Cummings: Rewrite Wonder Woman for success


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lynda Carter played the most popular Wonder Woman to date. It’s about time for Woman Woman to have her own feature-length film.

Kelsey Cummings

In the early hours of April 28, Warner Bros. announced its plans for a “Justice League” movie due out in 2018. “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder is set to direct it, following the completion of 2016’s “Batman vs. Superman.” Naturally, Wonder Woman will be cast in “Justice League” and is also set to make an appearance in “Batman vs. Superman.” For years, various producers have attempted to get a full-length Wonder Woman film off the ground, but with little success. But with all the superhero reboots in recent years, is it finally time for her to take the spotlight?

According to MTV, despite the swarm of rumors surrounding a Wonder Woman solo spin-off, Warner Bros. confirmed that there are no current plans to make such a film. This news greeted comic book fans with waves of disappointment. Fans have been happy throughout the years with the numerous key superhero reboots from both Marvel and DC universes — Batman, Superman, Spiderman — however, few fans know of “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon’s failed attempt at a 2007 Wonder Woman film.

Whedon, known for writing strong female characters like Buffy in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” was excited to take on this little-touched story. However, Whedon’s idea to make Wonder Woman sort of a “lost soul” wandering the earth in search of the good in mankind wasn’t exactly what producers had in mind, and the project flopped. But why has every attempt at getting Wonder Woman off the ground failed? As one of the most famous female superheroes, people would assume that she would have no trouble holding her own among her famous male counterparts.

This is not the case, however. Wonder Woman’s on-screen success can only be attributed to a brief live-action TV series that aired from 1975-1979 and a 1974 made-for-TV movie that portrayed Wonder Woman as blonde and without powers. Though she had some success in audiotapes, comic books and some appearances on other shows, like The Muppets, the big screen has yet to accept Wonder Woman as a viable leading character.

Many would argue that the reason she hasn’t taken on a leading role is because she’s a woman. In a male-dominated superhero world — a world of comic books originally catered to young men — women tended not to be leading ladies, but instead supporting cast. Though many of the female characters had intriguing backstories worthy of their own films, the well-respected male superheroes took their place on the big screen. A few attempts at female-led superhero films were done in the last decade or so, but few can forget the major flops “Catwoman” and “Elektra” were.

Granted, Wonder Woman simply doesn’t have the same fan-base that Batman and Superman have, but perhaps that’s because writers can never seem to figure out who Wonder Woman is supposed to represent. Unlike her male-counterparts who have, arguably, stayed relatively the same over the course of their superhero history, Wonder Woman’s personality seemed to change along with societal expectations of real women at the time. For instance, after World War II, Wonder Woman took on a more “traditional” female role, working in as a model and movie star and focusing more time in love than fighting bad guys. Even all the way up into the 90s, Wonder Woman was changing, as Mattel attempted to gear her toward little girls by putting her in a frilly skirt and cape and making her goal to protect the Star Jewels from the villain, Purrsia.

Along with women throughout the decades, Wonder Woman has struggled with her identity. On one end, she’s supposed to represent a strong, powerful goddess whose abilities rival those of men, and yet writers and producers insist on keeping her in stereotypically girl-ish situations and costumes. Audiences want the same power and explosive action sequences for her as they do for male superheroes. In order for Wonder Woman to be a successful superhero role model for women of today — which, it looks like Mattel was attempting to do with the Star Jewels thing — she would need a major rewrite, and I’m just not sure traditional, die-hard comic book enthusiasts are ready for that just yet.

While there’s no telling how Wonder Women will be portrayed in “Batman vs. Superman” or the upcoming “Justice League” film, I think it’s safe to say that she would need to be updated in order to fit in with our culture of today. And with all the changes that have been [so far] successful in male superhero films, I would hope that the writers would be smart enough to give Wonder Woman a push in a better direction, or else she may never get the full-length film she deserves.