Comics, Daily Lists, Movies

10 Ways to Make a Wonder Woman Movie Not Suck



At this year’s SDCC, Warner Brothers astounded the nerdosphere by announcing a Superman/Batman movie. It was heavily implied that this would be the stepping stone for the long awaited Justice League film. After the initial excitement subsided, the big question on everybody’s mind was “Where’s Wonder Woman’s movie?” The response was that there are still no concrete plans to put a theatrical Wonder Woman movie into production. Her inclusion in the Lego Movie does not count. In case you’re not a comic book fan, diving right into Justice League without a Wonder Woman movie is as crazy as making The Avengers before Thor. Wonder Woman is part of DC’s “Trinity,” meaning she’s one of its core characters alongside Superman and Batman. Yet Green Lantern, which is more of a job description than a single irreplaceable character, got a solo film starring its least interesting ringbearer before her. (While I liked Mark Strong’s Sinestro and the Green Lantern Corps uniforms making the ringslingers look like victims of House Bolton, it really should’ve been headlined by Idris Elba as John Stewart.)

Wonder Woman has such a huge cultural cache as THE SUPERHEROINE that it’s been said she sells more merchandise than comic books. So it’s not as if there isn’t a pre-existing audience for her movie. If the general public doesn’t know much more about her than what she looks like, it’s only because WB and DC don’t promote her enough. A Wonder Woman movie would be ideal for both reacquainting the general public with who she is and selling even more merchandise.

The official word from DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson is “We have to get her right … but she’s tricky.” While I commend them for not wanting to rush out another Jonah Hex, keeping a Wonder Woman movie out of production until it’s absolutely perfect is a surefire way to accomplish nothing. Even if they made a disappointing Wonder Woman movie, feedback would at least tell them what they need to fix for the sequels and eventual reboot. This is where you’d expect me to make a snide comparisson to Guardians of the Galaxy, but instead I will point out that Gina Carano has been approached to star in an adaptation of Rob Liefeld’s Avengelyne. If a movie about the most banal entry in the Bad Girl fad hits theatres before Wonder Woman because nobody could pull their act together, everyone at WB needs to commit hara kiri. Seppuku would be too good for them.

It’s not impossible to adapt Wonder Woman to a feature film or keep her culturally relevant. If WB invested the same level of attention they lavish on Batman, they could definitely make a successful Wonder Woman film series. To move the process along, and on the heels of the Rileah Vanderbilt fan film that hit the Internet in a big way yesterday, I’ve thought up some constructive tips on how to translate her to the silver screen without turning it into a trainwreck like Catwoman. (If anyone at WB or DC really likes this free advice, I am also available to consult for money.) The main takeaway is that instead of trying to overcompensate for past misfires by making a bland movie by committee, let Wonder Woman be Wonder Woman.

10. Don’t Get Hung Up On The Invisible Jet

The Invisible Jet is one of the most popular arguments against a Wonder Woman movie. “Wonder Woman flies around in an invisible plane while remaining completely visible? That’s lamer than a legless millipede! This is incontrovertible proof that Wonder Woman is the worst superhero ever and every single book she appears in deserves to be recycled into kindling for the homeless!” Hyperbole aside, the Invisible Jet is really damn goofy. So including it isn’t the ideal way to get people to take her movie seriously.

Because the Invisible Jet is such a bizarre concept, however, it’s become indelibly linked with cultural impressions of Wonder Woman. There have been numerous attempts to make the Invisible Jet not be kitschy, the best being Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. The worst was the aborted pilot where she has a non-invisible mini-jet. The downside to salvaging the Invisible Jet is that it’ll take a lot of screen time to justify without completely tearing apart viewers’ already strained suspension of disbelief.

Whichever side of the Invisible Jet divide you fall on, it’s missing the forest for the trees. Unlike her golden Lasso of Truth or unbreakable bullet-deflecting bracelets, the Invisible Jet isn’t a core requirement for Wonder Woman. She’s been depicted flying under her own power for decades and should do likewise on the big screen. If people can accept Superman flying unaided because he’s an alien, they can do the same for Wonder Woman because she’s magic. Her magic is harder to disprove than whatever “science” keeps him aloft anyway. If the WB really wants an Invisible Jet reference, they should save it for the sequel. They do want a non-Batman DC movie to make it to a sequel this time, right?

