January 12, 2011

What Will It Take To Revive Wonder Woman On Screen?

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman
If Knight Rider, V, and Hawaii Five-O can do it, why can't Wonder Woman? In this era of re-hashing, re-imagining, and re-making, not only films, but many television series are getting another chance in the spotlight. It seems major studios are banking big time on sequels, prequels, and updates. Somehow, however, not a single broadcast television network chose to pick up David E. Kelley's modernized Wonder Woman pilot. After the success of Lynda Carter's portrayal in the 1970s series "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman," why is America so unwilling to give Diana Prince another chance?

As a lifelong Marvel fan, I prefer their more complex, human, and angsty take on superheroes to DC's blander fare. However, this can't be the cause of the marginalization of Wonder Woman. Both DC's Batman and Superman have flourished at the box office and have new big budget films currently underway. In addition, these two have each had several successful television series revolving around them. As the world's most famous and recognizable female superhero, Wonder Woman should mean an automatic trip to the bank.

But women comic book heroes are no stranger to critique. Women in Refrigerators is a website dedicated entirely to the phenomena female comic book characters being killed as a plot device for male superheroes. Female heroes have often been the sidekick, the eye candy, and the token girl in super hero teams. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman has filled all of these rolls at some point or another. She's had her fair share of playing second fiddle to Batman or one of few women in various incarnations of The Super Friends and The Justice League. Though many would say portraying women in a proportionate amount of authoritative roles in fiction wouldn't be a fair depiction of reality, in a comic book world so embedded in fantasy, why can't the women be as equally prominent and powerful as the men?

2010 costume re-vamp
Wonder Woman was, in fact, created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston as a "distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to a world torn by the hatred of men." Though that's enough to get any feminist excited, Wonder Woman's skimpy romper and busty appearance left many womens with concerns of the character's over-sexualization. However, 2010 saw a re-working of her suit to include a full pair of pants and a blue jacket over her usual red and gold top.

Still, Wonder Woman just can't seem to catch a break. Many filmmakers, including Joss Whedon, have attempted to bring Diana to the silver screen, but all of their attempts have been trashed. Is America still not ready for an independent female superhero or does someone different than Wonder Woman entirely? Perhaps it really is still just the macho men of the US that are watching action flicks who can't be bothered to watch a woman in charge. Or maybe it's just the studio big wigs who don't want women to become empowered and threaten their jobs.

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