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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

EDITORIAL: Why There Is Next-To-No Excuse for a Lack of a Wonder Woman Film

It’s a hot topic among geeks of both sexes: why has Warner Brothers been skimping around the iconic character of Wonder Woman for so long? Wonder Woman has been an iconic character since the 1940s, has staying power in the DC Comics world, is one third of the main Justice League trilogy (opposite Batman and Superman), and even had a popular live-action show that ran from 1975-1979. Is there really a justifiable reason why she hasn’t been brought to the big screen?

Filmmakers have tried. The Avengers’ Joss Whedon gave it a shot. Chronicle writer Max Landis has just recently stated that he, too, has a pitch for Warner Brothers to bring the lady to cinemas everywhere. But Warner Brothers currently seems too deep into the Batman mythos to do a little dice-rolling with other properties; they’re sacrificing a Man of Steel sequel to do a combo Batman/Superman film because they know that Batman sells. The real question here is: why don’t they think Wonder Woman would?

If you look at the numbers, Wonder Woman should be the film on the studio’s radar to be debuting next. Hell, it’s arguable that the financial “failure” of Superman Returns should have put Wonder Woman in a position to be made over Man of Steel. And the reasoning is quite simple if you merely break down your demographics. First off, let’s get away from this “men won’t see a Wonder Woman film” idea. It doesn’t work. There are four major reasons why men are going to go watch Wonder Woman (if the movie looks good).

·      It would most likely be an action movie.
·      Warner Brothers are working for a shared universe like Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, meaning that men would have to see Wonder Woman for continuity purposes in order to get the full scope of Justice League.
·      It’s a big-budget superhero movie of an iconic character.
·      Men seem to be okay with attractive women.

It’s possible that a major reason why a studio wouldn’t think men would see Wonder Woman is because they would perceive it as “girly.” This makes no sense for one major reason in that the idea of Wonder Woman is that she isn’t a prissy pushover. That’s literally the entire point of the character; that she’s an emboldened warrior who fights for the sake of justice. Or maybe they think of it in the opposite light; that the character of Wonder Woman is too feministic and off-putting because of her pro-woman ideology. This, however, is a strange theory considering that Man of Steel was laced with less-than-subtle Christian-imagery (and I have to be honest, as a Christian myself, it couldn’t have been more annoying), an ideology now seemingly much more controversial than the idea of a woman kicking ass.

But that’s just the male side of things. Let’s talk about the women. Why don’t we bring up a 2010 study that women actually frequent the movies more than men? There’s a weird idea going around that women don’t go to see movies (or if they do, it’s with a man and a rom-com or “chick flick”). Not only is that absolutely false according to the previous study, but there’s a flaw in the argument to begin with when studios aren’t making movies about women or for women. And when they do make female-centric movies, they’re often times big hits. How can you ignore the likes of Pitch Perfect making $113 million dollars worldwide on a $17 million dollar budget? How about Bridesmaids worldwide gross of almost $300 million versus its production cost of $32.5 million dollars? And this year’s The Heat certainly didn’t hurt this argument. And all three of those are comedies, two of them R-rated.

A closer-to-home example might be Jennifer Lawrence’s The Hunger Games, which has sparked a franchise off a popular young adult book and given young women everywhere a heroine who is fully physically functional in combat and steep in rich character development. The first film grossed almost $700 million dollars worldwide (at the publication date of this article, that’s more than Man of Steel’s worldwide gross) and the upcoming sequel is one of the most anticipated big-budget films of the year.

Before we get into the adaptation issue, I’ll give way to one of the logical pressing concerns of the opposition. Women-centric films don’t do as well in international waters as they do here in America. And Warner Brothers is likely hoping to have international smashes as well as domestic ones. That being said, the model of the above films also proves that domestic money is solid and can definitely turn enough of a profit to keep the franchise rolling. And considering Wonder Woman’s superhero appeal, an appeal lacked by the other films mentioned, it could be playing in fairer seas, no pun intended. Simply put, Wonder Woman could be a successful domestic hit with better international odds than the other noted movies.

So let’s talk adaptation. First, any arguments you hear about Wonder Woman’s costume impeding the movie being made should be thrown out. It’s a ridiculous, senseless argument, and likely one only a foaming fanboy would try to make. You can do so much with costume adaptation these days and it’s really only the concern of the director and costume director to sell the imagery appropriately.

Secondly, any argument about Wonder Woman being hard to adapt to screen should be met with an enormous “DUH.” Adaptation is hard, period. But you know what? We’ve gotten Watchmen, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Thor, and soon we’ll have Guardians of the Galaxy; these are all films that are, in theory, harder to adapt to screen than Wonder Woman. I think you could make the case that Green Lantern and Aquaman are harder to adapt, as well, but that’s just me.

So, what’s the real reason behind Warner Brothers not adapting Wonder Woman? It seems to this writer that it’s simply one of two things: fear of a property that sits without the sell of Batman, or more proof that there isn’t really a creative blueprint for the DC staple at the studio.

*note: despite how much I root for a Wonder Woman film to be produced, I actually believe Ms. Marvel should debut first. But that's a discussion for another time.

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