9. Update Her Costume While Keeping It Iconic

joshwmc, Fan Art Exhibit

Almost every cinematic superheroine’s costume (and many superhero’s, too) has been a black leather catsuit with optional matching duster. This is appropriate for Black Widow, Catwoman, and even Storm since they’ve worn similar attire in comics, but it shows an amazing lack of creativity to make it the uniform for everyone. As the premiere superheroine, Wonder Woman should eschew generic fashion trends by keeping an iconic and colorful costume. It’s a visual way to reinforce her unique identity.

Not that her costume couldn’t use some updating. Depending on the artist, her costume can be drawn too “cheesecake.” This has spurred a vocal contingent of fans to insist that she can’t be an effective superheroine until she puts on pants, which is well-intentioned but misses the fact that she hails from a society without body shame and is nigh-invulnerable. (I subscribe to a rule where the more powerful a character is the less clothes they need to wear, with Iron Man and Dr. Manhattan on opposite poles of the spectrum.) More consistently troubling is that her costume is made of Americana even though the Amazons have been isolated from the rest of the world for centuries. As an advocate of global peace, it’s also insultingly tone deaf for her costume to favor one country, especially before she’s had time to compare them all. (Making different nation-themed variants for her action figure line could be a nifty solution though.)

Luckily, artist joshwmc has already designed an ideal Wonder Woman costume. It’s neither too skimpy nor too modest. It makes sense as antiquated armor but it maintains the regal flair of someone who is both a princess and an ambassador. Its eagles and stars have been re-envisioned to look classically Hellenistic. (The USA didn’t invent those symbols? Fox News will be shocked!) Its hues are rich because it’s a product of a culture that’s not afraid of vibrant colors in genre films, unlike modern Hollywood. You don’t need a drawn out sequence explaining how she got this costume because it looks like something an ancient Amazon might wear. In contrast to making the rest of her costume look more functional, her bracelets remain elegant cuffs to highlight that they were specially forged by by Hephaestus rather than standard issue Amazonian gear. While it’s not accurate to any one of her previous costumes, it immediately evokes Wonder Woman’s iconic appearance. Most importantly, it’s not so excessively utilitarian that it becomes agressively ugly. WB needs to send joshwmc a wheelbarrow full of Benjamins so they can use his redesign as her official movie costume.

So if Wonder Woman’s movie costume ends up being a black leather trenchcoat, wardrobe department heads should roll.

8. Make It Epic!

The last time there was any movement on a live action Wonder Woman it was for a CW TV show called Amazon, which may have starred a rude young Wonder Woman wandering around being fixated with ice cream as a cheap borderline sexist bid for audience identification. This followed on the heels of the failed NBC adaptation where Wonder Woman ran a corporation like Batman but had wacky secret identity and romance drama like Superman. The common problem with both approaches is that Wonder Woman is too big for TV. I’m aware that Lynda Carter starred in a beloved ’70s TV show, but even its potential as an adaptation was severely limited by the medium. (Green) Arrow works because its protagonist is a regular human so all the stunts, drama, and villains can be acceptably reproduced on an affordable budget. A decade of Smallville is proof that you can’t do the same for a superhero renowned for battling larger than life threats. Please do not watch Smallville in an attempt to verify or refute this assertion.

STOP TRYING TO MAKE A MODERN LIVE ACTION WONDER WOMAN TV SHOW HAPPEN! Aside from schlocky TV budget effects and protracted soap-opera cliches, relegating Wonder Woman to the small screen will seriously undermine her inclusion in the Justice League movie. If she’s not important enough to get her own movie like Batman or Superman (or even Green Lantern), then it’s an uphill battle to convince viewers she’s worthy of respect and a spot on the team. WB owes it to her character to show Wonder Woman singlehandedly overcoming nigh-insurmountable obstacles on the silver screen just like her male compatriots. Batman fights glorified crime, Superman fights sci-fi menaces, and Wonder Woman fights magic. And she doesn’t waste time with birthday magicians either. She tangles with God-level magic, which is extra remarkable considering that she doesn’t have spell-casting prowess.

