10 March 2011

My contribution to Women's History Month: Kathryn Bigelow + Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman. Amazon Warrior. Superhero. And of course Woman. She is a DC Comics icon, something of an American icon too. In fact she forms one part of DC's nearly holy Trinity (the other two parts formed by the equally iconic Batman and Superman). Warner Bros and DC have produced some good adaptations of the D.C. material of late(Superman I, II, and of course , and Batman: The Dark Knight.. DC/Warner Brothers even tried to return to Kryptonian waters, walking in director Richard Donner's foot steps, with the game but too homagey Superman Returns. This summer DC and Warner Brothers are taking a huge chance on what is easily the most dangerous property they have, The Green Lantern.
To see precisely why the Green Lantern is such a potential goldmine of unintended laughs, and camp go here.

There is an obvious question lurking in this blog...Where is the ass-kicking Wonder Woman movie? Seriously now. A Wonder Woman movie seems like something of a no-brainer.
Consider that she easily one of the most complex characters of the DC comics Universe. She is a diplomat, and a warrior (though disdainful of violence). She is an Amazon raised in a very particular culture isolated from men (I can even see some X-Men style parables here, specifically addressing issues in the LGBT community). Physically she is as powerful as Superman, skilled in hand to hand combat as Batman, and happier, generally than both. And while her costume would probably need a revamp, I suspect that the rest of her character would need little to make it appealing across a diverse audience. Her back story is a goldmine, that can also, draw on a nearly limitless treasure trove of Greek mythology thanks to the Amazon connection. And I think there is a potential to engage in some progressive romance too, because lets face it, Wonder Woman will not have a sexuality that anyone would be able to describe as conventional (think of her genetics, and culture and you have a sure prescription for interesting storytelling directions). Clearly a Wonder Woman film could be anything, in the right hands, except boring. And I think I know what some of the right hands should be.

With any filmmaking endeavor I think the question has to be what is there that we don't like, and do those "don't likes" loom larger than the "likes." I say Wonder Woman is a no brainer for DC/Warner, because, on paper, at least, the "don't likes" are surprisingly few, whereas the cup containing all the "likes" is, quite simply, overflowing. In an effort to get this wonderful ball of Wonder Woman rolling, allow me a few suggestions movie industry excutive types.

Any great comic book film, (indeed any great film) has to start with a great vision and leadership. DC/Warner have wisely put Christopher Nolan in the producer role for the next Superman movie. They should do whatever it takes to get him to do the same thing with any Wonder Woman project. It makes good business sense from their point of view. A good comic book film will produce at least two more successful ventures almost regardless of the quality if the sequels. Think X-Men 3. It did slightly better box office than X-Men 2 and it was not a good movie. Any DC movie needs quality control, because DC, more than Marvel, risks camp and sillyness with almost every hero in their pantheon. If DC/Warner could they should also give Nolan and his script writing partner anything they want to pen a Wonder Woman script. Give them movie deals to make the next three whatever they want to films, give them prostitutes, tickets to TED conferences, seriously make the Nolan team write the script I don't know if it is crucial, but given the dramatic and conceptual weight Nolan has imparted (with the help of decades of comic book writers of course) to the Dark Knight of Gotham City, it sure couldn't hurt.

Kathryn Bigelow must direct this movie. Someone reading this may be tempted to suggest someone else. The following the following films are all the rebuttal I need. Near Dark, Point Break, Strange Days, and The Hurt Locker Bigelow. For. The. Win.

Jeff Imada should probably choregraph all the non-CGI action. I know that poor guy is over worked since the Jason Bourne Trilogy but tough luck, that is the price of success damn it. I would also need to see some quality grappling as the Amazons would be well versed in such things given their origin. So throw Yasuhiro Yamashita and Randy Couture into the fight choreography team for added zest.

Line in the sand. No invisible jet. Nope, ah-ah-ah, stop, no buts, shh. No jet. Hey, I said zip it.

What follows are some loose suggestions for the core cast.

Jessica Biel as Wonder Woman/Diana
Rosario Dawson as Artemis
Sigourny Weaver as Hippolyta, or and I like this oodles more, Angela Basset as Hippolyta.
Paul Bettany as Achilles
It isn't necessarily a given that any WW movie would incorporate this character. Gail Simone did so in her most recent run on Wonder Woman, and to great effect.
Guy Pierce as Ares (Show me someone who says that doesn't sound supercool, and I will show you a liar).

Alright that is all I have. What would you like to see in a Wonder Woman movie? The conversation is open to non-comic geeks too!

Brunch Notes: All art by Adam Hughes.
Also if you are interested in seeing more of his work, and really why wouldn't you be, here is what you need.
Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes This is beautiful stuff and features more than just Wonder Woman.

Fun times can be had at Hughes official website, JustsayAH.

Also in honor of Women's History month, its good to remember that DC publishes a ton more titles featuring women as the main protagonists.

(Can you name them all?)

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At 6:15 PM , Blogger anna lisa gross said...

I don't know anything about the Wonder Woman story, but I'm glad you're paying attention to this female character in the male-dominated world of comic books. When you say her costume would be revamped, do you imagine she might not be mostly naked? That would be really revolutionary. I find it interesting that in the "woman of DC comics" image they're all totally glammed up. Sure, it's great that these women get to be strong and powerful, but as a baseline, they have to be "hot." Unlike Hulk or Spiderman or other male comic book heroes who are either not "hot" or whose appearance is not really shown.

At 8:04 AM , Blogger Max II said...

Anna Lisa,
When I am thinking of the costume, I'm thinking in terms of functionality, and the like. Her old costume has a bit of the cheesiness of the era, stars and stripes and all that. The meaning of it is interesting though, and I will spare a moment of an aside for explanation.
Recently Bill O'Reilly, or some Faux tool took umbrage at Jim Lee's design for J Michael Strackzynski's run on Wonder Woman. THe problem aparantly was the loss of the patriotic colors. But WW was a diplomat and her colors were chosen to honor the country with whom she would deal for the Amazons.

Back to your question though and the nearly naked woman hero in comic books. I think if you spend any time reading comic books, you will find that either sex is depicted in ways that wildly over-represent one end of the physical appearance spectrum. Most of the heroes in comics are essentially naked, but nippleess and wearing weird colors over physiques that for either sex are largely unattainable, the men no less than the women. Even the Hulk, who may be something of a monster, is still a handsome monster despite the torn-up purple pants. These heroes male and female, in comic books harken back I think to an old tradition that predates the heroes found in Greek mythology and today, as then the heroes represent archetypes and ideals that have resonance with readers of both sexes.

However, on one level the general handsomeness, and physical beauty found in the average comic book hero makes a certain amount of biological sense. People who are highly fit, and engage in rigorous physical activity (and fighting evil probably has to be considered this) tend also to be handsome by the standards of human beauty and attractiveness (and I am defining attractiveness broadly here). The bodies of such people tend to be more than mildly attractive, and they faces, male or female that most people find attractive. Think of the gorgeous Lujicia Rjiker, or the handsome Randy Couture. I think comic book art generally reflects that.

I suspect any film also has to consider that painting a naked body doesn't really appeal to the MPAA (though X-Men 1, 2, and 3 seems to have escaped their notice!), and spandex simply doesn't work very well on screen, so from a practical point of view, most comic book characters get some kind of costume revamp for the big screen. I think the new costume for WW would make a great screen costume (though tons of fans hate it. I have no idea why). It is practical, and vastly more intimidating than star-spangled underwear!

Does any of that sound reasonable?

At 8:32 AM , Blogger Max II said...

Sorry about the typos and other errors that are found in my response.

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