Monday, January 27, 2014

Does Hollywood Hate 'Wonder Woman?'

Alex Ross' 'Wonder Woman'
We finally have a 'Wonder Woman' in the form of Gal Gadot. Gadot will play 'Wonder Woman' in the new 'Batman versus Superman' movie in 2016 (which has already been delayed) and will hopefully get her own feature film in the near future. Yay! Right? Well...the latter part is iffy. The standalone film has not yet been confirmed. So our best hope for seeing 'Wonder Woman' will be as a third wheel in a Zack Synder film. The same Zack Synder who did 'Sucker Punch.' Not so "yay."

Now the CW has recently announced that it is dumping the 'Amazon' television series before it begins. 'Amazon' was supposed to be an origins series for 'Wonder Woman,' similar to 'Smallville.' This is the second 'Wonder Woman' series to fall flat. There was also a NBC 'Wonder Woman' pilot in 2011 that was cancelled before it aired.
So yes, I'm super thrilled that we finally have a 'Wonder Woman' and that 'Wonder Woman' will eventually be seen onscreen for the first time in three decades, but this begs the question(s). 1) Why has it taken so long?  2) Why doesn't 'Wonder Woman' deserve her own feature film?  3) Why can't anyone develop a 'Wonder Woman' television series?  I'm not sure if the blame lies with DC Comics or the Hollywood machine.
Gal Gadot is 'Wonder Woman'
DC Comics seems to only know how to do two franchises: 'Batman' or 'Superman.' I'm not sure if DC Comics is just being protective of its 'Wonder Woman' brand or if they really don't know what to do with 'Wonder Woman?' Perhaps they don't think that 'Wonder Woman' would do well at the box office because it has a female lead? Perhaps they think they need to ease 'Wonder Woman' into our collective consciousness slowly, i.e. as third wheel to 'Batman' and 'Superman.' Films like 'The Hunger Games,' 'Tomb Raider,' the 'Alien' franchise, the 'Underworld' franchise, and most recently 'Gravity,' should assuage any fears about female-led films at the box office.

Some have said it's brand recognition. 'Wonder Woman' doesn't have the brand recognition that 'Batman' and 'Superman' have. This sounds the least plausible. 'Wonder Woman' is one of the big three in the DC Comics universe. So it can't be brand recognition.

Even after reviewing all of the likely reasons, I'm still a bit puzzled as to why we haven't seen 'Wonder Woman' in over 30 years? Surely there has to be a good reason? This pains me to say as I'm a DC Comics fan, but Marvel does appear to be a more flexible franchise. Marvel seems to know how to use their catalog of superheroes and use them effectively. In my opinion, DC Comics has an amazing catalog. If only they used it?
The'Black Widow' film has not "quite" been confirmed. 
However, Marvel may be suffering from the same affliction when it comes to female superheroes. I recently read an article that Marvel is kinda cagey about the 'Black Widow' film. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige stressed that Marvel has "a lot of strong female characters already on screen." Similar to DC Comics, Feige is suggesting that the 'Black Widow' will be featured in the next 'Captain America' sequel. In other words, "take it or leave it." So the 'Black Widow' film isn't in the bag either.

Long story short, Gal Gadot may be the new 'Wonder Woman,' but we won't see her until 2016. In the meantime here is a list of all of the other recent comic book films and television series currently on or in development (THAT ARE NOT 'WONDER WOMAN').

As you can see from this list, there is no good reason we haven't had a 'Wonder Woman' film or series yet? And there is no good reason why 'Wonder Woman' shouldn't get her own feature film. Please feel free to disagree with me in the comments.

CURRENT
  • 'Agents of Shield' 2013 - Present (Marvel)
  • 'Arrow' 2012 - Present (DC Comics)
  • 'The Walking Dead' 2010 - Present (Image Comics)
'The Flash' television series has been confirmed.
IN DEVELOPMENT OR RUMORED
  • 'Justice League' movie - Which will hopefully include 'Wonder Woman'
  • Agent Carter (of 'Captain America,' Marvel) television series is rumored to be in development.
  • The Flash (DC Comics) has been greenlit for a television series.
  • Hourman (DC Comics) television series is rumored to have been picked up by the CW.
  • 'Black Widow' (of 'The Avengers,' Marvel) film will possibly be released in 2016. The key word being "possibly."
  • Gotham (DC Comics) television series is rumored to be in development by the CW. 'Gotham' is about Commissioner Gordon's pre-Batman days. 
  • Now to add insult to injury, Constantine (DC Comics) has been given a pilot by NBC. Yes, 'Constantine' is the comic the 2005 Keanu Reeves' movie was based on. 
  • iZombie (DC Comics) is rumored to be in development. It's about a med student turned zombie.
  • 'Ant Man' (Marvel) movie is in the works. Paul Rudd has recently been cast in the title role.
  • 'Fantastic Four' (Marvel) reboot is planned. Michael B. Jordan has been cast as 'The Human Torch.'
An 'Agent Carter' series is rumored to be in development.
Now here is a list of all of the DC Comics feature films and television series over the past decade or so in no particular order. They have one thing in common. NO 'WONDER WOMAN.' If you're curious about the other franchises I listed them below. I separated DC Comics out because 'Wonder Woman' is a DC Comics brand.