Instead of toning her down to fit on TV, they need to maximize everything that makes her awesome. Every cinematic appearance by Wonder Woman ought to feel like a special event. That doesn’t happen if she has to fight kidnappers and diamond smugglers every week to fill up a season. Wonder Woman also doesn’t lend herself to serialized storytelling since even her comics have struggled with presenting worthwhile stories on a regular basis, but with a film trilogy WB only has to worry about adapting her three best stories.

Fans expect big fantasy action from Wonder Woman, so the movie better deliver. Of course epic blockbusters aren’t just about the end of the world and CGI monsters. (Dynamation or GTFO!) Epics also rely on genuine emotional connections to give their high stakes weight and meaning. So don’t skimp on character development or even the best special effects won’t be able to save the movie. The villain needs a clear objective while Wonder Woman needs strong emotional ties to Hippolyta and Steve Trevor to prevent things from being too abstract or perfunctory. So aim for something closer to Lord of the Rings than the Clash of the Titans remake. While tragedy can be an excellent storytelling device in epics, this doesn’t need to be a relentlessly grim/dark movie. Include an equal measure of joy and amazement to give audiences a reason to see it again for some escapism. This needs to be a movie that elicits big emotions. Don’t try to mimic Nolan’s “grounded realism” that only works tonally with Batman. If done just right, Wonder Woman could be just as inspiring as Man of Steel is dour!

7. Embrace Her Classic Origin

I wager this is going to be the most controversial section on the list. Wonder Woman’s classic origin of seventy years is that Queen Hippolyta sculpted her out of clay that was imbued with life and superpowers by the Olympians. That’ll sounds extra bizarre if WB tries to cram that into a Justice League movie along with all the other stuff they haven’t set up yet, but this is exactly the reason why a solo Wonder Woman is needed to properly introduce the character. If set in context, this unique origin that parallels without directly ripping off Greek myths should feel as reasonable as any other superhero origin story. Singling out her origin as “too weird” is unfair since no superhero origin makes a lick of sense in the real world. Even Bruce Wayne would’ve been treated by the best psychiatrists money could buy so that he’d never feel compelled to become the world’s greatest vigilante.

Not content with letting a major superheroine have an iconic origin of her own, DC’s New 52 retconned it away. Her super-golem origin was revealed to be a lie covering up that Wonder Woman is actually the shamebaby of Zeus and Hippolyta. Too bad Herakles, Perseus, and numerous other Greek notables already had the same paternity suit. Instead of letting her develop her own relationship with her patron Deities, Wonder Woman is now condemned to a rehash of being stuck betwixt Hera and Zeus’s inability to keep it in his toga. Being made with God sperm tends to overshadow all other qualities in a person. Compounding the problem is that Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman is one of the most popular books of the New 52 for not being completely terrible.

Reducing Wonder Woman’s identity to Girl Herakles because she was supposedly too unrelatable is even more frustrating when you realize that her classic origin was overlaid onto Superman in Man of Steel. Kal-El is conceived the old fashioned way in defiance of Kryptonian law and every genetically engineered Kryptonian bloodline is imprinted onto him from a broken monkey skull. (That kind of defeats the purpose of conceiving a natural offspring so he can choose his own life path.) So that’s a very unusual birth made even more unique by the addition of attributes from an external source of power. If moviegoers can roll with this rejiggered Superman origin, they shouldn’t have a problem accepting Wonder Woman’s real origin if presented in a similarly matter-of-fact manner.

The clay baby origin is ideal to develop her as a memorable independent character because it’s unique to Wonder Woman and is supremely Feminist. Wonder Woman has no need for a father in the biological or paternal sense. Her immaculate creation shows the Amazons can contribute things of value to the world when they don’t have to war with men for their survival. Angst over not being a “real girl” could be a way to humanize the otherwise flawless Amazon. By accepting her regardless of her true nature, however, this can show the Amazons are enlightened Third-wave Feminists. Beings made of earth can also be a metaphor for accomplishing greatness despite humble beginnings. By not being burdened with biological parents, Wonder Woman is free to be the perfect woman anyone can aspire to.

