Why Don’t We Have A Wonder Woman Movie?

Are producers scared of some overly high expectations that might come with such a film?

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Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

I recently got into an argument over Wonder Woman.

To be fair to both myself and my friend, neither of us had meant for our discussion to escalate into an argument. Both of us were coming from the same place—that we wanted a Wonder Woman movie already, thank you very much—although she was, at least, more realistic about the obstacles standing in the way of such a project.

Actually, that’s not entirely correct. It’s not that I don’t understand how and why various attempts to bring the character to live-action have failed—it’s that I have trouble accepting them. Saying that the character’s mythological roots are too distancing from mainstream (read: non-nerd) audiences doesn’t hold water for me, given that we’re about to get a second Thor movieAnd those who complain that the character is too rooted in a past era are directed to watch Captain America: The First Avenger.

(MORE: Where Are All the (Good) Female Superhero Movies?)

No, according to my friend, the biggest obstacle to a Wonder Woman movie ever being made is that the character lacks the central narrative anything like those given to her DC Comics compatriots Superman and Batman, resulting in a superhero without a clear purpose or core personality. A strong argument, I must admit, even if I can point to how movies from Marvel Studios often cherry-pick those elements from comic-book histories to create a “movie version” of a character that can engage new audiences.

And I was struck by another thought: Perhaps Wonder Woman is, too much of an icon for adaptation. Maybe the real reason we haven’t seen a live-action Wonder Woman is because she’s … Wonder Woman. Sure, on a story level, Wonder Woman is no different than Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and so on. But in another sense, Wonder Woman is just a little bit more charged than those other characters.

Wonder Woman, after all, is the female superhero to most people. The hardcore comic fans know that’s not actually true, and would possibly delight in telling you about superheroines like Captain Marvel, Power Girl or Valkyrie or any of their crime-fighting sisters. Even those who have never read a comic book could possibly, with a moment or two’s thought, come up with names like Batgirl, Black Widow or Storm from the X-Men movies. Of all of those characters, however, only Wonder Woman has anywhere near the iconic status of a Superman, Batman or Spider-Man.

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That raises the stakes for a potential Wonder Woman movie, in some way. If Man of Steel failed, it would’ve been bad news for Warner Bros and sad for Superman fans, but it wouldn’t have impacted the legion of other superhero movies out there in any way. Same with the next Thor or Captain America movies; they’re just films about those particular characters, with no real weight or importance beyond that. A Wonder Woman movie, however…? That comes with a little bit more baggage.

A Wonder Woman movie would be the  first to have a solo superheroine since 2004’s Catwoman, and would have to shoulder the same mentality that argues that, because Sucker Punch flopped in 2011, female-led action movies are too much of a risk for studios (That, despite the success of The Hunger Games). A Wonder Woman movie wouldn’t be seen as “just” a movie about Wonder Woman, but a movie for all female superheroes, under both a microscope for hidden meanings and the sheer, crushing expectation of creating something that is, well, worth what’s now become a noticeable wait for a solo female superhero movie.

What if the difficulty in making a Wonder Woman movie has nothing to do with actually making the movie, but instead is all about coming to terms with the pressures that come from who Wonder Woman is in the metatextual sense. Could it be that making a Wonder Woman movie is just… too scary for most filmmakers to want to attempt?

MORE: Why Superman Deserves More Respect

351 comments
walkingdead4435
walkingdead4435

No WW film because:

1. Writers do not know how to present her to the moviegoing public.

2. It is difficult to find the right actress to play her

3. TV execs do not believe that a woman hero would be a blockbuster success


Solution ...

Present Diana as a badass warrior. Think a combination of Gladiator/Braveheart/300 . Imagine a poster with Diana driving a sword into some creature with a splat of blood on her face.  BAD ASS. That's the way to present her to the moviegoing public. A warrior who just so happens to be female. The foremost warrior of the Justice League.  Add some sentimental element and that is an instant hit. Now as for the actress ... that is really really tough, but my vote goes to Bridget Regan. She has the beauty, height, frame, and combat acting experience to play Diana. Have her wear the WW warrior costume and she would look awesome.

stevetrevor1121
stevetrevor1121

sorry,i intended to write...'to make a wonder woman movie is not difficult.'

