Last week, most movie and pop culture sites dealt with their post SDCC hangovers by devoting a shocking number of articles to either celebrating or decrying the announced Superman/Batman movie (editor’s note: Guilty). At present, the only details we know are the release date, the director, the writer, the fact that Henry Cavill will return as Superman, and that Batman will play some role in the story. Despite the vague nature of those details, there were still plenty of people eager to weigh in about why this was either a brilliant idea or the worst thing anyone could come up with.
Once feasting on Superman/Batman gets old, the comic book movie pundits are bound to turn their attentions back to the superhero property that just can’t get off the ground no matter how much anyone tries: Wonder Woman. She is one of the most recognizable superheroes so it’s certainly odd that with everything in development (we’re getting a fucking Dr. Strange movie, for crying out loud) there have been no serious advances in bringing the Amazon Princess to the big screen. Let’s not mince words here. Certainly her gender is a factor. Several years ago Warner Bros. even caught heat for claiming they weren’t going to make films with women in the lead.
However, it would be an oversimplification to say that sexism is the only factor in stalling a Wonder Woman film. There are a number of variables that make mounting this project a greater challenge than other comic book films.
Yes, its incredibly skimpy and those bright colors definitely run counter to the grim-and-gritty look that’s so popular these days. But it’s also iconic, which means it’s hard to picture Wonder Woman without it. There was a Wonder Woman script floating around about 10 years ago that basically replaced her outfit with a black jumpsuit and even on the page that felt wrong. Still, one imagines there are a number of name actors who’d flee the project just because of the crotch-hugging silliness of the suit.
A few photoshops have shown that it’s possible to give the suit a look that evokes Greek armor while still being recognizably Wonder Woman. Also, for all its faults, the failed Wonder Woman pilot two seasons ago had actress Adrianne Palicki wear a fairly faithful version of the outfit during the show’s climactic battle. It worked in no small part because Palicki owned the look. There was never a moment where you sensed any embarrassment from the actress. (In contrast, note how many times in Lois & Clark that Dean Cain seems very self-conscious in his tights.) It’s easy to dismiss the outfit because of its appearance, but the right actress will make you believe that it’s what Wonder Woman would wear.
Lynda Carter certainly pulled that off. Which coincidentally brings us to…
The Campy Lynda Carter Show
That’s mostly what the general public (and your average film exec) knows her from – and therein lies the problem. See, if that’s one’s perception of Wonder Woman, then it seems like, “Oh, just treat it like a female Superman. She’s got powers, she’s strong, she’s got a bright costume, she fights bad guys… easy, right?” Wonder Woman is so much more than that, to the point where it’s frustrating that after all these years, the TV show is still pop culture’s main point of reference when it comes to comics’ most prominent superheroine. If Lynda Carter’s version makes you scoff, remember that there is more to the character’s mythos than that.
Not that everything in her history makes an adaptation easy…