6. Spotlight A Rogue’s Gallery That’s As Impessive As She Is

Some of you may be laboring under the misapprehension that Wonder Woman isn’t as popular as her male counterparts because her rogue’s gallery is lame. Even if that were true, underwhelming adversaries didn’t stop Iron Man from headlining a blockbuster trilogy. They even made his most formidable foe from the comics into a parody of Batman Begins whitewashing of Ra’s al Ghul. Even most of Batman’s foes didn’t become A-list until Batman: The Animated Series started treating them like real people. So it’s really just a matter of picking existing villains that are both a match for Wonder Woman and help define her character, then fleshing them out so they can support a feature film. Because they’re not as overexposed as the Joker or Lex Luthor, the public won’t be jaded over them either. Since she combines the physical powers of Superman with the tactical skills of Batman yet neither of their weaknesses (Kryptonite and anything that kills regular humans, respectively), her cinematic enemies need to be able to give her a challenge.

Her top enemy is Ares, the God of War who dresses like a badass Greek Nazgul. He needs to be played by a big dude with a voice that’s terrifying yet inspiring, so Keith David and Clancy Brown are the top choices. If they kill Ares in the last five minutes of her film debut, it’d be a blasphemous anticlimax that only pleases Secular Humanists. Instead he should be more of a looming force throughout the franchise to emphasize his immortal influence in an age of seemingly endless global conflicts. Most of the battles would be against his unwitting pawns, of which there are many to choose from.

Cheetah is like an evil Lara Croft (maybe cast Kate Beckinsale to compensate for her not getting the lead in Tomb Raider?) who transforms into the ultimate Furry by trying to “mighty whitey” her way into a secret African ritual. Her avarice, malice, and disrespect for other cultures starkly contrast with Wonder Woman’s. She’s one of the few mortals that stands a chance against Wonder Woman in physical combat, especially when depicted with talons and teeth that can poison even Demi-Goddesses.

Circe (the same one from The Odyssey) wants peace through total subjugation under her rule as opposed to inspiring people to set aside their differences. She’s a magic powerhouse that can create hordes of monsters. I’d go with Monica Bellucci just to see her rock a violet wig as she corrupts the weak-willed. Award-winning Peter Dinklage would class up the joint as Dr. Psycho, a telepathic tuxedoed dwarf and misogyny incarnate. Magic and telepathy are both excellent powers for her villains since Wonder Woman can’t overcome them with brute superstrength.

Baroness Paula von Gunther is your baddie if you want to see Wonder Woman smash Nazis, not that the movie should be a period piece (unlike Steve Rogers becoming Captain America, Diana doesn’t need WWII to become Wonder Woman) or that Nazis are the only real world evil (now pretty much extinct) worth fighting. Dr. Veronica Cale shows that women can be just as responsible for keeping modern society screwed up as men, though her obsessive jealously skews her dangerously close to being Lex Luthor with a full head of hair ovaries. Silver Swan, the sonic-screaming cyborg, checks both the “corrupted former friend” and “science vs. magic” boxes. Devastation is the twisted counterpart to Wonder Woman made of living clay by the Titan Cronus to help overthrow Olympus. She also has mind-warping powers and looks like a child, making battles against her a PR nightmare. Granny Goodness’s Female Furies are like evil specialist Amazons FROM SPACE!

Last but certainly not least is Giganta, who as her name implies, ought to be portrayed by Christina Hendricks . Not only can this super-scientist grow to titanic proportions, she’s also been shown to have a life beyond being an archenemy. One of the sequels could be Wonder Woman thwarting a catastrophic love triangle of Giganta, Gorilla “Best Supervillain” Grodd, and fellow superhero the Atom. Toss in the Flash (he’s getting a TV show that may or may not tie into the movies depending on whether the coin lands scarred side up) to help fight Grodd and you’ve got a team-up movie that’s more interesting than Superman/Batman.

5. Romance Is The Side Dish, Not The Main Course

Wonder Woman’s call to action happens when American pilot and spy Steve Trevor becomes the first ever outsider to arrive on Themyscira when he accidentally crash lands there due to some plot contrivance magic. He informs Princess Diana of Themyscira of all the suffering in the outside world and she chooses to leave her home and end all war as Themyscira’s ambassador because she sets ridiculously high goals for herself. That’s when Diana becomes Wonder Woman. Aside from starting her on her superheroic path, the exotic (to her) Steve becomes one of her rare (outside of fan fiction) paramours. But even though it’s a female starring film where love is a plot point, don’t approach Wonder Woman as if it’s a rom-com. That’d be patronizingly sexist to female viewers. It’s an epic superhero action movie first and foremost. Treat it like any other tentpole action film, just with the traditional male and female roles reversed.