DC COMICS
  • 'Smallville' Television Series, 2001-2011 
  • 'Birds of Prey' Television Series, 2002-2003
  • 'Green Lantern,' 2011
  • 'Catwoman,' 2004
  • 'Batman' (Christopher Nolan franchise 2005 - 2012)
  • 'Man of Steel,' 2013
  • 'Superman Returns,' 2006
  • 'The Watchmen,' 2009
  • 'Jonah Hex,' 2010
OTHER DC COMICS RELATED TITLES
  • 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,' 2003
  • 'Human Target' Television Series, 2010-2011
  • 'Constantine,' 2005
  • 'V For Vendetta,' 2005
  • 'Road to Perdition,' 2002
  • 'A History of Violence,' 2005
  • 'The Losers,' 2010
  • 'R.E.D.,' 2010
  • 'The Spirit,' 2008
DARKHORSE
  • 'Alien v. Predator,' 2004
  • 'Hellboy,' 2004 and 2008
  • 'Sin City,' 2005
  • '300,' 2007
  • 'Captain America,' 2011
  • 'R.I.P.D,' 2013
  • 'I, Frankenstein,' 2014
  • 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,' 2014
  • '300: Rise of an Empire,' 2014
MARVEL
  • 'X-Men' franchise 2000 - Beyond
  • 'Blade' Television Series 2006
  • 'Painkiller Jane' 2007
  • 'Spider-Man' Franchise 2002 - Beyond
  • 'Daredevil' 2002
  • 'Hulk' 2003
  • 'The Punisher' 2003
  • 'Elektra' 2005
  • 'Fantastic Four' 2005
  • 'Iron Man' Franchise 2008 - 2013
  • 'The Incredible Hulk' 2008
  • 'The Avengers' 2012
  • 'Thor' Franchise 2010 - Beyond
  • 'Ghost Rider' 2006 and 2012
TOP COW
'Witchblade' Television Series, 2001-2002

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14 comments:

  1. #1 reason for no Wonder Woman movie...
    MEN RUN THE MOVIE INDUSTRY!
    Princess Diana of Themyscira does not approve!

    My 7 year old daughter loves to watch the Justice League cartoons, just for the female superheroes. Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Black Canary, Batgirl, Huntress, etc...

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  2. They are wrong she's not recognizable. I grew up on DC comics and watching Superfriends, and Wonder Woman was the third biggest super hero DC ever created.
    On a side note, watched again RED the other night. That is one funny movie.

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  3. I know little about superheroes, and even less about comics. However, I do think that Gal Gadot is a strange choice over, say, someone like Alexandra Daddario. (Wonder Woman is a warrior princess of the Amazons, not some stick thin Israeli supermodel, right?)

    I honestly look to the music industry as means of deciphering why Wonder Woman fails to connect with fanboys. The only way girl groups succeed is if female consumers get behind them. Girls are loyal and devotional to thing they adore; more so than boys. Therefore, perhaps the movie studio in charge should go after the core audiences that flocked to Hunger Games rather than going after a fanboy market that avoids 'girls' stuff.

    If the Wonder Woman film turns out to be cool then fanboys will eventually go see it, but they should always be a secondary market. If Wonder Woman strictly depends on fanboys turning out on opening weekend then I am not sure that it will fly.

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  4. A good list Mariah. Unfortunately there a bunch of reasons that Wonder Woman hasn't had a live-action movie, but you're right brand recognition isn't one of them. She's the number one female superhero in the world. There isn't even a plausible #2.

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  5. David-- I agree. I think there is something to that!

    Alex-- Yes! I agree. She really is one of the big three. Admittedly I do like the film R.E.D. Did you ever see the sequel?

    Movies-- Yes, I agree. I think it's a marketing issue. They don't know who to market WW to. Do they market to fanboys or do they market to Hunger Game girls? I think the key is to market it to both. Many of the Superhero films have high female demographics and they clearly market that stuff to men.

    Maurice-- I guess I just don't understand the reasons why WW hasn't had a live-action film? Especially since they've rebooted the batman and superman franchises. I just don't get it.

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  6. It is baffling to me that they can't make Wonder Woman movies. I think it's mostly fear. Yes, she's a popular character, but she's also a woman. As much as Hollywood has made progress towards female led properties, there's still a lot of handwringing about it in back offices.

