Monday, November 10, 2008

It's a Bird! It's An Invisible Plane! It's...wait, you can't see an invisible plane...

Some exciting news this morning on a favorite topic of mine (well the news itself is not really exciting but the fact that there is news is exciting) WONDER WOMAN.  According to, McG's name is circulating the halls of Warner Bros. as a possible director, and the trades are already talking about Beyonce's recent push to be the Amazon Princess (and WW fans backlash against her and an internet push for Megan Fox to take the role).  OK-cool I guess- but Wonder Woman you ask?  Why would that be of special interest to you?  Well, let me tell you:

The first time I moved to LA the spring semester of my junior year, a 'fabulous' hair stylist at some chain salon at the now remodeled Santa Monica Mall told me that I looked like Linda Carter.  'Eww', I thought- 'she's old'.  But it was the first time I had ever been told that I looked like someone famous and in LA none the less so I strutted out into the Santa Monica sun with a fresh cut and a killer smile on my face.  Fast forward to actually living in LA, working in the Biz and living for 'Buffy' Tuesdays.  I was obsessed with my flawed, vampire killing heroine and her Scooby gang - and who was the magician behind this fantastical world?  Yup, a Joss devotee was born.  Fast forward to a few years ago, zoom in on me finally pursuing my acting dreams and hearing a lot of 'wow, you look like a young Linda Carter, you should be the next Wonder Woman' from a handful of camera operators and casting directors.  Not that I booked most of these jobs but at least this time it was a 'young' version. Stop the tape now to just over a year ago, well for this story's sake, and I had just left my day job as my commercial work was hopping, and TV stardom seemed just over the horizon, and I read that Joss Whedon was working on the feature adaptation of Wonder Woman.  Freeze frame!  My favorite TV show creator and the character that I supposedly was genetically destined to play were already playing house?  I must get to Joss!  I must make him see that I am the next Princess Diana!!  So I wrote an eloquent but long winded letter (me- long winded?!) and went about trying to put together an audition tape- I rented old episodes (I was always more of a Bionic Woman fan when I was young), tried to nab the script from industry friends but long story short, before I got anything done, Joss' script was dead in the water and he was off the film.  I was crushed. I'm going to save what actually came out of that moment for a different post, as it's pretty weighty and basically explains how I am where I am today with 'After Judgment' and some other exciting projects, but it got me looking at the reasons why it died and the actual plausibility of a Wonder Woman movie.  

FEMALE SUPER HERO MOVIES- have any succeeded?  Barely any have actually been made except for 'Electra' and 'Catwoman' (careful what you shoot in Vancouver- and I can say that because I'm from there) and they were based on secondary characters road tested in previous male-centric comic book movies.  There have been what, five Superman movies and six Batman movies, but the third member of the supposed 'Trinity of DC Comic Characters' has only three seasons of a kitschy 70's TV show to show for?  I'm pretty sure that you are already thinking, 'the invisible plane!, the lasso, the outfit!' how can you adapt those lame elements for modern day audiences but still stay true to the original comic?  Well, that's the question then isn't it and that's perhaps why Joss' script ultimately didn't get off the ground.  People are scared to deviate from the original comic and if they do, how then do they establish a newly defined world in a mere 120 minutes.  You don't.  You can't, unless there are guaranteed two sequels so the mythology can be introduced and in this economy nothing is a guarantee.  In my humble opinion, Wonder Woman might not be destined for the big screen.  But is there a future for in on TV?

Think of all the successful female led TV shows in recent years:  My favorite, 'Buffy', 'Alias', 'Xena: Warrior Princess', 'Sarah Connor Chronicles', 'Dark Angel' and even 'True Blood' if you consider Anna Paquin the lead.  Only 'Bionic Woman' has failed in recent years and I'll chock that up to mis-casting amongst other issues.  Viewers have an easier time connecting with a female lead and seem to create a deeper para-social bond with the character through a longer story-telling process.  Call it the gestation effect.  In my opinion, it's just as powerful to watch Sarah Connor wield massive firepower with a steely glint in her eye as it is to see her walk away from her boyfriend in order to save him.  I loved watching Buffy kick Spike's ass as much as I loved seeing her (literally) fall for him.  Maybe i really am just a chick and need a dose of soap opera in my action but I really do think female action heroes are much more fascinating to follow for the long haul because they are just so, well alive- life and death, love and hate, good and evil- those stories can all live through a female character.  Well, at least these days.          

Wonder Woman was created in 1941 when the word woman meant something very different than it does now. Because of WWII, the world was thrust into a battle of good vs. evil and a fight that only men took up.  That's why Wonder Woman was truly 'a wonder' because Princess Diana of the Amazon Warriors took up a fight against the worst evil that the world had ever seen, the Nazis, and a fight that only men had previously fought.  And as I just touched upon, female (for lack of a better term) bad-asses are pretty much the norm in entertainment today. And we are all wonder women when you look back and see how far we have come since 1941, no superpowers needed.  Thus, in some small way, perhaps this raven- haired comic character helped lay the feminist foundation and usher us along the road to equality and power.

So maybe Wonder Woman has already played her part in our generation's narrative.  Maybe she paved the way for the great female TV characters that we now call our heroes and that is enough?  I'm not saying that there is no future for the Amazon Princess in 'Entertainment' but I don't think that the Hollywood movie machine can make her work in the now, especially with Beyonce wearing the boots and McG wanting to pull the strings (honestly it just makes me nauseous to think about it).  We need the next evolution of woman.  And I personally think that Marston's original character can possibly be the jumping off platform for a new character, but that's it, and you've got to jump (and in some editions WW can fly so that's totally doable).   I think the ties to Greek mythology should still be embraced, especially in a TV watching world recently reintroduced to the multi-deity realm through BSG, as it is a vast resource of story opportunities.  The new 'wondrous' heroine has to be of this time and discover her 'wonder' in the present world so she can save the world of the future.  Maybe these fictional heroines already exist on TV right now so we're cool...or maybe there's room for one more.  Just don't make a movie Warner Bros./ Joel Silver- well unless you're willing to bring Joss back in and let him call the shots- then we can talk.  And since I cut my hair- I've taken myself out of the race so no pressure on that.  Be back soon.

All Things T

1 comment:

linda.sherman said...

Interesting topic.
Have you heard of the phrase Girl Power? It's about Girl Heroes

I heard about it recently because of a contest Singelringen is having for the coolest celebrity and "wildcard" non-celebrity singles from each country. They wrote, "First there was the sexual liberation movement of FlowerPower. Then there was the Third Wave Feminism of the womens liberation movement that included GirlPower. Today we have SinglePower."