Steve Trevor is Wonder Woman’s primary guide to a world that’s much larger and centuries more advanced than anything she’s ever known. His lessons to her about its status quo are as important as her lessons to the world on how to reduce its suffering. While Steve is an audience surrogate and a more typical protagonist for this kind of big action movie, this movie is not about him. He should never overshadow Wonder Woman. Don’t twist the story into Steve Trevor the American alpha male rescuing Wonder Woman from brainwashing by misandrist lesbian warmongers. (Perhaps that could be avoided by having Diana’s guide and lover be Stephanie Trevor, or would that be too progressive?) He can be the sardonic comic relief so that the movie doesn’t get too earnest or preachy. While he can add levity, it should never be because he’s bad at his profession because that makes him useless and his inclusion sexist. Comic book Steve is pretty Aryan-looking, but an actor of any race can fill the role since the American armed forces are no longer segregated like they were when he was created.

While Steve is important in Wonder Woman’s early adventures, he’s not necessarily so important overall that they couldn’t split up. He can even get fridged to mirror Greek tragedy. If the WB does go this route, it is absolutely vital that they do not hook Wonder Woman up with another superhero. The New 52’s Wonder Woman/Superman pairing is such an awful idea that it’s getting its own comic book. While Wonder Woman is physically strong enough to be Superman’s lover, they have negative romantic chemistry together. (Just return Maxima’s calls if that what you need, Superman!) It even felt tacked on in the otherwise great Kingdom Come. Don’t break up the Superman and Lois Lane relationship that Man of Steel portrayed well (aside from letting Amy Adams stay ginger so that she looks more like Lana Lang). Even though the outstanding Justice League cartoon popularized it, don’t pair her off with Batman either. The public is already so obsessed with Batman that you don’t need to add another reason for him to be crowned The Greatest Fictional Character of All Time, Seriously Don’t Make Fun of Him or We’ll Cut You.

Besides, everybody knows Batman’s true love is beating respect for the law into the mentally ill. The absolute worst way to make Wonder Woman a respected character that can support her own films is to make her another superhero’s arm candy. She doesn’t need to be in a relationship to be an awesome superheroine.

4. Make Themyscira Feel Real By Clearly Defining It

Wonder Woman’s home of Themyscria (known as Paradise Island to those who don’t speak Greek) is essential to understanding her. If it doesn’t feel real, neither does she. It’s managed to stay neutral in global politics because of its isolation but military service is compulsory. So it’s Switzerland, but with an exclusively female population.

Since Wonder Woman was sent to spread its ideals to the rest of the world, it’s important to convey what those ideals are. In early stories, Themyscira was a literal paradise (where BDSM roleplay games are the #1 pastime among its natives) in all respects, no matter how improbable (like high tech Purple Healing Rays). Modern stories acknowledge more of classic mythology by showing it does have civil wars and its Amazons are eager to battle against foreigners. Movie Themyscira has to walk a tightrope between being too Pollyannaish and too bellicose. Showing Themyscira is automatically perfect just because it lacks men is glibly sexist and doesn’t illustrate how the rest of the world could emulate it short of gender cleansing. If its Amazons are too bloodthirsty it makes Wonder Woman a hypocrite. Themyscira needs to have peace policies that are both teachable and applicable to the modern world. This ideology doesn’t have to instantly fix everything so long as it doesn’t come off as outright poppycock.

In addition to equalizing its political extremes, the magic behind Themyscira and its Amazons should be streamlined. Explanations of the Amazons from the comics can be a bit complicated with reincarnation, time travel, or immortality. The really involved magic, however, should be reserved for Wonder Woman. Just say that the Olympians relocated the Amazons to a magically cloaked island where time flows ridiculously slowly. That’ll explain how Themyscira was founded thousands of years ago but its original inhabitants are still alive. Throw in a Babel fish spell to quickly explain why ancient Amazons can understand modern English and vice versa. They could even use a pseudoscientific explanation about trans-dimensional barriers for viewers who don’t want to admit they’re watching a fantasy flick.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Address Complicated Issues

The best superhero movies have deeper themes resonating beneath their wish fulfillment surfaces. William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman to be a role model for girls, which worked because she was adopted as a mascot of the Feminist movement. So obviously Wonder Woman should be empowering, but not just to female viewers. Since the themes of her stories can often be oversimplified into a battle of the sexes, however, it could be very easy to alienate male viewers. So the movie can’t do a lazy “Girls rule, boys drool!” message and call it a day. It needs to show that it takes everybody working together, regardless of gender, to stamp out global inequality. The ideology exchange between Themyscira and the rest of the world needs to be a two-way street. While there are plenty of folks that don’t want superheroes and politics to mix, it can’t be avoided since they’re the whole point of her character.

