Rebooting Wonder Woman?

The surprising geeky news of the week came with the announcement of a planned reboot of the Wonder Woman franchise, not as a movie but as a television series. The latest development lamb to the slaughter golden boy is hyphenate, David E. Kelley. You know that I have some thoughts on this.

David E. Kelley, Really?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Picket Fences and Ally McBeal, but when you look at Kelley’s body of work, you really have to wonder if he brings the right voice to this sort of project? The pattern has been to start off a series seemingly conventional but then quickly veering off into quirky and, later, surreal. When dealing with an iconic character such as Wonder Woman, I’d prefer that some respect be shown throughout. While I felt the later seasons of the 70s series went on some 4-wheel-drive excursions when it came to plausibility, Lynda Carter’s honesty as the character helped to keep the campiness in check.

I’m not too worried about the creative head not being an obvious comic guru. I think sometimes someone too invested in the mythology gets overly bogged down in either doing it “exactly right” or in trying to put their own unique stamp on it while also kicking over some tropes. I think if the basic story is respected, the rest is fine.

Origins

One thing I was worried about with a Wonder Woman movie was having to endure the almost obligatory first-movie-as-origin-story. I’m really over that. Can’t we just start with the usually-better second movie?

If the series stays to the standard mythos, I’m thinking that an origin story isn’t necessary. You can take care of what you need in the opening title sequence.

Retcon

There has been no mention of what form this story will take. Personally, I think that having Diana in anything other than a traditional Wonder Woman outfit is a mistake. As outlandish as it is, it is so iconic that the audience doesn’t really see it. As has been shown in Smallville, it’s too easy to make not using the outfit be too big a part of the story.

That said, I’m not against some reimagining of the legend. They retcon in the comics all the time. THAT said, the Cathy Lee Crosby TV-movie of Wonder Woman showed that you can’t really stray too far from what people are expecting with this character. One thing that helps is that Wonder Woman doesn’t really have a nemesis like Lex Luthor or the Joker or the Green Goblin. This gives a fair amount of latitude for conflict. There are many ways you can take Diana’s journey, and they don’t all have to be beholding to pre-existing literature.

Something I’m not really looking forward to (and I seem to be in a minority with this) is to have the franchise “Smallvilled”. We’ve had to endure a long no-flights/no-tights ordeal with that story. I’m not sure that a no-bracelet/no-corset policy would fly (so to speak)

Casting

The trick is to cast the right person. Everyone agrees that Lynda Carter’s look and her earnestness will be tough to match, much less top. Look at how much fun they’ve had in the Superman franchise trying to equal Christopher Reeve.

One of the tricks with Wonder Woman is that Diana is effectively immortal. As a consequence, you have to cast an actress who won’t markedly change over an extended run of the series and possibly a movie or two. This means casting someone in their early-to-mid twenties. To help break from the Lynda Carter mold a bit, they should be athletically fit as defined for our time: muscular/defined without being huge. She has to look heroic. Gorgeous is also required by definition of the character. Since she must portray an imposing figure to the evil-doers, I think someone around 1.8 m (6-foot) would be good, maybe a few centimeters less…not too tall for Diana, not too short for Wonder Woman.

I’m not going to suggest a specific person for the role, but those few characteristics definitely narrow the field a lot. I’m thinking that looking for a relative unknown might be the way to go…it worked for Lynda Carter.

Me Me Me

Would I like to write a Wonder Woman series or movie? Do I even have to answer that?

Prognosis

Wonder Woman has been a very problematic reboot. The 70s series is so venerated (perhaps too much so) that it’s tough to get beyond it. Batman has seen two reboots. Superman still hasn’t emerged from Reeve’s shadow. Part of the problem is that people (me included) are hoping for an Alex Ross interpretation (a la “Spirit of Truth“) and not something like Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four or worse: Catwoman.

As Wonder Woman is one of my favorite of the comic heroes, I want her done right. For all of Smallville‘s faults, it has tended to respect the characters. Supergirl is also one of my favorite comic heroes, and I think the casting of Laura Vandervoort was more than satisfying there. If Kelley can do as well with this franchise, it might just be something worth watching.

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