BSF1
BSF1

Much Ado About Nothing, but FUN! Yes, the time has more than come for a Super Heroine. If we can be considering the prospects of a female U.S president, then we have arrived at a time when a Woman Comic Book Heroine can take her place with the pantheon of Male Comic Book Heroes......

MarkEsneault
MarkEsneault

The TV series of the seventies elevated Wonder Woman's superhero status.  Lynda Carter played the part well and her powers were well-defined.  But there are handicaps.   As I said earlier, her creators had "adjusted" her powers and origin over time.  By contrast, Superman came as a baby from Krypton and his powers were well defined.  Superheros are depicted as adults in their prime, so as the decades pass, the landing of Superman on the Kent family farm progresses through the years without altering the original concept of the hero.  Wonder Woman, though, was tied to a historical time period when the TV show introduced her in a World War II setting.  They had to explain why she didn't age when the show moved into the current (seventies) era.  To bring her into a perpetually current setting, they must over-write the scenarios that gave the character her most famous status.  That's probably why the movie makers are reluctant. 

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

It took a long time for the first Superman movie to get made, too, for the same basic reason: Was there a big enuf audience for it, or would it only appeal to a small genre niche?

That question was answered as soon as the first production stills of Christopher Reeve came out. Casting the title role is everything!

kcmoplc1
kcmoplc1

Wwoman is a secondary character.  If she had ever been a primary cog in the DC universe, her comics might have sold....They did not.  She is akin to Aquaman and Green Arrow, uninteresting, unimportant  a "less than super" hero who must be rescued by the SUPER.  There is a difference: gambling and throwing money away.

joelp77440
joelp77440

Why are producers scared?  Two words "Cat Woman."  Want to more "Super Girl." 

meliciousness
meliciousness

Maybe the problem isn't the character but the people trying to do the adaptation.  You keep citing Marvel's success with Thor and Captain America but DC seems to have issues with making successful adaptations for any of their characters besides Batman these days.  Man of Steel is kind of up in the air, isn't it?  Seems to me that it isn't the character holding a movie adaptation back but the people who would be making that adaptation.

AndresZombiemanPrimeGuzman
AndresZombiemanPrimeGuzman

I think you can't take the success of Hunger Games as a reason of why a WW movie would work.

A)  It was based on a real popular book series, the current WW is really good but not near as popular.

B) Hunger games has a big and I mean BIG emphasis on the romantic parts to the point that the movie would have elements that don't make sense  ( Only one will survive, yet the bad guys seem to be ok with hanging out as friends, even one female bad guy was hugging a male bad guy in most of her scenes...as if they didn't knew that they HAVE to murder each other later... but without that how would we have the romance for the main characters? )

So Hunger Games was more about being like Twilight rather than being an action film with a girl.

Watch Hanna and there you have a WW movie, NO ROMANCE. 

JackiZehner
JackiZehner

I too have asked myself this question over and over and over again.  I watched SUPERFRIENDS as a kid, then the LINDA CARTER TV show, and every since? Nothing. Now I have a daughter and I want her to have a female superhero in her life, as I had in mine.  I am the one that started the petition below. Thank you llm. Please sign and check out the 60 page report asking this very question, WHY NO WONDER WOMAN! 

http://www.jackizehner.com/wonder-woman-report/


CarolPrice
CarolPrice

The reason Wonder Woman cannot be made is the following: There is NO look-alike Lynda Carter Twin, budget can be severely costly with computerized stunts, no cast, no script, no location.

If a movie producer was serious whether it is for TV or Motion Picture. It is best for them to hire an unknown actress with dark hair, blue to green eyes and have some training in martial arts.

A good support cast  is important .

Does Wonder Woman have friends, family, arch-rival, arch-enemy? I like for her to have friends such as Etta Candy where she is from Texas and she yells YAHOO! She is rich and in the candy company. Her boyfriend could be Steve Trevor. He could be her boss. Her arch enemy is Enyo the goddess of war and the twin sister of Ares the god of war..which would be her great aunt. Hercules and Theseus could be her father since Queen Hippolyta in the Greek Mythology and Roman Mythology had married.

Please movie producers respect the Greek mythology....Queen Hippolyta is the daughter of Ares the god of war and her mother Otrera was a high priestess of Artemis...Zeus is the great grandfather of Wonder Woman. Ares is the son of Hera and Zeus.