Wonder Woman’s most intriguing contradiction is that she’s been trained since childhood to be a warrior, yet her mission is to stop Ares. The movie needs to highlight the lengths she’ll go to stop wars, though a full exploration would probably work best in the sequels. Unlike the majority of Justice Leaguers that grew up in the modern America, Wonder Woman will not abide suffering on account of politics. Let’s see her rescue refugees, singlehandedly disarm entire armies without killing anyone, and use her magic lasso to compel world leaders to sign and abide by treaties. Ironically, successfully imposing peace without conquest would make her very unpopular with the world. Just as Nolan’s Bat-trilogy paralleled the War on Terror, the Wonder Woman series could be a reflection of the West’s tendency to act like the World’s Police. At what point does Wonder Woman stop being a savior and become a bully? Is the world justified in rejecting her enforced peace? Or should everyone just be happy that a foreign maverick is ushering in positive change? Her entire mandate to end all wars is pretty vague, so hopefully the movies will at least acknowledge that building lasting peace is a very complicated process, in between scenes of Wonder Woman dropkicking Dr. Psycho into Giganta’s forehead.

Of course, the bigger issue with getting people to embrace Wonder Woman may be that she comes from an island of pagan lesbians. WB shouldn’t try to erase the Themysciran culture out of fear of alienating xenophobic moviegoers. Her movie is supposed to add diversity and expand the cinematic DC landscape. Homogenizing Wonder Woman and her mythos to appeal to the lowest common denominator isn’t the way to build a successful film series. The last time they tried it, we almost got saddled with a Lovelorn Sociopathic Corporate Vigilante, which will never be as cool a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. (If you’re a masochist, you might as well scroll all the way down here to experience firsthand just how big of a bullet was dodged.) It’s probably best to tastefully establish Amazonian religion and sexuality upfront and move on with the story. That way people won’t realize they’re being taught acceptance until it’s too late! It’d also be an intriguing subplot for the sequels to see how the world reacts when the existence of genuine Gods is proven … they’re just not the Gods most folks were expecting. Basically, it’s everything that worries executives about her that’s unmined storytelling gold!

2. Hire Screenwriters That Already Have Experience With Her

While directors get all the attention, the bulk of a movie’s major flaws are either created or averted during the screenwriting phase. It’s well-known that Joss Whedon wrote a Wonder Woman script earlier this century. WB rejected it without so much as a “Thanks but no thanks.” Then he wrote and directed some movie called The Avengers that made ALL THE MONEY! If I were a WB exec, whoever turned down that script would be cleaning out his desk whilst Whedon’s Wonder Woman was instantly greenlit. Since he wrote the screenplay as work-for-hire, WB still has the right to dig it out of whatever landfill they sent it to and film it. I haven’t read the script, but based on Whedon’s prior works it’s a safe presumption that it understood how to portray Wonder Woman to please both fans and newbies.

On the offchance that Whedon’s script was indeed a crime against the English language, it’s not as if there aren’t any other writers that could crack this “tricky” property. Most of them have even worked for WB or DC already! I’m thinking specifically of Michael Jelenic and Gail Simone, who co-wrote 2009’s spectacular DTV Wonder Woman animated movie. An almost perfect live-action movie could easily be made from its screenplay (so long as they go with a better design for Ares). It also earned over double its budget in sales without relying on Batman, which should give confidence to the WB bean counters. Most of the writers from the WB’s DC animation team would probably do just as well since her appearances on Justice League (regular and Unlimited) and Batman: The Brave & the Bold have been spot on. I still have no clue why folks behind these stellar cartoons haven’t been put in charge of WB’s live-action superheroes years ago.