    I also think there's an element of fear. No one wants to screw up Wonder Woman. Remember the furor over things like her pants on the TV pilot.

    I also think WW has so much emotional baggage with feminism and those who consider her sexist and those who want to make her sexier that it's easier to say, "Let's just not do it at all."

    But I think the biggest problem is, like you said, men. They just don't get it. If they actually put a woman in charge of the movie, I bet it would be awesome, but first you have to get Hollywood to put a woman in charge.

    It's all so frustrating.

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  7. Methinks that horrid castings and bad success in CATWOMAN and ELECTRA have pretty much buried female superhero flicks deep down.
    I don't like this Gal choice either. She seems washed out, too model like and lifeless. We needed a sexy vixen lady with wits in the role.

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  8. I never been a big fan of WW but the lack of superhero driven female movies is awful. People always talk about how women aren't really equal in Hollywood and this is a great example of this - I mean there are so many fantastic female characters in comic books and they are so rarely seen even in supporting roles.

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  9. Nigel-- You make some great points. I think you're spot on. Hollywood doesn't want to take the chance on a female superhero, especially after a couple of failures. There have been plenty of male-led superhero films that have tanked. It's about the quality of the film, not the gender. Superheroes have always been the realm of fanboys. Hollywood is scared.

    You also make a good point about the duality of WW. On one hand she's this bad mamajama and on the other hand she's a total babe.

    Dezmond -- I think that those two films failed b/c they were poorly written and done. I don't know why they wouldn't hold a movie like 'Green Lantern' in the same category? I had issues w/ Gal too. She doesn't have the physicality of WW, IMHO. I think Gina Carano would have been the ideal choice, but Gal is a decent actress so we'll see how she does. I hope they put some muscle weight on her.

    Sati-- Exactly. There is a serious void of female superhero films. Elektra and Catwoman were half hearted attempts IMO. Women are always just the love interests in superhero films. Black Widow has recently broke that mold thankfully.

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  10. Hollywood is definitely the problem, I'd rather watch a Wonder Woman movie than Ant Man!

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  11. I place the blame squarely with DC and a lack of vision. Joss Whedon spent two years in hell trying to write/direct a Wonder Woman film for them and they finally pulled the plug figuring he didn't have what it takes to direct a superhero movie. (Oops.)

    Then the TV show was having a pilot shot and they decided to jettison the iconic Wonder Woman costume for a politically correct, completely ridiculous outfit that no one could take seriously. The pilot wasn't picked up.

    Then they see Marvel execute a long range plan to introduce secondary characters they still own the rights to then combine them into a single, exremely successful film. Wonder Woman was FAR better known that Iron Man, Thor, etc. a few years ago. Had they done a WW movie they'd now have four characters (with Green Lantern) already established in movies ready for their own Justice League film. Instead they've got a successful Batman franchise that's losing the director and star, a marginal Superman, a mostly failed Green Lantern, and no Wonder Woman.

    Marvel has just done a much better job at marketing their characters in the medium of film. I'd submit that DC hasn't even been able to reboot Superman on the screen very well, despite two attempts. And that's their most iconic character. I don't know I'd trust them now with a Wonder Woman movie anyway.

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  12. Francis-- Me too! Are they trying to say that Ant-Man has more recognition than WW? No way.

    Chip-- You're absolutely right. I wrote about that in my last article DC refused to return Joss Whedon's calls. What's up w/ that?

    The two Superman reboot have not been good. I have not liked either one of them.

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  13. I disagree that it is sexism that prevents Wonder Woman from having a movie. I think it has more to do with the fact that she doesn't have a consistent origin story, great villains or well known supporting cast. And she has been propped up too much as a feminist icon whose goal is to bring peace. Its to the point where its really hard to develop her without offending her fans. I also feel that it hurt the character becoming famous simply for being a character that wasn't the female version of a male. I mean she didn't really do much to earn the position, it was just foisted upon her before there were good stories to back it up. Its not too late to create character defining stories, its just that they need to focus on her flaws to give her some complexity and be consistent with it from here onwards.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I have to disagree. I don't think that sexism is necessarily the primary reason, but I think it may be one of the many reasons. I believe that WW hasn't hit the small or big screen for a plethora of reasons, some of which you mentioned.

      I don't personally want to see WW b/c she's a feminist icon, I want to see WW, b/c I love the character, just like I love Supes and other male superheroes. There's a lot of canon out there if someone were willing to dig through it. I especially like the Alex Ross era of WW. I also enjoyed the WW/Batman series.

      I also disagree that WW hasn't done as much as her counterparts "to earn" her place. Most old school superheroes (excluding characters like 'Batman' or tinkers like Spiderman or Iron Man) have their circumstances foisted upon them.

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