Please respect the original writer of the Amazons, Homer, the Amazons did not kill for the sake of killing, it was done for noble reasons. Homer was the first writer to write about Amazons in 400 B.C. Some historians believed he created the Amazons to protect Greece's borders from Rome.

Please respect the original writer of William Moulton Marston of Wonder Woman, where Wonder Woman rescue Steve Trevor from a near death either being attack by Nazis or he was swimming or his boat was in hurricane etc. She must have her Amazon doctors to heal him and brings back to the United States. She decides to stay but not certain to trust Steve Trevor.

Lynda Carter should have a cameo appearance as Queen Hippolyta or the goddess Athena the war goddess of wisdom.

Lyle Waggnor should have a cameo appearance as a General or Zeus or Apollo or Steve Trevor's father or grandfather.



dickrick12341
dickrick12341

wonder woman we see that garbage every day on tv watch 5 foot 4 chick toss a 6 foot + guy around like hes a rag doll not likely 

edemaitre
edemaitre

If Marvel can succeed with a live-action Thor adaptation, so too can DC with the similarly mythic Wonder Woman. Spider-Man, Superrman, and Batman are iconic, but they've been interpreted in various ways over the years.

The studios may not recognize that a well-written female lead can in fact carry a movie, but audiences are still waiting for the iconic heroine to be done justice....

supsonics
supsonics

There was an attempt awhile back to bring Wonder Woman back on the CW, but the pilot episode was so abysmal...PLUS Linda Carter is so identified with the part the next actress with no doubt live in her shadow. That said, whoever was cast couldn't be any worse than Affleck as Batman.

http://affleckisnotbatman.blogspot.com/

jonnyricers
jonnyricers

If Warners feels the need to double up its super-heroes for each sequel in order to mitigate its risk-- why not have someone adapt Jones and Rucka's Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia?

Wonder Woman can work, Mr. Tsujihara. Why not start there?

dcwomenkicknass
dcwomenkicknass

Wonder Woman has a central narrative that is easy to understand. So easy that it has been boiled down for coloring books and early readers. The problem is that Wonder Woman's narrative isn't as well known as Superman's and Batman's because. ... wait for it... each of them have been adapted numerous times for movies and ongoing TV shows. 

Wonder Woman has wide recognition due to the Lynda Carter show but other than that and her well received animated feature, that's all she has beyond comics and ensemble roles.

The idea that Hollywood is "scared" to make a movie is pretty silly when they willing to adapt tricky material over and over again to get it right when it comes to characters like the Hulk (two movies both underperforming, now on third actor) and, of course, Superman who didn't do well with Superman Returns but did with Man of Steel.

Hollywood continously believes that women of people of color don't see movies until they do. They believe that women can't star in an action film until Hunger Games or Salt etc. come along.

The problem beyond Wonder Woman is, well a woman, is that Warner Bros. doesn't understand how to handle their IP when it comes to superheroes. They are afraid to even make a Superman sequel unless Batman aka "printed money" is there to support him. Meanwhile Marvel rolls the dice and creates billions with IronMan who I can guarantee you fewer people had heard of than have heard of Wonder Woman before the first movie opened.


FrankGulla
FrankGulla

It's different when women bitch about sexism because the end result is always lawsuits.What movie studio wants to deal with it ? Guaranteed a Wonder Woman movie would create chaos and scores of women would file lawsuits.The case you are talking about sounds like religious freaks and have no legal merit. See the difference ?

ekpookwong93
ekpookwong93

There has been no attempt at a movie largely because without anyone powerful or influential in the business coming forward with an idea for a WW picture the studio, irrespective of how iconic the character is, don't really see her as a comparable equal to Batman or Superman and that's an attitude that originated from the comic book industry itself.  

The lack of definitive stories that can be pulled from (Whedon admitted he didn't really look to any WW comic book story when writing his script), the fact that modern Hollywood in general is ambivalent about female led movies especially genre pieces that are traditionally linked with male characters and the never discussed likelihood that the execs don't take comic book superheroines seriously enough. All they see are a bunch of impossible sexual fantasies in print and not credible characters in their own right and looking at some comics (like DC's New 52) and they way they depict and portray female characters can you blame them?