Instead of handing her off to random screenwriters that don’t understand what makes her tick, the obvious way to make a good Wonder Woman movie is to hire writers that already have a proven track record with her. Since screenwriting isn’t that different than writing comic books, even some of her classic authors like George Perez, Greg Rucka, and Gail Simone could take a shot at it or consult. (Your name doesn’t have to start with G to write Wonder Woman well, but it sure helps.) Writers with a working knowledge of her daunting mythos are less likely to churn out a jumbled mess like Supergirl. They’d also keep Steve Trevor, the more traditional Hollywood protagonist, from upstaging Wonder Woman.

If WB still picks a random screenwriter out of a hat as protocol dictates, that writer should be made to read tons of her comics. That way they’d draw inspiration from the source material rather than just pulling things out of their colons. At the very least they should be forced to watch the cancelled pilot and then be instructed “Now do the exact opposite of that!” Remember, Catwoman wasn’t terrible because it was a superheroine solo flick. Catwoman was an abomination because it had almost nothing in common with the beloved character beyond its title.

1. Cast An Outstanding Actress As The Lead


This sounds like a “no duh” suggestion. Obviously a Wonder Woman movie is going to live or die by who they cast as its star. She needs to be someone who can convincingly play a wide range of complexities so that they feel like nuanced depth rather than conflicting script rewrites. She has all the grace and nobility of a princess without being prissy on entitled. Compassion drives her but she’s not above fighting dirty to win. She believes anyone can reform, but she doesn’t believe that killing unrepentant foes to protect innocents is in any way immoral. (Though she’s cunning and powerful enough that she employs non-lethal resolution more often than pragmatic murder.) She needs to embody a foreign and feminine perspective so she feels authentic and stands out from the cinematic superhero glut. Most importantly, she’s so selfless that she choose to leave paradise to improve the lives of billions of strangers. Because her main character flaw might be “being too perfect in an imperfect world,” it’s crucial to have an actress that can get audiences to sympathize with Wonder Woman.

Finding the right actress to play Wonder Woman is unfortunately easier said than done. Most of the actresses that spring to mind as being perfect for the role such as Claudia Black, Lucy Lawless, and Gina Torres are unfortunately a bit too old now for a studio to risk a multi-million dollar action franchise on. (Though there shouldn’t be a problem casting any of them as Queen Hippolyta.) You can’t give the lead to an inexperienced supermodel or a starlet just for being a flavor of the month. (The fake posters of Megan Fox in the role still haunt me.) Jaimie Alexander or Joanne Kelly could probably pull it off provided WB doesn’t wait until 2078 to start filming, but the comments section is wide open for your casting suggestions. Since Wonder Woman is made from living clay instead of being Hippolyta’s biological daughter, they can even cast an actress of any ethnicity without needing much explanation. Overall, Wonder Woman needs to be portrayed by someone with both warmth and gravitas.

Whoever is picked to be Wonder Woman also needs to be able to kick ass. There’s still a stigma against female action movies that their stars don’t look convincingly powerful or intimidating. Many have suggested Gina Carano because of her MMA background, but her acting leaves much to be desired. The way to go is to pick someone with the right acting chops first, then get her a personal trainer and fight coach to shape her up. The cinematic Wonder Woman should be as finely chiseled as the male Justice Leaguers. Seeing a scrawny actress toss around burly guys is amusing for about five minutes before it just depressingly reinforces the stereotype that women can only be feminine if they’re waifs. Wonder Woman should look like she could wreck anyone foolish enough to attack her even if she didn’t have superpowers.

Speaking of which, it’s essential that Wonder Woman be depicted with legitimate superpowers rather than just being a really exceptional human athlete. Otherwise it’s just going to make Gloria Steinem angry again, and you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.But most importantly, this movie will fail if there isn’t a scene of Wonder Woman punching out a Hydra like the Adam Hughes/Tim Bruckner statue!

Do the right thing, Warner Bros.

You may remember Matthew Catania from such other lists as
Top Ten Reasons X-Men and Doctor Who Are Secretly the Same Franchise
Eight Reasons Why a Superman/Batman Movie Might Not Be Such a Great Idea
The 10 Best Elseworlds Stories
The 10 Worst Fictional Psychotherapists
The 10 Best Episodes of The Tick Cartoon
11 Rather Risqu? Male Superhero Outfits

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