Why a Wonder Woman Movie Will Be Successful

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Comics, Commentary, DC Comics, Fantasy, Girls, Movies, Science Fiction
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 By Todd Matthy

The subject of women in comics is a hot one. One of the sub-subjects is female superheroes and movies, specifically why there isn’t a Wonder Woman movie. The big questions are, “Why did we get a Jonah Hex movie before Wonder Woman?” ” “Why do executives think a super hero movie with a female lead is an automatic bomb?” “Why do executives think Wonder Woman is difficult?” I don’t know the answers to all of the questions. I do know we’ve gotten some answers that are B.S.

 

Female super heroes can succeed at the box office. It’s not a question of whether or not the lead is a female, it’s a question of whether the movie is good or bad. So, what’s the formula for a good Wonder Woman movie? Read below.

 

The Amazons:

Wonder Woman is really Diana, daughter of Hypolyta, the Queen of Themyscira (a.k.a. Paradise Island), home of the Amazons. The Amazons are a race of sophisticated warrior women that have chosen to live apart from the world of men because of past abuses. It’s very easy to portray them as man-haters. That’s a cop out.  There can be a vocal group that has this belief, but there should also be a group that, like Jor-El, thinks men, “Can be a great people if they wish to be. They only lack the light to properly guide them.” Hypolyta should fall into the category of the ladder, however she does not want her daughter to be the “light” that guides men. Which brings us to the heart of Wonder Woman.

 

 

Wonder:

The character is WONDER Woman. The theme of the movie should be WONDER. I’ve always felt that Wonder Woman is an explorer. She’s an Amazon Princess exploring man’s world and trying to understand our ways. Here is where we make Wonder Woman relatable. The first time Diana appears on screen she should be on the cliff’s of Paradise Island wondering what lies on the other side of the sea. She’s never met a man in her life, she should be curious about them and Hypolyta should be an overprotective mother that’s seen the worst men have to offer and wants to protect her from that. This is the emotional hook of the movie. Diana wants to leave the nest while Hypolyta still wants to shelter her from the evils of the world. It’s a classic parent/child dynamic that everybody can relate to. Now that we have why we should care about Diana, lets look at why she’s awesome.

Homages to Classics:

Wonder Woman is an action movie and Diana should be the biggest badass from an island of badasses. So, how do we establish that? With some homage’s to great action movies. Amazon’s pushing giant rolling boulders up a hill. It’s a reverse of what happened in Raider’s of the Lost Ark and Diana did it faster then every one of them.

The hand-to-hand combat sequence that marks the tournament’s end should evoke Gladiator. Imagine Diana versus Artemis in a Gladiator-type environment. Bad ass. And when she wins she should get the rousing ovation Maximus got.

Finally, there is the trial of the flashing fire, where Diana uses the bracelets to block bullets for the first time. If this is shot in a Matrix-like bullet time sequence it will cement Diana as a Superman-level character, with speeding bullet reflexes.

Through these action sequences the director will not only have established that Amazon’s are a race of badass women, but that Diana is the most badass of them all. The audience has learned why Diana is special. Now, we can move on to the next stage of Diana’s journey.

Girl in the City

At her core, Wonder Woman is an explorer. She’s the student studying abroad. She’s a smart and capable woman who is learning through experience about cultures that she’s heard about but never experienced before.  The second act should focus on these experiences. We should see Diana meeting people, reacting to how people dress, reacting to how people act, and of course righting things she finds unjust.  Here we will introduce her supporting cast.

First and foremost is Steve Trevor. Steve is the bridge between the fantastic world of Themyscira and the real world. He should be introduced at the end of the first act by crashing an experimental invisible plane (had to get that in) on Themyscira and act as one of her guides when she comes to America. That being said he should also be a love interest but of a different type. Steve should be both infatuated with and protective of Diana. He is very much attracted to her but he should also be concerned about her. Not because she’s defenseless, but because she’s a stranger in a strange land. He wants to show her that man’s world is a good place so the Amazon’s will eventually consider integrating with man’s world…and accept a relationship between him and Diana. He should show Diana the tricks of living in man’s world. A great scene that could accomplish this is a scene where Steve teaches Diana how to ballroom dance. It would be the equivalent of Superman taking Lois Lane on her first flight. Diana should have feelings for Steve as well but be unsure of them. She’s never met a man before. She’s heard about them but doesn’t know what to think of them. Steve’s the first man she’s met and she’s attracted to him, but she doesn’t know if she loves him or not. She needs guidance on the matter, something a mother figure can provide.

