Just when you thought that Hollywood might be sick of superhero movies, the boon continued this summer. The Avengers made more green than The Hulk, The Dark Knight Rises raked in the dough despite its tragic opening weekend, and The Amazing Spider-Man showed that even a reboot after five years is not only possible but will make a ton money. By now, every superhero has gotten his own movie. Iron Man was a second tier star until Robert Downey, Jr. made him a hero. We’ve seen Daredevil, Ghost Rider (and a sequel!), and The Green Lantern, so why can’t one of comicdom’s marquee stars get a project greenlit? Yes, I’m talking about Wonder Woman.
News came yesterday that there is yet another Wonder Woman project in the works. Vulture reports that The CW has ordered a script for a show called Amazon that would be about the origins of Diana of Themyscira, the Amazonian princess who one day becomes Wonder Woman. I’m sorry, but I’m not holding my breath. We’ve been burned by Wonder Woman projects before. It was just last year that NBC passed on a Wonder Woman pilot starring Adrianne Palicki and written by David E. Kelley. And, of course, there is the Joss Whedon film version of the comic we’ve been promised for ages, another movie version by Nicolas Winding Refn , and another new one written by Michael Goldenberg. When it comes to the Lady of Steele we get lots of promises, but no one ever delivers.
The last time we’ve seen Wonder Woman on screen was the campy ’70s version starring Lynda Carter, but nothing in the past three decades. Batman had a campy retro show too, and he’s had eight movies made about him since then. What’s the problem with Wonder Woman? The conventional wisdom is that her story is hard to tell, that she doesn’t have many compelling villains, and that her character isn’t especially interesting. All of that is kind of bulls***.
There is a very simple reason that Wonder Woman needs to make it to one of our screens, big or small, in the near future: sexism. Yes. I said it. Wonder Woman may cause more problems than the average superhero in terms of her origin and rogues gallery, but what it looks like is that she is the only one who doesn’t have a movie because she is a woman. The writers, directors, and other creatives in the entertainment industry can solve any problem, and they could crack the Wonder Woman code if they really wanted to. These are the people that made a hit out of Disney ride about pirates (and a flop out of a board game about plastic boats). A lady superhero shouldn’t be that big of a challenge.
I would like to think that the movie industry isn’t sexist, and if Hollywood doesn’t want the population at large to think that either, then they need to get their act together and stop wasting Wonder Woman. She’s a huge cultural icon, and the fact that she doesn’t have her own franchise while so many lesser-knowns do is just plain unfair and reeks of bias. It’s bad enough that there aren’t many female superheroes to start with, so we can’t ignore the biggest one we’ve got.
And it’s not a business decision. We live in the world of Sex and the City: The Movie, Bridesmaids, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. Women have proven that they go to the movies and that they can make something a blockbuster. Hollywood needs to stop acting like it’s a fluke every time someone with two X chromosomes buys a movie ticket to something her boyfriend didn’t choose. Thanks to Katniss and Angelina Jolie, they’ve also proven that a female action hero is just as bankable as a male one. It’s time that the movie industry has the balls to put someone without any on the marquee.
There is one final reason that we need our very own Wonder Woman, but it probably isn’t an argument that is going to get the executives and agents all riled up to fast track either the film or the TV show that we’ve been continuously promised. It’s that we need a hero. All of us. Well, all the rest of us. All the rest of us on the outside. We need someone to look up to. No matter how dark and brooding Batman or Spider-Man or Superman or any of the other “Man”s get, they will always be part of the establishment. They will always be popular. Wonder Woman has always been the hero for everyone else. For the women ignored by the comics industry and the entertainment industrial complex. For the gay kids who identified more with her brand of heroism than the brute strength of Wolverine. For those who dreamed big but didn’t think there was anyone out there fighting for them. We had Wonder Woman.
By continuing to ignore her, you’re only reinforcing what all of us square pegs already felt: that what we want doesn’t matter. Sure, courting the misfits might not seem like a winning box office strategy, but the thing about misfits is there are a lot of us. A lot of little people that add up to a huge opening weekend. And whenever you give us what we want, we’ll show up. If you put the energy into making it good, we’ll show up and make Wonder Woman a success. We’ll show everyone who underestimated us with a sound defeat. After all, that is something we learned from Wonder Woman.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: DC Comics]