All That Stuff, and you could see that months in advance of the movie hitting theatres. And I knew exactly when SUPERMAN RETURNS was dead in the water- Dwayne McDuffie killed it.

McDuffie, an outstanding comic book writer, was also one of the writers behind the awesome JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon, including penning the final episode, “Destroyer,” which featured the final battle between Superman and Darkseid. In one stunning sequence, Superman gives Darkseid an amazing speech about how he feels like he “lives in a world made of cardboard,” always having to be careful not to break anything or anyone. Except Darkseid, that is, whom he punches so hard that he flies through miles of buildings across Metropolis, only to find Superman having flown ahead of him to punch him again, this time through the city’s foundations.

It was brilliant. It was cooooooool. And nothing Singer had coming in his $200 million movie that summer was going to even come close.

That can’t happen to WONDER WOMAN. Or it will kill the franchise before it gets off the ground.

In that same JLU episode, there’s a great moment of Diana flying through an enemy ship, using an enemy tank as a battering ram to clear her path. That’s what I want to see in a WONDER WOMAN movie. That’s exactly who Wonder Woman is when the time calls for it. Sure, give us a romance with Steve Trevor. Set her up as an ambassador to an extremely foreign culture for her and play her as a fish out of water for some laughs. But the suits at Warner Bros. need only look at what their animation creators have done in order to figure out how to make Diana work in live action.

If they’re truly worried about demographics? Please. WONDER WOMAN is an action character. Men go to good action films without hesitation. (It’s the bad ones we avoid, just like women, frankly.) Throw in that Diana is really the first true feminist icon, and the crossover appeal is enormous. And if all other appeals fail, I suppose I could quote a funny line form the animated film that comes near the conclusion. The U.S. President, informed that the threat of Ares’ army has been neutralized, asks how. His advisor, noting the presence of the Amazons, responds “By… an army of supermodels.” Would people turn out for that? Umm… yeah. Think so.

And it’s about time the most super one of them all got her turn on the big screen.

Marc Mason  

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