Why Wonder Woman isn’t being made into a film

Lynda Carter, statuesque, wasp-waisted, commanding, brought a signature style to the role of  Wonder Woman.

Lynda Carter, statuesque, wasp-waisted, commanding, brought a signature style to the role of Wonder Woman.

Hollywood superhero films push the boundaries of special effects and the suspension of reality. Spidey swinging through Queens? No worries. Iron Man with his endless array of high-tech gadgetry? A cinch. Christian Bale’s Batman as an angry, maladjusted brat? Okay, so they relied on Christian’s innate talent for that one, but you get the idea.

But when it comes to making a movie about a feminist superhero, well, even Hollywood has its limits.

We’ve been promised a Wonder Woman movie for years now. In 2007 Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator, and director of the wildly successful Avengers film, Joss Whedon was down to do the film with Angelina Jolie playing the Amazonian warrior princess. There was even some speculation — at least among fans — that Miranda Kerr might be considered for the role after appearing on the cover of the January 2012 edition of Australian Grazia dressed in the big blue pants.

But so far nothing has come of it. Now DC Comics, which publishes Wonder Woman has put her and her alter ego Diana Prince into the category of ‘difficult women’.

As DC Entertainment's president Diane Nelson told The Hollywood Reporter recently, "She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognises. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium?"

Nelson went on: "She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky."

It sounds familiar doesn’t it? "We’d love to, but we can’t right now," is a universal fob off for women who try to exceed their station — even when it comes to comic book superheroes. Equal pay? Great idea, just not this year. Women on boards? Definitely a top priority, we’ll put it in our corporate strategy. Shared domestic work? Well it’s a no brainer, except you do have to be a little bit practical.

I’m not suggesting that a Wonder Woman film is as significant as the pay gap and female representation, but it is a symptom of the same sexist culture that denies women power and agency. We are allowed to play, just so long as we don’t show up the blokes.

Women add sex appeal to political parties, and make workplaces prettier and more colourful, but start to challenge male power structures? Well that becomes ‘tricky’.

Wonder Woman makes for great eye candy, but a woman dominating and triumphing over men on the big screen? Well that’s a bit…what’s the word again…oh yes…’tricky’. And an Amazonian matriarchy? Even trickier.

Sure there have been some films with female superheros — Catwoman and Elektra, for example — but neither is a major character. Most mainstream audiences (i.e. non-comic nerds) wouldn’t have a clue who Elektra is or how she fits into Marvel’s comic universe. And despite being featured in Batman titles for years, Catwoman only sometimes has a continuing comic book title. In any case, neither Elektra nor Catwoman are the feminist icon that Wonder Woman is.

The official reasons given for not going ahead with the Wonder Woman film are about as flimsy as Clark Kent’s ‘disguise’. (A pair of thick black-rimmed specs? Puh-leeze.)

The same reasons have never stood in the way of other (read: male) comic characters making it to cinema. A single, clear compelling storyline? Similar things might be said about bringing Batman to the big screen. In the 1940s and 50s Batman and Robin were a camp duo who were unambiguously on the side of the law, rather than a vigilante. But changing the entire moral code and personality of Batman wasn’t considered an obstacle.  

Similarly, the most recent Spider Man film, The Amazing Spider Man took some liberties with the origin story of Spider Man. The most important part of the film — the events surrounding the death of Uncle Ben — which sets Peter Parker on his path to crime fighter, was altered.

It seems that Hollywood can work around almost any plot or character complications where superheroes are concerned — except when the superhero is a woman who out-fights men.

There will be those who say that none of this matters; that we should be talking about more pressing issues. But movies — particularly mainstream movies — are the closest thing we have to collective myths. They are one of the most powerful forms of ideology, providing images and role models that can inspire change and help to re-imagine our present. Or, alternatively, they can simply reinforce the status quo.

When movies are dominated by men, they simply reinforce the gender imbalance. Women and, more importantly, girls, internalise that it is men — and only men — who act. If we want to harness these ideological tools for women and for girls, then female superheros and strong female characters more generally, are significant.

If only DC Entertainment was as progressive and courageous as Wonder Woman and her Amazonian sisters.

