With the release of a long awaited and well produced Wonder Woman fan film today, the discussion of why she hasn’t had a feature film adaptation, while her counterparts Batman and Superman have had nearly twenty between them, has been riding high. Lynda Carter, the last woman to play the Amazon Princess in a live action adaptation, thinks she knows why Hollywood has struggled to adapt a version of the character that makes it to screens.
I think they try to just make her a female version of a male superhero, and that’s not what she is. She is an Amazon Princess and she’s got really strong sisterhood values. She’s smart, and she just happens to be beautiful and super strong, and she has these great cool things like these bracelets and boomerang headband and non-lethal kinds of ways of dealing with people…
Maybe they need a female writer who gets it. I’ve often tried not to say that, but I think it’s the truth. It’s like, ‘Hellooooo guys, get a female that understands what that’s all about.’ You look at any society that suppresses women, and it’s violent. Look around the world. … There’s a humanity that they’re missing. There’s got to be a sweetness, a kindness, a goodness in the character. The rest takes care of itself.
I both agree and disagree with Carter. I agree with her when she says that executives who see Wonder Woman as merely a “female version of a male superhero” are kind of missing the point. There’s nothing “merely” about that definition when it comes to Wonder Woman, and it’s my only problem with her New 52 title. But while I do think that Wonder Woman is a great character to, as Marvel has done with Captain America, explore a rare completely non-cynical view of the modern superhero myth, I don’t think sweetness is the way to do it. What’s unique about Wonder Woman in the DC universe is that she’s a character who doesn’t hesitate to kill, once all other options, including kindness, negotiation, and second chances have been exhausted. She comes, after all, from a utopian society founded not just by philosophers, but primarily by warriors. Perhaps we’re so used to the “tragic” origin of the superhero that executives have trouble wrapping their heads around a superhero who doesn’t have dead parents, a dead planet, dead girlfriend, a drinking problem, an evil brother, or a giant green rage monster trapped inside them to motivate them to do good. Just the knowledge that there are improvements that can be made, and they have the power to make them. I mean, aside from the obvious reason why we don’t have a Wonder Woman movie.
Gail Simone, the female writer with the longest-running tenure on DC’s Wonder Woman title, noted today that most of the folks who seem to think Wonder Woman is “tricky” to adapt are of an older generation, and may have little experience with a version of the character more modern than the 1975 television show.
I am wondering if we have reached a generational shift and we aren’t really aware of it because the people doing all the talking are baby boomers with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FRAME OF REFERENCE for Wonder Woman.
They rethink Superman every few years. They allow for a dozen different interpretations of Batman at the same time. But I keep hearing about a Wonder Woman who is problematic for film, who hasn’t actually EXISTED for a long time. She has evolved, just like the other icons.
Simone posits that it may only be a matter of time before we get somebody in a position to adapt Wonder Woman who has had a modern experience with her character, whether in recent comics, video games, or the DC Animated Universe. I hope she’s right, and I think, knowing she’d agree, that we’ve already had to wait long enough.