Friday, May 18, 2012

Make It a Movie May: Wonder Woman

I don't think I need to explain why a movie about Wonder Woman is both necessary and quite frankly more likely than the other movies on this list. She's pretty much the female superhero, has already headlined a successful TV show, and is the iconic figure that many people associate with women's rights. Obviously, we're talking movie here.

No, I want to talk about the bigger question, of why there isn't a Wonder Woman movie already. Right? It's a little strange that even though she's one of the most recognizable characters in the world, she doesn't have a franchise, while jokers like Green Lantern at least got a movie (a terrible, terrible movie). What gives?

There are a couple of reasons why Wonder Woman hasn't made it to the big screen yet. First, there's the issue of backstory. While it's true that pretty much everyone knows something about Wonder Woman's history, film executives tend to get a little nervous when asked to finance a film about an Amazonian Princess sent to save the world. She doesn't have a father, she's from a magical island of women, and she's sort of stumbling through our world. Or they could go with the updated backstory, where Wonder Woman is actually Diana Prince, who has some magical background, but is actually just a mild-mannered CEO.

For the record, I have always loved that even when Wonder Woman's identity was baffling and unrelated to the story, she always had really kickass jobs. I mean, Clark Kent is a reporter. Diana Prince is a CEO. Win.

But the issue of Wonder Woman's backstory isn't as troublesome as we might think. After all, Thor has a weird history too, and he just headlined a major movie a year ago, and then participated in another massive film this spring. And he pulled it off.

So if not her background, then what?

Well, the second objection usually comes down to money. It's expensive to make a movie that would probably have to contain a mystical island, she has that magic whip, and you'd probably have to spend a fortune on consultants to get her costume right.

Buuuut, it's not like superhero movies are ever cheap, and again, I point at Green Lantern. [I'll stop crapping on that movie eventually, but it really was just awful.]

Money's clearly not the real problem, so that leaves us with one last explanation, and this is where my money is. They just don't know what to do with her. Think about it.

In the stillborn Wonder Woman TV show that was supposed to come out this past fall, Diana Prince was both a CEO and her own assistant, and a superhero. They wanted to tread lightly around her wacky background, but in the process, tried to make the show almost a legal thriller. That's weird. And not very entertaining.

Part of the issue is that Wonder Woman has always suffered from an identity crisis. She was a princess, then a fashion reporter, a CEO, a karate kicking vigilante, she's been everything. So how do you choose? There isn't a whole lot of essential Wonder Woman to work with, when you get down to brass tacks. Who is this chick, and why do we care?

The solution, I think, is to woman up and go all in. Wonder Woman's an Amazonian Princess who'll lose her powers if she's tied up by a man, and has a magical truth lasso? Fine. Go with it. As we saw with Thor and Captain America, and even Batman, the more you sell your premise, the more people buy into your movie, even when the premise is a little unusual.

I could leave it there, but I think there's one other question we have to ask ourselves before we let this matter rest.

Who would play her?

More than any other female superhero, Wonder Woman is an icon first and foremost, so it's hard to think of who would be appropriate to take up the tiara. Here are my suggestions:

Gina Carano

We already know she can fight, and she rather looks the part. The question is, can she bring the regality and elegance to the character, in addition to the fighting chops? 
Morena Baccarin

Already a veteran of sci-fi and cool heroines with unusual backstories (see V and Firefly), Morena has the look down pat. She's regal, refined, and still looks just tough enough to kick a butt. Downsides, looks a bit like she'd break a nail in a fight, and not sure she's got the fighting down.

Gina Torres

Who says Wonder Woman has to be white? Gina Torres is both royal and an asskicker, which combines perfectly for the role. You believe she could beat you up, and you also believe she's too noble to do it unless you really, really deserve it. The only major problem is her age. If it's going to be an origin story, Torres is a little old for the lead. (She could always play Wonder Woman's mother, though.)

Jennifer Lawrence

There's been a little bit of talk about Lawrence picking up the tiara, and to be sure, she's got her big-budget movie credentials. The downside for me is that she's a little down to earth to play a magical princess, and as the face of a major franchise already, could be a conflict of interest.

Summer Glau

Okay, she's a tiny person, but something about Glau really captures the ethereal spirit trapped inside a warrior woman idea. Plus, she's definitely got the acting chops to pull it off, and the ballet background to lend the fight scenes some needed grace.

Katie McGrath

Probably the biggest long-shot on this list, McGrath is a phenomenal actress best known for playing Morgana on BBC's Merlin. She's got the otherworldliness needed for the character, combined with experience playing royalty, a strong enough build to play the combat realistically, and is a dead ringer for the image in the comics. With her Irish accent lending a touch of exoticism, and her ability to act the queen and the warrior established, McGrath is my pick.

Leave your suggestions in comments on who you think should play Wonder Woman!

Because she's worth it.