In man’s world, Julia Kapetelis is Diana’s mother figure. Like an exchange student’s exchange mother, Julia will guide Diana through the subtleties and cultural nuances of man’s world. She should also be protective of Diana in matters of the heart. A great scene could be her taking Steve aside and giving him a good talking too about breaking Diana’s heart.  She should also be Diana’s sanctuary once she reveals herself as Wonder Woman to the world.

If Julia is Diana’s surrogate mother, then her daughter Vanessa is her surrogate sister. Diana should be curious about Vanessa. She’s never met a child before. (I don’t know if they plan to introduce Donna Troy to the franchise.) She’s curious about Vanessa. She should see some of herself in Vanessa. Diana will come to understand her mother through her relationship with Vanessa.  Vanessa meanwhile will serve as Diana’s guide to the “real world.” There could be some great sequences of Vanessa teaching Diana about fashion, music, popular culture, and love. There could be some fun sequences of Diana trying on clothes and trying to understand some of the “material” aspects of our society.

Finally, there is Etta Candy. She should be Diana’s best friend. She will also help Diana navigate modern society. She will also prod Diana about her feelings for Steve. Maybe she can give Diana the name “Diana Prince.”

 

 

Tension

While Diana is enjoying life in the city, the director should repeatedly cut back to Paradise Island and Mount Olympus and show the gods and Amazon’s growing weak and deteriorating. They are slowly dying and only Diana can save them. It’s Hitchcock’s “bomb under the dinner table” scenario.

Villains

This is a superhero movie and a superhero movie needs a good villain, and who better to show the world that Diana’s a hero then Ares, the God of War. For the purpose of this movie, Ares should be a member of the military industrial complex who builds war machines like an invisible plane and chemical weapons. He is very skilled at manipulating war hawks into starting conflicts and has been instrumental in manipulating many of the conflicts going on today. For a MacGuffin, have him create some sort of “super-nuke” capable of turning a country into a crater. A weapon he plans on firing. Diana’s appearance has thrown a wrinkle into his plans. One he aims to straighten by sending all sorts of mythical baddies to take her out, one of whom should be the Titan, Ixion. Wonder Woman battling a Titan, would that not look awesome on the big screen?

Final Battle

As with all superhero movies, Wonder Woman will need an exciting conclusion to send the audience home happy.  I see a final battle involving skeleton armies (ala Clash of the Titans) and the battle between Diana and Ixion while Ares prepares to launch his super-weapon. After defeating Ixion, Diana will confront Ares and it should be an epic duel. Ares dons his battle armor and Diana’s bracelets will turn into blades. It’ll be an exciting fight with Diana going toe-to-toe with Ares but the fight with Ixion will have taken a lot out of her. Knowing she can’t defeat Ares physically, Diana should feign defeat and trap him with the Lasso of Truth. She’ll ask Ares what he hopes to achieve and he’ll see that his goals will lead to mankind’s destruction and his death. “For what is a god with no one to worship him?” Ares will realize the futility of his mission, destroy his super-weapon, and concede victory to Diana. How powerful would that scene be with the right acting and direction? It would be awesome! It would be one that an audience wouldn’t see coming and it will establish Diana as a badass because not only will she have gone toe-to-toe physically with a god, but she will also have made him see error of his ways.

The movie should end with the Amazons and Olympian gods restored and Diana waving goodbye to her new friends and flying home. There’s your movie.

George Perez

The movie I just described isn’t something I just made up. It can be found in the pages of the Wonder Woman comics written and drawn by George Perez.  Sam Raimi turned to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s comics to do Spider-Man, Bryan Singer turned to the God Loves, Man Kills graphic novel for X2: X-Men United, and Christopher Nolan turned to Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween to make Batman Begins. Adhering the source material worked for those movies (Not to mention a little movie called Avengers), why can’t it work for Wonder Woman? You don’t have to religiously adhere to Perez’s run, but the foundation is there.

Conclusion

Overall, a Wonder Woman movie is not impossible. It can be done. All you need to do is look at what George Perez did and modify it for the medium. Some iconic elements should be included like the spin and a Lynda Carter cameo is a must, but overall, if you turn to the foundation laid out by George Perez’s reboot, you have the foundation for a solid, character driven, action movie that will appeal to at least every mother and their daughter, not to mention the general public. So what are you waiting for Warner Brothers? Get to it!

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