 

Kasey Edwards is the best-selling author of 4 books 30-Something and Over It, 30-Something and The Clock is Ticking, OMG! That's Not My Husband, and OMG! That's Not My Child. www.kaseyedwards.com

 

 

21 comments

  • Thank you for a wonderful article. Not only have fans been waiting for a Wonder Woman movie, but young girls need a strong female role model. I saw your article posted on a Facebook wonder woman movie fan page -https://www.facebook.com/themyscirafilmcommission

    Commenter
    scandalous1@gmail.com
    Location
    USA
    Date and time
    September 11, 2013, 12:51AM
    • Wonder Woman is such an interesting character. She is also pretty much the only notable female superhero that is not based off a male counter part.

      Commenter
      Essasin
      Date and time
      September 11, 2013, 4:50AM
      • Also, any recent animated incarnation of Wonder Woman has proven she has compelling stories and and an origin story that can be told and is as believable as the last son of Krypton.

        Commenter
        mmmruff
        Date and time
        September 11, 2013, 5:56AM
        • I think it still has something to do with the invisible jet. Where do you get spare parts for one of those?
          Otherwise, a female character that kicks butt? Already done. Your article is a decade or two late.

          Commenter
          Knee Jerk
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          September 11, 2013, 9:07AM
          • They don't make a Wonder woman movie because they know perfectly well that it would make a huge loss not a profit because no one wants to see that movie, except a small group of die hard lesbians/feminists.

            Men are not sexually attracted to a women who can beat men up and women do not aspire to be that women. So no one wats to see that movie. Reverse the roles however and women are sexually attracted to a man who can beat other men up and men aspire to be that guy, so that movie sells.

            Women do have agency but it is not the agency of physical combat and killing people. Womens agency conists of baking cakes and changing baby nappies. I kid you not.

            You die hard feminists really are a sad bunch of losers. Losers because you will never win as sexism is in our genes you will never defeat it (rather your genes will go extinct because they have not confered immunity to feminism upon you).

            Commenter
            Robert
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            September 11, 2013, 9:18AM
            • If the studios thought a Wonder Woman film would make money it would have been made by now. Nothing sexist about it. Not enough people are interested.

              Commenter
              James
              Location
              Balmain
              Date and time
              September 11, 2013, 9:30AM
              • Icompletyely disagree about wonder woman ,Idont think Linda Carter was such the nazi ideal female role model at all.The superman or woman of their valhalla or valkyrie.Not at all.She was long and lean and almost scrawny angular and sharp pointed bony features with padding in her bras and panties.Men are always the standby for mass murderers through war as an alternative industry reaping massive profits, women need to be the incubators of their replacements.Thats more imnportant ,thats all.

                Commenter
                Lane
                Date and time
                September 11, 2013, 9:32AM
                • Women dominating over men is not "tricky", we see it on ABC dramas all the time. And cinema heroines are not difficult either, look at A. Jolie, the female James Bond f.ex. was a huge success. No, women will just have to go out and do the job themselves if they want it done, and stop trying to get the job done by blaming men.

                  Commenter
                  bg
                  Date and time
                  September 11, 2013, 9:33AM
                  • Personally, I think it's just hard to integrate Wonder Woman in a modern context. Not because of gender but simply her story is boring. It will be like taking the 1982 movie the swamp thing and making a current movie about it.

                    I do agree there should be way more female superhero movies though. Personally, I'd like to see: She Hulk, Jean Grey, Black Widow. Although I suppose the days of single superheroes (male or female) are logn gone and movies like the avengers are more popular.

                    Commenter
                    Calvin
                    Location
                    Melb
                    Date and time
                    September 11, 2013, 9:47AM
                    • No offence but it's clearly not economically viable. Let's be real here, the biggest fans of superhero movies are nerdy 15-30 year old males.
                      This crowd might not be so interested in a Wonder Woman movie unless it had an extreme perve factor to it... in which case you would most likely write a follow up article about how disappointed you are that all we saw were Wonder Woman's boobs for 3 hours.

                      It's a cruel world... fuelled by greed. I would love to see a decent Wonder Woman movie but unfortunately we may be waiting a long time.

                      Commenter
                      Mzed
                      Location
                      Sydney
                      Date and time
                      September 11, 2013, 9:57AM

                      More comments

                      Comments are now closed