EllenieAsh
EllenieAsh

Why not put as many Female super-heroines in one movie and make it a Sisterhood of Power!


totink
totink

Wonder Woman fights Nazi's. There are no actresses in hollywood that can portray this icon because most are all national socialists. She is an Amazon. You can not cast some short skinny girl to play this part just because she has a pretty face. She must be liberty minded and she must be a giant.

90mv
90mv

All the movie needs is a director and writer that understand the character, boom easy money.

Have maybe Gail Simone or whoever write it, and have fight scenes like this one below. You got a woman that's almost as strong as Superman and fights like Batman, people will watch it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWVPyTVHIXQ

MarkEsneault
MarkEsneault

Part of the problem is that Hollywood would have a lot of groundwork to cover in terms of introducing the origin of Wonder Woman.  Superman was launched from the dying planet Krypton.  Batman lost his parents to organized crime.  Both characters have the advantage of an image that was set by TV shows of the fifties and sixties.  Wonder Woman's TV show in the seventies used her World War II origin, while the comic book franchise updated to one of Greek gods/goddesses.  Again, the risk of doing damage to an iconic character might suggest some caution.

Causal
Causal

No disrespect to the author, but I think his friend's argument is the right one.

GregoryPearl
GregoryPearl

FINALLY YOU TAKE NOTICE!!!!!!    you're TIME magazine and you still can't get on the equality of women bandwagon. probably run by men. stop saying there's not a market...........she's got little girls, teenage boys, adult women of ALL AGES who've have grown up with her, the comic book men and last, but DEFINITELY NOT the least....................SHE HAS THE GAYS. if DCstudios can't jump on that, they're just dumb and they deserve to be left in the dust! thanks the stars for MARVEL!         we've seen enough of Superman and Batman...........MOVE ON ALREADY.         and YES, you CAN replace Lynda Carter. she will always be our Wonder Woman, but there are plenty of women in films who can do it.........don't sell your sisters short, just because you can't progress with the times. i say go ALL THE WAY with her origins. people love their greek myth flix and they also love their Nazi war flix..............there's no reason to have all the confusion on HOW to do it, stuff's already wriiten FOR you...........DUH!          

MissWW
MissWW

You can't replace Lynda Carter.  It's that simple.

Synnerman
Synnerman

There is a perfectly good Wonder Woman in the comics and in Justice League Unlimited. That central conflict mess is bullHal nor Barry have no central conflict and the fanmen in charge of DC are just falling all over themselves to get them into larger media roles.

cpc65
cpc65

Nobody naturally filled that costume better than Linda Carter did. 

ATLWmn
ATLWmn

I'm a woman, and I have no interest in watching a female-dominated superhero movie.  But that's just me.  

R.K.Wolfram
R.K.Wolfram

@walkingdead4435 


Your right, Bridget Regan would do a "Wonderful" Wonder Woman. She's perfect for that role, because she's capable of making that perticular character not cheesy. She can make her both strong and yet convey the feelings of a woman lost in a world different from hers. 

Wonder Woman is not a man with breast and makeup, she is a warrior AND a woman. This delicate balance is hard to get right, but Bridget has all the edge and warmth to get it right.


...why all the support? Because I'm allergic to wasted opportunity, and if they pass this one, I think it will be a godamn shame.

Phil85S
Phil85S

@kcmoplc1 You are an idiot, completely and truly. Wonder Woman is the only NON-secondary Super Heroine, especially in the Iconic Status. The Holy Trinity of Super Heroes is as Follows: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. . .period. Wonder Woman needs saving? What the hell are you talking about? Wonder Woman beat Super Girl who is EQUAL to Superman is abilities. Wonder Woman has Slit Superman's throat before to stop him. It was Superman with WONDER WOMAN's help to hold up the weight of eternity, no one else was capable to do it but those 2. Unimportant? Have you been reading her new comics? How bout the fact that she is Zeus's daughter and the new God of War after killing Aries. 

Unimportant? Non-Super? Did you read the newer Justice League comics? Batman showed Superman his briefcases full of back up plans to stop every member of the Justice league. He gave Superman Wonder Woman's and told him to open it, Superman did and saw it was empty. Batman said, "i have nothing that can stop her. There is no green rock to weaken her. You are my contingency plan Clark, that is I why I don't want you involved with her romantically" So get your facts strait. Batman has a plan to defeat every member of the Justice League except one, that is Wonder Woman.


If you see Wonder Woman as anything besides a bad ass you miss her character completely. Whereas Batman and Superman are unwilling to kill or go too far, Wonder Woman is a warrior, trained to fight to the death, and she fights to win. Great line was in a recent Justice League comic, she says to Superman, "There's a reason I dont have as long a list of villains as you and Bruce, because when I deal with my enemies, I DEAL with them." Shes a total badass.

And as far as her needing to be save or weak or whatever you were intending with your idiotic comment. The male members of the Justice League and the DC Universe seek Wonder Woman's approval, not her affection, that is an amazing achievement for a female character in anything, especially in Comics. The male heroes look up to her and are relieved when she shows up. So if any female Super Hero deserves a movie, your damn right it's Wonder Woman. Her storyline so far is the best I've read out of the new 52, sure Batman had some great moments, but overall the total arc, development and supporting cast of WW has been an amazing and well thought-out ride. Its lacking some of the better Artists, but otherwise a great story thus far.

footnotegirl
footnotegirl

@joelp77440 Because there have been no male superhero flops during that time whatsoever, right? Right? Suuuuure.

tkessandoh
tkessandoh

@CarolPriceHow  do you know Queen Hippolyta in the comic is the same Hippolyta as the daughter of Zeus? in Greek Myth?

Badasz
Badasz

@dcwomenkicknass 

No, the REAL problem is writers who actually understand the WW narrative are rare.  Even rarer are those who know AND who can put it to pen & paper appropriately.  

But I highly highly doubt that YOU know what that narrative is, Sue.  In fact, NO feminist zealot knows, because they all make up their own instead of going by Marston's original intention. 

If anybody wants to know what WW is all about, read the works of Gregory Bunn, Olive Byrne, Brett Jett, Francine Valcour, or even Lillian Robinson.  Or, I can sum it up right here:

Wonder Woman is about combining the correct balance of the diametric forces of the world, martial strength and loving humanity, in a way where love is the master and Force is never the master.

Hey Sue...I'm glad to see you're in a forum that you CAN'T delete/edit as you please, just to REmake the world as YOU see fit.  Ha.  Yea, that's right...it forces you to FACE the truth, Sue!



 

jonnyricers
jonnyricers

@dcwomenkicknass It might not be true to say that a monolithic Hollywood is "scared" or not, but Warners is definitely making movies from a place of fear -- hence the lack of a WW film and the need for Batman to appear in a Superman sequel -- yet Marvel Studios is pumping out film after film, some successful, some not, in a variety of genres (historical, spy, mythological, etc.).

Their riskiness -- at least as risky as you can get in the tentpole business -- has paid off in droves.

I think it's pretty fair to say the folks who run the Warner Bros film studio are terrified at failure, devaluing their IP, and losing their jobs -- especially so in the wake of losing Legendary Pictures to Universal.

footnotegirl
footnotegirl

@MarkEsneault But 20 YEARS of caution? Forgive me if I call BS to that theory. Her origin is absolutely no more terrifyingly difficult, complex, or weird than any other super hero. Puh. Leeez.

katherinebluebells
katherinebluebells

Exactly there's a huge market if it was written well and starred some excellent actors then no problem. And women and girls would see this film more than once if it was really good.

FrankGulla
FrankGulla

@ATLWmn OMG !  woman who is NOT interested in a female dominant movie ? I thought they didn't exist !

trailblazingdoc
trailblazingdoc

@ATLWmn Yup.. that's just you LOL.  Some people don't want to watch any superhero movies period.  So everyone's entitled to their taste.

DTTfandango
DTTfandango

@jonnyricers @dcwomenkicknass Honestly, I think this one tweet says it best: "DC/WB 's all like 'Wonder Woman is too confusing for a movie' and Marvel/Disney is all like 'Here's a raccoon with a machine gun' " - Brett White

I feel like WB is listening too much to the DC comic creators who say that superhero comics aren't for girls and that they are writing for 45 year old men. Whilst DC Comics have people like Gail Simone to show them the way, I feel like the WB side is stuck with the people who need to learn they're dead wrong ...

maryclevenger
maryclevenger

@footnotegirl @MarkEsneault  Yeah, you wanna talk complex origin stories? Look at all the origin stories DC gave Power Girl. Marvel's Spider Woman has also had her origin story rebooted at least once.